Well, there are a lot of Uniti Core topics out there but none I noticed that seemed to address my questions. My sincere apologies if I’m duplicating an earlier discussion.
20 years on from ripping MP3s, I would want something easier (lazier) and more HiFi centric to do the job than any of my computers, none of which have optical drives (i know, USB optical drives etc.).
Since participating in this forum I’ve come across comments from folks about quirks with the way the Uniti Core operates that I don’t recall the details of. Since the Uniti Core has been on the market for quite some time, does it still compare well with other competing products? Are there clear benefits for Naim owners beyond sharing an app?
Other rippers / servers that I’m curious about are the Bluesound Vault because refurbished units are a bargain and Innuos Zen or Zen Mini pre-loved because of their reputation, app and (possibly) Roon core*.
I already have a Synology NAS with 28 terabytes free (that I’d use for backing up) where the FLAC files (of uncertain provenance) that I’ve acquired don’t sound as good as the music I stream from the cloud. It’s possible that once everything is ripped, if sound quality is the same, I’d move the files to my NAS and remove my old FLAC rips from Roon, but at this point I’m curious about dedicated devices.
- I already have a Roon core
I still use a Naim HDX which is similar to the Unity Core’s predecessor, the Unity Serve but with added streamer.
Sometimes a CD won’t rip or is missing or shows incorrect Meta Data but usually the HDX is fine.
Less fine is the way it handles many classical albums, if that’s important to you.
Yes, the “all-in-one” ripping solution is neat and you don’t need to be particularly computer literate to use it, which was for me, a big bonus. I do now know how to and have ripped CD’s using DBPowerAmp and again, I am unable to detect any difference when I play those rips.
I also have a QNAP NAS drive and Synology NAS both running Asset server.
I honestly can’t tell the difference between the two of them or HDX as sources.
I understand that there are newer severs which outperform my NAS and the HDX but I suspect at they might come at quite a price ££.
The Core is still based on the same platform on the streaming side as the brand new streamers from Naim so from that perspective, it is very much still current and relevant.
Whether you like how it works or not is another matter. But it should integrate seamlessly with an external NAS to act as just a ripping and UPnP server to the collection. That said, “should” and “will” are not always the same thing and it is hard to predict the exact way it gets along with your current setup. While that would not give me any concern at all as I am confident I could resolve any issues if they did arise during setup, if your frustration threshold is low, I would see if I could try any ripper before buying it. That is as much true for the others on the market as it is for the Core.
As you’ve correctly pointed out, you certainly can do this manually without such a device. And if you know what you are doing, do it very well. But the value in an dedicated ripper/server is more than just convenience for you, it is convenience for the household.
I work in IT and ripping carefully is a simple ritual. But even I think, “what happens to the music for the family if I get hit by a bus? Does it just stop? Would they ever figure this stuff out?” In that respect, the Core is a reasonable price to pay to solve that problem.
The Uniti Core is state of the art, in 2023 too. I have had the Innuos Zen Mini too, the Uniti Core sounded much better, specially, if you send the signal via LAN Cable to a Streamer. The BNC output sounds not so good, even via a very good DAC.
It seamlessly connects your ripped CDs to your Naim system and integrates perfectly. As a tool to do a job including backing up it really is very good. Are there better devices out there perhaps for less money? Maybe. It just works as far as I am concerned.
Odd that you should find the BNC output not so good. I am listening to my Core just now using the BNC output – sounds terrific! I also use the core into my other systems via the network. No problems. I find the Core is seamless when working with Naim streamers but tends not to play nice with other streamers I have tried. I think it is something to do with the way rips are stored into one folder and downloads into another. In a Naim streamer the division is not visible, in a Bluesound (for example) artwork is missing, and sometimes entire albums. Using the BNC out it will play into anything of course.
No problem, to explain it: My naim uniti core delivers the signal via Furutech-LAN-Cable to the Streaming Bridge LUMIN U1 Mini. That sounds much better than via BNC. In my home network are some netswitches and Network-Isolators, they optimize the Sound transfer via LAN Cable. That works even the Uniti Core is in Standby. And Lumin-App shows all the files with artworks. I would like to know, whether the Uniti Core sounds better or less good via LAN-Network to your Naim-Streamer.
