INNUOS ZEMmimi Mk3 music server w 1TB HDD

IN 01 MS ZM1
SPECIAL PRICE: NZ$ 1,200.00 ea (incl. GST)
Original: NZ$ 2,295.00 (incl. GST)
Saving: NZ$ 1,095.00 (incl. GST)
Innuos

Designed for Audiophiles who want to extract all the detail and dynamics out of their music on hi-fi systems, a smoother, more relaxed sound with a wider soundstage.

Special
Looking for a tidy solution for all your CDs and the files laying around on the computer? Need an easy way to stream and listen to all your favourite music? Now there’s a simple way to store, manage and play all of it: the ZENmini.CD Ripper, NAS and Streamer
  • Compact design with quiet, fanless operation
  • Versatile HiFi connectivity with analog and digital outputs
  • Roon Core and Endpoint
  • Custom audio treated components
  • Upgradeable with optional LPS - Linear Power Supply

POWERED BY innuOS
innuOS allows a complete Music Library management using a tablet or smartphone. Ripping CDs, importing music, editing album data (including covers) and backing up your music library can all be easily done easily without the need for a PC. innuOS also contains many intelligent features to help organise your Music Library such as our rule-based music import engine or the Assisted CD Ripping mode.

CONVENIENT DESIGN:
With its compact footprint, low-power efficiency, quiet operation and range of connectivity, the ZENmini is a convenient and discreet music server for all your Digital Audio needs - from CD ripping to purchased downloads, Internet Radio to Spotify Connect.

Hi-Fi ENGINEERING:
The ZENmini offers more than just casual usage. Floating optical and storage drives paired with a custom motherboard and premium components offer far greater musical performance than conventional computers and NAS drives.

PERFECT CD PLAYER REPLACEMENT:
Featuring additional Optical and Coaxial digital outputs as well has a high-resolution 24bit/192KHz Digital to Analog Converter (DAC). This means you can now connect directly to all your favourite devices such as Integrated Amps, AV Receivers, Soundbars etc the easy way.

POWERFUL PERFORMER:
Using our own exclusive innuOS operating system, our servers are configured and optimised from the ground up for the perfect balance of performance and simplicity. Control your library from the comfort of your tablet or smartphone – no computer required.

FAIRAUDIO REVIEW SUMMARY:
“The price-performance ratio of the Innuos ZENmini Mk3 is quite outstanding” Fairaudio give a fantastic review to the ZENmini Mk3, where “Good workmanship meets an exemplary intuitive user interface - not only the app, but also the browser-based music server management interface”. They were also greatly impressed by “the sheer resolution and - especially - the wonderfully vivid, precise and spacious presentation” of its sound quality.

InnuOS Operating System Design
INTELLIGENT CD RIPPING
Bit-Perfect Ripping
Using AccurateStream technology, extract every last bit of your CDs into WAV or FLAC files.

Automatic CD Ripping
Just pop-in a CD! innuOS will automatically get full album data and cover from multiple online databases, rip your CD and eject when done.

Assisted CD Ripping
Assisted CD Ripping allows you to see and edit all the album data and cover obtained from the online databases before you rip the CD. Great for Classical Music!

Quiet Mode
Love to listen to music whilst ripping your CDs and want absolute silence? Just engage Quiet Mode for slowing down ripping, making it much quieter and with less vibration.

Offline Ripping
CDs can be ripped without internet connection. When connected, album data and cover for all offline ripped CDs will be obtained with a simple click.

InnuOS Operating System Design

MUSIC SERVER MANAGEMENT
Automatic Network Identification
No more figuring out IP addresses find your server. Just go to my.innuos.com on your tablet or smartphone to list all Innuos devices on the network and access the innuOS App from there.

Remote Updates
Update the system with a touch of a button to benefit from our continuous improvements: new functionalities, enriched customer experience or enhanced sound quality.

Automatic Backup to USB Drive or NAS
Backup of your music library can be set on innuOS to start automatically based on library growth (e.g. every time 50 CDs are added) to either a USB backup drive or to a NAS on the network.

InnuOS Operating System   

DIGITAL MUSIC IMPORT
Import Wizards for Existing Libraries
Pre-defined wizards for importing music from USB storage, Music Servers and NAS.

Intelligent Import Engine
innuOS takes all the hard work of importing music by intelligently analysing the music files and applying a number of rules such as:
Organising the music based on format quality (compressed, cd quality or high-resolution), Artist and Album
Removing very long file names or illegal characters
Adding metadata to WAV files based on folder structure 

Download from Online Stores
Qobuz, Linn Records, HD Tracks, HiResAudio, B&W Society of Sound, iTunes, Amazon and more. Just download the music files (even if they are in a zip or tar file) to the Auto Import shared folder and the server will take care of adding and updating the music library.

InnuOS Operating System Design

HI-FI MUSIC PLAYER
Rediscover Your Music and Discover New One
Play all your music as well as Internet Radio and streaming services with the best sound quality by connecting directly to a DAC or Digital Amplifier via asynchronous USB.
Spotify, Tidal and Qobuz require premium subscriptions

Supports All Major Music Formats
The innuOS Music Player plays FLAC, DSD, MQA, WAV, Apple Lossless, AIFF, M4A and MP3 supporting bitrates up to 32bit/384KHz and DSD256, when connecting to compatible DACs & Roon Player is also now available. 
The innuOS Music Player can optionally become a Roon player so you can use the amazing Roon interface to explore your music like never before.

InnuOS Operating System   

MUSIC LIBRARY MANAGEMENT
Edit or Delete Albums
Browse your library, select the album you want to update and just start editing directly on your tablet or smartphone. You can change the cover, manage genres based on previously used genres or simply delete the album - couldn’t be easier.

