Innuos Zen Mini - a Journey into Streaming Audio

I would suggest getting the SSD version with the external PSU if the budget will stretch to it.

I’ve had a Zenith Mk III for a few years and, despite missing my CDX2, I would swap back. UX, software updates and NAS backup are a breeze. 4TB storage should be enough for your collection.

ATB, J

Just checking, who are you addressing, in your recent post?

FWIW, for my part, already have SSD (upgrade to S version) and also external LSPU…
So, would agree with your main idea, for other users too.

In case you missed it, read this…

Best wishes
R

Happy to share. I’m sort of hoping that one day Naim will one day do a standalone DAC that has a USB input and then I’d think about using using the Zen direct into the DAC and replacing the 272 with a preamp. I could still keep my CD rips local and then stream Qobuz or Tidal hi res streams. I’m in no hurry though, I’m pretty happy with where my system is at.

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They did – The DAC-V1.
I’ve got two (well, actually the 2nd is a brand new unit in an unopened box that I grabbed the last stock of from Addicted2Audio couple years back…just haven’t/didn’t end up using….)

It’s a shame they stopped their separate DAC range really, just for the options……the nDAC seems even more loved now than at the time…always the way I guess.

SC

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Yes agree - a nice shoebox traditional chrome bumper one to match a shoebox CB streamer both to match the recently released NAIT 50 :+1:

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The nDAC gets a lot of love, I’m surprised that Naim don’t have a separate DAC, using the ND5 XS2 as a transport into a DAC seems to get brought up regularly.

I won’t pretend to know anything about manufacturing electronics, would it be easier to make a DAC than a streamer?

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Well it’s going to be interesting when it comes (if it does) to replace the “lower”
range such as the nd5xs2 QlderBrad

But I agree would be good to see a separate DAC but unfortunately I don’t think Naim will reintroduce one

I have an nDAC and it’s very very good I must say ( now using with the Core)

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Merge the capabilities of the DAC-V1 and nDAC (i.e add the Asynchronous USB)…Drop the Headphone Amp (now that the Atom HE exists), restyle in Unity/NC casework, shoebox or full size….Job done!

But what do I know….I’m still waiting for the AV3…! :roll_eyes::slightly_frowning_face:

SC

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Hi @Seacat77
Hope you don’t mind me checking back with you. Just curious, how are you getting on with your new ZENith .

KR
R

Haven’t really listened to it ,much. Will give it a decent spin this weekend. On first start up etc. It is fast, as in ripping CD’s, starting up a playlist etc seems much snappier than via the Zen mini.

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Give it a good time to run in, especially the 3 power supply rails. If you are using Sense as a control app, then +/- volume control buttons are coming. Will be be available from InnuOS 2.5.5. :blush:

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@ratrat Fabulous reading through your experience setting up the Zen in your two systems - very helpful and informative.

I’m curious as to how does your ND5 5X2 fit into the equation with the Zen? Do you use the ND5 for just internet streaming and not reading files directly from the Zen for local playback? (lots to take in!).

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Best short answer is think 2 room solution, (being built up in stages).

Give me a moment and I’ll try and find the previous post that explains this idea…

@YetiZone
BTW, I’ve been deliberately quiet in your other thread - interesting read, which I’m following - because others are doing such a fine job explaining things of interest to you. But, may chip in later with some useful observations…

@YetiZone
Found it, here you go…

At the time, didn’t think ZENmini was up to the task of Roon Core. So the Roon Nucleus features in that sketched solution.

However, since then, Innous released the S version of ZENmini. We subsequently upgraded our ZM to S variant and with extra resources felt more comfortable using as Roon Core.

Longer term, might still add a Nucleus. But it works well for now. (Moving Roon Core duties across to the Nucleus. That’s more to do with how Roon works, which is a “resource hungry” application. But, also good to have another SSD server location in the mix - on your LAN - for back up and redundancy, etc).

Taking a step back from specifics, with what you are considering, I think it helps to take your time, do all the research and figure a few things out. Maybe decide on all the pieces of the picture you feel you need and your “end game”. Then work towards it. In stages, if you need or want to. Maybe you are doing that already. Start point being research with this forum, which is brilliant.

Streamers, servers, products that stream and serve, internal or external DAC’s, user interface(s), streaming music platforms, (e.g. Qobuz, et al), etc, etc.

My own opinion is a user interface ( UI ) is as important as the sound quality. So, good to find an opportunity to use Bluesound or Primare or what ever and understand how the UI works (and the limitations).

FWIW, Apple products such as the Mac mini or a MacBook Pro are fine products, when used in a certain way. I’ve used these as a music source myself in the past and have that experience. A good external DAC may be all you need for now.

