Streaming Stage 2 - Core or Zen?


Thanks for responses to my poll. I’m going to have a NDX2 which will be powered by my 555PSU with a dedicated server either a Uniti Core or Innuos Zen Mini3 in SSD.

Of course I’ve ready plenty about the Core but any accounts of the Zen and other comments welcome.



They are both excellent products, the clincher for me is you can now directly download music purchases from Qobuz without needing to use a PC and usb drive etc.
With an annual Sublime subscription you have large discounts on high resolution albums……new Rolling Stones is £6.79 for 24 bit 96khz download.

Core is overpriced. But it does integrate easily into naim app etc.

If you just want a ripper for occasional use and storage I’d look at cheaper options.

Oh, and we do have a Core at SWMBO’s behest :laughing:

Tunes served over ethernet from Synology NAS and Core sound identical to our ears (but we do have streamer decoupled from DAC).

We now have our Core using NAS as music store, which works well (Asset automatically indexes any rips, it’s easy to apply/fix metadata/covers using Picard, automatic backup of rips to cloud).

The Innuos Sense app is fabulous and imo much preferable to the Naim counterpart.


I would have to agree with this. They are worlds apart.

Having demo’d a Core and a Mk2 Zen Mini, neither them nor my Synology NAS sounded noticeably different to my trusty old Unitiserve when used as servers into my NDX2. So my choice for SQ would be the Zen Mini over the Core.
In terms of functionality, the Core is by miles the most basic ripper and server that has ever been made. Even the fairly basic Unitiserve wins on that front. This will bother some people more than others. If you have a varied collection of Classical, Jazz and Rock and like to organise it methodically so that browsing is easy, you may find the Core very limiting. If you are more relaxed about how you browse your music this may not bother you.

Lindsay - I am following your recent threads with interest as I am in a similar situation, I think. Are you planning to run the NDX2 with the CDS3 or eventually give up on CDs? My inclination is to run just two sources - vinyl and digital - which means going for a streamer and dropping CDs, but I am worried about losing my CD player and its capabilities, as you would, I imagine.

The other puzzle I have in comparing the Core with Innuos Zen Mini is whether the linear power supply makes any difference to the SQ on the Innuos. On the one hand it seems that Naim regard the Core as a suitable server for all its streamers and uses it in all demos, while the Zen Mini seems to be at the bottom of the Innuos hierarchy, although higher models also have further functionality.

Clive - after a lot of research and consideration I’ve settled on an Innuos ZENith server (higher up the range with SSD) and NDX2, not long off the phone from a dealer in Leicestershire!

My inclination is the same as yours, I’ll be putting the CDS3 away rather than dispose of immediately but I couldn’t run both simultaneously as I’m going to use the 555PSU on the NDX2.

It seems an eternity in arriving at this decision but in truth I’ve been more and more streaming from Tidal on my Qb in the back room, and just enjoying the convenience. I will rip my CDs in slower time as and when I want to listen.

I’ll obviously post experience as and when it all arrives.



1 Like

Thanks, Lindsay - that’s very interesting and it does seem there are some parallels between us, although you are further down the line. I look forward to hearing more when you have it all installed. What confuses me is why have the NDX2 as well as the ZENith, which as I understand it has integrated streaming services like Qobuz (I know others have done the same, so this is not addressed to you in particular). I was at Cymbiosis recently and spoke to Wayne about streaming and I should go back and do some listening to answer these questions!
BW, Clive

Yes the Zen mini has a DAC inbuilt so you can plug straight into an amp but the ZENith whilst having the rendering capability can’t do the conversion. You need a quality streamer to really get the best.

Where are you located?

Ok, thanks for the explanation. I’m in Milton Keynes.

I’m in Buckingham! That makes things very easy, as soon as all is run in I’ll ask Richard for your email and over you come for coffee and a good listen.

Thanks - that’s a very kind offer.

1 Like

This is interesting.

My focus was on the NDX2 but after two shop dems where the whole family didn’t find it especially engaging we went for the Innuos Zenith with a stand alone DAC.

The DAC on the NDX2 was fine but having both boxes seemed pointless given that you can stream via both so you’re paying a lot for a fair amount of redundancy. Streaming on the Innuos is far more intuitive and user friendly than via the Naim thanks to the Sense app. There was zero noticeable uplift between streaming via the NDX2 and streaming via the Innuos using something way cheaper like a Chord Qutest. If anything the Innuos was warmer and more engaging with no loss of detail or timing.

Of course I’m not in a position to talk about redundancy given that I aimed for the Innuos and Qutest but the whole family found that the latter was too forward so we ended up with a Chord Hugo TT2 which of course gives me three headphone inputs and a pre that I don’t need.

However, were I in your position I’d be looking at the Innuos plus a DAC rather than the NDX2 and the Innuos.


Nice one Lindsay👍

Plus one vote for @mikehughescq suggestion of an Innuos plus external DAC.

I rather like the Innuos Sense app. The sound is excellent from my Innuos Zen through a Chord Qutest (with linear power supply) via USB. Admittedly, the rest of my system is not as good as yours and so you may find the Zenith plus a higher grade DAC more to your liking. The Zen or Zenith can output to USB or ethernet cable and to my ears the sound is cleanest via USB with the UPnP server turned off in the Innuos box.

1 Like

Yeah USB with UPnP off works beautifully for me too.

When I first bought a streamer it was as a replacement for a dying CD player, chosen on the basis that streaming was clearly the future with physical media on the way out. The one I got matched my CD player for sound quality. I ripped all my CDs, and stream from my own music store. I have not for one moment regretted the decision to switch, and the only times I have ever thought it might have been useful to have a CD player has been when friends have visited bringing CDs to play. That is not something that happens often – and I soon found it only takes a few minutes to rip their CDs to be able to play. That facility to be able to play a CD instantly is the only advantage at CD player has streaming. Against that, streaming is not only quicker and easier to do, taking up virtually no space in the music room, but with any pieces of music longer than a single CD in length (common with opera) it is possible to play continuously without having a false break to swap discs.

1 Like

Thanks. I do have some experience of streaming and also ripping CDs to play on a portable device and understand that there could be an advantage in convenience over playing CDs. My comment was mostly about SQ as I have a CD555 and am considering an NDX2 rather than the ND555 and wonder how that would be. The other unspoken issue is having thousands of individual CDs potentially to rip and at age 75 I wonder about investing time in that. Of course with my Qobuz subscription I don’t actually anticipate having to rip them all. Moreover, as you say, if I rip the CDs I can free up space by putting them into storage, but then there are those hundreds of LPs!..

Clive it did strike me with you having a CD555 that it might take you into ND555 territory? Always important to remember that you don’t have to do anything.