QUARANTINE
Quarantine is a staging area, separate from the Music Library, where any albums requiring attention are placed so they can be fixed before they go into the Music Library. These include:
Albums with no metadata
Ripped albums with damaged tracks
Potentially duplicated albums
Albums ripped offline

Automatic Music Library Update
After music is added, modified or deleted, the library is automatically updated as well as any connected systems such as Sonos or UPnP Streamers.

InnuOS Operating System   

STREAMERS AND MULTI-ROOM SYSTEMS
Perfect Integration with Sonos
innuOS can automatically connect its music library to a Sonos system at the touch of a button as well as automatically rescan the Sonos Music Library when any album is added, modified or deleted from the Music Library.

Fast and Reliable UPnP Server
innuOS also contains a UPnP Server configured out-of-the-box to work flawlessly with a number of UPnP-based systems:
Wireless multi-room: such as Denon HEOS, Bang & Olufsen and BOSE amongst others
Music streamers such as Naim, Linn , Moon, Auralic and many others

Roon Server 
innuOS will also optionally integrate Roon Core* so you can use innuOS with other Roon-Ready streamers for a complete multi-room system. 
* A Roon license, purchased separately, is required

HOME AUTOMATION:
innuOS can be integrated with the most popular home automation control systems such as RTI, Control4, KNX, AMX, Elan, Crestron and iRidium.

Features

Specifications

Reviews

Videos

Features

Choice of 1TB, 2TB,4TB & 8TB HDD models available:
1TB HDD @ RRP $2,295 (special price $1200)
2TB HDD @ RRP $2,495
4TB HDD @ RRP $2,995
8TB HDD @ RRP $3,595

Specifications

AUDIO OUTPUTS
Digital Output; 
USB 2.0 supporting USB Audio Class 2, DoP, Native DSD and MQA
Coaxial S/PDIF up to 24bit/192KHz
Optical S/PDIF up to 24bit/96KHz

Analogue Output
RCA Analogue up to 24bit/192KHz

CONNECTIVITY
Ethernet
2x rear panel RJ45 – Bridged Gigabit Ethernet
USB: 4x USB 3.0

FORMATS
CD Formats - Red Book
Disc Compatibility - CD, CD-R, CD-RW
Audio format for stored CDs - FLAC (zero compression), WAV
Audio Formats Supported for streaming and playing - WAV, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC, AAC, MP3, MQA on supported DACs

SAMPLE RATES
Sample Rates - 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4KHz. 192kHz, 352.8KHz, 384KHz , up to DSD128 via DoP, Native DSD on selected DACs
Bit Depths - 16bit, 24bit, 32bit

USER CONTROL INTERFACES
Web Interface: 
Web Browsers - from iOS, Android (4.0 and up) or up-to-date Windows and OS X browsers
Mobile - App for iPhone/iPad, Android and Windows 10

HARDWARE
CD/DVD drive - TEAC Slot-loading drive
Hard Drive - 1TB WD Red HDD
CPU - Intel Quad Core N4200
Memory - 4GB DDR3

STREAMING AND CD STORAGE
UPnP/DLNA - Integrated UPnP Server
Streaming Services - Qobuz, Spotify Connect, Tidal, Internet Radio
Roon Compatibility - Roon Core and Roon Bridge
Average CD Storage Time - 5 minutes
CD Metadata - FreeDB, MusicBrainz, Discogs, GD3
Compatible Music Systems - Sonos Multi-room Wireless Music System
DLNA/UPnP compatible streamers - USB DACs complying to USB Audio Class 2
USB DACs supporting DSD over DoP protocol - Selected USB DACs supporting Native DSD

REQUIREMENTS
Network:
Internet connection to access album metadata when storing CDs, Internet Radio, Streaming Services and software updates
Network router with at least one available ethernet port
Premium subscription required for some streaming services such as Spotify, Qobuz and Tidal
Recommended App (USB Connection Only)
iPeng 9 (iOS), OrangeSqueeze (Android), Squeeze Control (Windows 10)

POWER
Mains Supply - Low ripple Power Adapter, 12V 5A, CEC Level V efficiency
Power Consumption - 10W when idle, 15W peak

PHYSICAL
Dimensions - 74 x 214 x 240 mm (H x W x D)
Weight - 4,5 Kg

In the box
Innuos ZENmini Mk3 1TB Music Server
AC/DC Power Adapter
Mains Cable
2m Ethernet Cable
Getting Started leaflet

Reviews

The Innuos ZEN Mini MKII is innovative, very fast, easy to use, has a convincing sound quality and in addition excellent value for money with 6 out of 6 points. A device for music lovers with claim. HiFi IFAs highlight!
BERND WEBER

CONCLUSION: No matter what I heard, the sound was cleaner and cleaner, the timing better, which was especially good with the piano. Bass runs became more structured. For acoustic guitars, the body had more "wood," just as it was heard that a saxophone is a woodwind instrument. Voices sounded cleaner and finer, eg. For example, the tremolo by Haris or the breath of Diana Krall. The stage presentation was also audible and deeper. Ok, sonically, he does not quite get to his big brother, compared to my QNAP he is definitely a significant step forward. 
The Innuos ZEN Mini MKII is innovative, very fast, easy to use, has a convincing sound quality and in addition excellent value for money with 6 out of 6 points. A device for music lovers with claim. HiFi IFAs highlight!

REVIEW (Gerrman to English translation via Google): Innuos ZEN Mini MKII (since replaced by new MkIII version): 
The Innuos music server ZEN Mini MK II is the little brother of the ZEN MKII, about which I have already reported. The functions and the innuOS operating system are the same. He also rips CDs, NAS and Streamer. Internet radio reception is also possible.

