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Innuos Zenith Mk3 vs. Roon NUC + Roon endpoint


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I am trying to find out if buying the Innuos Zenith Mk3 will give me better sound than my current setup

My current setup are this

  • ROON NUC server
  • miniDSP HD Studio as a RAAT endpoint, connected to an ER, using Supra CAT8
  • Tidal HIFI are my only source, but if I get a DAC with DSD I would like to try that
  • Orchid DAC
  • Primaluna HP integrated
  • Tekton Design Double Impact
  • Well treated room
  • Good power to my system

 

So is it better to split the roon server and roon endpoint or have one product for them?

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9 hours ago, Martin Herløv Andersen said:

So is it better to split the roon server and roon endpoint or have one product for them?


That’s a difficult question to answer because there are so many variables.  I own a Zenith Mk3 and yet I’m inclined to believe that there are better ways to spend the amount one would pay for a new Zenith.  I prefer a single box to reduce clutter and also didn’t want to build my own.  I purchased a demo Mk3 at a great price and couldn’t be happier.
 

Digital:  Innuos Zenith Mk3 > Shunyata Omega USB > Chord Hugo M-Scaler > Wireworld Gold Startlight > OPTO DX > Shunyata Alpha S/PDIF > Chord Hugo TT2 

Amp & Speakers:  Spectral DMA-150mk2 > Aerial 10T

Foundation: Stillpoints Ultra, Shunyata Denali power conditioner, Shunyata Alpha power cords, Shunyata Alpha interconnect, Shunyata Sigma Ethernet, MIT Matrix HD60 speaker cables, ASC isothermal tube traps

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I use an 8i7BEH NUC with Euphony Stylus/Roon powered by an Uptone Audio JS-2. I've used microRendu, RPI3b+, Pentium NUC and i3 NUC

as  Roon endpoints, in the end I went back to the standalone i7 NUC as better sound. My only quibble with the NUC approach is its "off the shelf"

USB out ports, would prefer a solution that allowed better USB out cards like the JCAT USB Femto. Given your existing investment the most cost effective improvement  would be to buy a good LPS to power the NUC, something like a Paul Hynes supply  at the requisite voltage and amps.

The stock NUC SMPS supplies don't do detail resolution any favors.


Have heard the ZEN MK III at CAF 2019, it was one of the best streamer players used. The Innuos servers have a lot of thought behind

electronic noise suppression and power supply quality. 

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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Innuos is great if you're connecting directly to your DAC or Endpoint via USB or Ethernet. If you're simply serving files over network, I don't feel it sounds any better than a Roon NUC or Nucleus. So it depends on your setup. Just my two cents after owning the Zenith Mk3 for a couple months. 

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+1 for the comments from mrkoven.

It's a great one box option which, by the way, will benefit from a vastly updated Operating System shortly, to integrate better with the Music Apps on offer such as Qobuz and Tidal.

Like yourself, who is running a Primaluna, I have a Zenith MK3 going in to a LampizatOr Amber 3 DAC through a Primaluna EVO 400 Integrated and out through Klipsch Forte III's. A fabulous match.

 

20201004_131807.jpg

Amplifier: Primaluna EVO 400 Integrated 

Digital: Innuos Zenith MK3 > LampizatOr Amber 3, Pioneer PD-S904

Analogue: Rega Planar 2 > Rega Fono MM MK3, Pioneer CT-W806DR 

Cables: Phasure Lush ^2, AQ Coffee, AQ Ruby, Cable Talk 2, QED Silver Anniversary

Speakers: Klipsch Forte III

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  • 2 weeks later...

Innuos settings has 2 options for keeping the Core and Endpoint on the server.  The Experimental mode option definitely improves Roon sound quality. 

However I prefer to upsample to DSD 512 in Roon and found moving the Core off the Innuos was better.  The processor in Innous servers was chosen to be quiet not powerful I think it is better suited to fill the role as an endpoint.  The quality of your network switch and cables and power supplies will likely be a factor as that can add noise.  I have invested a bit in the network gear.

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  • 1 month later...
On 11/19/2020 at 6:40 AM, RikkiPoo said:

The Experimental mode option definitely improves Roon sound quality. 

 

My Innuos Zen mk 3 also offers that „experimental mode“. It‘s meant to be that you can use a Roon core with a Squeezelite player. I always considered this to be rather a service of compatibility for users in the logitech media server environment, than a way of improving SQ.

