Innuos Zen Mini - a Journey into Streaming Audio

Oh wow… wallflower… just on tick over it’s gonna be great played louder later… my scm7 woofers are gonna dance! Like the Radiohead cover too! Good shout.:+1:

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Maybe I missed it as I have only just skim read the thread. Not really a good thing as I may well have missed something. :slightly_frowning_face:
Assume you are now ripping CDs. Did you decide to change your original ALAC files to some other format. If yes have you considered using Dbpoweramp to change the format of the original ALAC files to your new preferred format and at the same time transfer them to a new USB drive. This will give you a head start on the reformatting, then add the remainder to of the CDs as you rip them to this new drive as well ending up with all your music in the new format and on a new single drive. You can then decide if you want to use the old drive as a spare backup. It could even be held in a different location for added protection.


Thanks for those thoughts. That’s amazing that you took in those details and thought to offer that advice. Thank you.

I’m just in the process of writing a post - an update - covering this and other points. Give me a bit longer. Look out for something soon.

In the meantime, yes, last night I started ripping CD’s and managed maybe 30 or so of the more recent ones we have, (that are not on that back up disc). Also, having fun and messing around playing some music on a Friday night :wink: Mostly, club - dance - electronic :notes:


A new artist for me. I’ve been enjoying this album this morning (there’s some pretty hefty bass too) so I’ll be doing more exploring of the back catalogue later :+1:

Nice shoebox setup there. The Innuos kit looks good too. If I hadn’t gone the Roon route a few years back, Innuos servers would definitely be on my radar.

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Those bass notes really slam don’t they…
I’ll bet your 606’s really like this kind of music?

Glad you liked it
It’s all about the music :wink:

The Zen Mini works really well visually with the Olive shoe boxes. It was one of the primary reasons for going this route. But, actually, the SQ hasn’t really been compromised. Zen Mini mk3 with LPSU added is pretty good. The next step up is the Zen mk3, which is probably better. But - to be honest - not by much really.

TBH - The whole Innuos line is good. A friend has Zenith - NDX2 - SN3 and this really rocks.

At its price point, we think it’s pretty good value. If we ever want more from this diminutive little Zen Mini, we can always add an external DAC to squeeze a little extra. We tried it with our own nDAC. We also used it with a loan Chord Qutest. It sings with an external DAC. But for what we wanted - a means of access 1000+ CD collection (as a secondary source) and to aesthetically match with Olive boxes - can’t go wrong :+1:


Our new Innuos Zen Mini mk3 arrived home Friday night, last night. It took just minutes to set it up and start using it. It’s so simple. So, now it’s being used (a lot) and we are going through a few experiments, before we settle with it.

It really is as quiet as a mouse.

Here is an update, on some of the details…

For now, we are going to resist subscribing to Qobuz. So, keeping it simple, just focus on our CD’s for a while and get that part right.

Position and stacking
Initially, we have it on top of the storage unit, as seen. Just for ease of use and access. Once we are happy with everything, it will go below into one of the Kallax cubes. However, because we are experimenting with a few things, such as cables, it suits us to leave it on the top surface for now.

I read somewhere Innuos recommend stacking server on top, with LPSU on the bottom. So this is how we have it, (as pictured). I’ve already tried this reversed and side by side, without any obvious difference. When I have a quiet moment, I intend to go over this again, listening with some reference pieces, and be sure.

All things equal, we will probably stack one on top of the other, as it takes up much less space. I see John Darko calls this “Kallax-Fi”.

Ripping & file format
The Zen Mini - in fact all Innuos servers - default is to rip into FLAC 16/44. I’m happy with that and have already started the task of ripping CD’s - starting with those we have bought more recently. (We also have another 700 already on an archive, we created some years ago. These are in ALAC and now on a WD “ my passport” USB back up HDD).

At some point we have to make a decision. To simply import this legacy archive, in ALAC format and in full, onto the Zen Mini. This is an easy enough task and only takes a few minutes and several buttons. Or redo those 700, so as to be in FLAC format too.