One thing to consider, and this was key element for me, is that YOU choose the hard drive you want in the Core and install it yourself.
HDD or SSD, budget or higher quality with up to 5 years warranty !
On the other hand Innuos models drives are only 2 years and a replacement requires to be sent back to the factory…
Short answer, yes. Sonically it is peerless. If it has a weakness then it is the metadata/artwork integration.
We use our Synology NAS as the music store.
RAID disk redundancy, automatic cloud backup.
All the things the Core is missing.
I enjoyed the BNC output when I used it before getting the 555 but it did respond differently to different cables. A Belden 4794R SDI 12G video cable from Bluejeans was my favourite of those I tried trouncing the two lower end Chord cables, I never did stretch to Naim’s DC1 though.
I’m not too exercised by the metadata editing requirement for classical music any more but it was pain when I was ripping my CDs en masse.
I ripped to wav but it would be handy if it could output selected files to a data stick trans coding them to FLAC on the way.
These days I no longer run a PC and just operate from an iPad. Unfortunately this loses me the ability to download music to the Core, as far as I can work out.
It does depend on which iPad it is. I have an iPad Pro which is about three years old and with some faffing about I was able to save a download to my Core. But I found the only metadata editor available (MP3TAG) as an iPad app is totally unintuitive and I gave up trying to sort out the artwork (as it’s the work of moments if you use a PC). The app had been updated several times since then and perhaps if you are used to using it on a PC then maybe it’s easier on an iPad than it was for me.
Anyway it was Apple adding SMB to the iPad that made moving downloads from an iPad to a Core possible.
Do you store the ripped files in WAV format instead of FLAC?
I have the same experience, I have BlueOS gears at home, in addition to Naim. Well actually there are three wireless system working at my home (Naim, BluOS, and Sonos - long story btw).
I rip my CDs in WAV with Core. When I exported Core’s database for BluOS and Sonos library, I noticed : 1. The album’s artworks are missing, and 2. Some albums are missing; which turned out later to be put under a separate sub-folder named [Unknown] with other albums that have no metadata.
As it turns out, those are CDs that showed no metadata when being ripped in Core, which I edited and inputed manually through Naim App, which edits are not shown. They’re shown as [Album_XXXXX_XXX_…] and the tracks are shown only as XX - Track XX.WAV].
I’ve been thinking of using Songkong file tagger to embed the artworks and edited metadata, but I’m affraid because IT stuffs are so ancient greeks to me.
Thanks for that. I’ve now got the Core showing n the Files APP using its IP address. A quick search failed to turn up any download vouchers to try it out but I know there are some I ignored when I bought the albums and something will turn up sooner or later.
There are lots of places that you can download high res test files for free. Probably just googling that will find some.
I use a QNAP HS-251 NAS and know from trying alternatives it CAN be bettered in sound quality but I haven’t as yet found a perfect replacement.
I’d love Naim to bring out a revised Core that:
ditched the ripping option (or made it optional via USB) (this is surely becoming less of a must-have for most people now?)
had decent uPnP software which allowed something approaching Asset level of functionality
had direct Ethernet connection to streamer (if Naim deemed it improved sound quality)
kept the half-width case
It could sit very nicely next to my Nait 50!
I store the ripped files in FLAC format as I don’t see any advantage to using WAV. I think the problem of the BlueSound systems not finding artwork and sometimes losing entire albums has something to do with how the Core manages meta data in the Music (rips) folder. A more bullet proof method of ripping and storing on the Core so that BluOS and others could find it with no problems, would be to rip using dBpowerAmp, making sure the artwork is intact and then put the folder in the Core Downloads folder. Bulletproof but a bit of a faf. Exactly what the Core is supposed to avoid.
Does this mean that the Uniti Core doesn’t reliably embed artwork in FLAC files compared to using a computer to rip?
No, I didn’t mean to imply that at all. The Core will reliably imbed artwork in FLAC (and WAV) provided that you label the artwork as ‘folder.jpg’ and keep the dimensions to not more than 1000x1000. (Or at least it did until recently as there seems to be a meta data incompatibility problem somewhere (ROVI?). What I was saying is that you can do all that, but when rips take place other non-Naim streamers seem to have problems. With any of my Naim streamers the Core library is seamless and easy to access.