Innuos Zen Mini - a Journey into Streaming Audio

I’ve never found any downside to using a server to play from a drive elsewhere on your network compared to a store located on the same device. That includes Roon and UPnP servers such as Minimserver and Naim Unitiserve. It’s a core part of what they are designed to do.
There will of course be a small increase in network activity as Roon pulls music files from elsewhere before streaming them to your ‘endpoint’ and I suppose it’s theoretically possible that this activity might have a small effect on sound quality, but I have never found it to be a problem in my system.


I don’t see it being an issue and is indeed what my dealer does with his zen, it’s then just a Nas. I only moved to the nucleus ad my zen mini was slowing up with Roon getting bigger when it was my core and storage.

Thanks @ChrisSU. Yes I agree - it is indeed what they are designed to do. My Innuos Zen mini running in Roon Player mode and with properly set up network share works well. Just can’t help thinking that an SSD in the Nucleus would have marginal gains - albeit small. Ah man…it’s daft really…thanks fella.

I suppose @Hifi-dog, that if someone did not have a NAS, they’d rip to their computer hard disk using db power amp, and then transfer it to the disk in the Nucleus? I ask this because I’m toying with the idea of releasing funds to put towards another piece in the hi-fi jigsaw, and the Innuos may have to go…maybe…hmmm…having said that, it is very useful having a turnkey ripping solution that also makes a nice Roon endpoint. Ah…I’m going around in circles. I’ll shut up now. It’s an interesting hobby :slight_smile:

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Two significant things to report from this week

Started a Qobuz subscription…

Did this earlier in the week. So a few days in.
(Only committed to a month subscription for now).

We’ve used Qobuz before, on several occasions. But this is the first at home and with our Zen Mini mk3 S. Over the past few day, initially, using the Innous Sense UI to access and explore Qobuz.

  1. Access to new material and exploring all the new stuff is great :+1:

  2. SQ is pretty good, through ZM+LPSU → nDAC. Although, HiRes 24/96 or higher is rather good and noticeable better than CD quality.

  3. Find the way Qobuz organises albums (from an artist) a little confusing. With several versions of the same album and the artists work not in chronological order. It’s tricky to make sense of all this. Maybe requires some basic knowledge of an artist or band (in the first instance) to effectively navigate through it all :thinking:

Maybe Roon does this better ?

Started a Roon subscription…

For the moment, just using the 14 day free trial.
Just done this, Sunday morning.

  • Set the ZM to stand alone Core
  • Downloaded the Roon app to an Apple iPad
  • Experimented with the setting and got the basics set up to use
  • Set up with Qobuz streaming service too.

Now just exploring how it works. (That is, using Roon as UI, with access to own CD archive collection, plus Qobuz streaming service). Or, should say, reminding myself, it’s been a while since last used it.



Nice DS Collection. Hows it going for you so far? Takes a while to get used to some of Roons features.

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Added another new box into the mix, this weekend.
Birthday treat :+1:

As shown …
Naim ND5 XS2 → DC1 →
Naim DAC → HiLine →
Naim SuperNAIT 3

The ND5 XS2 is intended for use in another room. (See bio’ ).

So far, it’s set up with Naim Focal app’ as well as Roon. Preference is for Roon. Also, connected with Qobuz streaming service. Option to stream from the Zen Mini SSD archive of CD’s too.

Quick snap, to share :camera_flash:
(Note to stacking police - relax - just did this for a quick snap to share)

Maybe two months with streaming, Qobuz and Roon now. Getting the hang of things. Apologies for several weeks of silence. It’s been a busy period. Will write some notes on experiences with Qobuz & Roon at some point.


Enjoy the journey! Nice setup if I say so myself lol

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Thanks :+1:
Know anyone that’s got same or similar :wink:

I just need to get saving pennies for a PSU now


p.s. just playing The National, “Day I Die”, from Sleep Well Beast.

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Definitely get a PSU on that nDAC, it transforms it.


