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Going CDless: Brennan B2, Innuos Zen Mini, Cocktail Audio X12…?

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hammill

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Mar 20, 2008
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If you use eac you can prove that the rip you have made is perfect. On my six year old bog standard laptop, I have copied hundreds of CDs and only one needed to be reread (it was dirty) to get a perfect copy. You do not need anything special. There are peculiar individuals who instead of being happy that modern technology can work perfectly even if it is cheap insist of spending huge amounts on unnecessary nonsense like magic mains cables or special CD rippers. They simply don't understand technology. Ignore them and you can spend money on things that do matter like speakers or red wine.
 

pauln

New member
Feb 26, 2008
137
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hammill said:
If you use eac you can prove that the rip you have made is perfect. On my six year old bog standard laptop, I have copied hundreds of CDs and only one needed to be reread (it was dirty) to get a perfect copy. You do not need anything special. There are peculiar individuals who instead of being happy that modern technology can work perfectly even if it is cheap insist of spending huge amounts on unnecessary nonsense like magic mains cables or special CD rippers. They simply don't understand technology. Ignore them and you can spend money on things that do matter like speakers or red wine.
If you believe in magic/unicorns/fairies go with ellisdj pov. I you don't, go with the common sense pov as above.
 

ellisdj

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Dec 11, 2008
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If you think all streamers sound the same buy a cheap one happy for people to think and do that its up to them
Or consider why some people are saying the innuos zenith sounds so good for example.

Look at it - there is not much there different to the norm. Just a few things in line with what i have been saying, think about it then yes its common sense from there as suggested.
 

pauln

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Feb 26, 2008
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ellisdj said:
If you think all streamers sound the same buy a cheap one happy for people to think and do that its up to them Or consider why some people are saying the innuos zenith sounds so good for example.

Look at it - there is not much there different to the norm. Just a few things in line with what i have been saying, think about it then yes its common sense from there as suggested.
Talking about ripping not streaming.
 

muljao

Well-known member
Jul 18, 2016
256
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4,970
I think this thread is gone a little off-yopic. The OP asked about a 500 pounds cd ripper/player and alternatives. We are now down the road of very complex (for most) solutions that may or may not be a large improvement.
 

Frank Harvey

Well-known member
Jun 27, 2008
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Having had a quick look at the Cocktail and Brennan alternatives, the main thing that strikes me is that they both include amplification. Squeezing too much into such a small box is only going to compromise things. In stark comparison, the Innuos and Bluesound options are purely ripping/storage boxes - with the Innuos being completely digital, having no analogue circuitry whatsoever onboard. Some may see the acocktail and Brennan as more convenient with better flexibility, but it is their flexibility that also compromises the performance they're capable of (and the system they're used in).

It's all down to what sort of system system you want to end up with. Some of these options are fine for supplying a budget system. Others will not let the system down when placed in a very high quality system. When I chose my Innuos Zenith, it was because of how good it sounded feeding a Classé Delta pre/power and a pair of Blade 2s, and from that point I knew that whatever system I ended up with, the Zenith wouldn't be letting it down, and allow it to be everything it can be.
 

alessio_m

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Oct 10, 2016
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So guys, you're basically suggesting every box will be EXACTLY the same as for 'ripping quality'

Which obviously means that if a rip the same CD by the Brennan, the Innuos and so on, i'll always get the same file, bit wise

Anyone disagree with that?
 

alessio_m

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Oct 10, 2016
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davidf said:
Having had a quick look at the Cocktail and Brennan alternatives, the main thing that strikes me is that they both include amplification. Squeezing too much into such a small box is only going to compromise things.
Sure, i also find their do-all nature quite annoying, i personally don't need any amplification, aux input or wireless connectivity, just to name a few…

But HOW is all that going to compromise things?

Especially when we're talking about something specific like producing a quality rip and playing the resulting FLAC to an external DAC
 

tino

Well-known member
Sep 29, 2011
135
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18,595
alessio_m said:
Sure, i also find their do-all nature quite annoying, i personally don't need any amplification, aux input or wireless connectivity, just to name a few…

But HOW is all that going to compromise things?