When we had the demo’ loaner at home - some weeks ago - we played back ALAC and FLAC versions of the same music. I’m not sure we could discern a significant difference. (At least not on this system).

Speaking to our dealer, one interesting point that cropped up. The Innuos is likely to provide a better rip, compared to the computer that was used to create the ALAC files. So the “rip” might be more significant than file format, per se ?

It’s another thing I’m going to explore.

Interconnect cables
We have a number of cables to try out…
Another decision is to chose an interconnect to use between the Zen Mini mk3 and a Naim Pre-amp NAC.

Chord Chrysalis (as a proxy for current Naim equivalent)
Chord Clearway
Chord Shawline
Chord Epic

In the meantime, it’s great to able to play our CD’s again. (Or at least in this room).

So, lots to keep us busy over the next few weekends. If anyone has personal experiences that might be helpful, please do share your thoughts.



Hi @ratrat,

Glad you are up and running and enjoying the new boxes. From the above it looks like you are not rushing and making sure the solution works for you - 10 out of 10 for that.

Regarding file format there was a few threads some time ago talking about benefits of one over another and that Naim seemed to prefer being presented with WAV. Agree not relevant if you are using non-Naim DAC. There were also discussions on the ease or not of getting meta data correct. Again apps are around to simplify this but it is better to fix your labels etc at the start and not have to adjust later. Some tools are more suited to some genres than others eg classical, if that is applicable to your music.

Not sure what your dealer was referring to when he referred to better rips. You may not be aware but some tools eg DBPoweramp check the rip and compare it with a number of databases to ensure that it is “bit perfect”. I used that when I ripped my CD collection. DBPoweramp also has modes to help rip those awkward CDs where they may be scratched.

Anyway you are on a good path and I hope you continue to enjoy your music.

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Excellent thread. You’ve motivated me to try comparing HDD connected media instead of upnp streaming of our ripped collection (on an Altair). Also really appreciate the music recs. Stumbled across Bonobo the other night for the first time. Great stuff. It’s all about the music!

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Hi @Orac
Thanks again for dropping in and adding thoughts to this thread
It’s Sunday morning here. Coldplay - Music of the Spheres (2021) is playing low as background music.

Sitting, listening, with a coffee and ripping a few discs whilst reading the Naim forum. Yes, I know, multi-tasking :flushed:

Since Friday night, we’ve made good progress ripping a few discs. Looking at the database, it’s got to 110, as I write this post.

Luckily, since moving home a few weeks ago, all the CD’s are still in their moving packing boxes. So it’s actually a really easy exercise to get to all the discs.

One of the unintended consequences of going through your CD collection is coming across forgotten records and old favourites. I’ve just found Mary Chaplin Carpenter - Party Dolls and Other Favourites, (1999).

Track 14 : 10,000 miles - has to make it into my top 100 list of “all time best”. (Note, sorry, but to be restricted to just a top 10 would be way too challenging)

Meta data & tags
The Zen Mini doesn’t always get the album release date correct. ( To be fair, should say the databases it uses for this data). It’s easy to amend as you go along. Now that I’m aware, I’m checking each disc and amend this when necessary, before it rips. Takes seconds. But it’s a little frustrating. The problem it causes is to throw out the chronological order of albums by a single artists. For example, just loaded 9 or 10 David Bowie albums and they were out of order.

Some of this is due to just incorrect release dates. Other times, it is because the CD is a remastered work and has a later release date.

For example, The Blue Nile, High, (2004). It was originally released in 2004. But we also have second copy as the 2020 remastered version

It’s a small issue really.

I have also learned to watch the genre tag being added. In some cases, I have preferred to reclassify an album, from the default proposed So, I’m keeping an eye on that too. This being worthwhile, as I do like the idea of selected just “jazz” and picking an album from the list created. This approach often suits our mood or what style or genre we wish to listen to. So, best to get this right in a way that fits our own classification. (I’m sure we would all think slightly differently about how we arrange our music collection, in this way)!

