Innuos Zen Mini MK 3 - Feedback Request


#1

A few weeks ago someone suggested to me that the Innuos Zen was worth considering. I have been trying it out since Friday and am quite impressed. I play it through my nDAC using an AQ Forest optical, although I also have on loan the same digital coax. I cannot detect much if any difference from the CDX2 which I use as a transport. Previously I have tried UnitiServe and Core but gave up because of bugs and exasperation.

However,

  1. Ripping a 2 CD opera (Andrea Chenier) it found both disks but didn’t get the right version, and both disks were from different versions. No choice of metadata either, and worse of all it merged the two disks based on track number. A bit of a problem!
  2. Importing wav from my NAS folders worked well, but it didn’t attempt to add missing metadata (composer or other artists). Changing artwork did not always work, although it may be that it did not update dynamical although may with a resync.
  3. It can attach to a NAS share in much the same way as import.
  4. There is a quick import which can be deleted and a fuller version which merges with the music store and cannot be reversed (quick can be changed to full). Both have the same metadata issue above.
  5. I eventually managed to setup a backup to my NAS, which I was happy with.
  6. The iPeng app for iOS works well at least for basic playback.
  7. In some situations it detects duplicates (import does), didn’t seem to for individual rips.
  8. The track lengths of imports were rubbish.

So feedback on the Zen welcome including my list above. At £999 for the 2TB version it is good value. Haven’t tried its analogue output. Does it uPnP work with Naim streamers? Is there a way of pointing it to the correct CD metadata? It has Roon Core installed but I haven’t tried it or the interface to Spotify, Qobuzm TIDAL etc.

It seems stable and doesn’t exasperate me, which is a real bonus!

Phil


#2

I have an Innuos Zenith Mk2 and like opera so I have also had this issue.

I always rip operas on my computer with dbpoweramp, this enables me to combine files into whole acts (getting rid of breaks when acts are spread over two cd’s) or in the case of one act operas (eg Salome or Das Rheingold ) combining 2 or 3 cd’s into one file.

Not sure what you mean by ‘The track lengths of imports were rubbish.’

Are you saying that an imported track which you know to be 5 mins long is displayed on iPeng as 4 or 6 mins long, if so it sounds very odd and I have never seen that.

You could try ringing their help desk, I have always found them very helpful.


#3

Thank you, Morton.

Usually the rubbish track lengths are up to a minute, but they play ok. Not the biggest issue.

So when you use dBPoweramp, how do you get the rips loaded into Innuos?

If I move to streaming I want to avoid ripping 1000 CD again. I can live with just attaching the opera folder as I am sure I can play them ok.

Phil


#4

The computer I rip cd’s on is on the same network as the Zenith, so I can see the Auto-Import folder on the Zenith.

After I copy the ripped files into this folder, I go to the MyInnuos:Zenith app on my ipad then Impor>Import from Auto-Import and as long as I had put the genre as Opera when I ripped, it all works.


#5

Thank you, Morton. Will dBPoweramp fix metadata of files already ripped like those ripped by the Core and UnitiServe? Also do you use flac or wav. Innuos does not seem to offer transcoding.

Phil


#6

Hope you are enjoying the Zen Mini, Phil - I may have been one of those who suggested it as a possible option, as I have trialled the Mk 2 a couple of times at my dealers.
I hadn’t noticed, until you mentioned it, that it includes a DAC. The Mk 2 didn’t, let us know what it sounds like if you try it.
UPnP should work into any UPnP streamer, so there should be no problem using it with a Naim streamer - the Mk 2 certainly worked.


#7

Hi Phil,

I have never owned a Core or UnitiServe so I have no experience with their metadata issues, other people on the forum (David Hendon is a star) should be able to help you with that.

I use flac and I think you are right, the Innuos does not offer transcoding.

I have compared wav and flac files and to my ears, on my system, I can’t hear a difference.


#8

Yes, it was you, and the Zen is really good SQ. It’s hard to tell the difference to the CDX2 which is only a transport. The nDAC now has 4 sources. TV is amazing good.

