Computer audio. One of the key advantages in buying into hardware from the conscientious manufacturer is ongoing software updates. Sometimes we see bugs squashed and improved functionality. On other occasions, we net an uptick in sound quality. If we’re lucky, the update arrives free of charge.
Hitting all three bullseyes this week are China’s AURLALiC with news of brand new firmware for their Tesla hardware platform – not to be confused with the Lightning DS app that controls it.
Firmware v4.0, now available as a free download to owners of the Aries, Aries LE and Aries Mini, lands with an overhauled v2 playback engine complete with 100,000 lines of re-written code. The promise from AURALiC? Better sound quality.
Here we meet v4.0’s first new feature: memory cached playback. Each track (or portions thereof with Mini) is now pre-loaded into system memory – 512B on the Aries/LE, 64Mb on the Mini – facilitating the disabling of unused processing threads and hardware. The implication is lower electrical noise.
Memory Cache is applied automatically to Lightning DS playback (and any other UPnP based control software) but not Roon Ready, AirPlay, Internet Radio, Songcast or Bluetooth.
Next up is Party Mode. Teased heavily by CEO Xuanqian Wang at Munich High-End 2016 the Aries’ incoming multi-zone capabilities permit synchronisation of numerous devices with “one tenth the error of any existing wireless multi-room solution”.
AURALiC also claim that their multi-zone implementation is the first to support PCM up to 32bit/384kHz and DSD256, bit-perfectly and without downsampling. That’s a boon for hi-res fanatics. Screenshot below.
Lastly, Aries firmware v4.0 introduces a new software re-sampler better suited to DACs that don’t support DSD or PCM sample rates above 96kHz or 192kHz.
With Lightning firmware v3.3, disabling ‘DSD over PCM’ DAC delivery saw the bitstream up-sampled to 24bits before being down-sampled to 24bit/352.8kHz – too high for many a ‘vintage’ D/A converter. The new re-sampler has been set to convert DSD to 24bit/88.2kHz PCM, ensuring the Aries’ DSD playback workaround talks to a wider range of DACs.
Moreover, it sounds better according to AURALiC CEO Xuanqian Wang.
Via email, Wang also reported that PCM-to-DSD up-sampling is also in the works but was keen to stress that this will be ready when it’s ready.
Elsewhere, Wang said: “Firmware v4.0 was initially used on ALTAIR – AURALiC’s Streaming DAC product. After 4 months of beta testing, we are very excited to bring these latest developments to existing ARIES customers.”
“The firmware is now live, delivering by area. Everyone will receive the update notice within 24 hours.”
There you go – something for nothing. Have at it, Aries people.
Further information: AURALiC