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Release imminent: AURALiC Lightning DS for iPhone

  • New skin for the old ceremony. There was so much talk of Roon (Ready) at this year’s CES that you’d be forgiven for thinking that all other software platforms are now dead in the water. They aren’t – not by a long shot. Use AURALiC’s Lightning DS app with a Roon-Ready Aries or Aries Mini and sidestep the need for a server elsewhere on the network and Roon’s US$119 annual fee. Connect a hard drive to an Aries variant and you’re top of the pops – Lightning DS for iPad is yours for free.

    AURALiC CEO Xuanqian Wang poses with his Lightning DS app running on an iPad Pro at CES 2016.

    It also looks like AURALiC will be beat the Roon guys to the punch on bringing an iPhone remote control app to market. I sat down with the Chinese company’s CEO Xuanqian (“Shuan-shian”) Wang at CES for a walkthrough on new the app, one that very much is NOT a direct port of its iPad cousin; the iPhone version of Lightning DS offers a an all-new interface that’s more cover art and meta-data driven than its forerunner.

    If you’re keen to see what the app looks like, how it will integrate with Roon, the possible positive side effects of disabling the Roon Endpoint service and when the whole shebang willl land in the App Store, you’ll need to sit down with a cuppa for ten minutes and watch the video interview:

    I’ve been trialling a development version of the iPhone app (via Testflight) these past 24 hours and find it suitably intuitive and easier to navigate than the iPad version. It seems to be rock solid; zero crashes or quirks so far. Screenshots from an iPhone 6S+ below.

    Further information: AURALiC










    John Darko

    Written by John Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has also contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

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      • Not that I’m aware of, no. After all, the Aries needs to maintain at least *some* functional advantage over its cheaper cousin.

    1. John – thanks for the timely update. I own an Auralic Aries which I use to stream Qobuz lossless. I might add a connected HD in the future. I might have lost a couple of episodes, what is the advantage of adding Roon to my setup, and is it worth north of $100/yr?

      • Vincenzo – have you searched for my many pieces on Roon on this site? That gives you a thorough exposition of what it does.

    2. Having spoken with key individuals from Auralic, Aurender and Lumin at CES last week, they are each committed to providing Roon as an option but none of these companies seemed thrilled. They each felt their own software had better sound quality compared to what Roon offered although they felt compelled to offer Roon as an option given customer demand, or rather press demand. Without question, Roon is the media darling of the press right now and according to Aurender, questions regarding Roon was the question they got asked about the most. How much of this is true is uncertain but with Auralic having spent a 7 figure sum on the development of Lightning, I wouldn’t be so keen to abandon it so quickly either. Good for them for moving forward with ongoing development of their software. Choice for the consumer is never a bad thing.

      • I don’t think anyone would could refute Roon as the reigning UX champion in the digital audio playback space. Similarly irrefutable is its expense: US$119/year ain’t cheap. However, tt remains to be seen if AURALiC or Aurender hardware take a performance hit when running as Roon Endpoints. Then it’ll be up to the consumer to decide if said SQ delta, should it exist, is worth the compromise.

      • Lightning has some advantages over Roon, being free the main one. Also being able to update your device firmware. Auralic has no plans to ditch development and the iPhone app is actually a huge step toward what Roon is already doing. And seems to on the way for the iPad app in a few months. That said, Roon effortlessly cataloged my library where Lightning DS still chokes on some data somewhere in the line. This must be on my end but with the DS app there’s no way to find out what file may be the culprit. Roon logs everything so you can find any bad tags and correct them.

    3. Very nice and informative.
      Did Mr. Wang say anything about whether the new Lightning DS app for iPad will support the native resolution of iPad Pro?

      Also, I guess any comments about MQA implementation were intentionally left out given all the disputes going on at the CES…..(?)

    4. I want my money back. I spent A$2,000+ on a femto clocked door stop.

      In 2015 iPad market share fell below 25%. That means that 75% of the Auralic customers are once again left empty handed by the focus on iOS only solutions. Android development was unceremoniously dumped in October 2015. The cross platform solution mentioned when the company pulled development for the Android app in has failed to materialize. Again. Tossers.

      If I had known upfront that Android development was being pulled I might have made a different decision but at the time it was all go. Then zip. Cross platform solution ? Not a peep.

      These guys just cannot be relied upon to support their customers and I feel ripped off and insulted by the casual disregard of customers in my situation. I cannot possibly be the only non-Apple customer waiting for a solution that will never arrive.

      And before any Apple fan boy shrugs and moves on I just want to say that I believe this is symptomatic of a mindset and it is just a matter of time before this company screws you over in the same way.

      For all their up-to-the-second technical innovation Auralic remain at heart a bunch of cowboys. Grab the cash and keep talking. Caveat emptor.

      • John,

        Please delete the post above. Since I wrote that (and much to my surprise) in response to these complaints Chris from Auralic has reached out and offered to arrange a refund. Under these circumstance I feel it would be rude to complain about my treatment by Auralic.

    5. I find the lightning DS app to have a few issues. I have had my ipad battery go to 0% several times because the app does not go to a low power mode. A few non-intuitive things in the setup are hard to work out. I presume there must be some kind of support site but I could not find it so was left to work out the wrinkles myself.
      Then there are issues with the Aires Mini losing connection any time that iTunes starts up on my local network. It is probably just Apple doing their thing and taking over Airplay but it means that you have to close iTunes and sometimes reinitialise the app.
      I found it difficult to work out how to select multiple albums to play in a particular order. I worked it out eventually but it was not that easy. It appears that adding options/features made it harder to do simple things. I would much prefer to never see a shuffle feature again. Why would anyone want to shuffle or crossfade between contiguous tracks (or should I be so bold “songs”) in classical music or most of my other music that is intended to be played in order and without any gap between movements?
      Annoyances. Yes.
      Not a bad first cut for an app overall. Given that hardware manufacturers seem to struggle with software development.

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