This is just a short post to tell of my experience with the Innuos Statement server I had on loan last week.
I didn’t manage to spend as much time as I would have liked listening critically to it in comparison with my Zenith SE. Following Brexit (there’s simply no escaping it) and dealing with other things limited the time I had available, some of which I wasted playing around with different power cables before realising it was better for the comparison to run both units with the supplied cables.
My system for the comparison was DAVE, M Scaler, standard tX-USBultra (SR4-9v) and Focal Utopia (Prion4). Power cables/smps were as supplied for servers and MSC, Shunyata Alpha HC for DAVE, and Jorma Trinity for SR4. These cables were all plugged into a Shunyata Venom UK6 distribution block connected to a non-dedicated wall socket via a Shunyata Alpha EF cable. WAVE Stream BNC cables connected DAVE/MSC. A Lush^2 cable was used for the server/MSC and tX-U/MSC connections, and a Sablon Reserva Elite cable for the server/tX-U connection.
In straight head to head without the tX-U, the Statement (which had 200+ hours on it) was cleaner, unearthed more detail, had more body, depth and texture, and was a little darker. Everything was more natural sounding and convincing. The acoustic with choral and classical music was more natural, both in tone and weight. These improvements were very clear to hear.
Introducing the tX-U helped the SE to narrow the gap, allowing it to show more delicacy, detail and focus. Things were a little cleaner, though never as clean as the Statement. But the downside for me was a slightly leaner sound, which is why I sometimes prefer to use the SE without the tX-U. Bottom line, there was still a clear gap. The Statement just sounded my believable with texture, tone, weight and acoustic. I have yet to hear a tX-U with Evox caps and silver wiring but I am struggling to imagine that upgrade being able to take the SE up to the Statement’s level based on what I hear my tX-U doing.
Next up was to try the tX-U with the Statement. There were differences but I’m not sure that for me they added up to a net improvement. It sounded mostly like the tX-U was just imposing its character on the sound rather than improving the fundamentals. I got no sense of it pulling out more information. The sound was perhaps a little brighter with possibly a touch more emphasis on detail and air but it was also leaner, leaving me missing some of the Statement’s weight, especially the subtle weight around acoustics and with fine textural and tonal changes with choral pieces and with the complex sound surrounding the striking of gongs.
The Statement has now gone back and I am still undecided about upgrading. Objectively (in as far as I can be objective), the differences between the SE/tX-U combo and Statement were not night and day. But subjectively, I felt the differences to be important, which registered most strongly with me when I stopped trying to focus on performance and just listened to the music.
As with the SE, power cables do make a difference with the Statement. But I did not have time to be clear on what each of my upmarket cables was doing.