After a while, you get into a groove and understand what to do. It becomes a straight forward background activity, whilst reading or listening to music, or what ever.

DBPoweramp question
You’ve mentioned DBPoweramp. So, I’m intrigued. Perhaps you can expand on the idea of checking bits. Can you explain how this is done.

I’m thinking about this as a production excercise? If I set up a computer, load that App, etc., how much time and effort is involved to do these checks for each record. About 700. Second question, also transcode from ALAC to FLAC. Any details would be helpful to understand the cost (time) benefit of doing this.

Ripping each disc in the Zen Mini takes 4-5 mins each. Maybe time consuming, but very straight forward and can be done as a background activity, (rather than something that requires concentration, etc).

Lastly, just to provide some feedback. I’m fairly relaxed about the WAV thing. I’ve been through all that in the past and concluded it doesn’t really make any significant difference, ( to me). Each to their own. :+1:

Thanks again.


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If you have them as ALAC just keep them as ALAC going to FLAC only makes them more compatible with equipment that doesn’t support ALAC. If your kit does support it then leave as is it won’t bring anything new to the table.

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Hi @ratrat,

Sounds like you are making good progress and doing the things that are important to you whilst maintaining that most important factor - enjoying the music; and finding some of those old favourites.

Regarding checking bit perfect, transcoding etc I would recommend a quick visit to the DBPoweramp website and have a read through. For example I transcoded a copy (you can/do get to keep the original in whatever format it is) of my complete CD collection to MP3@320 to load it onto a car media system that could not work with lossless formats. Sounds like you have already encountered some of the gotchas eg remastered versions, and amending data as CD is ripped.
The DBPoweramp site explains more about its approach to making sure rips are as perfect as possible and is probably a better source than myself. Depending on what IT you use there are other tools available and whilst I’ve had a good experience of DBPoweramp others may be more appropriate to your needs eg MP3Tag for editing meta data. Plus I’m sure that there are others on the forum who can give details of their experiences.

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Ripping a CD collection is like “cleaning out the cupboards” exercises, takes a lot of time and effort but satisfying in the end. A weekend being well-spent now, have fun, and loving the photos!

Btw there are several options but I used Kid3, an open source software tool, on my Mac to sort out the metadata to a clean open standard and thus recognised by most players.


A Paul Brady fan too I see, nice!


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Sounds like you have your procedure sorted.

I call it a process/procedure (ripping CDs) because that’s what it is. Get this right, using the right tools, the end result will be good and consistent.

I’m on a MAC so use XLD for ripping or converting formats, then add the files to “Metadatics” to add/check metadata, then save. It’s ready for transfer to wherever it’s going.

I use the web first to get the best album cover quality I can. Then add this using XLD before I start the rip.



@MrDom @LSLFAN @daddycool @Orac

@MrDom Completely agree about thinking in terms of process / procedure - operations. Get into a groove, doing all the right things and repeat, a lot.

Way back, as part of my work, I spent a lot of time with Imerge, Linn Kivor, Meridian Sooloos and also Solos products. Including a whole bunch of network and software tools for music and servers. Even did a lot of database loads (for others). In fact, a lot of database builds :wink: Reckon getting into a groove is the best (only) way.

Dedicated music servers have come along such a long way in 10-15 years, since that experience. For me, the key thing is the user interface UI. Innuos Sense is pretty good. Most things have been thought through and work well.

One of the positive reasons one might go the direction of a music server is the ease of use. To be fair, you pay more for this. (Compared to alternatives, say an Apple Mac Mini, or any decent PC, with appropriate software, etc).

Although, I’m aware of such software tools and how best to use them, I’m also a bit of Luddite for my own home.