The irregular "creases" of the elegant stable Alufront loosen up the front with the Slotin drive succeeded. The Mini has half the width of classic hi-fi systems and is built very solid, the lid is therefore less susceptible to resonance, and not insulated from the inside as in the larger brother ZEN II.

On the back are the connections for the external power supply, 2 USB sockets 2.0 & 3.0 (for Back-Up & DAC), 1 LAN port and service sockets. The solid power supply was outsourced to external, so it does not cause interference in the small housing of the Mini.

In terms of hardware, an Intel CPU with Quad Core and 2 GB RAM are installed, which promise to work fast. The fanless ZEN Mini is very quiet. In addition, the optional 1 TB or 2 TB hard drive and also the slot-in drive from TEAC are mounted floating. So you can rip CDs while listening in peace. The reading is done fully automatically, but it can also be accompanied with the assistant. The import of music to external USB drives or NAS in the domestic network is very quiet.

Connected via LAN to the home network, the operation is done via the browser on mobile or tablet, you just enter my.innuos.com, and you're done in the clear user interface, finished. Here then the various settings are determined, such. For example, the ribs as .flac or .wav or the rip speed. Network settings? Are not required, the operating system innuOS does it fully automatically.

The names of the artists, titles as well as covers are taken from different databases. If no network is available when ripping, that's not a big deal, the software on all ZEN music servers will load the metadata the next time it's connected to a LAN. If the databases do not provide a cover, you can import them yourself, also the metadata can be easily edited. Duplicate or faulty albums are stored in the "Quarantine" folder. If they have been corrected there, they will be moved to the library after clicking on the save button. High-Res albums will be marked separately. You can also download the albums (also zipped) from Qobuz, Amazon, Tidal and other providers.

The innuOS software contains a UPnP server. Naim, Linn, Moon, Auralic, Denon HEOS and others are supported. The connection with the Sonos system is also possible.

The ZEN Mini MKII is connected to an external DAC via USB cable. So connected the music is played through an app (iPeng, Orange Squeeze etc.). Likewise, it can be accessed via the apps via USB streaming streamer. If you are looking for a minimalistic hi-fi system with good sound and comfort, simply connect it to a pair of active speakers with DAC.

An example of the Innuos ZEN on the hi-fi days 2017 in Hamburg with KEF LS50 wireless

When retrieving the music albums via the app of my streamer I was stunned by the rapid access times to the music albums on the ZEN, because my QNAP is much more comfortable on the way! The arguments from my circle of acquaintances that they would like to hear music about this kind of technique was too complicated for that.

Not only that, but also the sound of the albums read with the Innuos software was audibly better than my previous rips with laptop and EAC, at first I could hardly believe it, but after reading several CDs and with those that I read via laptop and EAC ripped, had compared, it was official, even with zeros and ones there are differences!

 

No matter what I heard, the sound was cleaner and cleaner, the timing better, which was especially good with the piano. Bass runs became more structured. For acoustic guitars, the body had more "wood," just as it was heard that a saxophone is a woodwind instrument. Voices sounded cleaner and finer, eg. For example, the tremolo by Haris or the breath of Diana Krall. The stage presentation was also audible and deeper. Ok, sonically, he does not quite get to his big brother, compared to my QNAP he is definitely a significant step forward.

Formats: MP3, AAC, AIFF, WAV, FLAC, DSD, DXD, MQA. Sample rates: PCM up to 384 kHz 32 bit, DSD up to 256

Conclusion: 
The Innuos ZEN Mini MKII is innovative, very fast, easy to use, has a convincing sound quality and in addition excellent value for money with 6 out of 6 points. A device for music lovers with claim. HiFi IFAs highlight!

4 OWNER 5 STAR REVIES

The Innuos Zen Mini Mk3 is a fabulous CD ripper/server solution in particular in conjunction with say a Sonos multi-room or AV system. Once installed it is a simple matter of inserting any new CDs into the Zen Mini and then popping them back into their cases once it ejects them. The music will then be available to your home music system!

With the Zen Mini Mk3, there is no need for discs. No computer required for ripping or file conversion. No waiting for tunes to transfer to your network hard drive. No need to dedicate hours to setting everything up. In fact, no excuse for neglecting your CD collection any longer.

The Zen Mini virttually silent in operation (having absolutely no fans) meaning you can place it confidently in your living room where it will quietly stream your music away.

The Zen Mini Mk3 supports almost every audio device out there so it will deliver multi-room audio to your Sonos system, stream high-resolution audio via UPnP to your Naim or Linn Music Streamer and even act as a music player connecting to an USB DAC and your Hi-Fi! 

The Zen Mini Mk3 is vastly more powerful than most NAS devices on the market, so no matter how large your music library is, the Mini Mk3 will provide a great user experience.

The latest Zen ranges from Innuos have advanced in three key design areas: minimising power noise, reducing vibration and optimising firmware, resulting in the entire range seeing a sizeable step-up in terms of performance

ZEN Mini Mk3 has the following new features;
Custom motherboard with dual ethernet ports - Optimisation for audio performance and network passthrough to nearby network devices.
Optical and coaxial SPDIF digital outputs
Optional Linear Power Supply upgrade - Improve sound quality using an external LPSU upgrade in matching chassis, backward compatible with the ZENmini MkII as well!

Shearn C
 

3 months ago

I saw this at the Launch at the Bristol Hi Fi show, I had it in my head that I was going for a standard streamer however this entry level music server was such great value for money it was a no brainier. Very pleased great addition to my Set up.

