Innuos Zen Mini - a Journey into Streaming Audio

Apologies if I’ve missed this but did you settle on a Chord interconnect in the end?

Yes exactly! Sometimes it is easy to forget that those that only do local streaming have a ‘source first’ that requires a slightly different approach to set up. One must consider the rip quality and the delivery chain (UPnP over LAN or WIFi or USB etc).

One other issue with this that could be considered ‘major’ depending on your attitude to how you want to listen to your music is how ‘convenient’ this type of source first is or can be. I have a U-Serve at the moment, which is rip and forget, but like many others, following the Zen path maybe the solution for me later due to price and sound quality.

Looks like ratrat has found his Nirvana as well as Zen. Its always pleasing to hear positive results when so many people can have unsatisfying streaming setup experiences.


Thanks for the interest and enquiry.
Too busy at work, so will aim to reply in full as soon as possible.

Still intended to respond, when time allows.

1 Like

Oooooooh! The suspense! :slight_smile:


Quick update on interconnect cables, (for Innous Zen Mini mk3 to Naim NAC72 pre-amplifier)…

Shortly after we brought a collection of cables home - for comparison - the dealer was kind enough to forward another one.

Naim standard interconnect, 2 RCA to 5 Pin Din, 1M length.

So, this Naim cable went into the mix too, for consideration.
More soon.


Which Interconnect?
One detail we’ve been considering is a decent interconnect to go between the Zen Mini (internal DAC) analogue output to our Naim NAC72 pre-amp. The configuration is a simple stereo RCA phono pair to Naim 5 pin DIN source.

I’ve spent a few sessions tinkering with these loan demo cables…

Shown, in order

  • Chord Chrysalis ( as a proxy for the Naim equivalent currently available)
  • Chord Clearway
  • Chord Shawline
  • Chord Epic

Here are our thoughts …

The Chrysalis and Clearway are on a par. I would struggle to find many words to describe anything to separate them. Importantly, they sound okay. If these were the only cables available, either would do just fine.

The Shawline is better. Little more detail, life, leading edge of notes more apparent, little more control of bass notes. But, it’s just a little, not a significant lift over the above options, at the lower price point.

So, you are left considering this marginal gain - value - for the additional cost from the Clearway & Chrysalis, to the Shawline.

After using Shawline for a while, if you go back to the other two (above) they sound a little dull and lifeless.

Epic is Best.

The Epic provides bags of detail and energy. There is a clear hierarchy - between these cables - going up the range. It was a pleasant surprise that it was so obviously apparent.

But there is a catch. Epic is also bright. Almost too bright after a while. It’s tiring after longer periods.

At lower volumes, this is less evident. So, at lower levels this apparent better control is quite pleasing and I could happily live with it. The problems only occur when the volume goes up. String arrangements sound too much. Hi hats and cymbals become difficult, etc. The overall sound becomes unnatural. Too much of everything.

So, you can’t have cake and eat it too!

There is a little caveat to this finding. We tried the Epic with a Nait XS2 + HC2. We got a different result. I would say it works better in this situation.

Standing Back for a Moment
Last year, (when the Olive shoes boxes first came into our lives), we spent quite a bit of time experimenting with them and figuring a few things out on how they work. Also, comparing and contrasting with other items we have.

I mention this now, because I am reminded how we learned these Olive boxes work better with vinyl. Which is why we decided to set up a vinyl only system in one room with them. It’s almost like they were made for playing vinyl records. ( In fact, they actually were. LOL :joy: )

When using the lovely shoe boxes with both CD5XS - DC1 - nDAC and vinyl record players, (same album comparing between sources), the sound of vinyl was preferred.

CD’s sound a little clipped and maybe bright by comparison. Don’t get me wrong, CD’s still sound great. We’re happy to play CD’s on this system. But if you have a more recent Naim amplifier, it just does things differently and is probably better suited.

So, there is also a system context to consider. As we understand, from experiments, that more recent Naim amplifiers deal with digital sources differently. But through the older Olive boxes, CD can be bright. This leads me to wonder if the Epic simply gives the Naim Olive boxes more of this. In other word, emphasising an already bright presentation.

Final point, I should also note, the Zen Mini is intended as a secondary source in this room and not to get too carried away anyway. Does it really matter that much?

Independent Confirmation
It was fascinating that my best mate and wife agrees. She wouldn’t use all the adjectives. Just a calming comment like “that’s nice” or “that’s not so good as the last one”. Often from the next room and with no knowledge of what I am doing with all the cables. So, a perfect blind test. She’s great.

So, we are leaning towards the Chord Shawline for now.

A little more music, compared to the first two. But without the OTT bits (probably inherent within the Olive system) the Epic exposes.

Post Script
So, the best cable wasn’t actually the best cable. Or at least not in the context of this system. Apart from deciding on which cable option to use, one other thing was learned : None of these learnings matter.

