Innuos Zen Mini - a Journey into Streaming Audio

Can you give some details around what your network consisted of previously (ie switch and cables)? Am I understanding correctly that your 272 now has no internet/network connection and sits isolated only plugged into the Zen Mini mk3? If that’s the case you’re not doing any lossless upnp sources like RP(minimserver) and Qobuz/Tidal(bubble soft)??

I’ve considered trying an Innuos product in lieu of my QNAP/NAS but I will continue to need upnp for lossless RP and Qobuz. And you’re the first I’ve read that prefers the SQ of a mini to a network connected NAS but not knowing your previous network situation I wonder if there are other factors involved.

If you use the Innuos own App Sense, you can stream your own CD rips as well as Qobus and Tidal, and internet Radio. It’s all integrated - well at least Qobuz is, Tidal will be soon.

At the moment this is done via USB or if you have a Zen Mini via Coaxial as well.

But innuos are working on a way to do this over Ethernet as well.


Really good read
Thanks for all that.

Just to clarify, your first experiences were with Zen Mini mk3, on loan. But then you bought the larger sibling Zen Mk3 ?

Yes, my understanding is that you can connect direct to a streamer, as well as your network and internet. I think that’s the case for the whole Innuos line.


Hi, the 272 is connected to the Zen via a network cable, the Zen acts as a bridge. Previously I had a Linksys switch connected via ethernet cable to my ISP router and then my 272 and NAS were connected to the Linksys switch via ethernet cable.

The 272 still connects to the internet, the Zen acts as a switch , on the back of the Zen products there are two network ports , one labelled LAN and the other labelled Streamer. The LAN port is connected to the ISP router and the 272 is connected to the Streamer port. I don’t have a Quboz, Tidal etc but I can connect to Internet Radio and Spotify with no issues. The 272 still gets its IP address from the ISP router, the Zen passes the IP address along like a switch would.

The Zen mini and Zen Mk3 are so superior to a NAS, switches and NAS are usually built to a price, the NAS are a cheap place to keep files and they run many processes and the switches are built to for other devices to be able to reach those files. Both usually use a cheap switch mode power supply. I was always a bits are bits person, I thought a music server was a bit of an over the top extravagance. But I stumbled across the Zen and did some reading on it and it made sense. A dealer in the city I live in enabled me to home demo, I was just amazed how much more detail came through and the music was so more dynamic. It obviously costs a lot more than a NAS.

Source first is a philosophy that many people agree with, but not to many people think of the NAS as a source, I’ve changed my thinking and I think of the NAS or music server as the source, that’s where the music starts from, if noise is generated on the NAS, it works its way to the streamer and then through the rest of the music chain.


Yes, dealer let me home demo the Zen mini + LSPU for the weekend. I went for the Zen Mk3, I think at the time the Zen mini + LSPU was $3600 AUD and the Zen Mk3 was $4400 AUD. The 272 already has the DAC , just thought for the bit extra the Zen Mk3 would be a superior product. I didn’t do a side by side comparison with the Zen mini and the Zen Mk3 but I’m confident that the extra expense was worth it. But I don’t think you can go wrong, they are both great.

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I’m confident your Zen mk3 provides better SQ for playback. So definitely money worth spending, to partner your 272. (Here in the UK same items costs are about GBP £1600 and £2200 respectively).

Horses for courses. The Zen Mini shoe boxes are right for this system and this room. Actually, we think the SQ was good enough, compared to our reference point, (which was CD5XS + nDAC).

I’m also thinking ahead. In another room, might go to Naim Streamer and Roon Nucleus, with a second system at some future point. That would be our “better” and “best” solution. This is also a reason to investigate best method of ripping and file format. I want to get that bit right, for the future…

Anyway, really appreciate all your notes on this topic. Will re-read and digest during today.


Again, that’s an interested read.
Particularly useful to read your thoughts on NAS approach …

In our case, we had 2/3 of CD collection already ripped and available on a portable HDD. So, also considered using a NAS (Apple Mac Mini) + Chord Qutest. It works okay. Few basic issues for a user. For example, one of them is not having a disc drive for adding more rips. All these things can be sorted. But then it gets a little messy and not so elegant.