Compact sounds great.
I find iPeng a little clunky
BARKER K
 

3 months ago

The solution I needed was a CD ripper with a data storage facility all in one to contain a collection of about 2.5k CD's at the highest resolution possible with back up facility also. The device required to be intuitive and usable enough by a person of limited IT ability with excellent connectivity to support it. It also needed to be played through a Naim Mu-So. Having set out the requirement the Innuos fulfils this requirement completely with access easily effected via iPhone/iPad and with WAV level recordings about 3-5 minutes per CD. Playback is noticeably an improvement on Spotify level sound to the point I have now subscribed to Tidal. This Innuos is a a very commendable device.

Ease of use, quality of playback, intuitive use, excellent connectivity, facility to back up, plenty of memory
You do need to ensure connectivity is optimised e.g. ADSL cabling direct to router
Rev C
 

5 months ago

Easy to install and put music into and sounds great.

This is a simple unit to operate and whilst it does allow the option of the DAC of your choice it has an internal DAC which is none too shabby in its own right. I am enjoying rediscovering my music.

I copied over my digital music and that took some time. It also highlighted where double albums or box sets were captured differently by the Innuos from my previous streamer. Not a big deal but means a bit of housekeeping.

Overall, very pleased and glad I made the upgrade

Sounds great
Does highlight if your digital music library is not well organised
DrRoy
 

8 months ago

Compact, great sound and excellent connectivity. Almost silent operation apart from the fairly quiet hard disc. Excellent management software that copes so much better with disc display than many manufacturer apps. I would like to be able to control my Naim Streamer via this App - slicker than Naim's by a mile.

Great sound and software
Would like it to control the streamer too
 

I can’t think of anything in this price class which can touch it in that regard. Factor in exceptional CD ripping and the surprisingly excellent Roon experience, and we end up with a rather compelling device which represents “trickle down”
John Grandberg

Conclusion: If it wasn’t already obvious, the Innuos Zen Mini MK3 gets high marks when used in the proper context. I really do recommend the upgraded power supply if possible, though it’s nice that users on a budget can stagger the purchase. Whether used as a transport or via its analog outoput, the double-stack offers gratifying sound with a particularly strong sense of spaciousness – I can’t think of anything in this price class which can touch it in that regard. Factor in exceptional CD ripping and the surprisingly excellent Roon experience, and we end up with a rather compelling device which represents “trickle down”

Not long ago, I reviewed the Nativ Vita – a powerhouse music server with large hi-res touch screen, support for over a dozen streaming services, and vast connectivity. Even more recently, our publisher spent some time with the Auralic Altiar G1, which takes a somewhat different approach yet still arrives absolutely brimming with functionality. Streaming and file-based-playback capabilities have even found their way into our integrated amplifiers, as documented by Phil Wright’s Ayre EX8 covrage. And despite vinyl enjoying something of a renaissance, and the compact disc still hanging around (more in certain regions than others), file-based playback is clearly in very high demand.

Not all of these features are useful to all people. I know more than a few music lovers who are plenty technically inclined, and do enjoy a streaming service or two, yet have no use for Bluetooth, AirPlay, touchscreen controls, WiFi or headphone outputs. These folks want a more straight forward device to serve as a dedicated digital transport, collecting and organizing their music library and serving it up headlessly i.e. without a directly attached screen for black-box library management and music delivery.

Innuos may have just the right solution in their ZEN Mini MK3 the gateway to their ZEN range of server/streamers.

The ZEN Mini MK3 is absolutely not a feature-light proposition. Rather, it focusses on delivering what I’ll call the “core” music server functionality, to the fullest and without too much additional complexity. But I realize one person’s “extras” maybe someone else’s “essential features”, thus each reader must judge for themselves whether their needs line up with what Innuos has to offer.

So just what exactly does the Zen Mini MK3 do? It’s a streamlined music server which runs a custom audio-oriented operating system for exceptional sound quality and ease of use. It has a built-in drive for ripping CDs. It works as a Roon Core or Roon Endpoint, as well as supporting UPnP mode and even a Sonos mode for people invested in that ecosystem. It stores music on its internal drive but 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. It also streams from Tidal, Qobuz, and Spotify, and can do internet radio stations too – some of which broadcast in lossless quality these days. All of this comes in a compact, fanless package that should be simple to integrate into most any system.

Design
The Zen Mini MK3 is equipped with 1TB worth of onboard storage, with more storage (up to 8TB) available for an additional cost. Measuring just 8.4 inches wide, 9.5 inches deep, and under 3 inches tall, the smallest (and most Kallaz-Fi friendly) Innuos server is not much larger than the other Mini. That’d be Apple’s Mac Mini, which for years was popular as a music server but significantly less so as of its 2018 refresh – blame a combination of stubborn USB audio issues plus a lack of aftermarket modding support. With the Apple and Innuos’ prices landing in the same ballpark, I’ve long felt a dedicated device such as the Zen Mini makes more sense than a tweaked Mac Mini; and from what I’ve read on various forums, it seems many folks are now arriving at that same conclusion.

The jump from Zen Mini MK2 to MK3 brought a host of improvements. The most significant change is the switch from an off-the-shelf motherboard to a custom design, optimized for audio performance. That optimization extends to the Ethernet input and we also get a handy Ethernet output which serves as a passthrough for another network device for easy system integration. Gone are the vestigial computer ports from prior models, replaced by far more useful Toslink and coaxial digital outputs. There’s also an RCA analog out – yes, the Zen Mini MK3 has an integrated DAC onboard, which appears to be a first for Innuos. A subtly redesigned chassis houses floating storage and optical drives, reducing vibration and thus mitigating its negative sonic impact.