Especially when we're talking about something specific like producing a quality rip and playing the resulting FLAC to an external DAC
Annoying? To some their do-it-all nature at is a valid reason to choose them in the first place as the don't want to have multiple boxes taking up space.

Since you don't seem to mind having multiple boxes, then assuming you choose a reasonable lossless source format, then what's downstream e.g. DAC / amplifier becomes important as well as the method/stability of transmission from your source.

The Innuos looks like a good recommendation ... a reasonably specced PC and a good software set-up. If you don't mind the price, then you shouldn't be disappointed. For the cheapest version (the Zen Mini) make sure your DAC supports USB, otherwise you will need an optional accessory to convert to S/PDIF.
 

Frank Harvey

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Jun 27, 2008
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alessio_m said:
Sure, i also find their do-all nature quite annoying, i personally don't need any amplification, aux input or wireless connectivity, just to name a few…

But HOW is all that going to compromise things?

Especially when we're talking about something specific like producing a quality rip and playing the resulting FLAC to an external DAC
Firstly there's the aspect of budget. Some of these boxes are providing onboard amplification, and presumably a remote control too for their relatively low budget. The further the budget has to spread, the more it will affect the ultimate quality of the box in question. Then there's the physical effect on the sound. Some manufacturers will be better at successfully combining different types of circuitry with very low or zero effect on each other. This is something else that can affect budget.

The previous Innuos models had a DAC onboard, and a 24/384 DAC at that. Im presuming in Innuos' quest to produce a product as good as it possibly could be for its price point, they chose to remove the DAC and any analogue circuitry from the unit, negating any possible adverse effect on sound quality. How good a similar unit with an onboard DAC could be will very much depend on the quality of that DAC - this may dictate the level of system it can be successfully used in.
 

Gazzip

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Jan 15, 2011
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davidf said:
alessio_m said:
Sure, i also find their do-all nature quite annoying, i personally don't need any amplification, aux input or wireless connectivity, just to name a few…

But HOW is all that going to compromise things?

Especially when we're talking about something specific like producing a quality rip and playing the resulting FLAC to an external DAC
Firstly there's the aspect of budget. Some of these boxes are providing onboard amplification, and presumably a remote control too for their relatively low budget. The further the budget has to spread, the more it will affect the ultimate quality of the box in question. Then there's the physical effect on the sound. Some manufacturers will be better at successfully combining different types of circuitry with very low or zero effect on each other. This is something else that can affect budget.

The previous Innuos models had a DAC onboard, and a 24/384 DAC at that. Im presuming in Innuos' quest to produce a product as good as it possibly could be for its price point, they chose to remove the DAC and any analogue circuitry from the unit, negating any possible adverse effect on sound quality. How good a similar unit with an onboard DAC could be will very much depend on the quality of that DAC - this may dictate the level of system it can be successfully used in.
I find the Innuos Zenith to provide a step up in SQ from my QNAP NAS. I run mine via USB straight in to my DAC and use LMS as a client with iPeng as a controller, so I don't know how it performs as a simple server, but as a server/player it is pretty awesome.
 

hammill

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Mar 20, 2008
212
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Gazzip said:
davidf said:
alessio_m said:
Sure, i also find their do-all nature quite annoying, i personally don't need any amplification, aux input or wireless connectivity, just to name a few…

But HOW is all that going to compromise things?

Especially when we're talking about something specific like producing a quality rip and playing the resulting FLAC to an external DAC
Firstly there's the aspect of budget. Some of these boxes are providing onboard amplification, and presumably a remote control too for their relatively low budget. The further the budget has to spread, the more it will affect the ultimate quality of the box in question. Then there's the physical effect on the sound. Some manufacturers will be better at successfully combining different types of circuitry with very low or zero effect on each other. This is something else that can affect budget.

