Reviewers note that the Pulsar SQ is on the warmer side of neutral. Depends on system synergy how that’s working out in anyone’s system. Spatial expression is another determinant; same thing.
Steven, I hope you’re happy with the Pulsar and love to hear what you think of it, when fully broken in.
I clicked on the Roon Endpoint option and opened Roon. My Roon Core is on my QNAP and it is linked to the Zen music library as the data server.
It sees the Pulsar and Holo May in something called ALSA (not as Roon Ready). According to the internet, that has something to do with the fact it’s running on Linux.
Shows up immediately and playing it now.
This is a good one to see how things are doing.
The operating system seems to be very simple and seamless. I always liked Sense. The Endpoint option existed on the Zen and made no sense, it does now.
Playing the same file (Tincian - it’s Welsh) sitting on the Zen via Roon sucks the life out of it, compared to via Sense from the Zen. Both options are using the Pulsar in Endpoint mode.
That won’t surprise many Roon sceptics.
Next is to copy Tincian to a new music library on the QNAP and play it from the Pulsar in standalone mode i.e. taking the Zen out of play. That’s too much effort at the moment!
Well I set up a library and dumped in the file. Attaching a music library folder from a NAS drive with this software is a complete breeze and it sounds very good.
So the weakest source seems to be Roon, even when just playing a local file on the Zen.
What is interesting is that playing a file stored on the QNAP sounds so good, given the QNAP is not optimised in any way. As Sense is just pulling the file, it must be Roon software having the negative effect.
You can always return things here, but so far so good.
I had an outstanding deposit with the dealer, which helped. I’d bought a Modwright PH9x phono. I was loaned a PH9 and it was making weird banging noises. Sounded like a grounding problem. Turned out it was and had to be redesigned. It could be cured with a Puritan Groundmaster, but that’s not the point!
Thanks for all the additional information! I am only using my Zen in Standalone mode, so it’s serving as both the server and the endpoint/streamer. Your set-up is more complicated, but it seems that you are enjoying the sound quality upgrade from replacing a Lumin streamer with the Pulsar. I still think there must be a way to use the Pulsar as the endpoint/streamer/player and the Zen as the server. I’m sure that Innuos can tell me if that configuration is possible.
That’s what Endpoint mode is. You go into the Pulsar, click on it, then do everything from the Zen.
The Lumin streamer was good, I could happily live with it. The Lumin DAC was not good. This is a big step up.
I’ve had the Zen for almost 5 years and Innuos told me that the PhoenixUSB is a far better upgrade than converting to Zenith. PhoenixUSB probably does much of what Pulsar does. @luca.pelliccioli seems very happy with his.
I’ve had a Qobuz subscription for several years, and it works great with the Innuos Sense app. I don’t use Tidal, but Sense works with Tidal as well.
I’ve had a PhoenixUSB for quite a while, and it’s a great addition to the Zen, as you mentioned. I’ve been thinking about adding either a PhoenixNET or a Pulsar to further enhance sound quality in my streaming system. I’m leaning toward the PhoenixNET at this point based on the high cost of the Pulsar and the concern that the USB reclocker inside the Pulsar may not be quite as good as the PhoenixUSB I already have in my system.
That’s why the feedback regarding drive/streaming comparisons is so worthless as long as it’s not mentioned if it’s done with Roon, online services and/or Flac formats or not (which is all worse than it should be for a comparison).
So far I never read of anyone here (forum members or Paul) who made a proper comparison or mentioned preconditions at all.
Running Roon Core on Innuos sounds better than running it on QNAP.
If you don’t have the IT equipment on a different power circuit from the audio, that result would be expected.
This, too, is something to consider when comparing streaming with disc (different topic).
All my CD rips are WAV and HD files FLAC and a few DSD. All these comparisons were done with the same files stored on the Zen server, except for the one copied to the QNAP. I explained fibre to one central SFP switch. The intention was to see how this system works, the routing options and general strengths/weaknesses.
With a different DAC things could be completely different, as I said both streamer and DAC are optimised for USB.
I did compare some 24/96 downloads with the same format Qobuz file (Schofield, Konitz), nothing immediately different, but that is not really relevant.
The Roon Core, Zen and Pulsar are all on separate dedicated power feeds from the consumer unit. The Pulsar main system power is on a dedicated 100A phase, the others on a low draw phase (one without the kitchen).
The main system cable is shorter and better (Neotech vs Belden), all with drain wire, the longer Belden had slightly higher circuit impedance by about 0.2ohms.
Both Innuos are plugged into conditioners and the server is on an uninterruptable battery power supply.
I was very happy, I agree at the time I used it with a ZENith MK 3. Actually I use only the PhoenixNET, because the Statement already has a USB reclocker onboard,
As per Stephen and Nuno from Innuos, the Pulsar reclocker is good but not at the same level of the PhoenixUSB.
I think these new streamers are very clever because
- For Zen and Zenith owners the server and streamer together make a great system for anybody with a rip/download library
- Pulse/Pulsar does not make your Zen/Zenith redundant
- For those on a tighter budget you can sell your Zen/Zenith and use a $300 network drive for much the same quality of sound
- Statement was beyond the budget of many people, the Pulsar is to some extent a Statement Lite at half the price
- There is a second Ethernet switch for a NAS connection, which I think eliminates the need for a switch like the PhoenixNet
- The Sense app is very well received, so a system dedicated to optimising it makes a lot of sense.
- It’s dedicated to sound quality on static wired hifi and wireless uPnP players, whereas Roon is going all over the place, it’s number one priority is not sound quality.
I’m impressed by manufacturers that have such a clear technical strategy, and try to make their technology more available at lower prices. The vast majority of manufacturers just make minor increments, some of them fictional, and at higher prices.
This one is on my list. But in the announcement they talked about Dirac. I have not seen it mentioned here and on their website. Wonder if that deal fell through.