The Roon Core support makes it a very attractive proposition as it means that there would be no need to buy another box (I don’t want to run a PC all the time). It allows me to use my Lenovo IX2 as the backup for the Zen once I move my rip library to something els3 like the Zen.

My only motivation for ‘streaming’ is get rid of CD clutter and storage as the collection grows. Metadata matters with a large library but I could live with a hybrid solution for opera (2 CD opera can be messed up when the CDs are interleaved) if ripping pop is close to perfect.

Maybe Innuos will add transcoding to wav soon. I may attach to my opera collection onthe NAS.

Phil


#9

That was my initial reason for streaming too, but once you have the hardware, it opens up many new options that you may never have considered before. It has built in support for Qobuz, which might raise a few eyebrows amongst Naim streamer users, along with Tidal, Spotify, BBC iplayer, and iRadio.


#10

@ChrisSU, I looked at your profile, but it didn’t mention the Zen.

I will ask my dealer for details to try out TIDAL. I did use it via iPad and nDAC USB and it sounded good, but not enough to buy a subscription. I suppose the lightening connector may limit bandwidth as once upon a time Apple harmonised their systems on 44(?) rather CD rates (so they converted wav). It’s never been clear whether they dropped that more recently. Perhaps @Simon-in-Suffolk knows.

@ChrisSU do you use dBPoweramp? I could merge my opera Multiple CD rips into one as @Morton suggests.

Many thanks for the help.


#11

I have only used a Zen at my dealers, and at a show where Innuos had a demo room. Still using the Unitiserve here, but I was looking at it as a possible alternative to that if it dies.
Tidal and Qobuz both do free trials, so if you’re interested I would give them both a try (maybe Roon too?) and see what you think.


#12

Another feature which may be new is the special Ethernet port for the streamer. Bit like the Melco.

Phil


#13

I am really enjoying the Zen and getting to understand how to set the music library up with useful metadata. For instance, I ripped the ‘very best of jacqueline du pre’ and worked out how it handles 3 Disk sets. May help with the opera problem.

A question for @Simon-in-Suffolk: I’d be grateful to know whether your thoughts on sound quality using the male to male USB interface as a means of connecting to my nDAC. I’m currently using toslink, which sounds as good as my CDX2 into the nDAC. The disadvantage is that the USB takes priority over the others so it would have to plugged in each time.

The Zen is not on my dedicated spur. Would the coax interface be better than toslink?

Many thanks to those who reply.

Phil


#14

Phil, you can’t use the NDAC USB input for this. Naim gear usually seems to work best with coax, so given that the Mk 3 Zen now has this, I’d say you’re sorted.


#15

As Chris says - the NDAC USB interface is limited to file systems (and possibly Apple connectivity). Best sq will be SPDIF, either coax or Toslink


#16

Thanks, Simon and Chris. Yes the Apple connectivity is what I was thinking of. Made me think it would take asynchronous input from any source.

Phil


#17

As I see it, the NDAC and old Naim streamers were designed when loads of people still had iPods, and Naim wanted to offer the chance to use them as a source into a streamer or DAC. I think that was the original intention of the USB input, with SPDIF or UPnP intended to be the high quality inputs. Things change, of course, and the new streamers will run Naim’s UPnP server to serve files from the USB input.


#18

So usb from zen might be a possibility with the new range. Async usb should not have jitter problems. But if I had a new ND of some description the uPnP would be the best choice anyway.

Still checking the SQ. Therefore interested in interfaces.

Phil


#19

No, the new streamers will play from USB drives, and will even act as a UPnP server which can be discovered by other Naim or non-Naim streamers, but they still won’t work as an input from something like the Zen.


#20

Just remember async USB is as likely to have sample jitter problems as SPDIF transport frames… ie not all. The days of DAC clocks derived from the transport protocol clocking kind of ended for the most part a couple of decades ago… now accurate clocks are cheaper and easier to implement and kludges tend to be avoided.
However half duplex USB (2.0 and below) does have the issue of genereating unbalanced protocol control spikes, which are not ideal… ie the twisted pair is driven unbalanced momentarily to signal to its peer. This is resolved with USB 3.0 which is full duplex.