Upgrading Innuos serving Nova - worth it?

I currently have a 2TB Innuos Zen Mini 3/LPSU serving a Nova: would a Zenith Mk 3, for example, be a significant* upgrade?

  • a highly subjective term relative to lots of other factors, I know, but . . . any thoughts, experiences?

As I am reading regularly this forum Charles, I see no other member here, apart @obsydian, who can respond. He tried different Innuos with the Nova.
Personally, I wonder if something like SN3/ Ndx2 would not be better, for the very similar total price, vs Nova/ Audiophileo / Innuos Zenith mk3.
Worth comparing at dealer place I feel.
Or also Innuos Zenith 3 / Ndac / SN2 or 3.

@frenchrooster mentioned i have tried and ruled out a few options to move on from the Nova.

I went from a ZenMk2, to a Mk3, to a Zenith MK2 very rapidly, but the later was clearer superior, i am told the Zenith MK3 is better than the MK2 (note i did not try the ZenMK3 with the LPSU, so maybe another consideration).

My advice is the core (in this example the Innuos) is the the critical starting point (some argue a switch before but i rate the Cisco as a very minor improvement but VFM when IRO £50), GIGO Garbage in Garbage out no different than Naim source first approach.

The Innuos or any other server would remain at the heart of the system, so it is not a dead end.

If it was me i would buy the Zenith MK3 (home demo first) yes the MKSE might have the edge but they are rare and the MK3 is the current generation. However there are other servers that many here rate highly so if possible a demo of them, or accept the Innuos SQ/Signature is what you like.

Back to the Nova, i had mentally fully committed to the NDX2/SN2/3, but once launched and demo’d it was a MAJOR let down, yes better but in the single digit %, for me the souped up Nova with SR fuses and leads was comfortably more of a match. That said if i applied the same SR treatment to the NDX2/SN3 … but then it becomes a 555PS, etc …

In 25yrs of Naim ownership i have stopped my usual box (Naim) upgrade approach and very happy with a humble Nova/Zenith/Audiophilleo/Focal speakers.

The Audiophilleo addition was stumbled across with the help of @Filipe and as stated before it is a VFM (superb) discreet solution, that isolates, reclocks and converts.

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This is kind of my thinking on this. Seems daft to have all the hanging of the back of a Nova making a large part of the Nova redundant seems like a waste of money. Your already past the single box now so why not get a seperate streamer and better amp instead or DAC. I would look at other options rather than just throw it all at this. You might find it better or not.

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Perhaps the introduction of an etherRegen or equivalent switch (or audiophile fiber bridge as in my case) with a good power supply might bring more gain than a server upgrade. That would be my first go to.

Thanks all, so far, for some insightful opinions and options.

I’m in a pleasant enough quandary, in that I am fairly keen to keep hold of the Nova but improve sound quality.
It’s a 2-3 month old purchase (first one was possibly faulty, new one is fully functional) and I’d like to see what I can get out of it in terms of maximising it’s SQ.

My digital/vinyl listening breakdown is 80/20 approximately, and I’m also a big fan of the Innuos’ sound and functionality.

A separates route (in fact, only one more box, I think?) is for some reason daunting, having committed, at least for the time being, to a Nova.

My previous benchmark for digital playback was a Chord Blu MK1/QBD 76 DAC combo, and that was, on occasion, the most I’d personally heard and enjoyed from digital. That’s gone now (it only played CDs of course, though the DAC received streams obviously) and a bit later down the line, I’ve come to my first piece of Naim kit, the Nova.

(My other current kit, for context/info, is PMC 25/24 speakers, Roksan Radius & Oftofon Red Cadenza, Cyrus Phono Sig/PSX r2, English Electric Switch)

As such, I’m hoping a better server would be worth it in terms of superior sounding files and streams but keeping the above and upgrading only one element of my stuff

That said, I’ll look at how other options might achieve the same thing or even surpass it.

In a different way of thinking all that, a better server like the Innuos Zenith 3 will never be a waste of money.
But you can consider also a Melco n1z2, second hand. You can run both in UPNP mode or in spdif.
And later add a better dac or streamer vs the Nova.

