Dedicated server or stick with my NAS

Okay, So I know that this has been discussed many times here, and I’ve read as many of the old threads as I could find. But I could not find a straight answer, and possibly because there isn’t one. But I’ll ask again just incase…

I’ve been using a QNAP TS453 Pro (8GB RAM) with MinimSever to feed stored 16bit, 24bit and DSD files to my SuperUniti for the last 3 years or so. And for the most part it’s been fine. I don’t have a large library of music (about 500 albums) plus another 100 CD’s - which I still need to rip. I’ve been using Amazon HD recently (via AirPort Express) and am back now to using Tidal. Will be testing Quboz as well for the next 3 months.

I like the fact that Tidal is integrated into the Naim app which makes it much more intuitive when searching and playing music.

I’ve also set-up the Bubble UPnp server on my NAS and the SuperUniti as a OpenHome renderer to stream Tidal. This has lifted the SQ. I’m hearing more detail and a wider soundstage.

So this got me thinking that if the source is so important, would I get a better sound from a dedicated server?

I’ve been looking at the Innuos Zen Mini mk3 as a replacement for the NAS. Mostly because the server needs to be in the same room as the system, and the Zen Mini would be quieter as it’s fan-less. It’s also within my price range. Is a good fit, I feel, for a SuperUniti. And it could hopefully give me that lift in SQ from Tidal, and my local stored music, that I’m hearing with Bubble, while using the Naim app. Which I find much easier to use then Kazoo or Lumin. (iPhone and iPad)

Then there’s the option to use it as Roon endpoint via Co-axial to the SuperUniti. I’m sure this would be a good option. however, I’d need to trial Roon again. As the first time I did, I was limited to the AirPort Express route, and it’s maximum 16/44 bit rate. And wasn’t using Tidal at the time. Also still not sure if Roon is worth the investment.

Has anyone here gone from a NAS to a dedicated server like the innuos and noticed a SQ improvement?


I use a Small Green Computer sonicTransporter i5 to feed my ND5 XS2 via ethernet. The i5 is fanless and absolutely silent (I live in one bedroom apartment so by necessity i5 is in same room as my system). I use it as a Roon core with my music stored on an internal SSD. Prices are quite reasonable by standards of our hobby (starting at US $895 without internal storage). SQ is excellent. Setup is plug and play, though if you need it support is fast and helpful. Website says they ship internationally.

Before purchasing the i5, I also considered a NAS. I decided to go with i5 because I knew it would work with Roon (it comes with 60 day trial and Roon server is preinstalled). One added benefit is I can stream Qobuz through i5 and avoid buggy Chromecast. I’m happy with my decision.


Very nice @Gromit1 I’ve also been looking at a few alternatives to the zen. There are some interesting options indeed. I assume that you have one of the new Naim streamers to be able to use Roon? I have the SuperUniti and trying to get Roon on it, has been a pain. Too many work-arounds and extra hardware to buy. The zen does at least allow me to use Roon and send the audio to my SuperUniti via co-axial. Not ideal as the streamer in the Naim becomes redundant and a reason I bought an all in one product, was to use all it’s components. Technology moves too quickly I guess! :grin:

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I went to a NUC a few years ago. Makes life a lot easier having your own server; I run Windows so easy access using Windows remote. I use an i3 but that was about 5 years ago. I’d go for an i5 with lots of RAM nowadays. In fact last year I purchased a ‘from China’ i5 mini-PC. From aliexpress and half the price of a NUC. It was supposed to be for a different job but it never got used so it’s sat in the cupboard already configured and ready to give if/when the NUC dies. All I need to do is move the music drive across and it’s ready to go.

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I moved from a Qnap a few months ago to a dedicated music server. I listened to both Innuous and Melco but was not impressed. One thread on this forum talked about the Audiostore; I phoned them and chatted to Martin, who spoke knowledgeably about the options, particularly about Roonifying my NDS.

I had considered building my own but in the end I went for the Prestige server. I found a significant improvement in SQ. one factor in my decision was that my ripping system is an ancient MacBook, so despite downloading most of my music the Prestige gives me that option to rip too.


That Prestige server sounds very interesting. Can I ask how this Roonifies the old generation streamers? I’ve been looking for a way to use Roon with my SuperUniti, but most options start to get expensive and with too many extra boxes.
Does it use the Roon+squeezeLite method?

That’s my understanding - there’s a Sonore UPnP bridge, Sonicorbiter software, and the Roon server preloaded in the box along with Minimserver. I’ve set it up, with Martin’s help, so that my NDS can see the music either through Roon or Minim. The SQ improvements are noticeable on both, compared to my Qnap stores, which I keep as music backups.

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Thanks for the info @Camphuw

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I should say that I keep thinking of setting it up to run through one of my ‘Qutes but they work just fine with Minim.

Another Prestige owner here. @Camphuw has it about right, based on what our ears tell us.

Merry Christmas, BF

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Not sure the Sooner bridge can run more than one device at a time.

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It can’t but you should be able to set up the other units and switch to them in setup menu … but I’ve not tried it.

Yes that would work. Shame it can’t support multiples though, the free LMS plugin can, but its not as simple to configure.

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There must be an online guide somewhere?

Yes, I have an ND5 XS2 (and am very happy with it).

After a week with the innous Zen Mini 3 on demo I’ve decided to order one. Part-Exchanging an Audiolab CD player, I hardly ever used, towards the cost, which made it a no-brainier. Using the Zen as Roon core and endpoint made a significant difference in SQ when listening to Tidal and Qobuz. I’ll also be testing the matching LPS unit once the Zen Mini arrives.
Apparently there is a new firmware coming out soon which will make it even easier to use as both Roon Server/Endpoint. Which is exactly what I’m interested in, a one box server, CD ripper and storage that can also run Roon core and play it to my SuperUniti. The only negative is that it’s over co-axial, not Ethernet. Well until I upgrade to a new Naim streamer.


Why is that a negative?
spdif gives you a stream of pcm data rather than flac files, so taking processing activity out of your Naim box and away from your DAC…

Can you say what comparisons you have made?
Did you compare without the Zen Mini to with the Zen Mini via spdif but still without Roon?
Or did you already have Roon before you got the Zen Mini?

What DSP or filters or effects are you using on Roon?

Have you tested CD rips you made on the ZM vs hi res downloaded files vs web streaming?

Hi @JimDog All my music is ripped to WAV so there is no need for any DSP or other filters. I don’t upscale to DSD but do have a fair bit of albums in DSD64 which I play natively.
I found that CD rips sound about the same wether streamed over from my QNAP NAS or over from the ZM3. The uplift in sound quality is apparent when streaming Tidal or Qobuz using Roon on the ZM3 - with the Zen acting as core and renderer - over co-axial.
I’ve only had the Zen mini for a few days, so didn’t get too much time to test every scenario. But will do more testing once I get my unit. I’ve also arranged to test the LPSU so should be interesting to see if that will again give an uplift in SQ.

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Please let me know if you discover whether this uplift in Tidal SQ is mainly coming from the data passing thru the ZM3, or because the wav is converted to pcm stream to travel via spdif, or because of Roon RAAT or other aspects of Roon?