Core, Melco or Innuos Zenith

I am considering to buy an ‘audiophile’ NAS to replace my ‘IT’ NAS (Synology) to serve music
files to my NDS. Potential candidates are Naim Core, Melco N1Z EX or Innous Zenith MK3.
I am not experienced with any of them. Which one to choose ? I would use it just for local streaming.( no Roon no Tidal etc.) Highest priority SQ and second is the convenience.
Does it make sense to change IT nas for these soundwise ?
Any posts welcomed.

Hi Zoltan,
I would discount the Core first, as it is one of very few products where Naim missed the mark when they specified it in the early design. It is bettered in every respect by the best alternatives.

If you had wanted internet streaming etc. then the Zenith takes some beating.

However, as you only want to stream locally stored files, I recommend going Melco - it really is very hard to beat. And yes, I have auditioned all of them.

Hope this helps, BF

I sat in on a friends listening sessions when he was thinking the same.
Core was not in the consideration, Melco, Zeneth & other similar ripper store things who’s names I don’t recall.
Convenience was one consideration for his wife’s use, but he was more than happy ripping with PC & laptop using dBpoweramp, he’s been ripping to NAS for the last 6 or 7 years, so for himself he was only looking for better SQ.
All the rip/store machines did a good job, but with no perceptible change in SQ.
The Melco did bring a change to SQ and he was very undecided on it, but he had to send it back to dealer anyway, he left it that he would think about it. That was a month ago, last I heard from him was he’s considering a new NAS with SSD.
Sorry if this post is not helpful, but my buddy’s thinking was remarkably similar to your post.

When i bought the Core it was to put my cd collection on and play through a Muso. It is very simple to use, sounds good…but Naim could and should do a lot better imo.
I then went on a considerable upgrade path. If i was buying again i would probably buy a Melco for reasons of sound quality potential. Its worth noting that Melco needs a means of ripping a cd, their stand alone ripper is £1k, the Core and Innous have a ripper included.

If they are only streaming locally stored files then a Core should work fine. I used to use one but replaced it with an innuos as i use roon and the Vortexbox (roon core) i was using and the Naim Core never really saw eye to eye! plus the innuos is one box.

My comment should have been in reply to Bluesfan not Mike-B

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Melco you have the choice between 2 music managers and comes with Song Kong software
If you are using the 3 servers via a naim streamer then the control of all 3 is the same
But as stand alone player is where you might want to spend some time with the individual apps
Melco app won’t work with a iPhone just iPad ( for Apple users )
Innuos control apps are available
And the Core ( despite what is said ) is also very good and the app as well
Paying attention to your network is important to get the best sound from all of them
And yes I have all 3 servers

running innuos and melco here- as upnp and (for fun) direct attached to my ayre dac.
SQ wise, the melco wins in both cases.
it’s expensive but worth the money…
app wise: melco has a apple app, innous need ipeng for apple.
imho the best app is roon:

Surely Melco will be Roon compatible soon ? It’s the only thing holding me back from committing to Melco.

Although my HDX 2TB has been a great server for me, it’s long in the tooth now and I dread the day something fails in it as repairs will be a pain.

IIRC, Melco has a direct ethernet connection to streamer, so if playing one’s own stored music then only one ethernet cable is needed - if the rest of the network has an adverse effect it presumably can be disconnected (?).

I don’t know if the same applies to Core or Innuous?

And I believe all three can be run in rendering mode, playing directly to the DAC, (digital input in the case of NDS), variously by one or more of either optical, electrical S/PDIF or USB, which would be another way of excluding network.

And (unless it is the same thing), IIRC Melco has something called Direct Mode that can be switched in for improved sound quality, though I am unclear what it does exactly.

Melco and Innuos only have USB out so you would have to use a Dac if you wanted to use them indirect into a Naim Streamer
Naim Core is bnc digital out so that’s direct into a naim streamer

I find no matter how I use any of them if they are hooked to the network the network comes into play
and paying attention to the network yields positive results

To chose which one is better / best one really has to try them and see which one is for them.

I like them all but I like to mess around with them
and I always keep one as a network player so my wife can play music as simple as possible

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The core is good at what it does
It’s a one box solution for ripping / storing / serving and does a great job of this

However…I too would probably not buy one if I was looking to purchase now…but have been happy with it overall …it’s just as others have said … there’s better out there now

…that’s what the melco distribution here told me…they said it’s a matter of days, not months…melco should be roon endpoint ready.

Well, that’s good to hear then ! I shall keep an eye out.

Thanks for replies sent so far.
What I would like to know is that these toys can substantially improve the sound quality in the case of local streaming or potential improvement only small/slight and money better spent on black box/speaker upgrade ?

Not as a server, only as an endpoint to an attached DAC.

If sound quality is your main concern, then choose the Melco. Otherwise the other two represent reasonable alternatives and all preferred above a base NAS.

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Just looking on your profile on what you have in use. It’s a logical next step in improving what you get from your NDS. See it as investing in improving your source…

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In the context of my system, feeding an NDS, the Melco made a significant improvement in all areas, enough to justify the price. My Melco is the base model N1a/2, the N1z, would be better still. I think it’s a great product and it gets my vote! (although with the caveat I only tried Naim and Melco, did not try the Innous). Demo them all and be confident you have the best for your needs. Enjoy!

Actually there are Melco n1zh2 for 2/ 2,5 k ex demo or second hand. It costs, if someone needs to, around 200 pounds to upgrade to the new EX platform ( or software).
For local streaming, it’s a must with an Nds/555dr, and even Nd555. A clear and very nice upgrade. The sound is so much more natural and easy going.

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