ZEN Mini S vs. Small Green Computer Sonic Transporter i5 music server/Ultra Rendu Streamer

Good evening forum members.

Looking for any experience and/or opinions on these two music servers/players/streamers.

My plan is to rip 3,000 rare and collectible CDs to FLAC files or better.  I would also like to integrate Tidal and Qobuz into the mix using Roon.

The ZEN Mini S has a built in CD ripper/server/streamer ($3,548 total cost).  The SGC Sonic Transporter server and Ultra Rendu streamer bundle does not have a built in CD ripper.

I'm leaning towards the SGC Sonic Transporter/Ultra Rendu Streamer because of the following:

- Cost.  the cost for the SGC ST/Ultra Rendu option is $2,097, which includes the server and streamer, plus a linear PSU.  The ZEN Mini S is $3,548 all up (ripper, server, streamer, etc.).  This amounts to a $1,451 difference in price. 

Subtract from this difference the cost of an internal 4TB SSD ($300), an external and portable 4TB SSD ($300), dbpoweramp ripping and music management software ($75), and a USB CD/DVD drive ($75) and the difference is now becomes $701 between the ZEN Mini S and the Small Green Computer solution.  Significant.  

- My preference is to rip the CDs using my Windows laptop (no additional cost), the portable 4TB SSD, a better, well-known software package, and a USB CD drive at my desk.  This is it more significantly more convenient and ergonomically friendly to my bad back. 

My plan is to transfer the ripped files from the portable 4TB SSD to the ST i5 internal 4TB SSD in my stereo cabinet when done,  Going forward, I don't plan on buying any more CDs and will fill in the gaps and explore new music with Tidal and Qobuz.

- features on the ZEN Mini S ripping software are unknown. dbpoweramp is a well known product with a plethora of useful features.

- the CD Drive used in the ZEN Mini is $240 when bought separately.  This is significantly more than a good USB CD/DVD drive ~ $75.

My main system is a Rotel Pre-amp, Rotel Power-amp, B&W 804 speakers, an Oppo 105 SACD/DVD-Audio/CD/Blu-ray player, EAT C-Sharp turntable and a Sutherland Phono Pre-amp.

Your thoughts on anything I've discussed above?  I am not a DIY type and prefer an out of the box solution.

Thanks for your help!



Ag insider logo xs@2xdrlou77

Go with the Small Green Computer solution. it offers great performance for good value. I've used the SGC Sonic Transporter i5 with Roon and Tidal and am very happy with the results.

Thank you.  A couple of questions:

1. Which CD/DVD ripper do you use?  Same question for the ripping software?  Windows or MAC?

2. Do you store your ripped files on a portable SSD or NAS?  Which make/model/size (GB)?

3. How are the transfer rates from external SSD or NAS to the i5's internal SSD?

4, How do you maintain back-ups for everything?

Please feel free to add comments about something I may have missed.

Thank you! 😊

Be advised that if you plan to use DSD that the I5 is limited to 128.  If you're lucky and dont use too much DSP filtering, maybe 256. The I7 will get you all the way up to 512 if you want it plus gives you the built in ripper.  Having said that I still use the I5 in one of my systems with the fiber isolation bundle and the optical rendu and it is years of trouble free use.  I use dsd128 with no issues, and frankly, it gets difficult to hear a difference if you go further up the DSD chain, at least for me.  Also remember that the higher you go, the more noise is inherently added for higher DSD.  Andy at SGC is great with support.  And I recommend the fiber isolation bundle to remove noise over the internet if you dont already have fiber internet.  Either way you will save money and have a great product.

Best of luck.

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