Also, love Apple Music too. Just a bit frustrating that it’s challenging to get this music out of the Apple ecosystem and into decent hifi systems. That’s another topic. Lots of threads ( use search function) on that one if you wish to discover more.

Speak soon
R

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Intrigued by your couple of mentions of this. Innuos have always advised me that best sound quality was achieved from my Zenith by setting volume to 100% and then controlling volume from DAC/pre. Has something specific changed apart from the coming sensible change which might impact sound quality? I certainly experimented when I got mine and concluded their advice was right at that time.

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Hi @mikehughescq I have never tried intentionally the volume of the Innuos Zenith set to 100%. I have frightened myself and the neighbours a couple of times :bomb:, unintentionally.
Personally, due to this I have steered away from Sense. I may go back and investigate more when the volume buttons are added. Not sure how you are connecting, USB or Ethernet. If by USB, this may be the reason for best SQ at full volume on Innuos setting ?
I have found my best SQ by ethernet to be Roon Nucleus running Roon Core, Innuos Zenith in Roon Player mode. These and Naim 222 are all connected to Innuos Phoenix-Net. I have not concluded what is giving the most uplift to SQ, but for the moment a happy bunny :blush:………until I try PSM 156 ???

Glad you’ve made that connection. Because the wonderful ZENmini can be set up in so many different ways, depending on system and user scenarios.

It’s a server (c/w built in ripper)
It’s a streamer
It has an internal DAC. So, it is a complete “stand alone” audio source.
It has a digital o/p. So, it can be improved with any better external DAC’s
It can be improved with the better Innous seperate external LPSU.

For Olive Naim
In our Olive system - room one - it works as a stand alone audio source. The ZENmini is connected from analogue audio out, (using its internal DAC) to the NAC72 pre-amp controller. The internal DAC works okay for our modest needs in this system setting.

Further notes on original thoughts for ZM…
Our original requirement - for the ZENmini - was a means of accessing our 1000+ CD collection, from shoe boxes, to match - form factor - our lovely Olive shoe box system. To do this without breaking the bank. It’s possible to do this with just one box. We added the separate LPSU, because this makes a modest difference and we felt it was worthwhile. We also considered the bigger sibling ZEN, but settled on the ZENmini, (for this room). We also considered the Chord Qutest, as another option for external DAC. It’s small enough to tuck away out of sight and not be seen. Might still this do this, at some point. Because using the ZM with our nDAC has convinced us that any decent external DAC elevates the ZM even further. IMO, with external LPSU and a decent DAC, performance approaches its larger sibling ZEN. So, offers a means of going that route, in stages and over time, as budget allows.

For Classic Naim
In our Classic system - room two - we could have the ZENmini set up via our nDAC external DAC and then onwards to SN3, etc. This option provides the best sound quality playback, from the ZM.

Longer term, we will use just the ND5 XS2 + nDAC in this system (separate room). So, in this scenario, the ND5 XS2 does the streaming, including local streaming, over LAN, from CD archive within the Innous SSD server, elsewhere in the house.

Multi-room
Within the context of a two room or multi-room audio solution, the ZM provides access to SSD archive of CD collection, anywhere on the LAN. Also, provides for Roon Core duties too, for now. So, running Roon as user interface, for all home (a) control and (b) music devices…

Around the house
Another interesting distinction, with Roon, I understand you can stream from the Core to any iPad or IPhone too. So, that satisfyies the adult children in the house, who prefer access and play back on mobile devices :+1:

Both rooms have ability to stream from internet music platforms. In our case, we are set up for Qobuz. Additionally, ND5 XS2 can also access the CD archive, via LAN, on ZM SSD server, (in another location). ZM also operating as Roon Core, to provide UI. So, ZM also provides access for both Roon UI and archive music, to users anywhere in the house.

Apple Music (when needed) is available from any iPad or iPhone, which is introduced into our HiFi via Apple cable and to front USB on the nDAC. Works okay.

Quick word about user interface again…
IMO, Naim App is okay. Works perfectly well. Innous Sense App is better. Roon is best, (for me).

Roon allows you to see all sources (Qobuz, own CD collection) and flip between both. To be fair, so do other UI’s too. It also allows control of rooms (devices in each room) and flip between both. Also allows control of all devices, to stream any music to all device simultaneously (e.g. for a party).

Hope all this is helping ?

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Fab, thanks for taking the time to reply in such detail - I’ll reply later on this evening as I’m currently out and about visiting kitchen showrooms - got to have somewhere nice to house the Naim kit!

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