I mean the learning cannot be carried over to other system situations. So, for me, I would have to try the whole thing again - with another source - or in another system.

Another way of saying this, the Epic might work fine with other items.

System Notes
Here’s the geeky stuff for those wishing to understand system context…

  1. Innuos Zen Mini mk3 + LPSU
    (Supplied power cable, plugged into Wireworld Matrix 2 power hub)

  2. Connections
    Using Zen Mini (internal DAC) analogue output - Test Interconnect - NAC72 source input “Tuner” (5 pin DIN)

  3. Naim NAC72 - Naim HiCap - NAP140
    (PowerLine Lite on HC and NAP140, plugged into Wireworld Matrix 2 power hub)

  4. Interconnects
    All other interconnects standard Naim SNAIC.

  5. Power
    Power from dedicated 10mm2 radial circuit, unswitched MK Logic 2G faceplate, (as per forum recommendations).


You are ready to post a review in an Hifi magazine :grin:


I actually thought it was refreshing to read something which didn’t claim there was an indisputable clear hierarchy etc.


Hello, I just skimmed through this thread because I am considering getting an Innous server. Nobody has really talked about sound quality using Tidal. Right now that is what I mainly listen to, using an Ifi Zen stream into a stand alone Dac.
The Ifi Zen sounds really good to me, I just wonder if an Innous server would be better?
Another reason I am considering Innous would be
Reducing boxes, and ease of use.
The Ifi can be frustrating at times, I prefer plug and play. I have a local dealer that sells Innous, but he has none for demo, so I would have to order blind/deaf.
I am thinking about the Zen or Zenith Mk3, full size box is what I want.
I have a Roon subscription for the year, core is currently on my Laptop, but I would ditch all that if the Sense App sounds better.
Thanks for any advice.

There is no “if” with regard to Roon and Sense. Sense sounds better. Nevertheless you may still prefer some aspect of Roon functionality.

1 Like

The Zen Mini is a decent product. It offers both streaming and playback from a ripper / HDD archive. As it has its own internal DAC, it can be a one box solution. As you mention box count, that might work for you.

Sorry. Can’t help with comparative comments regarding SQ from Tidal (or any other streaming platform), compared to your own set up. Maybe best to get a dealer demo and take your own gear along to get that info’

The Zen and Zenith are both better products. But you’ll need a decent external DAC to get the best from these full size machine.

Our Zen Mini is used with the matching LPSU. We felt it was worth the extra budget. So, we use our Zen Mini as a two box solution, using internal DAC, (analogue out). We have also experimented with an external DAC ( a loan Chord Qutest and our own Naim nDAC). At that point the Zen Mini is actually an awesome source. If we didn’t have a DAC already, I would recommend partnering just the Zen Mini with the Chord Qutest and tucking the Qutest away out of sight. So, a one box solution, or at least just one visible.

Don’t discount the Zen Mini. Set up the right way, it approaches the SQ from the Zen. If budget allows, Zenith and a decent external DAC should be your start point.

The Innous Sense app is really straight forward and a pleasure to use. Having used numerous UI’s over the years, this one is about as good as it gets.

All three Innous machines allow Roon. Another plus point.

If you like what Roon does, maybe look at Roon Nucleus.

If you mostly stream from Tidal, then another option might be Naim ND5 XS2

Good luck.


Thanks for the info about your experience. Today I visited my local dealer, and talked on the phone to another dealer I use in my area.
Currently I am demoing some Shunyata cables and a power distributor, along with a dedicated Dac (Saturn 201 Dac) from my local dealer.
He can get me any Innous servers I want, but it would take 6 weeks.
I am thinking Innous Zen with the Saturn Dac is the way I would go from the local dealer.
The other dealer has a Lumin P1 available in the store, so could have that immediately.
The P1 is getting rave reviews, and would be a one box streamer/Dac/Preamp or any combination of the three you like.
The P1 with my Nagra integrated has a lot of appeal, 2 boxes plus speakers.
I told both of them I will make a decision after the Munich show, just in case…

1 Like

Ask him whether he could get a demo unit from Innuos - that’s what my dealer did. Worth a try….

In my experience Sense sounds better than Roon (and Qobuz better than Tidal).

1 Like

I suppose I could ask him to get a demo unit in, but that would take 6 weeks he said. No Qobuz in Canada, so stuck with Tidal for now.

Also my experience.

1 Like

Innuos seem to be on a bit of a role at the moment. You folks may be interested in the new Pulse Network player range.


Yes indeed, Pulse looks very interesting.
Streaming only platform. Looks like it will be debuting in Munich. But not available to buy until September 2022 onwards.

No doubt everyone on this forum is waiting to see if a 272 mk2 appears in Munich later this week too. Fingers crossed :crossed_fingers:

1 Like

A question to all Innuos users: Has anybody tried a Zen Mini with a Teddypardo Power Supply?

nope but i use mine with an S booster linear supply. half the price of innuos one and an uplift in performance.