Innuos didn’t specify the CPU model used in the ZEN Mini MK2, but my sources indicate it was an Intel J1900. The MK3 update brings a newer Intel N4200 into play, which is both faster and more efficient than the J1900 and offers a maximum thermal footprint of just 6 watts. RAM is also doubled from 2GB to 4GB — a number previously only seen in the full-sized ZEN models. That might not sound like much but, remember, Innuos units are streamlined purpose-built devices. In base form, power is supplied by an external power brick, but the MK3 permits upgrading by adding a matching external linear power supply .

Software
While it’s easy to think of devices like this from a hardware standpoint only, that really only covers part of the equation. Just as important for sound quality is the software side. The InnuOS software platform is as beginner-friendly as it gets. 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. Setup is simple enough but in the event of networking issues, the InnuOS system can be remotely accessed by Innuos’s technical support team. Once configured, the system is pretty much set-and-forget.

Let’s discuss ripping, as it is definitely a strong point of this device. Users can choose between WAV and FLAC encoding (I use the latter) and the entire process can be automated if you desire. Simply insert a disc, wait roughly 5 minutes for the process to complete, then remove the disc and repeat. A second slower, quieter ripping mode is handy for archiving one disc whilst listening to one already ripped.

Regular readers may recall my experience with the Nativ Vita and Nativ’s US$599 add-on CD drive. In comparison, the Zen Mini MK3 rips faster and is slightly less noisy even in standard mode. For metadata, Innuos uses the same FreeDB and MusicBrainz databases as Nativ, but also adds Discogs and GD3 — an additional pair of options seems to make all the difference to metadata supply: I could not find a single disc that the Zen Mini didn’t perfectly identify. This included underground trance, obscure metal and punk outfits and small-time releases from speciality audiophile labels. Classical and opera buffs may eventually find something to complain about (those genres being notoriously difficult) but, so far, I have yet to find anything which causes the ZEN Mini MK3 to flinch.

Users with existing libraries can import their collection via network transfer or direct USB drive attachment. Here, the InnuOS software proved slightly less successful at properly identifying my data. It wasn’t bad by any means but did occasionally seem confused by compilations, classical releases and more obscure artists. In this respect, InnuOS’ performance seems on par with other big players such as Auralic and Aurender – they each do a generally good job, but none are perfect. Obviously, this could partially be blamed on the provenance of the collection and its existing metadata. And for Roon users, this portion doesn’t apply – Roon does a superlative job of organizing my collection, and I did most of my evaluation using Roon.

Listening
I’m continually reminded that transport quality is an important factor in a higher-end system. Any old disc spinner or computer can functionally accomplish the task, but that only puts the downstream DAC at a disadvantage. While most DACs these days contain at least some provision for jitter reduction, relatively few properly address incoming electrical noise or other contamination. Experience says that I hear better sound quality when providing the DAC with as clean and accurate a signal as possible. That’s the ZEN Mini MK3’s other intent: it is designed to maximize the performance of any directly-attached DAC.

My evaluation setup varied as the months went by. The Innuos started out serving data to the excellent MacIntosh MHA, which in turn supplied the Gallo Strada 2 loudspeakers with 50 watts per channel of solid-state grunt – perfect for midfield listening in my modestly-sized room. All cabling was from Audio Art, with the exception of a Silver Reference USB leash from the (now defunct) Cabledyne brand. After sending my evaluation MHA150 back to McIntosh, I swapped in another versatile machine – the S3 DAC/headphone amplifier from Keces Audio. Lastly, I threw in my Pass Labs HPA-1 headphone amplifier and fed it from a rotating cast of DACs: Exogal Comet Plus, BMC UltraDAC, and my current affordable bang-for-buck champion, the Airist R-2R. Headphones used included the Meze Empyrean, Audeze LCD-Z4, Sony MDR-Z1R, Sennheiser HD6XX and Fostex TH-X00.

My first impression of the Innuos box, heard through the McIntosh/Gallo setup, was that of a very spacious and open performer; a sort of “reach out and touch it” situation which, in my experience, remains primarily the domain of a really well-sorted system. To look at things from another angle, this is often the first casualty when a weak-link is introduced to the chain. And sure enough, by switching to a pedestrian laptop as USB source, the presentation felt flatter and drew player outlines with more obvious blur. The Strada 2 speakers did their best with dispersion width, but the sound lacked the Innuos clarity with layering, scale and image specificity. Clearly, the Zen Mini MK3 was letting the McIntosh perform to its best ability and outplays a consumer-grade computer, designed for a multitude of task, not just music playback.

Switching to headphones (still powered by the McIntosh) continued the same trend of open, three-dimensional sound. The Meze Empyrean, in particular, was able to do that spooky “out-of-head” thing where sounds seem to originate from far outside the bounds of the headphone. Whether playing Mozart, Meshuggah or Mutemath, the openness of the presentation was very much the prominent feature.

Other, more basic aspects of the sound signature were also excellent – incisive top end, beautiful, expressive midrange, convincing bass impact. These attributes obviously vary based on one’s chain of equipment, but the Innuos is certainly capable of unleashing them if the rest of the chain is on board. Yet I kept going back to the open, spacious aspect as being the most prominent character trait of the Zen Mini MK3.

Swapping out the McIntosh for the more affordable Keces S3 DAC/headphone amp brought more of the same. While it didn’t quite have the same dynamic gusto as the larger MHA150, it wasn’t terribly far behind either. I noted just a bit of treble hardness this time around, which made itself more apparent with certain headphones than others. Still, that was far from a deal-breaker, and I continued to enjoy that lifelike three-dimensionality I’ve been raving about. For a simple yet superb 2-box system, this pair seems like an excellent choice for headphone users, and the S3’s is well proportioned to the Zen Mini MK3.