We (myself and wife) decided to go server approach, to be more elegant. Simple is best.

So, it’s really useful to read you actually went through that process and can report the Innuos server approach provides for better SQ too. Great outcome :+1:

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FWIW I found the top-of-the-line Innuos servers offered better Roon sound quality than my second gen. Nucleus+ But the SQ overall is so much better that I now hardly ever use Roon at all. I’m not sure how the Zen and Zen mini compare…


I’m just discovering my 272 capabilities in the last couple of months as my CDS3 keeps skipping. I have found music via USB stick (I used DBpoweramp to rip some cd’s) to be inferior to Tidal. It lacked bass and warmth.

Currently, looking at server options. However, I don’t want to spend 1k for the same sound I get on Tidal, which sounds great after a period of adjustment from the CDS3.

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It took me a month of solid work for a similar number using dBpoweramp but if the Zen is slower it may obviously take longer.


Thanks for chipping in.
This is a very worthwhile point of discussion. (You might be sharing something I don’t yet know, or I haven’t thought about)
Can you elaborate and explain how you were using the Roon Nucleus box, in your set-up.

For my part, I like the way Roon works, regardless of what it does with SQ. I plan to use as it as UI, for two rooms.

Our primary requirement is playback of CD archive. (Streaming from music streaming services is a secondary priority).

In my case, (later), my thoughts are to access CD archive on the Roon Nucleus, attached to the home network. (So, at a later point, migrate CD archive from Zen Mini HDD to a Roon Nucleus SSD. Using Nucleus as the core). Then, access to this from both Zen Mini, as a streamer, in room 1. Plus a Naim streamer (tbc) in room 2. Roon being the UI too.

Room 1 - Naim Streamer (tbc) would be an audio device for playback.
Room 2 - Zen Mini would be another audio device for play back.

Separately, both Zen Mini and Naim streamer (tbc) can be used to access music streaming services. How does this work if you have Roon Nucleus (as Core) in the mix?

Any thoughts on that proposed solution?

Using dBpoweramp, how long would you say it typically took for a CD rip?

The Zen Mini takes up to 5 mins per CD
Therefore 600 x 5mins = 50 hours. Maybe 20 evenings. Sure that about a month.

In my case, I already have about 700 CD’s ripped in ALAC and available on a WD portable HDD. Easy enough to just import this onto the Zen Mini to begin with. So, I’m tempted to start with that. Maybe then rip the other 300-400 in our complete collection, in FLAC on the Zen Mini.

My dilemma is whether to re-rip all of our ALAC files, this time as FLAC. Maybe do this over time, as time permits. Evidence from others, it seems the Zen Mini might be doing a better job ripping, compared to a computer disc drive.

dBpoweramp is similar speed. Unless you get an awkward one (i had about 10) and they take 30 minutes.

I think it is vital to also take time after the rip to check the metadata as it can save hours later. So at least double your estimate per CD. I had a continuous production line for around a month.

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Completely agree

(Over the years, I’ve used Imerge, Linn and Meridian Sooloos servers, as well as several flavours of PC software solutions with NAS’s. So, got that T-shirt :+1: )

Having used servers before, for me, the ripping and the UI is such a critical aspect of a server product features. Almost as much as the sound quality itself.

When we had the Zen Mini on home loan, I ripped maybe 40-50 discs. I made a point of trying some of the albums I knew might be tricky. For example, ones that don’t rip well, classical albums, multi disc 2 or 3 disc albums, rare albums, from low key or even unknown artists, to see what the music databases do with these, etc.

I was genuinely impressed, with both the Innuos server and also the database(s) it goes to for metadata, etc. In most cases, it got everything right first time.