Take your time, let it all sink in. As @IainO says above, the PSU does transform the nDAC but it’s pretty damn good without it. I ran without a PSU for about a year while saving up for one.


@IainO and @marcusman
Think I’m now at the stage of “saving up for one”.

And thanks to each of you, for the words of wisdom and encouragement in recent times.


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A Digital Source Comparison

Well, just had some fun - Saturday morning listening - thinking about the two digital sources we have in our home.

So, listened to a sample of music, from ND5 XS2 and compared with Innous ZENmini mk3 S + LPSU.

Both used as transport only, with our existing nDAC, via two separate DC1 interconnects, etc.

Rest of system is nDAC → HiLine → SN3 + HCDR → NAC A5 → Epos ES14

Image : Music room - as it is currently - experimenting with lots of different boxes for now.


Both are fine products, offering different features and functions…

We bought the ZENmini, to use with our other Naim Olive shoe boxes, to appear unobtrusive, and to allow access to an existing collection of CD’s. Just two small boxes, to do that. So, for us, the fact it is also a streamer (for internet music platforms) and Roon core too, is a bonus, in addition to our primary requirement.

We have had the ZENmini for about 18 months now. We’ve already established that it’s a remarkable thing, particularly when used with the nDAC. Which elevates SQ to quite a surprising impressive level. Even by itself, with internal DAC, it’s still pretty good.

Image : Innous ZENmini mk3 S + LPSU → nDAC → Naim Olive shoe boxes NAC72 + HC + NAP140

The ND5 XS2 will be used in a separate room and system. Longer term, we intend to use this with our nDAC external DAC. (Maybe eventually with an external PSU too). Again, aesthetics plays its part. We chose the ND5 XS2 to match the nDAC and SN3.

For this second room, our intention is to have a “best” approach to digital source(s). Along with a CD player. So the Naim streamer will play music from Qobuz + Roon. Plus, from the CD archive located on the ZM SSD server.

Image : Naim ND5 XS2 → DC1 → nDAC → HiLine → SN3, intended for a second system, separate room.

It’s just coincidence, we have these two items in the same room right now, just for fun.

Test tracks

Playing 30 or 60 seconds from a track, before switching back and forth (switching inputs on the nDAC) and replaying same sequence.

(1) Streaming : Qobuz + Roon

Maggie Rogers, Heard it in a Past Life (2019) : Alaska
( FLAC 96kHz / 24bit )

Talk Talk, The Colour of Spring (1986) ( 1993 remastered, hi-res version) : Life’s What You Make It.
( FLAC 96kHz / 24bit )

Jordan Rakei, What We Call Life (2021) : Family
( FLAC 44.1kHz / 24 bit )

(2) Streaming : from ZENmini SSD archive (ripped CD’s)

Kate Bush, Aerial (2005) ( 2018 remastered) : Nocturn
( FLAC 44.1kHz / 16 bit )

Trentemoller, The Trentemoller Chronicles (2007) : Always Something Better (Trentemoller remix)
( FLAC 44.1kHz / 16 bit )

Lo Moon, Lo Moon (2018) : Loveless
( FLAC 44.1kHz / 16 bit )

All FLAC files, a reasonable selection of diverse musical styles, in both HiRes and standard CD format. The latter being ripped CD’s archived on the ZENmini SSD storage.

Image : Roon UI, showing artist page for “Lo Moon” and access to their albums.


On this system, in this room, the two digital sources sound remarkably similar.

Both sources provide an incredible amount of detail and musical cohesion. The Naim edges it, just. Where the Naim gets a slight edge is more to do with weight of notes, ambience, space around the notes and sound stage. However, it took maybe 2 hours to get to that. It’s certainty not “night and day”.

On the basis of these finding, I wouldn’t necessarily choose the Naim streamer, over the ZENmini. As the ZM does so many other things too. It does a fine job, for the way we use it. We also like its diminutive shoe box size. But, more importantly, I don’t think the difference in SQ - by itself - is worth much.