From there, changes came rather quickly. I rotated DACs in and out, monitoring through the incisive Pass Labs amplifier and ultra-revealing Audeze LCD-24 headphones. Opinions began to solidify. Regardless of DAC used, I felt USB was the most insightful connection choice by a small but noticeable margin. That amount varied from DAC to DAC, and in some cases, the coaxial trailed by mere inches, so it’s not as if coax is a terrible choice by any means. But I did later confirm with Innuos head-honcho Nuno Vitorino that USB is theoretically best from a hardware standpoint, so users should plan on trying that one first.

In terms of sonic signature, it seems the Innuos “house sound” is centred around soundstage spaciousness and imaging precision. Compared to the Nativ Vita, the Zen Mini MK3 feels more open and airy, but also has less meat-on-the-bone. Not to say the Innuos is “thin” per se, just that tonal richness takes something of a back seat comparatively. Here, system matching becomes important, to say nothing of one’s general sonic priorities.

For me, jazz and classical and various acoustic works tended to benefit most from having Innuos at the helm. It made the Vita feel somewhat closed-in, a bit dull and even “small” at times. Yet throwing on some Black Flag, Homeboy Sandman, or Crystal Castles, I preferred the Vita’s relatively thicker tonality and rhythmic drive. Since this sort of music makes up the bulk of my listening, the Nativ Vita would more often than not be the better fit for me; but that could just as easily be reversed for someone else. And certain music, such as the quirky electronica of Minotaur Shock or almost any 70’s era classic rock, could go either way – was I in the mood for a more solid, grounded presentation, or did I want it light, open, and airy? Both were certainly valid choices. Keep in mind the Nativ Vita starts at uS$1599 with no onboard storage and adds another US$599 for the external disc drive – the Innuos has nothing to be ashamed of here.

Roon
I’ve use a powerful Xeon-based machine as my Roon server. With 6 cores/12 threads and 64GB RAM, this thing can handle pretty much anything I throw at it – major DSD upsampling, headphone crossfeed and EQ, and as many zones as I want all playing at the same time. The ZEN Mini MK3 is comparatively primitive in terms of processing power, so I wasn’t sure how well it would handle these functions, or even how it would cope with a large music library. Remember that Roon recommends solid-state drives for database duty (even if the actual library itself lives elsewhere), and Innuos has a slower, spinning-platter drive onboard. Is the Zen Mini MK3 capable enough to offer a quality Roon experience?

The answer is mostly yes. I loaded the internal drive with over 800GB worth of music, representing roughly two thousand albums in a mixture of CD quality, hi-res PCM, and DSD. Navigation felt snappy enough, with a barely noticeable bit of lag that I probably wouldn’t recognize if I wasn’t used to my powerful server. Clicking “play” did not result in the practically immediate playback that I’m used to, but neither was it intrusively slow – think (modern) CD player reaction times and you’ll be on the right track. Overall I found the experience perfectly acceptable with a library of this size, though I can’t say how doubling or quadrupling the music collection might impact things. Interestingly, browsing Qobuz (still within Roon, of course) didn’t feel much different at all compared to my powerful server. I suspect this is due to the latency of using their streaming catalog versus my own local storage.

As for the more advanced features, the Zen Mini MK3 is capable of handling them up to a certain point. DSD64 and DSD128 upsampling are easily within reach, while DSD256 was mostly fine save for the occasional dropout. I suggest trying higher PCM rates instead, which are often overlooked but can sound excellent with certain DACs – the device has no problem upsampling to 384kHz and beyond. It had no trouble running the Audeze presets, and was happy with basic EQ functionality. I also played 3 different zones simultaneously and the system handled that without issue.

The main limitation has to do with combining these functions all at once. If you wanted 3 zones, but also wanted complex EQ on some of them and DSD upsampling on others, you’d find the little Innuos quickly running out of steam. So let your specific usage be your guide on this front. Then again, Innuos supports Roon Endpoint mode if users ever outgrow its server capabilities.

Upgrades
Circling back to the matching extrenal linear power supply, you’ll note that it appears in most of the pictures featured here. That’s because once added, I dreaded going back to the standard switch-mode solution. Not because the Zen Mini MK3 sounds poor in stock form, but rather because the device takes a significant leap upwards with the LPSU in play.

The Innuos combo stack brings more solidity and tonal lushness to the table. I still wouldn’t call it thick or warm in absolute terms, but it fleshed things out enough to where I no longer felt I was missing anything. And this took place without impacting the expansive soundstage presentation, which now felt more enveloping. This was an engaging, tactile experience which felt as much at home with the  Keces S3 as it did with the US$8,000 BMC/Pass Labs setup.

Now, forced to choose between the Nativ Vita and the upgraded Zen Mini stack, the decision becomes much more difficult. The Innuos nails the spaciousness aspect whilst no longer losing ground on sonic density. The argument then shifts to cover art display, with the Vita’s integrated touchscreen, controls battling the Zen’s iPad-based remote, as well as various extra features like Bluetooth and support for more streaming services. Both devices make very compelling cases for themselves and I could live happily ever after with either.

The Bonus
Remember the ZEN Mini’s analog output? It’s a first for Innuos. My first impression of it was somewhat underwhelming. With the switch mode power supply, it brought to mind the analog output of the old Squeezebox Touch – pretty respectable inner detail and leading-edge reproduction, yet obviously lacking in acoustic mass. I found this perfectly acceptable on the Squeezebox Touch, but the ZEN Mini MK3 sells for four times the price. This function is useful for background music or for pairing with entry-level gear but it might introduce a qualitative bottleneck to more capable systems.

