After scanning the title of this review article my bet is that your first question might be: ‘What exactly is a wireless streaming bridge?’ The question is perfectly understandable given that the lines of distinction between audio streamers, servers, renderers, and DACs are already blurred and becoming more so over time. So, in order to understand the many and diverse functions of the AURALiC ARIES wireless streaming bridge it helps first to take a ‘big picture’ view of how digital audio playback is evolving these days.
Let’s start by acknowledging that DACs are essential components whereby digital audio files of various formats and types are converted from bits and bytes to become high-quality analogue audio signals that can be amplified and used to drive our favourite loudspeaker or headphone-based systems. In short, in any digital audio system, you’ve got to have a DAC in order to make the music happen. Things get complicated, though, when one has to decide where digital audio files will be stored and how they will be delivered to the DAC. Another essential question involves deciding how the whole digital audio playback process will be controlled.
AURALiC’s ARIES serves as a flexible, multipurpose ‘bridge’ that can deliver high-resolution digital audio files from just about anywhere to the DAC of your choice, while wirelessly controlling the process via AURALiC’s Lightning DS application running on an iPad.
Would you like to listen to Internet radio or to stream content from Tidal, WiMP, Qobuz, Songcast, or Airplay? The ARIES supports all those options. How about streaming content from network-attached resources such as NAS drives or from OpenHome, DLNA, or UPNP-compatible PCs or Macs? The ARIES supports all of those options, too. One upshot of these capabilities is that, for listeners already accustomed to using music software packages such as jRiver Media Center, it is possible to continue using their chosen software as the control point application of choice while still using the ARIES as the bridge that delivers digital audio files to the system DAC.
Or, what about those who wish for a simpler, more server-like solution? Once again the ARIES fits the bill because—by attaching a USB music library drive to the ARIES—one can effectively turn the AURALiC into a simple, fully featured, and high-effective music server in its own right. Similarly, for more casual file-sharing applications, visiting friends can bring music-laden USB memory sticks to your home and then plug them in to the ARIES’ USB drive port. The ARIES, in turn, will read and catalogue the files on the memory stick in a matter of minutes (or less) and then allow users to pick and choose files for playback.