Anything used here has to pass muster with several users, (not just me). It’s a philosophical point, as to how much you use these things. As opposed to just using the utility of a music server (like the Innuos) and just getting on with it. Enjoying the music :notes:

I’m going to look at kid3, XLD, DBPoweramp, plus some other things I know. We have PC machines here, connected to same whole house CAT6 network. So, later on in my project, I may start to examine ways to improve the metadata, check bit perfect, transcode, etc, etc…

One area I’m already thinking about is the genre # tags. I’m doing this as I’m going along. But may also come back to this with more a sophisticated understanding later.

I’m undecided on what to do with our archive of c.700 CD’s in ALAC format, on a USB HDD. That’s for another day.

Thanks all. All these thoughts are invaluable. Nobody, by themselves, knows everything and it’s great a wider community is able to reflect and offer alternative thoughts. It also becomes a permanent record and a resource for anyone following on later.

Keep all these positive thoughts and ideas flowing…


As a life long music lover, I’m finding that going through our album collection is also a journey through your own life…

Many of the albums or individual records are connected with something along the way. So many great memories.

As an example, take Mr. Lloyd Cole.

We’ve followed Mr Lloyd along his own life via a musical career. Starting with the Commotions. We have those 1980’s records on vinyl. Then later, these CD’s.

The bottom one is his solo album Standards, (2013). This one was signed by Mr Lloyd himself.

Knowing our likes, a very close friend bought me two tickets - for a significant birthday - to see Lloyd Cole. My wife (and best mate) and myself went along and had a great night together. Including a brief chat with the man himself, after the gig. Signed copy was bagged. (Ticket paperwork keep for effect).

Listen to “Myrtle and Rose” and “No Truck”.
Simple can be beautiful …
(He’s lived in NY, USA for some time now and you see which direction this has taken him with his music).

Anyway, so many positive memories are found in your personal things🙂


Totaly agree with your thoughts and the way you are approaching this task.

I decided to rip to WAV many years ago, as I started with Naims own ND5XS. Never had any issues with tagging them either. Decided to stay with WAV as disk space not an issue for me.

Everything gets transferred to Synology NAS. Decided on Minimserver back in the day due to my love of Classical music. It’s worked flawlessly for nearly 10 years.

My end result after ripping with XLD looks like this:

  • Folder called Artist Name
    - Folder called Album Name
    - 01 Track Name.wav
    - 02 Track Name.wav
    - etc…
    - folder.jpg

All gets transferred to NAS appropriate folder.

NAS folder structure is:

 >Hi Def

I browse by metadata, not folder structure.

I call this my master library that is fit for purpose now and whatever the future holds.

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Hi @ratrat, @MrDom,

I use a very similar format to @MrDom in terms of folder structure and use of Synology NAS and Minimserver. I however am in the PC world as opposed to MAC so use a slightly different toolset to rip etc and also have all my files in FLAC. I have Minimserver set up to transpose to WAV on the fly; ie the flac files are transposed to wav by Minimserver as they are sent to player/dac (Naim units in my case). This is something easily set up in Minimserver and I believe a few folk on the forum do this as well.

As mentioned earlier you seem to have a process sorted - hope the ripping of your final CDs is successful and that you are enjoying finding those gems of yesteryear.


Hi @ratrat,

nice thread, enjoyable reading with a real story to it. A couple of thoughts - don’t forget to use the Innuos backup regularly as you rip discs. A USB hard drive will do for backups, they aren’t too expensive. Innuos has a facility to review the metadata and edit it as you rip; this can be used for fixing release year, genre, cover art and track title spelling mistakes. I use the Innuos ripper most of the time. DBPoweramp is used for the few HDCDs I have because it can turn them into 24bit 44.1kHz FLAC format where the Innuos ripper will convert them to 16bit 44.1kHz WAV or FLAC.

Enjoy your music, M


That’s really good shout. Thank you for all those ideas.

Funny, I’ve been browsing the internet today and thinking about a back up disc. It’s on my list👍

And thanks for reading the thread and paying a compliment. That’s also much appreciated. Equally, hope it’s interesting and entertaining.