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Although not via a Nova, I demo’ed Zen mk3, Zenith Mk3 and Statement and the differences between them were very noticeable. For me, the Zenith was the sweet spot and absolutely worth the difference over a Zen.

As already stated, it will always be worthwhile irrespective of whatever you do in the future. I should add, I replaced a Melco with one and don’t feel a Melco of whatever equivalent flavour/denomination would be a better choice from a sound quality perspective and it certainly would not be from an operational point of view. I found the Melco clunky by comparison.

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Crap i have been on the hunt for a Innuos Statement, but a home demo is tricky.

May I ask what SR fuses are?

Synergetic Research audio fuses.

Ok thanks. Is this a dealer or DIY job?

The ZenMk3 and ZENithMk3 will be very close if comparing via ethernet per Innuos. This was my personal experience as well. I have not heard the mini.

Google is your friend Adeypoos. SR fuses are the most used in audiophile areas. It’s not DIY. They make principally high end cables.
Be aware also that Naim doesn’t allow such modifications.

Obviously changing internal equipment fuses is Absolutely NOT recommended - those fuses are there to protect the equipment ( and you, your house, your family etc…) should there be some kind of catastrophic failure within the kit, such as the transformer breaking down, or some disaster befalling it while it’s still plugged in. It’s a critical safety device and so only ever use the exact same type and rating of fuse as specified by the manufacturer. Deviation from this may have dreadful consequences so it’s just not worth it.

Changing the UK plug fuse though is likely OK, although I would carefully check that whatever fuse you use is properly certified as it’s there to protect the mains lead.

There seems to be a proliferation of ‘audiophile’ fuses for UK plugs, including the above mentioned Synergistic Research brand. I have yet to see one that has a kitemark or any reference to BS1362 to which such fuses are required to comply. They may well be up to the job, but I find it hard to believe that they are being sold legitimately without reference to any UK or other safety standards.

I own a Zen MK III and used it with a Nova and now with an NDX 2. I have never used a Zen Mini, but my question would be - are you using the Zen Mini as a streamer? In other words, using the SPDIF out of the Zen Mini into the Nova and utilizing Roon etc with the Zen as the streamer? Because if you are running ethernet into the Nova (as I think you should), you are not utilizing the Zen as a streamer, you are using the Nova’s internal streamer, and the Zen is only acting as a server.

I found that using both the Nova’s internal streamer and the NDX2’s internal streamers preferable (why get a streaming box if you’re not going to use the streamer?), and use the Zen MK III as the Roon Core only. It is superior to say, a Mac mini as a Roon Core - BUT I would be hard-pressed to find the difference between the $14,000 Innuos Statement and Zen MK III if I was only using both of them as Core and not streamers.

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I’m using the Zen Mini as streamer and server, connected to the Nova via the Audiophilleo 2. (USB out of Innuos via AP into Nova BNC).

I’ve compared the streams playing from this method above and the streams from the Nova. The former is superior SQ in my current set up.

(My router goes into a EE8 switch which goes into the Innuos and another ethernet cable links the Nova and Innuos, enabling streaming for the Nova, if and when needed.

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I had Unitserve, then Unitserve / linear ps, then Melco n1h2, and now Melco n1z2.
Each time I could hear a noticeable uplift, specially with the last. UPNP mode, in ethernet connection.

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I haven’t compared any other streaming device (Melco etc) to the Zen MK III in Roon Core mode, so I can’t say whether or not there is a difference to, for example a Zen MK III vs a Zenith MK III running as Roon Core. It may well make more of a difference in UPnP mode for example. My Zen MK III is in a totally different room, and I am running an ether Regen into the NDX 2 from my router, so maybe that makes it less of a factor as well.

One thing I DID notice a difference in the past was when I used the Zen MK III with Chord outboard DACs. I used the Zen MK III as a USB streamer in “Experimental Mode” which is a Squeezebox emulator. That setup sounded remarkably better than just running the regular Roon/Player or using the Chord as an endpoint.

With the NDX 2 or Nova though this is not possible, unless using a device like the Audiophileo