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

No one will probably be able to give you a head-to-head comparison of the Zen Mini S and the Rendu setup, but they’re clearly both excellent and you won’t be disappointed with either.  Just get the Zen Mk3.  It doesn’t require the outboard LPS power supply and gives you everything in one box.  Plus, every time Innuos upgrades their Sense program the sound just keeps getting better, and it’s FREE!  No brainer IMHO. 

 A couple of questions answered:

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

I use DBPoweramp ripping software. The CD/DVD mechanism is an internal Asus 24x DVD-RW Serial-ATA Internal OEM Optical Drive DRW-24B1ST in my Windows 10 Pro Intel computer.

2. Do you store your ripped files on a portable SSD or NAS?  Which make/model/size (GB)? I rip the audio disks to my Synology DS1821+ 50 TB NAS which is Ethernet network attached. I'm using five Seagate 14 TB IronWolf NAS drives in a RaId SHR array configuration.

3. How are the transfer rates from external SSD or NAS to the i5's internal SSD? I don't use the USB method of moving files around. The USB speed depends on if you are using USB 2.x or 3.x capable devices. 3.x is much faster but these large file transfers can take time. I'm using Ethernet and speeds are fairly quick but multi-terabyte file copies can take overnight to copy depending on network utilization.

4, How do you maintain back-ups for everything? I backup the Roon Core database using the Roon backup facility to both USB thumb drives plugged into the i5 as well as to the NAS. I use a 14 TB external drive USB 3.0 attached to the NAS to back up music stored on the NAS as well as a second NAS.

Another vote for Innuos. Zen is a great bang for the buck. I've been using one for 3 years without a hiccup. I've also dropped Roon because the Sense software  is so good and keeps getting better.

I reference @nmolnar post — Do you really wanna deal with all that or just have a one-box solution optimized for audio by a company that specializes in streaming to do or all for you?  Seems like a pretty simple answer to me if you don’t wanna mess with all the BS.  Innuos is your friend.