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Innuos Zenith Mk3 VS Auralic Aries G2


Southeastern
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I've owned the Zenith MK3 for about 18 months now and love it... it goes through a Luxman DA 06 DAC and to my ears, sounds perfectly balanced

Which speakers do you use?

Mac

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Posted (edited)
On 22/07/2021 at 22:50, whitehart said:

I've owned the Zenith MK3 for about 18 months now and love it... it goes through a Luxman DA 06 DAC and to my ears, sounds perfectly balanced

Which speakers do you use?

Mac

It's definitely not my speakers, as everything else works fine with my system :) But they are Q Acoustics Concept 300.

The results are..

The Zenith is back in its box and going back to the dealer.

The Zenith does sound more 'analogue' like, but it was too devoid of bottom end and too frantic in top end. This dosent mean harsh, it was anything but,  it has an incredibly smooth reproduction, but it was just too 'busy' for me, it lacked control and could at times just sound a complete mess if lots of things were happening in the track. Over longer listening periods, this began to grate on me and gave me a headache. For slower stuff, it was very impressive but lacked a real low end rumble, which at first didn't matter, but overtime, for me, I just felt like it was lacking, and it was annoying me. There is sibilance in voices, nothing major but its there, and I had a choice not to have it, so I went that way.

The G2 although being a little 'darker' in its presentation, just worked so much better. It has control and precision and a big bottom end and midrange warmth, it works very well with my setup. It's instrument placement may not be as realistic as the Zenith, but it manages to create a defined soundstage that one becomes at 'peace' to listen to. The casing also feels much more substantial for the price tag, the Zenith and its folded panels felt a bit cheap.

Power cable changes was a big step up on both routers, but more noticeable on Zenith - without a decent cable it had a slight harshness (noise) to the lower treble, and lacked midrange even more.

The best way to think of it is  the Zenith being on the front row of a live concert, and the G2 being in the treated engineers studio room. 

I do use a valve amp and R2R DAC, so it could be that the blend of those with the 'analogue style' of Zenith was 'too much' for me. I feel like the Zenith is a great streamer, and matched to say a solid state system, I can see where it would really shine, when the G2 might just be overly precise and become robotic. However, the step up in SQ from either unit over my already impressive NAIM ND5XS2 was pretty big, which was already massive over a Bluesound Node and rPi. I feel like I have digital now an enjoyable experience like my Turntable without any real annoyances.

I did try the Zenith on its native App instead of Roon, and SQ was better. Much like when choosing the native Naim app on the ND5. It's very clear to me that Roon does have a more 'processed' sound signature, where as InnuOS 2.0 and Naim was much natural. I imagine the die hard Roon fanatics on their forum prefer that, but I preferred the native apps. It won't stop me using Roon though, as with the G2, it sounds better with Roon than the Zenith without.

For fun, I put the rPi back in after having the G2 on for a couple of hours...and boy, the difference was spellbinding. Even with a fairly decent system , it really proved that the source is equally as important as say the speakers. The rPi, just sounded so bad. Harsh, no spacial magic, also like an arcade game style sound signature, one dimensional and robotic. Obviously the price difference is mega, but it's definitely imo worth considering stepping out of the linear rPi rhetoric if you want better sound quality...and power supplies are a huge part of this.

Edited by Southeastern
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3 minutes ago, Southeastern said:

It's definitely not my speakers, as everything else works fine with my system :) But they are Q Acoustics Concept 300.

The results are..

The Zenith is back in its box and going back to the dealer.

The Zenith does sound more 'analogue' like, but it was too devoid of bottom end and too frantic in top end. This dosent mean harsh, it was anything but,  it has an incredibly smooth reproduction, but it was just too 'busy' for me, it lacked control and could at times just sound a complete mess if lots of things were happening in the track. Over longer listening periods, this began to grate on me and gave me a headache. For slower stuff, it was very impressive but lacked a real low end rumble, which at first didn't matter, but overtime, for me, I just felt like it was lacking, and it was annoying me. There is sibilance in voices, nothing major but its there, and I had a choice not to have it, so I went that way.

