Innuos ZEN Mini Mk3 vs Bluesound Vault 2i

I'm looking for input on these items... I currently have the Node 2i and of course I'm familiar with its sound and BlueOS system.  I want to add CD ripping/storage to my digital world as well as Roon... some time in the future.  I was about to pull the trigger on the Vault 2i when I found the ZENmini.  At first glance, the ZEN mini looks like the clear winner but I'm hoping for any owners to chime in with their review.  And I would not be upgrading to the power supply or external DAC.  Trying to compare each unit as they are.  But I have no experience with Innuos and the nearest dealer is 4 hours away.  Also concerned with ipeng9... the apple app operating system it uses.  I've never heard of it.  Some online reviews (Darko and Steve Huff) also state the ZEN mini's sound doesn't really take off without the extra add-ons.  But a subjective online review only goes but so far... Any input is appreciated?  Thanks!

Showing 1 response by jimintally

Hi Trip-

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, straight-line DC if observed on a scope.  So 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.  I measured dc current to the Mini at 250 ma idle, and 350 ma with the, I believe, it's 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 the 12V battery laying around our living room, I have opted to a used high-grade industrial linear 15VDC power supply.  Working beautifully.

With regard to iPeng, I like it.  Again, I have no other experience with music servers or associated control apps, so please keep that in mind.  We are iPhone/Mac users so it felt right at home.  I doubt I am using all the features of iPeng, but am still learning.  Easy to make a Favorites playlist.

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 SE 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!

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