My thoughts are this experiment says as much about the nDAC ( because the nDAC was doing the D to A conversion, for both devices) than it does anything about the two separate pieces, as sources.

Image : close up details for nDAC and SN3 fascia’s.

With more time, I would be tempted to maybe compare them again. To use them both (without the benefit of the nDAC), as stand alone items, using their respective internal D to A converters into the same system. I suspect there might be a very different outcome. My guess is the Naim streamer would do significantly better when used with its internal DAC. That’s a guess.


  1. The Naim ND5 XS2 and Innous ZENmini mk 3 S + LPSU were both used, as transport only, into a nDAC and compared, with several test tracks.
  2. As such, both streamers sound remarkably similar.
  3. The Naim streamer edges it. Just.
  4. This experiment says as much about the nDAC, as the two digital sources.

Not sure how relevant this might be for yourself, as you will most likely be using DAC V1, which will no doubt provide entirely different results.

Hope that all helps

Best wishes


Great write up! Thank you Ratrat! I’m very happy with the improvement I got by adding the Innuos Zen Mini over the Dac V1. I too find the built in Dac in the Innuos to be good, but with the V1 I get a slightly nicer and funnier experience.



Given that one was nearly double the price of the other last time I looked…

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Depends how you configure the ZENmini
In my case, it’s the more recent S version, with LPSU.

Around £2200 (for 1TB SSD ) v £2500

But the main finding was based on both sources used as transport, via the nDAC.
It seems the DAC becomes a key contributor.

edit (Nov23) : following recent Innous price rise, comparison is now £2550 (1 TB SSD) v £2500.
That’s when you purchase ZENmini mk3 S, 1TB SSD, c/w external LPSU as a package bundle.

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Quick update…

Not using the ZM much at the moment. (Although, still streaming - from - its SSD archive). Currently, using it more as Roon Core and archive for our CD collection, etc.

In recent weeks, we are using our new Naim ND5 XS2 streamer, while we get to know it.

We find that our listening has evolved in the nearly two years we have had the ZM and then more recently a Naim Streamer.

If anything, we are listening to more music. Probably, because it’s now so easy to search and play. But also, Roon helps open up musical journeys in two ways. First, you get to connect artists, albums and interconnected material, just by following connections, on screen. I really like this as it appears (to me) as the same organic journey when you start playing from your CD’s or Vinyl album collections. (For example, looking at credits - oh, didn’t realise that bass player was on that album… What else has he played, oh, look he also plays on that album too. And then that album gets played, etc). Also, Roon suggests same or similar music you might like. We have found lots of new bands and music in this way.


My Zenmini is now used to stream my library via Roon to a selection of Naim devices but also as an endpoint to my Nait50 (via the ridiculously affordable SMSL SU1).
I know that Innuos’ own software could technically do the same but it misses that last mile ease of use that Roon offers. Plus the recommendations are wonderful


I have a ZENMini mk3 and ZEN LPSU.

I’ve upgraded to a pretty good system now, CHORD DAVE and ATC SCM100ASLT.

I’m not unhappy with the Zen as a source. Where would I have to go to have a substantially better source /server / streamer ?

Zen, Zenith w/SSD, or either of these with perhaps a Phoenix NET switch as well ?

That’s my budget, so the Statement is out.

I did think about Melco, but I’m so used to the simple but effective way Innous user / ripper and interface works.

You will definitely notice an improvement moving up the Innuos range. I went from zen mini with psu to pulse to pulsar and each one is an improvement. Having had the phoenix for a couple of weeks I would describe it as essential in my system at least!

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Have you considered Pulse or Pulsar ?

Only yesterday, I listened to Pulse → nDAC + 555PS (whilst at my dealer), and thought that to be a very capable solution.

I’d be tempted to try the Pulsar, with the Dave.
Maybe keep the ZM, used as Roon Core (or just with Sense) to stream any CD archive.

Good luck