The G2 although being a little 'darker' in its presentation, just worked so much better. It has control and precision and a big bottom end and midrange warmth, it works very well with my setup. It's instrument placement may not be as realistic as the Zenith, but it manages to create a defined soundstage that one becomes at 'peace' to listen to. The casing also feels much more substantial for the price tag, the Zenith and its folded panels felt a bit cheap.

Power cable changes was a big step up on both routers, but more noticeable on Zenith - without a decent cable it had a slight harshness (noise) to the lower treble, and lacked midrange even more.

The best way to think of it is  the Zenith being on the front row of a live concert, and the G2 being in the treated engineers studio room. 

I do use a valve amp and R2R DAC, so it could be that the blend of those with the 'analogue style' of Zenith was 'too much' for me. I feel like the Zenith is a great streamer, and matched to say a solid state system, I can see where it would really shine, when the G2 might just be overly precise and become robotic. However, the step up in SQ from either unit over my already impressive NAIM ND5XS2 was pretty big, which was already massive over a Bluesound Node and rPi. I feel like I have digital now an enjoyable experience like my Turntable without any real annoyances.

For fun, I put the rPi back in after having the G2 on for a couple of hours...and boy, the difference was spellbinding. Even with a fairly decent system , it really proved that the source is equally as important as say the speakers. The rPi, just sounded so bad. Harsh, no spacial magic, also like an arcade game style sound signature, one dimensional and robotic. Obviously the price difference is mega, but it's definitely imo worth considering stepping out of the linear rPi rhetoric if you want better sound quality...and power supplies are a huge part of this.

Great write up and very informative. I have also found that a streamer that sounds good in one system might be ‘too much of a good thing’ in another. 

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2 minutes ago, DomT said:

Great write up and very informative. I have also found that a streamer that sounds good in one system might be ‘too much of a good thing’ in another. 

Thanks Dom, yes it's exactly that, the Zenith would be a dream in some systems. I can imagine me going back to it one day if I ever change things around.

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10 minutes ago, Southeastern said:

It's definitely not my speakers, as everything else works fine with my system :) But they are Q Acoustics Concept 300.

The results are..

The Zenith is back in its box and going back to the dealer.

The Zenith does sound more 'analogue' like, but it was too devoid of bottom end and too frantic in top end. This dosent mean harsh, it was anything but,  it has an incredibly smooth reproduction, but it was just too 'busy' for me, it lacked control and could at times just sound a complete mess if lots of things were happening in the track. Over longer listening periods, this began to grate on me and gave me a headache. For slower stuff, it was very impressive but lacked a real low end rumble, which at first didn't matter, but overtime, for me, I just felt like it was lacking, and it was annoying me. There is sibilance in voices, nothing major but its there, and I had a choice not to have it, so I went that way.

The G2 although being a little 'darker' in its presentation, just worked so much better. It has control and precision and a big bottom end and midrange warmth, it works very well with my setup. It's instrument placement may not be as realistic as the Zenith, but it manages to create a defined soundstage that one becomes at 'peace' to listen to. The casing also feels much more substantial for the price tag, the Zenith and its folded panels felt a bit cheap.

Power cable changes was a big step up on both routers, but more noticeable on Zenith - without a decent cable it had a slight harshness (noise) to the lower treble, and lacked midrange even more.

The best way to think of it is  the Zenith being on the front row of a live concert, and the G2 being in the treated engineers studio room. 

I do use a valve amp and R2R DAC, so it could be that the blend of those with the 'analogue style' of Zenith was 'too much' for me. I feel like the Zenith is a great streamer, and matched to say a solid state system, I can see where it would really shine, when the G2 might just be overly precise and become robotic. However, the step up in SQ from either unit over my already impressive NAIM ND5XS2 was pretty big, which was already massive over a Bluesound Node and rPi. I feel like I have digital now an enjoyable experience like my Turntable without any real annoyances.

I did try the Zenith on its native App instead of Roon, and SQ was better. Much like when choosing the native Naim app on the ND5. It's very clear to me that Roon does have a more 'processed' sound signature, where as InnuOS 2.0 and Naim was much natural. I imagine the die hard Roon fanatics on their forum prefer that, but I preferred the native apps. It won't stop me using Roon though, as with the G2, it sounds better with Roon than the Zenith without.