The previous Innuos models had a DAC onboard, and a 24/384 DAC at that. Im presuming in Innuos' quest to produce a product as good as it possibly could be for its price point, they chose to remove the DAC and any analogue circuitry from the unit, negating any possible adverse effect on sound quality. How good a similar unit with an onboard DAC could be will very much depend on the quality of that DAC - this may dictate the level of system it can be successfully used in.
I find the Innuos Zenith to provide a step up in SQ from my QNAP NAS. I run mine via USB straight in to my DAC and use LMS as a client with iPeng as a controller, so I don't know how it performs as a simple server, but as a server/player it is pretty awesome.
I just looked at the price of the zenith. Far too much for what it does
 

Gazzip

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Jan 15, 2011
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hammill said:
Gazzip said:
davidf said:
alessio_m said:
Sure, i also find their do-all nature quite annoying, i personally don't need any amplification, aux input or wireless connectivity, just to name a few…

But HOW is all that going to compromise things?

Especially when we're talking about something specific like producing a quality rip and playing the resulting FLAC to an external DAC
Firstly there's the aspect of budget. Some of these boxes are providing onboard amplification, and presumably a remote control too for their relatively low budget. The further the budget has to spread, the more it will affect the ultimate quality of the box in question. Then there's the physical effect on the sound. Some manufacturers will be better at successfully combining different types of circuitry with very low or zero effect on each other. This is something else that can affect budget.

The previous Innuos models had a DAC onboard, and a 24/384 DAC at that. Im presuming in Innuos' quest to produce a product as good as it possibly could be for its price point, they chose to remove the DAC and any analogue circuitry from the unit, negating any possible adverse effect on sound quality. How good a similar unit with an onboard DAC could be will very much depend on the quality of that DAC - this may dictate the level of system it can be successfully used in.
I find the Innuos Zenith to provide a step up in SQ from my QNAP NAS. I run mine via USB straight in to my DAC and use LMS as a client with iPeng as a controller, so I don't know how it performs as a simple server, but as a server/player it is pretty awesome.
I just looked at the price of the zenith. Far too much for what it does
Maybe, but as you don't own one, and as you haven't heard one to establish first hand what it does (or doesn't) audibly do, your comments are as baseless as they are potentially misleading.

You can't judge the "worth" of the whole against its constituent parts.
 

tino

Well-known member
Sep 29, 2011
135
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18,595
alessio_m said:
I still can't grab what a 'file player' would do to the sound, when it's connected to an external DAC, which is responsible of the actual 'sound', afaik

I mean, we're not talking vinyls here…

I'm not criticizing, just curious
Theoretically not very much, but then there are factors that could affect the timing/latency/jitter and noise within the system. You computer/streamer may have to do on the fly transcoding so has to be up to the job. An optimised OS/audio drivers, or an asynchronous USB or re-clocking DACs resolve some if not all of the potential timing issues. There may be electrical noise problems where components share a common ground if the computer and DAC are not galvanically isolated. There may be audible noise from fans and hard disc etc. etc. If all the above worry you, go for the Innuos as someone else has done most of the worrying for you.
 

hammill

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Mar 20, 2008
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alessio_m said:
hammill said:
as you haven't heard one to establish first hand what it does (or doesn't) audibly do
I still can't grab what a 'file player' would do to the sound, when it's connected to an external DAC, which is responsible of the actual 'sound', afaik

I mean, we're not talking vinyls here…

I'm not criticizing, just curious
Please be more careful. You just quoted me writing what Gazzip wrote. My experience of a NAS/logitech combo which cost a fraction of the device Gazzip is recommending is that it is indistinguishable from my oppo playing a CD. You can believe that spending a small fortune on fancy hardware will sound better but I think it is a lot of foo. Modern electronics works well on the cheap, no need to empty the bank account
 

Frank Harvey

Well-known member
Jun 27, 2008
567
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@hammill

What Gazzip said. Going by your logic, it is pointless spending any more on a car than the cheapest possible car you can get, because they both drive you from A to B. Try two out though, and the differences become clear. Or clearer.

I don't know about Gazzip, but my own Zenith was purchased based on listening, and its superiority over the already excellent Zen Mini.

