Innuos Zen Mini MK 3 - Feedback Request


#104

I’m trying to get my head around this digital world and relate it to the boxes I am testing. So now I hear clear differences going up through the Innuos range even with spdif into nDAC. Spdif doesn’t needed to be seen as second rate to uPnP. Both depend on high quality data transfer.

Some of the quality comes through the design of the music server as I am finding. So a question I have is whether USB to spdif boxes such as the Yellowtech PUC2 designed to isolate PC/Mac from professional sound equipment can enable a less expensive music server to sound like a more expensive one?

Any views (@Simon-in-Suffolk and others)? Thanks


#105

Is this what you’re using?


#106

Hi Johnny, Yes. They sent the RCA version but I am told BNC is the best connector for this type of signal.

Which Innuos are you thinking of? Are you able to demo? Don’t remember your system details.

Phil


#107

If I get an Innuos why might I want an NDX2?


#108

Mike, You will need a box with a DAC in it. It could be a Naim Streamer using uPnP or a USB/spdif DAC.

Phil


#109

Roon and/or ripping cds


#110

Possibly is my answer, it will very much depend on the quality and design of the USB SPDIF transport. So ideally want to ensure such device uses a clock crystal oven and precision electronics and PCB layout to reduce modulation artefacts in the SPDIF transport frames. Therefore a suitable device is not going to be that cheap and I expect it would be physically relatively quite large … and will need a quality low impedance powersupply.
The device indicated above is unlikely to be able to offer a very high performance commensurate with Naim equipment, but no doubt does provide a degree of effective functional interoperability. So probably more a case of functionalty rather quality and/or precision… but if it’s a case of that or no sound at all I’m sure it could have a role to play.

BTW I think you might be confused between UPnP and SPDIF… they are two very different things. UPnP is an application set of APIs that are designed to operate over a TCP/IP subnet as well as transfer media using TCP over Ethernet. SPDIF is a connectionless physical and link transport framing protocol for conveying stereo or multichannel PCM.
SPDIF, USB or i2s are ususally the core interfaces into DACs… some DACs called Network DACs or what we call Streamers on this forum, effectively have an Ethernet layer bolted on front of theses core interfaces.


#111

Hi Simon, Thank you for your reply. I have been impressed by the Innuos Zen Mk 3 plus M2Tech Hiface 2 into nDAC. It also supports uPnP so I was trying to avoid changing my nDAC to one of the newer Streamers. Of course if Naim brought out a USB DAC especially as an upgrade I would jump at it. But maybe that doesn’t make sense technically. However Innuos choose to drop a direct spdif interface in favour of USB or uPnP. So I assumed they thought USB DACs better.

The YellowTech PUC2 looked better than the HiFace 2. Richard suggested the PUC2.

Maybe Naim will announce DAC2 or DAC555 soon!

Phil


#112

Delving further into the world of USB to spdif I found this review of the Audiophilleo devices.

https://parttimeaudiophile.com/2013/09/06/audiophileo-1-with-pure-power-the-little-combo-that-could/

Maybe this is more up to the mark and would make a Zen Mini a good choice with the option of an upgrade of the data transport. Food for thought?

Phil


#113

One test I forgot to do was to put the M2Tech HiFace 2 USB to spdif on the Zen Mini. I’d say if offers a good upgrade on the toslink interface. Note Simon’s reservations, but for circa £175 it may offer a nice SQ improvement.

I have got hold of the Audiophilleo 2 Mk 11 plus PurePower which sits directly on the nDAC BNC. Reputed to have 2.6 pico second (ps) phase jitter and less than 5ps period jitter for what it’s worth. Arrives Friday.

Phil


#114

I was just reading about this converter. Keep us up!


#115

GI’m being blown away by the Zen Mk 3. The Zen Mini with LPS as mentioned last night is much better using the same M2Tech HiFace 2 than over the toslink, but my ear hears some colouration, which depending on your system may be to your liking.

I’d now say that the Zen Mk 3 with HiFace 2 is revealing so much more than the CDX2 as a transport. It makes you wonder why Naim did not work harder on the jitter problem with the CDX2 and presumably the other boxes. The nDAC is so much more capable, but perhaps one has to use it as more than just a transport!

I have placed the Zen Mk 3 above the SuperCap DR rather than above the nDAC. It’s on Naim glass, cups and balls also. Innuos support have told me that as one goes up the range the RFI and EMI measures get better.

Phil


#116

The Zen Mini and LPS have gone back in exchange for the Zenith Mk 2 with 1TB now offered at a clearance price a little above the Zen Mk 3.

Still with the M2Tech HiFace 2 and it gets better and better. The Zen delivers the best digital music I have ever heard, but this is a step closer to the live performance. Playing Cara Dillon Wanderer using Roon with the music being pulled off the NAS into the 4GB music buffer. The difference was immediate as I unplugged the HiFace 2 from one box and plugged it into the other.

I replaced the surge protection power blocks in my wife’s office a few hours earlier and that seemed beneficial. None left now!

Phil


#117

Nice purchase Filipe, thanks for all your helpful comments during your evaluation process.


#118

Something is wrong, a mastered studio recording track should sound very different from an amplified live performance. The former should sound far more immediate, intense and cleaner… the latter will be vaguer and eq wise will be almost certainly relatively poor, but will have the crowd noise and venue characteristics to compensate to give an atmosphere. You certainly don’t normally want such noise and distortions in a studio recording.


#119

Wanderer, as far as I am aware is a studio album. I was merely likening the listening to the qualities of hearing without the degradation that can be introduced by HiFi! I shall to be more careful with my language in future to avoid my words being interpreted as inferior SQ when superior was intended!

Phil


#120

Reading the Audiophilleo 2 News I learned that Naim licenced their USB technology for the DAC V1 from Audiophilleo. I would guess that this was to convert from asynchronous USB to spdif as all the other inputs are spdif. So It would be interesting to know what DAC V1 users think of USB playback.

I’m now trying the Audiophilleo 2 Mk II with PurePower. It’s not new and I had a few surprises such as it cutting out because the battery was flat. Then eventually the Innuos recognised it and cut out because whatever Roon was using disappeared and the Audiophilleo appeared but needed connecting! I suppose I now have a bit more control. The PurePower gives a high degree of isolation for the converter from noisy PCs than without when it relies on the USB for power.

It may need some time to warm up, so I won’t say anything yet about SQ.

Phil


#122

Simon, Please could you share the photo? The PurePower powers the crystal. The USB powers the ARM processor. I assume the USB cannot power the output because Audiophilleo claim isolation from noise on the PC USB input.


#123

Filipe, this is a great thread - thank you (and keep up the good work!)


#124


This appears to be the image matching mine. The top left of centre can is where the PurePower barrel connector is. Perhaps the Crystal is inside?

I don’t understand what galvanic isolation looks like.

Phil