Things took a drastic turn when returning the LPSU to the mix. Now, this was a sound I could enjoy even with more potent ancillary gear. The lower octaves took on a solidity they had previously lacked, digital glare was toned down significantly and I even caught glimpses of that open, spacious feeling which consistently appeared via the digital outputs. To revisit the Logitech analogy – this would be my blast-from-the-past Bolder Audio modded Squeezebox Touch with external Channel Islands linear power supply, needing no apologies for its sonic prowess.

The takeaway? Running the Zen Mini MK3/LPSU combo without an external DAC actually becomes a reasonable proposition. Adding a budget device like the iFi iDAC2 or Parasound zDAC V.2 feels different but not necessarily better, whilst the Mytek Liberty adds subtle improvements which certainly aren’t night and day. The ZEN’s Texas Instruments PCM5102-based internal DAC is expressive and generally competent enough to hold most listeners over until they can afford a really serious DAC offering a clear upgrade, at which point the Innuos stack could still be quite useful as a zone source for another room. I would like to see Innuos add the onboard DAC to the next generation of full-size ZEN models. It really is impressive once decoupled from the Mini’s stock SMPS.

Conclusion
If it wasn’t already obvious, the Innuos Zen Mini MK3 gets high marks when used in the proper context. I really do recommend the upgraded power supply if possible, though it’s nice that users on a budget can stagger the purchase. Whether used as a transport or via its analog outoput, the double-stack offers gratifying sound with a particularly strong sense of spaciousness – I can’t think of anything in this price class which can touch it in that regard. Factor in exceptional CD ripping and the surprisingly excellent Roon experience, and we end up with a rather compelling device which represents “trickle down”

We gave both music servers, the Zen Mini Mk II and the Zen Mk II, the very high rating of 4.8 stars. Because sound and concept are convincing in all respects and the price for both is extremely fair.
Bernd Weber

Conclusion Innuos Zen Mini Mk II and Zen Mk II:
The conclusion is short and concise: The Innuos music server Mk II are very innovative, incredibly fast and can be fantastically easy to use. They have a convincing sound quality and an ingenious price / performance ratio. 
Any questions?
Maybe this: Is the gain in tonal substance from Zen Mini to Zen worth the extra cost of almost 1,000 euros? I mean yes. We are in HiFi / High End and such sound enhancements are paid much more expensive elsewhere.
We gave both music servers, the Zen Mini Mk II and the Zen Mk II, the very high rating of 4.8 stars. Because sound and concept are convincing in all respects and the price for both is extremely fair. 

REVIEW (German to English via Google)! 
The Norddeutsche hi-fi days in Hamburg are a very nice event, but they are not the kind of fair where a lot of hi-fi novelties are presented. Nevertheless, we found while browsing on the North German HiFi days, at least for us completely new brand: Innuos.

The Portuguese produce music servers of the finest quality and at very fair prices - so at least our first impression at the fair. So we ordered the two smaller models Innuos ZENMini Mk II and ZEN Mk II for the test. LowBeats author Bernd Weber took a lot of time and the two under the microscope. Here is his report:

Honestly, this brand was unknown to me until then, and I looked at these devices so slightly skeptical, after all, almost everyone can nowadays with a bit of skill a computer together ... But the curiosity outweighed and the chic design with the irregularly shaped and This lightened front of stable, high-quality aluminum told me right away. 

The Innuos Zen Mini Mk II and Zen Mk II are also without blemish. The structure is very clean and stable with only the most necessary controls: In both models, there is on the front only the slot of the TEAC slot-in drive and a power switch with side-mounted LED. The diode of the mini shines in blue, the Zen can be adjusted in 8 colours to match the domestic components, very chic! The differences also manifest in weight and dimensions: the Zen Mini in half hi-fi format weighs about 4 kilos, the Zen in the full hi-fi width (42cm) is almost exactly double: 8 kilos 

The equipment of the two is practical. Both support MP3, AAC, AIFF, WAV, FLAC, DSD, DXD, MQA. Sample rates: PCM up to 384 kHz 32 bits, DSD up to 256. That should be enough for almost any occasion. The "small" Innuos Zen Mini Mk II has on the back the connections for the external power supply (no cheap power adapter!), 2 x USB 2.0, LAN, service, 2 x USB 3.0 and two other service connections, done. For the larger Zen Mk II there are instead 2 x USB 2.0, LAN, a galvanic isolated LAN output to connect to the streamer and a service socket. For this purpose, the Zen Mk II has a classically constructed power supply installed.

But what about Bluetooth, S / PDIF or WLAN? None. "These techniques and their components disturb the sound quality of the Innuos," the developer Emanuel Ey told me. He also underlined that the connection to an external DAC or streamer via USB 2.0 sound better than via USB 3.0. Here is someone to his philosophy, respect!

Next to the slot-in drive of TEAC sits an Intel CPU with Quad Core. The Innuos Zen Mini Mk II has 2 GB RAM and the Zen Mk II has 4 GB RAM. Each half of the memory is for the operating system and the other for temporary storage of the requested music files. This promises rapid operation and data processing. With regard to the hard drive memory size, the Innuos Zen Mini Mk II has a choice of 1 TB or 2 TB, while the Zen Mk II can choose between 2 TB and 4 TB. Built-in are no hard drives, but classic HDD hard drives. But the rotating memory are almost unnoticeable - they are, like the slot-drive of TEAC - floating decoupled. You have to go straight to the device with your ear to see that it's up and running. I had both music servers close to the system during the listening tests - no problem.

CD ripping with Innuos Zen Mini Mk II and Zen Mk II

The reading is done fully automatically, but it can also be accompanied with the assistant. Also, the import of music on external USB drives or a NAS in the home network is very quiet. With a USB cable you can connect the Innuos Zen Mini Mk II to an external DAC; So connected the music is played through an app (iPeng, Orange Squeeze etc.). Likewise, it can be accessed via the apps as streamed music from the local network - than via a USB or LAN connection. The same applies to the Zen Mk II, which can or should additionally be connected to a streamer via the galvanically isolated LAN interface. Innuos promises thereby an even better sound.