For fun, I put the rPi back in after having the G2 on for a couple of hours...and boy, the difference was spellbinding. Even with a fairly decent system , it really proved that the source is equally as important as say the speakers. The rPi, just sounded so bad. Harsh, no spacial magic, also like an arcade game style sound signature, one dimensional and robotic. Obviously the price difference is mega, but it's definitely imo worth considering stepping out of the linear rPi rhetoric if you want better sound quality...and power supplies are a huge part of this.

Definitely the right choice, IMO. Auralic leads the pack in streamers. It's also gratifying to read that others also appreciate just how much difference a streaming transport can make. 

Those on here who seem to be having apparent SQ issues with Roon and Innuos should try Ronn with an Auralic streamer. Superb quality; whether using Roon or the Auralic app.

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If owning a Zenith, it depends why you wish to pay for and use Roon.  When it is acknowledged that the new Innuos 2.0 software sounds so much better.  Each to their own, but I want to hear the better sound quality.

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4 hours ago, simon g said:

Definitely the right choice, IMO. Auralic leads the pack in streamers. It's also gratifying to read that others also appreciate just how much difference a streaming transport can make. 

Those on here who seem to be having apparent SQ issues with Roon and Innuos should try Ronn with an Auralic streamer. Superb quality; whether using Roon or the Auralic app.

No, we don’t have issues with Roon and Innuos. We have issues with Roon. Full Stop. I have tried Roon with my Antipodes K50 as well as my Innuos. Same thing. Roon takes away sound quality. 
 

If you cannot hear it then fine. You are the lucky one. Not me. 

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2 hours ago, sgee said:

If owning a Zenith, it depends why you wish to pay for and use Roon.  When it is acknowledged that the new Innuos 2.0 software sounds so much better.  Each to their own, but I want to hear the better sound quality.

I paid for Roon years ago when it was affordable, and I use Roon to control all the speakers in my house, all through one single interface that gives me complete control of everything from NAS contents, to streaming services, provides me with lots of other relevant data and finds me new music, that I can allocate to whatever system I want. No other software does that.

Innuos 2.0 dosent sound 'so much better', it sounds the same as say the NAIM app, which is a small but noticeable improvement over Roon. However Roon with Auralic, sounded better than Zenith/2.0 hence going that route, as I prefer to use a single interface for everything.

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Just a word of note, I have had products from both Auralic and Innuos. One crucial factor I would encourage you to check out was the customer service/support difference between the two companies. One was just plain awful and the other fantastic.

In my case: Auralic Aries Femto £1500 streamer that basically ended up going in the bin due to a systemic issue with the WiFi card component. Despite replacing the WLAN card, it ended up failing to boot after a while, subsequently requiring a replacement main board repair that was uneconomical to repair (note, there were a few others who also had to ditch this product too for the same reason).

- Innuos Streamer - releasing Innuos 2.0 software for free. Been rock-solid for me on the pre-2.0 release. Had my product for a few years and they are supporting their customers with 2.0 for free - breathing life into their solution for a while to come.

Check out the community support forum on the Auralic site and you will get a sense of what I mean. You can also check out the feedback on the Innuos inn-sights blog where you can see how they are trying to ensure a quality product (even if that means delays).

You may of course have a very different experience than I, but I know which one I would buy.


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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, packetdiscards said:

Just a word of note, I have had products from both Auralic and Innuos. One crucial factor I would encourage you to check out was the customer service/support difference between the two companies. One was just plain awful and the other fantastic.

In my case: Auralic Aries Femto £1500 streamer that basically ended up going in the bin due to a systemic issue with the WiFi card component. Despite replacing the WLAN card, it ended up failing to boot after a while where it would have taken a replacement main board repair that was uneconomical to repair.

- Innuos Streamer - releasing Innuos 2.0 software for free. Been rock-solid for me on the pre-2.0 release. Had my product for a few years and they are supporting their customers with 2.0 for free - breathing life into their solution for a while to come.

Check out the community support forum on the Auralic site and you will get a sense of what I mean. You can also check out the feedback on the Innuos inn-sights blog where you can see how they are trying to ensure a quality product (even if that means delays).

You may of course have a very different experience than I, but I know which one I would buy.