Whilst you are comparing your NAS/Logitech to an Oppo, I'm comparing my Zenith and (Classé Sigma SSP) DAC to high end compact disc players.
 

Freddy58

Well-known member
Jan 24, 2014
25
1
10,545
Interesting thread. The Zenith is high on my list for a purchase this year. It appears to have very good functionality and capacity. I'm alaways a bit sceptical when it comes to sound quality, it's just 0's and 1's innit? But the thing that really tips in my favour is the customer service. I had a few questions specific to my amp (that has an onboard DAC) and received an immediate reply. I got the impression that the fella (Italian?) was quite willing to go through any queries I might have, along with problem solving. Rare these days...
 

hammill

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Mar 20, 2008
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@davidf .There are real differences between cars. As has been previously discussed there are no audible differences between a CD ripped on a cheap laptop or brennan and some fancy nonsense and I doubt that a posh streamer makes any difference. Of course, expensive cd players don't sound different either (and yes I have heard some). I own what I consider to be an expensive player in the Oppo. It does not sound better than a cheap player with CD nor does it have a better bluray picture. I bought it because it was a universal player and because Oppo build quality and customer service are good. If you don't want to play multichannel SACD or DVD-A, buy something cheap, you won't be able to tell the difference. We live in a great times where a few hundred pounds can give you a ripping and streaming solution that sounds as good as possible given the original recording. Nobody needs to waste thousands on a finicky Linn Sondek with high maintenance costs and easily damaged media. Money can now be spent on the amp and more importantly the speakers where real gains can be made. People for some reason can't get their heads around this.
 

Frank Harvey

Well-known member
Jun 27, 2008
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We're coming back to the "digital is digital" argument, which I'm afraid isn't true. Your amplifier and speakers can only reproduce and amplify the signal they are given. The positive thing about a digital signal is that it is clean, but that doesn't mean you can use any digital signal successfully in every system. Many digital products seem to work very well within a quality band of accompanying components, but once they're out of their comfort zone, seem to start adding harshness and/or start to sound a little flat.

There are demonstrable differences between CD players, and I myself have taken part in a blind test with three different players back in the 90s. As I said, my purchase of the Zenith was based on its comparison to the Zen Mini, both being fed into the same DAC in the same system (Classé and KEF Blade 2) via USB. At the time I was just going to replace my MkI Zen Mini with a MkII, but after hearing how good the Zenith was in such a revealing system, the decision was made for me. Whether it is the triple linear power supply or the SSD storage (or even a combination of both) I don't know, but the difference was easily revealed in that system.

Even CD players employing the same DAC can sound different due to their handling of the analogue signal after it has been converted from digital. Of course, a suitable system is needed to appreciate these differences.

Most analogies aren't 100% accurate as you're usually comparing chalk and cheese, but they usually serve a point well. I'm sure you get the point I was making.
 

alessio_m

New member
Oct 10, 2016
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Gazzip said:
as you haven't heard one to establish first hand what it does (or doesn't) audibly do
I still can't grab what a 'file player' would do to the sound, when it's connected to an external DAC, which is responsible of the actual 'sound', afaik

I mean, we're not talking vinyls here…

I'm not criticizing, just curious
 

tonky

New member
Jan 2, 2008
36
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davidf said:
Freddy58 said:
I imagine you'll be stocking the Zenith, at regular retail price?
Yes, I have it on demonstration. Anyone who is curious are free to pop along for a listen.
Good luck with your new venture - I see some online document showing you have some JR149 loudspeakers - are they for demo purposes/for sale ?

I might try and pop over from Leicester some time to listen to the Innuos and some other stuff

regards tonky
 

Frank Harvey

Well-known member
Jun 27, 2008
567
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18,890
Freddy58 said:
Sorry, I got the models mixed up. I meant the Zen Mk ii STD
Maybe not that model, but long term, who knows. My train of thought on this is that the Zen Mini covers all types of multi-room, entry level, and generally midrange systems. I think people with top notch systems are more likely to go straight to the Zenith. As I say, long term, I may well have all three here for those who are serious about finding out which one is right for them.
 

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