The operating system innuOS is based on Linux and is an in-house development. It is possible to import the music files from USB media, NAS and CD. Streaming goes, inter alia, by Tidal and Qobuz, the reception of Internet radio is also given. In addition the connection to Sonos is possible and also Roon is on offer. The innuOS software contains a UPnP server. Naim, Linn, Moon, Auralic, Denon, HEOS and others are supported.

Connected to the network at home, you serve the music server via browser on the tablet. All you have to do is enter my.innuos.com into the browser and you'll be able to start the clear user interface in a jiffy. PC knowledge is absolutely not necessary with these music servers, the operating system innuOS does everything independently! For example, ripping CDs as .flac or .wav and the tempo of recording can be set. You can also define how and where the data should be saved, whether the whole thing should run fully automatically or manually. Playback via the browser-based software is not yet possible, but this is currently being worked on.

Metadata such as covers, titles or artists are loaded by innuOS software from various databases. If no LAN is available at the moment, this will not be a problem, the metadata will be reloaded to the network later. If the databases do not provide any information, you can easily edit them yourself and import your own covers. Also, you can perform these edits on the home PC, for example, with MP3 tags.

Best: Music server Innuos Zen Mini Mk II and Zen Mk II

Special Guest July 8, 2017
If albums are duplicated or contain errors, they are automatically moved to the so-called quarantine folder. There they can be deleted or their metadata corrected; after pressing the memory button they will appear in the library. Actually useful, such a feature, and yet not available on every music server. HiRes albums are marked separately by the way. Whole albums (also zipped) can be downloaded from vendors like Qobuz, Tidal, and Amazon.

Innuos Zen Mini Mk II and Zen Mk II in the hearing and practice test

For the hearing and practice test, we used the proven in many comparative tests network player Cambridge 851N. As soon as the music servers were connected, there was already the first surprise: the access times via the Cambridge app on the albums was really fast, waiting almost zero. Even when scrolling through the almost 1,000 albums imported via external USB hard drive, there were no problems with the speed, even the covers were quickly called up. In contrast, the USB disk and the existing NAS lost a massive amount. Cumbersome and slow was definitely nothing for the Innuos. This performance is great!

Then I started reading a few CDs directly from the TEAC drive. The software innuOS needed for a CD short 4 minutes, while the hard disk was audible. Then I changed the rip speed of "Quick Mode" to "Quiet Mode", so you hear from a distance of one meter as well as nothing more from the device. The reading time was now 7 minutes. Completely adequate!

Now it started with the listening test: First, the Innous Zen Mini Mk II via USB 2.0 and LAN compared to USB disk and the existing NAS. "Digital is digital," says the vernacular. Are you kidding me? Are you serious when you say that! Music sounded over the Zen Mini immediately a little quieter and with a gain in space. Imagination?

No. And it got even better. I compared the PC and EAC (Exact Audio Copy) ripped CDs to the proprietary rips of the Innuos. Surely that could not be true: with Diana Krall's Wallflower, the strings were more silky than before, their great piano runs sparkling cleaner and purer. Also Diana's now more sensitive voice was really beguiling, in a duet with the cuddly Michael Bublé finer. In Joni Mitchell's "The Sire Of Sorrow", the shades in her voice were worked out even better, in the men's choir I was able to locate the different singers wonderfully. And all this unfolded with more space and depth, the strings always a little finer dissolved and the timpani with more fur. No matter what I heard, the innuOS rips sounded more natural than those with EAC.

But there was also the larger Zen Mk II. Also I connected it initially via USB 2.0 and LAN, then via the LAN output "Streamer". Result: even better. The Innuos Zen Mk II gave the voices even more naturalness and tonality was further improved. No matter what I heard, the sound was cleaner, cleaner and the timing better - which you can hear especially when playing piano. Bass runs became more structured. With acoustic guitars, the body had more "wood", more substance, and it was very easy to hear that a saxophone is a woodwind instrument. The resolution was even finer, there were more ramifications to hear. The stage presentation was also audible and deeper.

After being amazed at the sound increase compared to the "little one", I tried out the galvanically isolated output ... Yes, it was this exit that lifted me completely into the hi-fi sky. I listened to one album after another and could hardly separate myself from the music. Only when I noticed that it was already getting light outside...

As usual, the listening tests were done on LowBeats with the pre-amp SPL Director, the power amp Cambridge 851W and Nubert nuPower A and the Dynaudio Contour 20 as monitor. That always sounds overwhelmingly good. But of course it is also a few numbers smaller: Another great combination is the Zen Mini Mk II with the KEF LS 50 Wireless, which has already built the DAC and also offers more analog inputs.

This is - though so small - great cinema!

Conclusion Innuos Zen Mini Mk II and Zen Mk II:

The conclusion is short and concise: The Innuos music server Mk II are very innovative, incredibly fast and can be fantastically easy to use. They have a convincing sound quality and an ingenious price / performance ratio.

Any questions?

Maybe this: Is the gain in tonal substance from Zen Mini to Zen worth the extra cost of almost 1,000 euros? I mean yes. We are in HiFi / High End and such sound enhancements are paid much more expensive elsewhere.

We gave both music servers, the Zen Mini Mk II and the Zen Mk II, the very high rating of 4.8 stars. Because sound and concept are convincing in all respects and the price for both is extremely fair. 

Videos

Innuos Zen Mini Mk II Audio Server Review and Demonstration