A few exceptions. One disc, it would not rip. Turned out, it was produced with copyright protection software. (Which was a big thing in the music industry back in the 00’s). Another one, it produced two separate album listings for a two disc album. But this can be corrected. Also, on several occasions, it picked cover art which wasn’t exactly right by my mind. This can also be easily changed. Several albums were not recognised, from new bands, which I expected. It’s easy to import both cover art, as a photo. Also, type your track listings, in the Sense UI. Although I used an iPad to do this, I think a desk top might be better if I was doing a lot of this. (As you say, get ready and gear up to do all this all, as a production style project). The only odd thing I found was that it got album release dates wrong, (incorrect) or didn’t add any release dates. But, again, this can be corrected. I think the music database sometimes have dates of later releases stored, maybe not the original. It’s an issue for me, because the Zen Mini presents all the albums for an artist, in release date order. For me, it’s a bit odd, when they are out of order and this is just down to the album release date being incorrect or not present.

On the whole, the Zen works pretty well. It “fetches” all the data, (about 30 secs), then asks the user to confirm, before continuing to rip. So you are prompted to accept what’s it doing at the outset. Offering the opportunity to change any of the details, at that point.

Why duplicate the music server?

I at present have the Nucleus+ on the network and the Innuos Statement as well, both with an internal SSD with identical content. The Statement sounds better both as a Roon Core and using Innuos Sense (even better SQ with the latter because it uses a cache isolated from the SSD to stream).

The Innuos can’t at present do multiroom. That is to say it can’t play to different streamers simultaneously, though it can play to them at the same time (not synchronised). Apart from simultaneous multiroom replay, which you can do using the Naim app, using the Innuos as server, you do still get some features in Roon which Innuos doesn’t currently provide, like Roon Radio (though something similar is on the list for the future) and the Daily Mix.

I never thought I’d stop using Roon, but with the SQ difference on the Innuos Statement, I invariably opt for the latter.

Roon provides a very nice interface, but Innuos Sense isn’t too far behind. However, you can use Roon on any of the Innuos products fine as long as you don’t do multiroom with lots of digital signal processing etc. It’s responsive enough and sounds better than on the Nucleus in my experience, so I’d say get demos and choose one or the other.

Having both is workable but extravagant and the only benefit it really offers is the peace of mind of knowing you have an instant backup system if the other gets the kiss of death.


It took me much longer with DBPoweramp. I spent 3 months ripping my collection, but it took years off my life! :crazy_face:

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I can never make out if this means you are younger again or have less time left! Hope it was the former.


That’s such a useful insight. Thanks again.

To answer why two (duplicate) servers?
I have it in my mind that when I get as far as using Roon and also multi-room, a Zen Mini (processor and HDD)** might not be ideal. Better to be on a better spec’ NUC, incl SSD, like the Nucleus, as Core.

At that point, our CD archive could be moved over and sit on the Core. So not duplicated.

The Zen Mini is not redundant. It also streams too. So would revert to just a local steamer in that room.


** Note : evidence is an experience shared that Zen Mini is okay, but not ideal used as a Roon Core. Better to go to Zen mk3 or Zenith mk3, with SSD, or maybe Nucleus. I guess, in your case Statement.

Now that we’ve opened the door, and started to look at a possible future solution, here is a quick sketch - to illustrate how this looks - systems diagram

New boxes required (to make this work) are indicated.

Horses for courses.
No doubt, every solution is different dependant on user requirements, existing legacy system components, budgets, etc, etc.

In this case, working with existing items, to get to multi room access of CD archive, also streaming (e.g. Qobuz), using Roon as UI throughout. As always, constraints on budget.

The solution is incremental. There is an interim step, adding Naim streamer (tbc) first, enabling streaming of CD archive over network for the second room, from Zen Mini, as well as access to music streaming services, in that room too.

Then, later, adding Roon Nucleus to introduce multi-room access to a Roon Core, with Roon as UI throughout.


To circle back to your way of thinking. Another solution is to put an Innuos server - say Innous Zen mk3 - into the second room. Also, using this as Roon Core too. (Instead of a Roon Nucleus)

Although, I’m not sure this is as elegant.

And it would also cost a little more (at current pricing around GBP £700)

The point about all this, is the Zen Mini, in the other room, does others things too. It’s not just a HDD server, can also be used as just a local streamer too, also with an internal DAC. But maybe just okay, not the best, to use as a Roon Core.