So please can you explain about why that is supposed to result in better sound quality?

 

Main System: Innuos Zen mk3 > Linn Selekt > Linn Akurate 4200 > Martin Logan Ethos

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On 11/8/2020 at 11:30 PM, mrkoven said:

Innuos is great if you're connecting directly to your DAC or Endpoint via USB or Ethernet. If you're simply serving files over network, I don't feel it sounds any better than a Roon NUC or Nucleus. So it depends on your setup. Just my two cents after owning the Zenith Mk3 for a couple months. 

I agree, if you're going to connect a server to send files over network, in my experience, I've never heard a difference so I demoed a Statement over Thanksgiving and then had an Antipodes K50 in the house a few weeks later. I wanted to try both since they both have a direct ethernet connection to use with a streamer/endpoint, in my case a Linn KDSM (I currently use a SGC i7 running Win10, AO & Fidelizer as my server and use Roon exclusively).

 

To be honest, in my system, I didn't hear much, if any, difference using either of these units directly connected to my KDSM so I sent both of them back.

 

Previous to trying these servers, I replaced my Cisco switch with a Melco S100 switch and I did hear an improvement in sound which was taken to another level when I replaced its power supply with a Farad Super3 (I also replaced the power supply to my Orbi satellite with a Super3 at the same time - just Wi-Fi in our house) - it appears to have dropped the noise level further and really improved the low end - bass notes have more definition and more impact - and the timing seems to have improved, as evidenced by my increased toe tapping!

 

Now I should add, that I've done a lot of work to get the noise levels down in my room - my front end has a complete Shunyata stack - Typhon QR, Triton v3 and DPC-6 v2 and the amp & subs are connected to a Shunyata Denali 6000S/v2 & Typhon QR w/ Shunyata power cords and interconnects, including a Sigma Ethernet cable between the Melco and KDSM.

 

So I was surprised that the Melco made a difference and also surprised that replacing the SMPS on the switch & Orbi w/ the Super3s made that big of a difference b/c the Shunyata DPC-6 is supposed to act as a "firewall" and keep the noise from SMPS out of the other components; guess things can always be improved. 

 

Of course, YMMV. 

 

ChrisG

Seattle, WA

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On 12/27/2020 at 6:35 AM, Linnsound said:

 

My Innuos Zen mk 3 also offers that „experimental mode“. It‘s meant to be that you can use a Roon core with a Squeezelite player. I always considered this to be rather a service of compatibility for users in the logitech media server environment, than a way of improving SQ.

So please can you explain about why that is supposed to result in better sound quality?

 

Using the Innuos as a Roon Core, I preferred Experimental mode with Squeezelite player to having Roon Core and Roon Endpoint on the Innuos.  Moving the Roon Core off the Innuos and using the Innuos as an Endpoint only further lowered the noise floor for me.  I have gone nuts and have 3 switches an Etherregen, SOtM and English Electric in series.  

 

I don't know why experimental mode sounds better but it definitely does.  Its worth the minor hassle of setting it up.   I read it maybe due to buffering and latency but I wont pretend to know what that means.  

 

I have read Innuos says its Ok to run the Core and Endpoint on their units but thats not what Roon says.  I think moving the Core off the Innuos reduces processor induced noise, maybe that is why I find it better.  It also allows me to upsample to DSD 256 which I find generally more pleasing.

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On 11/7/2020 at 10:10 PM, davide256 said:

I use an 8i7BEH NUC with Euphony Stylus/Roon powered by an Uptone Audio JS-2. I've used microRendu, RPI3b+, Pentium NUC and i3 NUC

as  Roon endpoints, in the end I went back to the standalone i7 NUC as better sound. My only quibble with the NUC approach is its "off the shelf"

USB out ports, would prefer a solution that allowed better USB out cards like the JCAT USB Femto. Given your existing investment the most cost effective improvement  would be to buy a good LPS to power the NUC, something like a Paul Hynes supply  at the requisite voltage and amps.

The stock NUC SMPS supplies don't do detail resolution any favors.


Have heard the ZEN MK III at CAF 2019, it was one of the best streamer players used. The Innuos servers have a lot of thought behind

electronic noise suppression and power supply quality. 

