The saga, or journey, continues with my Auralic Aries adventures. In my last Ramblings (HERE) I shared my experiences with upping the Aires' performance quite a bit via the Certon C4 Integrita NAS, the HDPLEX linear power supply for the Neatgear switch and WiFi units, various tweeks and gadgets (for example the RLI-1 LAN Isolator from Acoustic Revive, but also the Micro iUSB and iPurifier from iFi, the Wyrd from Schiit Audio, and the Jitterbug from Audioquest—more on these later) and ethernet, USB, and power cables from Sablon Audio (and way more on these cables later).
So what is next? Well how about changing out the Aries' linear power supply for something different… and perhaps better? Now don't get me wrong, the power supply that comes with the top Aries is no slouch, but then could someone offer something better? Something made to do something differently that could affect the performance of a device in need of such power? Cleaner power with less whatever going on that could cause issues? Issues that had previously been something that were not recognized by Auralic? Or heard by anyone? Well, except say the people at SBooster?
The SBooster? (The 16v BOTW is $450 and the optional Ultra is $110.) Yeah, and way cool too. The origin comes from, well here… read this from their site, but they have been around awhile doing some really good stuff with power supplies:
SBooster, formerly known as Squeeze-upgrade, is the first Dutch company that is specialized in the development of Plug & Play upgrade products for network music players, headphone amplifiers and or D/A converters. The upgrades are suitable for practically all products with an external PSU in the music chain including the network.
With the BOTW P&P ECO audio upgrade the purification of the current starts immediately there where the polluted current enters the upgrade. A dual stage mains filter and an earth line choke clean the current from high frequency pollution before the current reaches the transformer. The transformer is a custom-made audio grade transformer with electrostatic shielding.
The electronic design is innovative: it gets 50% more output out of the used electronics and consumes even up to 35% less energy than a conventional design. The BOTW P&P ECO audio upgrade concept is so efficient that it consumes only a few Euros a year more than the standard supplied high efficient, but also highly polluting switch mode adapter.
Finally, at the end of the DC cable the unique split current system has been placed. The electronic design and components used in this SBooster-version differ from the design of the SBooster Single Unit. The power supply of the BOTW P&P ECO audio upgrade provides the split current system with powerful and clean power, so the electronics can do their job profoundly, which is to buffer the power so that the power supply becomes very fast and to filter one last time the voltage and current before they enter the audio device.
This unique upgrade power supply with its large headroom delivers at all times sufficient clean power to the audio device to ensure a stable and continuous performance of the internal processes of the audio device in order to get the best performance out of the audio device.
And to take this even further they offer an upgrade to the SBooster in the form of a small unit that plugs into the cable prior to the unit being powered; aptly named the Sbooster Ultra. Also from their site:
The Sbooster Ultra can be used as an addition to the many filtering and optimization techniques of the BOTW P&P ECO audio upgrade PSU. The Sbooster Ultra has to be connected directly to the Sbooster split-current module of the BOTW P&P ECO.
The Sbooster Ultra is based on active filter technique, which reduces the ripple & noise of the BOTW P&P ECO even further: to a negligible low level. A must have for every audiophile!
The Sbooster Ultra is designed for audio equipment that is sensitive to residual noise, such as digital to analog converters, music streamers, USB to SPDIF converters, headphone-, pre- and phono amplifiers. To find out if your audio device is also suitable for the Sbooster Ultra upgrade, please check our compatibility list. You will find the compatibility list in the overview pages of the BOTW P&P ECO voltages.
Which all means what? Well compared to what I hear with the Aries via its own power supply, the SBooster really BOOSTS things in a very, very good way. Yeah, this thing works. The hype is legit. You get more, way more music. The sensation is of greater separation and delineation of whatever it is that is making the sounds, or music. I mean this only in the sense that what I listen to is not always seen as music to some people—but then one man's noise is another man's music. And vice versra.
So yeah… bass is deeper with a greater grip, along with a tactile texture, and that made my listening that much more engaging. Never thought it would get this much better after the previous bits and pieces were added into the mix, but damn; air, space, palpable presence, etc… all just that much more. All that much better. Toss in the Ultra unit and it goes even further. For another $100 it is easy cheesy. Go for it as it simply makes what the SBooster is already doing that much more evident.
Is what I am hearing because there are fewer ripples in the current? Is it that smoother current makes smoother and less noisy music? More good gets through? Music that is just that much cleaner and free of crap? AC noise crap. Even with power filtration ahead of the power supplies here, yeah the SBooster is doing its thing. Always been my mantra that cleaning up whatever gets you more of what you want and less of what stands in its way. Is the SBooster doing what they claim? Well it sure sounds like it but I have no way of measuring what is going on, nor am I sure I even give a crap. The truth for me has always been in what I hear. What I experience. Not in what some scope, graph, or whatever shows me or someone else what is going on. For sure you can measure a lot of things in audio, but then one likes it even though it measures like crap… or just the opposite—best measurements ever, but gee where did the music go? If it sounds better, and by that I mean it is more engaging and I get more of what makes the music fun to listen to, then that is all that matters.
Inside the SBooster (below) there is simply more... more than compared to that of the Auralic LPS (above). Ditto what is going on inside the Ultra too (below, below).
And that is what the SBooster is doing with the Aries. It is letting the Aries sing and swing. Dynamics, space, presence… damn. Now anyone using the power supply included with an Aires is doing really well. It is not like you are sucking it here as I stand by what I wrote about the Aries previously. It is killer with its own power supply and it is not like you are sitting there asking yourself how it can be improved, what is missing, what is that I am hearing and what can I can do to make it better, etc. No, the stock Aries with its power supply rocks, but for sure it can be elevated to compete with the way bigger, badder boys by spending more money on a better NAS and so on—tweak it. And certainly by adding the SBooster… yeah baby, now we are clearly hanging with the really, really cool people at school. Check me out. Highly recommended for anyone with an Aries.
Of course I wonder if the people at Auralic have something in the pipeline to do what the SBooster is doing… now that would be way cool.
16v BOTW is $450, the additional (option) Ultra is $110
Images courtesy of Dirk Sommer at HiFi Statement