Thinking about replacing my DS118 NAS because I’m interested in trying Roon (and I want to re-rip my CD collection, mad as that may sound). Another more powerful NAS, Melco and Innuos are on the initial short list. I’m not that familiar with Innuos though, so to current (and ex) Innuos owners - are there noticeable differences in SQ as you move from Mini to a Zen and onto a Zenith? Are those differences largely dependent on whether the unit acts as a server or is connected to a DAC? Dems would help of course but are not feasible at the moment, and I have read various threads here but haven’t found specific answers to my questions. Thanks in advance for any advice/insights.
Zenith owner here.
Yes there are clear differences/improvements although remember the Mini has its own fairly utilitarian DAC.
In terms of server only differences I’d say these were clearly noticeable to me using the one DAC and moving up the range. I demoed using the DAC of the NDX2 and various Chord DACs. Switching to using the Zenith by itself to stream from the local disc and Tidal/Qobuz/Radio 4 then different DACs make the sorts of differences you’d expect them to make.
I moved from a CDX2 with no streaming to a Zenith 3 with a Chord Hugo TT2. I have my CDs ripped to the Zenith but also use it as a streamer which I really didn’t plan on doing. It’s only been a few months but I’ve no regrets at all. It’s a whole other level and for various reasons I’m probably getting about 50% of what it’s capable of.
Sound quality wise I’d say the Melco are a tad less neutral but a tad on the clinical side whereas Innuos is incredibly natural. However, your mileage may vary. Very little turnover on Innuos products unless people are upgrading which is a promising sign too but the big difference which needs emphasising is the user friendliness of the Innuos line. That’s only going to get better with Innuos 2.0 and their Sense app coming at the end of May and looking every but like they will have been worth waiting for. Every possibility you may not need Roon. Have a look at the blog on their web site for more info.
Depending on where you live there are shops quietly doing dems in various ways at present e.g. via home delivery.
Thanks, Mike. Your thread made for a very interesting read. Glad you got there in the end. Having owned a Qutest and heard a TT2, I can partly imagine how good your system must sound. I’ve read the Melcos sound quite neutral, detailed but maybe a little flat; Innuos being more holographic and natural (with decent PRaT), which tallies with your experience. Various articles seem to indicate that Innuos is more user-friendly as well.
Can you briefly describe the Mini to Zenith SQ changes you experienced? Did have a chance to test the NDX2 in streamer mode? And, is it easy to add extra storage to a Innuos unit? I may have to ‘settle’ for 1TB if I buy a Zenith.
I took a quick look at the blog. The new Innuos software looks very promising, and it seems it will be offered FoC which is an early plus over Roon.
I run an Innuos Zen and Phoenix USB into a Chord set up. Initially couple of years ago I bought the Zen as a Unitiserve replacement to rip/store and provide Roon Core, recently I have started to use as a streamer.
I have listened to Melco alternatives and they are very good, you really need to listen to both to find your preference, functionally they are different, Innuos having more of what I need. You can upgrade the storage but it is not straightforward or inexpensive, your unit would have to be sent back for the upgrade so if you can afford 2TB do it.
The Innuos works very well as a Roon Core and as Mike said the forthcoming Innuos App looks promising, hopefully it can improve on Roon’s sound quality which can be bettered.
In terms of moving from the Mini to Zen to Zenith the main difference is the number of local power supplies built in, 1,2 &3, I think the price differences accurately reflect the different specification points of the range. Finally Innuos as a company are very helpful with good technical support.
I have a Zen mk.3 which I auditioned against the Zenith. Using usb I found the Zenith superior but with ethernet I found the difference negligible.
I don’t think I can usefully add anything to the response from @glasnaim. I’d also say your summary of the difference between Melco and Innuos is good too.
Those who discussed in this thread – are your findings in the context of the OP’s question about using Roon as the server software?
I wonder whether the hardware differences result in sonic differences when using Roon as the server over the home network. Most of the ‘high end server’ reviews I’ve read here, if not all, have NOT referenced using Roon software.
Most Innuos users find Roon in experimental mode makes a difference but the sound quality is such that it’s increasingly marginal and if you need Roon at all, which it seems likely you may not once 2.0 and the Sense app are out, then you probably don’t need it for sound quality.
May I suggest that you add Audiostore servers to your short list. I listened to a number of servers (Melco, Moon and Innuous as well as a Naim Core) before buying a Prestige (Roon ready) Server. Now, a couple of years on, I would also consider building my own.
@Bart I think I made a few comments regarding this in my answer to the OP, but to recap. Innuos will perform Roon functions well, including Roon Core. I also alluded to sound quality via Roon, in my view sound quality is improved using iPeng but is poor as a search/information source. Hopefully the forthcoming Innuos App will combine the sound quality of iPeng with some of the search/information aspects of Roon.
Was that decision largely based on price, or other factors?
I liked the idea of the Core, but it’s inflexible despite sounding very good. I was not impressed by the sound from the others, albeit the demo was not on a similar system to mine. However, it was price that swung it in Audiostore‘s favour, that and how helpful Martin was when I rang up to discuss Roonification of my NDS and Unitiqutes.
Thanks to all for your input. For what I can glean, SQ differences come down to neutral cool vs. neutral warm. In terms of hardware, Melco provide more storage, Innuos a ripper (at similar price points). Innuos seem a little more user-friendly, their OS maybe more advanced (especially in light of 2.0). Most users here seem to prefer ethernet out; however, USB out on the Innuos is particularly good. Roon, without engaging DSP upsampling, will run on Innuos (and sound half decent in experimental mode) but not on Melco requiring further investment in a NUC or Mac Mini. Melco though provide a longer warranty. Both brands have excellent customer service either direct or via dealers. Is that a fair summation? Have I missed anything?
I had a UnitiServe and then switched to a NAS with an attendant (small) drop in SQ. Not sure if that was because of the NAS, the network, changing files from WAV to FLAC, a combination of the aforementioned or my imagination. A Core was on the short-list but it doesn’t work with Roon. I will take a look at AudioStore - thanks for the recommendation.
A good summary/comparison. More variables if you add/increase costs but as a base unit comparison this is correct.
I use USB out into Innuos Phoenix and USB into Chord MScaler but if I use in my Naim set up I would switch to ethernet.
I think definitely worth having a chat with Martin and wish I had done so before buying an alternative. If I understood Martin correctly, he had associations with Innuos in his not so distant past. The thing that appeals to me about the Audiostore approach (if I understood correctly!) is that you can have a solution with no limits on hard drive capacity. The limitation of Innuos, Melco etc is that they are sold with rather limited storage capacity, depending on how many albums you have, especially hi-res; and they are not particularly adept at moving albums between themselves and a NAS.
Had a quick look at the website last night. Quite a few options, all of which have better top-line specs for less money than Innuos and Melco. Do you know whether AudioStore put any effort to improving SQ beyond removing fans?
Would you mind sharing a few? Googling can only get you so far.
I wasn’t referring to other product/market alternatives, I meant you can upgrade the specification of both the Melco and Innuos e.g more storage or ripper added to Melco.
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