 

I just built a NUC server with the HDPlex H1 V3 + NUC kit and M2 PCIE riser cable. This is the only case/combo available in the market allowing to setup a NUC with one PCIE card. I still need to get the PCIE card, but the NUC with a Teradak LPS already sounds incredibly good. I decided to get the Teradak to start with, but am quite surprised with the quality I got with this relatively  modest investment. I've seen one post from a couple of years back that claimed the Teradak (220 EUR including shipping and import tax to EU) sounded as well as a Paul Hynes SR4. I obviously did not do the comparison, but I like to sound a lot.

 

 

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On 12/27/2020 at 7:18 AM, ChrisG said:

I agree, if you're going to connect a server to send files over network, in my experience, I've never heard a difference so I demoed a Statement over Thanksgiving and then had an Antipodes K50 in the house a few weeks later. I wanted to try both since they both have a direct ethernet connection to use with a streamer/endpoint, in my case a Linn KDSM (I currently use a SGC i7 running Win10, AO & Fidelizer as my server and use Roon exclusively).

 

To be honest, in my system, I didn't hear much, if any, difference using either of these units directly connected to my KDSM so I sent both of them back.
 


You didn’t try to bypass the KDSM with either?  The K50 is functionally two boxes in one with two different boards internally: one for player/renderer and the other for server.  The optimum use of that box would have been to run the player in place of your KDSM.  I would expect the K50 to sound different than the Statement.  The KDSM is a heck of nice piece of gear though so I can see why you would keep this as part of the equation.

Digital:  Innuos Zenith Mk3 > Shunyata Omega USB > Chord Hugo M-Scaler > Wireworld Gold Startlight > OPTO DX > Shunyata Alpha S/PDIF > Chord Hugo TT2 

Amp & Speakers:  Spectral DMA-150mk2 > Aerial 10T

Foundation: Stillpoints Ultra, Shunyata Denali power conditioner, Shunyata Alpha power cords, Shunyata Alpha interconnect, Shunyata Sigma Ethernet, MIT Matrix HD60 speaker cables, ASC isothermal tube traps

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5 hours ago, kennyb123 said:


You didn’t try to bypass the KDSM with either?  The K50 is functionally two boxes in one with two different boards internally: one for player/renderer and the other for server.  The optimum use of that box would have been to run the player in place of your KDSM.  I would expect the K50 to sound different than the Statement.  The KDSM is a heck of nice piece of gear though so I can see why you would keep this as part of the equation.

I tried the K50 both ways - with both the KDSM and my Trinnov Amethyst as endpoints and both connected direct to its ethernet out. But there is no way to use it instead of the KDSM, it doesn't have a built-in DAC. 

 

 

ChrisG

Seattle, WA

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On 12/29/2020 at 7:00 AM, RikkiPoo said:

Using the Innuos as a Roon Core, I preferred Experimental mode with Squeezelite player to having Roon Core and Roon Endpoint on the Innuos.  Moving the Roon Core off the Innuos and using the Innuos as an Endpoint only further lowered the noise floor for me. 

 

So you have a Zen mini? This is the only model to have a built in DAC, thus only that can be an endpoint. All other Innuos models are cores only (or bridges).

The endpoint is always your streamer/DAC.

Main System: Innuos Zen mk3 > Linn Selekt > Linn Akurate 4200 > Martin Logan Ethos

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3 hours ago, Linnsound said:

 

So you have a Zen mini? This is the only model to have a built in DAC, thus only that can be an endpoint. All other Innuos models are cores only (or bridges).

The endpoint is always your streamer/DAC.

You can connect a dac via USB to the other models.

sources:  intel nuc8i7 (win10, roon core, hqplayer) (server) | intel nuc8i5 (audiolinux, naa) (renderer)
headphone rig:  schiit yggdrasil (a2, unison) > bryston bha-1 > senn hd600
main rig:  chord dave > parasound jc2bp > parasound jc5 > kef reference 1
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I have a Statement.  Under Music Integration I have selected Use as a Roon Player Only.  I have the Roon Core on an Antipodes Core music server sitting next to the Statement.  

 

The Squeezelite Player is better than the Roon Player but in my system moving the Roon Core processing off the Statement was beneficial.  I think the Statements P4 processor stressed and got noisy running Roon Core.  

 

I have addressed network noise with Audio Switches and cables to offset the damage the network can add.

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