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I didn't need to contact Innuos over anything, but I have heard their support is A1. I did contact Auralic about a few things and they got back to me within hours with detailed help and explanations etc.

I often find the real issue with Chi-Fi manufacturers though is when there is hardware faults and replacements/refunds etc are involved, its like getting blood from a stone.

As I bought the G2 from a UK dealer, I have our excellent UK consumer rights which will cover me from minimum 2 years, and possibly up to 5 years for a hardware failure, so thats fine for me.

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I didn't need to contact Innuos over anything, but I have heard their support is A1. I did contact Auralic about a few things and they got back to me within hours with detailed help and explanations etc.
I often find the real issue with Chi-Fi manufacturers though is when there is hardware faults and replacements/refunds etc are involved, its like getting blood from a stone.
As I bought the G2 from a UK dealer, I have our excellent UK consumer rights which will cover me from minimum 2 years, and possibly up to 5 years for a hardware failure, so thats fine for me.

Am glad to hear that you had a better experience than I - and of course, I am sure there will be examples that will be contrary to my own.

The following maybe helps shed some light on both my own and others experience…

https://community.auralic.com/t/aries-femto-reliability-problems-solved/5284

There were other aspects I didn’t like about Auralic’s processes (e.g. when you setup the Lightning DS software on the device, you need to register it with them, which means you then need to transfer ownership etc if you sell it)… When changing an email address I ran into an issue where it prompted the transfer of ownership. I personally wasn’t aware of this and would be mindful of if buying second hand as it will be a pain to get this transferred if the original owner hasn’t/doesn’t relinquish their claim to it.


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4 minutes ago, packetdiscards said:


Am glad to hear that you had a better experience than I - and of course, I am sure there will be examples that will be contrary to my own.

The following maybe helps shed some light on both my own and others experience…

https://community.auralic.com/t/aries-femto-reliability-problems-solved/5284

There were other aspects I didn’t like about Auralic’s processes (e.g. when you setup the Lightning DS software on the device, you need to register it with them, which means you then need to transfer ownership etc if you sell it)… When changing an email address I ran into an issue where it prompted the transfer of ownership. I personally wasn’t aware of this and would be mindful of if buying second hand as it will be a pain to get this transferred if the original owner hasn’t/doesn’t relinquish their claim to it.


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Thanks for the info on the registration. I wasn't aware, as I was using Roon, it just works automatically, I wasn't sure if registering makes any difference. As I tried to do now, it did indeed bring up the previous owners details and that they will email them to de-register it. What a ballache!

Lets see if they 'respond' over the weekend...otherwise this may be problematic. I appreciate you mentioning this. 

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Sorry that you tried this on my prompt, hope you get it resolved.

It is a weird process, and somewhat unnecessary in my opinion. Not sure why it is needed. It is not a subscription product, therefore you should be free to sell it to whomever you choose without such a constraint.

It is also not something I feel comfortable with from a privacy perspective (added to the fact Auralic run an open ssh server on the device to which they hold the username/password or private key to etc - run an nmap scan against it or connect directly and you will see what I mean).




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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, packetdiscards said:

Sorry that you tried this on my prompt, hope you get it resolved.

It is a weird process, and somewhat unnecessary in my opinion. Not sure why it is needed. It is not a subscription product, therefore you should be free to sell it to whomever you choose without such a constraint.

It is also not something I feel comfortable with from a privacy perspective (added to the fact Auralic run an open ssh server on the device to which they hold the username/password or private key to etc - run an nmap scan against it or connect directly and you will see what I mean).




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I appreciate the prompt!

I am baffled as to why they do this also, maybe some of the Chinese people control mindset being involved...which will have darker undertones for whatever reason..but yes, its mine, not theirs, I can do what I like to it. I imagine they are trying to look as 'big' and 'grand' as Apple. It's quite ridiculous on a music streamer.

What actually happens when its 'activated', as it works perfectly fine as it is through the DS App or Roon without..aside from the registration prompt.

Edited by Southeastern
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What actually happens when its 'activated', as it works perfectly fine as it is through the DS App or Roon?


Not sure really, but I wouldn’t try factory resetting it etc until you know you are in the clear with the previous owner releasing it.


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