Innous Zen Mini MK 3


Here goes, another streamer thread. Does anyone have any experience with this streamer, specifically with the internal DAC. The Mini is at the top of my price range and, for now, I would like to avoid buying an external DAC. How would it compare to the internal DAC in the Node 2i?
As an aside I like that the Innous has a CD ripper, but I could do without one.
ericsch
There is a good review here if you haven't seen it:
https://darko.audio/2019/11/innuos-zen-mini-mk3-review/
Unfortunately there are no comparisons to the Bluesound gear in the article. I have compared the Zenith Mk3 with the BS Vault2 and there is a difference, but in this case the Innuos is ~4x the cost compared to the Vault. Since you plan on using the integrated DAC you should try to listen to both. I will say that Innuos provides a compelling story if you are inclined to upgrade. You can start with a base unit and then add the linear power supply and/ or Phoenix re-clocker if they improve SQ for you; the Roon capabilities with Innuos are also interesting.
Yes, I have seen the Darko review. At about $700 more, I would guess that the Innous Mini would have better build quality and sound better. Unfortunately, I won't be able be able to audition either one. The CD ripper on the Innous is a plus.
Tough one...I doubt you would be disappointed with the Node. The other issue is the interface. The native UI that comes with Bluesound is easy to use and works well but not terribly rich. Not sure what Innuos gives you out of the box. I've heard the Innuos setup is easy and intuitive but am not sure about native music management. It seems many opt for Roon.
Best of luck.
I compared the Bluesound Node 2i, a modded Sonos Connect and the Zen Mini III on it's own, with the Linear Power Supply and with the Phoenix. 

https://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2020/03/01/hifi-innuos-zen-mini-mkiii-review-with-phoenix-usb-re-cloc...

Needless to say, I bought what sounded best for me in my system, and it wasn't even close. 
@stevehuff , nice writeup. No question Innuos is a sonic step up but for many, Roon will be a critical piece given the other UI alternatives. I had the same experience with Orange Squeeze as you had with iPeng. It is clumsy with only the most basic control functionality and I can see some people being disappointed with it. Roon is great but with a cost of $119 per year or $699 lifetime it could be a barrier for some folks. I was also prepared to take the plunge on the lifetime membership but saw they increased it $200 as they are trying to maintain income via yearly subscriptions. The increase is at least a temporary deterrent for me and am opting for the yearly plan for now. I can't help but think that there will be a less expensive alternative inside of 6 years.

(I originally posted this response under a different thread)

I own a Zen Mini Mk3 now for about three months, but have no experience with any other music servers; this is my first.
I am quite pleased with it.  I bought the Mini only, no LPS.

Very easily ripped my small 250 CD library; the Innuos OS is very intuitive and friendly feeling to me.

Reasoning that the perfect DC supply for the mini would be a battery (no AC ripple, appearing as a straight-line DC pattern if observed on a scope) I brought in a massive 12V auto battery and hooked it to the Mini.  Worked fine, no surprise but, as you can imagine, it was difficult to quickly A/B between the battery and the wall-wart switching supply that came with the unit.  I could not hear much difference, perhaps a slight improvement.  I measured dc current to the Mini at 250 ma idle, and 350ma with the hard drive spinning.  Very easy load for an auto battery.

The Innuos LPS is spec'd to have an output of 16VDC so, knowing that I would NOT be leaving a 12V battery laying around our living room, I picked up a surplus, high-grade industrial, linear, 15VDC power supply.  Working beautifully and does sound better than the wall-wart switching supply that came with the Zen.

With regard to a DAC, I used the Zen's built-in DAC for a month or so, Sounds fine.  I recently bought a very reasonably priced Chinese made DAC that is quite noticeably better.  Had my wife sit while I (blind) A/B'd between the two DAC's and she consistently picked the new DAC as sounding much better.  

My system is:  Zen Mini Mk3, Counterpoint 3.1 preamp, Cary AES SE-1 300B kit-built amp, all feeding my Klipschorn's, recently upgraded with Greg Roberts/Volti full upgrade package.  A completely awesome upgrade, BTW, worth every penny and wish I'd done it ten years ago!

Again, this stuff is all kind of new to me, but I am really happy with my sound.

-Jim


Jim,
Thanks for your comments.

@jimintally Hi, can I ask what DAC you got? I'm looking to get the Zen mini but will be pretty maxed out after so I'll be looking for a DAC that won't cost too much. Many thanks
@chrizola ... if you feel that you will be maxed out after purchasing the Zen Mini, then my humble advise is that you should look elsewhere. If you read any reviews or product descriptions of the Zen Mini, you can’t help but notice that there is scant or no mention of the built-in DAC. I feel that the Zen Mini should only be reviewed as a streamer and CD ripper. You would surely need to add a decent DAC if you want better sound.

I was seriously considering the Zen Mini but there were a number of factors why I dropped it from my list. First is obviously the lack of a decent DAC. Secondly, I don’t know how much of the production cost goes towards the CD ripper. My view is that I shouldn’t pay for anything I don’t intend to, use. I really wish Innuos can release a pure streamer at a lower cost. And the last reason is that most reviewers feel that the Zen Mini by itself is a decent piece of equipment but nothing to write home about. You really need to add a power supply, which is another $600 or so. So now, all of a sudden we’re looking at roughly $1850 just for the streamer. Plus maybe another $1000 for a good DAC.

Personally, I would spend more on a great DAC instead of a streamer. If you’re maxed out, buy the best DAC you can get and add a Bluesound Node at half the price of the Zen Mini and use it purely as a streamer. Just my 2 cents.
@arafiq 
I was also considering the Zen Mini, but after much thought I came to the same conclusion as you did. 
I got a mint used Node 2i and a new MDHT Orchid. I am very happy with both purchases. I hope at some point Innuos makes a pure streamer. I would take a look at that.
@ericsch  Wow, what a coincidence! I am also considering an MHDT Orchid as an option. Other DACs I'm considering include RME-AD-2 and Border Patrol. Mytek Brooklyn Bridge DAC+ is also a contender but given my preferences I think the other two might be a better choice. I would take musicality over pinpoint resolution any day.

I would really appreciate it if you can share some thoughts on the Node + Orchid combo. Thank you.
@arafiq
I've only had the Orchid for about 10 days, but so far I'm liking the combination very much. The Orchid is not even broken in yet. The DAC in the Node is pretty good, but the Orchid is a definite improvement, a wider sound stage and not bright or fatiguing. Border Patrol was my second choice. I was unable to audition either one, so I took a chance on the Orchid based on reviews here and elsewhere. I waited for a used Orchid to come up, but no luck with that. I don't think you can go wrong with either one.     

@ericsch Thanks for the feedback. Very helpful. I went to the Linear Tube Audio to order the Orchid, but looks like they don't do returns. All sales are final. That's a damn shame! I typically don't do business with vendors who don't trust their own products :)
@arafiq
Yes, I was mildly disappointed in their return policy (only on DACs). However, if you had to sell it, the used market on an Orchid is very strong.
I don't know, I feel that as consumers we should reward vendors and retailers who go the extra mile by offering a return policy.
Also, it gets even more confusing. Apparently, if you buy an Orchid they don't even include a power cord ... I mean, what?!??

arafiq225 posts06-07-2020 6:20pm....I feel that the Zen Mini should only be reviewed as a streamer and CD ripper.

You forgot one very important thing: it's a Server too
@thyname ... yes, you're right. But my main point was that it should not be evaluated as a DAC combo, although it does come bundled with one. 
Yes @arafiq  --- I agree with you. DAC on the Mini is simply a "convenience" feature. 
@arafiq 
Kind of odd, but my Orchid came with a power cord. I was not expecting one, as I already had an aftermarket cord.
Hi chrizola-

The DAC I bought is XiangSheng DAC 05B, thru Amazon.  Was $399.  Has both a SS output stage and tubed output stage using a NOS GE 5670.  I only had one other DAC to compare it to and that was the ZEN Mini's built-in DAC, and the XS is clearly better, so I've kept it.  Perhaps will try another DAC one day.
I prefer the SS output from this DAC btw.  
JIm: What 'Chinese' DAC did you purchase ?

I'm here to tell you I'm thrilled that the performance of  my
'Chi-Fi' Gutard X-22 (ESS 9038pro X1 chip) and the considerably
less expensive SMSL SU-8V2 (9038Q X2 chip).

Via USB input -via Pi 3B + (running Volimio), either DAC is excellent, the X-22 the more sophisticated sounding.

AND, again via USB (the only Input on HRT) , the amazing HRT II+,III or HD DAC's are astonishing. Whether 24/96, 24/192 matters not. Supply the HRT's the Raspberry Pi's 2.5/3A P/S (wall-wart) and you''ll honestly, genuinely marvel and the spectacular SQ -astonishingly impressive. 

pj

 
I have a ZEN Mini 3 that I am experiencing some confusion about. I want to be able to access via my Windows 10 and Android controllers two SSHD that contain my previously ripped CD collection. These drives are USB connected to my Baetis Prodigy 2  audio computer which is Cat 7 Ethernet connected to my router. I am told by Baetis support that these drives can be relocated from the Baetis and USB connected to the routers USB connections which will enable them to be accessed on my network.

Innous support states that "Regarding using the Mini as a DLNA renderer, that is not possible - the Mini is only a DLNA server".
 Yet, according to the reviews @ Darko & @ Audio Beatnik, this process is possible.
Obviously, I would think the the manufacturer would be correct, and that is where my confusion is...Here below are the review excerpts supporting this claim...


Excerpts from Darko and Audi Beatnik reviews of the Innuos Zen Mini 3

...It will also stream from local network storage…

...It works as a Roon Core or Roon Endpoint, as well as supporting UPnP mode...

...It can also stream from a local network storage – whether that’s a dedicated NAS or just a network share on your PC/Mac/Linux machine...

...Simply point a web browser at my.innuos.com and it will automatically find any ZEN devices on the same network. From there, we can rip CDs, manage the library, back it up to an external location or switch between several modes of operation: Roon Ready, Roon Core, UPnP and Squeezebox Server...

...Users with existing libraries can import their collection via network transfer or direct USB drive attachment...


So can anyone give me guidance of another way to accomplish this task or enlighten me to something I might obviously be missing? 


Thanx guys, "Mooncrikit"





I’ve been on the fence trying to decide on a streamer, leaning toward Innuous (but also considering Auralic G2 or Lumin D2) and my budget is say between 2-4k. Have seen the subjective reviews favoring the Innuous over the Auralic and vice versa. Not interested in BlueSound Node2i.

My current chain is 4TB external HD for my local files connected to Macbook and spotify playing over wifi/Airplay to an Airport in the other room is connected to my DAC with an AudioQuest Forest Optilink TOSLINK Cable (my DAC doen’t accept USB in). My DAC is a Prism Sound Lyra 2 (its my ADC for ripping vinyl), but it doesn't have USB in. None of this ideal.

When looking at the Innuous, among other things, one of the main jumps from the Zen Mini to the Zen is the power supply of course (mini you have to use a wallwart or purchase their external PSU) whereas the Zen has a dual linear internal. I do happen to have a Paul Hynes SR4T power supply that I am using on my turntable, but since I’ve upgraded there too, I will have the Hynes free to use elsewhere - so was thinking perhaps trying the Zen Mini and using the SR4T there in lieu of buying their extra PSU. I don’t really have the cashflow to buy more than 1 unit and do an A/B, so I’m curious if anyone has A) tried the Zen Mini with PSU outside of the Innuous brand, and B) has anyone compared the Zen Mini w/ their PSU to the Zen? 
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