During my time with it, playback wasn't yet integrated
into the browser. A forthcoming update will sort that. My loaner still relied on the mobile app exclusively. I tried SqueezePad and iPeng on my iPad. The penguin was decisively faster and friendlier. On look, feel and functionality, it actually stared down JRemote, JRiver's app which I thought to be the best in the business. Until now. For androids there's Orange Squeeze whilst Window cleaners have Squeeze Remote. My conclusion for the control interface is two thumbs way up. Competitors should take a lesson. I simply had one wish. I'd like to control the Zenith MkII from inside the Tidal, Qobuz and Spotify apps. These services are otherwise integrated already. iPeng does the biz but half the charm of streaming services is the impromptu discovery of new music. Here the native apps of those services simply work best.

Sonic impressions and comparisons. How does one approach a music server sonically? "It's just a bloody digital transport" you say? For starters, Innuos' flagship gets €2'700. Audiophile logic dictates that the DAC or streamer following belong to the same league since that's, no trifle, where analog conversion will occur. Add an appropriate cable and one quickly hits the €6'000 jackpot for a complete digital source solution. Would that jive within a €9'000 system? I'd say not. Personally I prefer to allocate 2/3rd of my budget to the amp/speaker combo. That should be maximally transparent and lucid or otherwise you won't hear at the back end what happens upfront. And something else: if you're the type audiophile who prioritizes tonality above all else to enjoy good soundstaging, resolution and timing as nice to have but not essential… stick to a laptop transport. Invest your discretionary hifi funds into music, not hardware you won't need. At least for myself, I've never yet observed serious tonal alterations by swapping digital transports. On that count, they all sound pretty much indistinguishable to me. Playing it perfectly linear, the big Innuos did nothing to change that assessment.

My first contrary discovery happened by accident. Out of pure habit, I didn't wire the Innuos directly into my Luxman DA-06 converter but via iFi's iPurifier2 which docked in its USB port. This thumb-drive gizmo filters and "rebalances" (whatever that means) the USB signal before it hustles over to the DAC. It sounded pretty good but A/Bs are of course best done direct and without intermediaries. Out came the iFi for a reboot. Cue raised eyebrows. Defying convention, 'direct' sounded better. Usually it's the other way. iFi's little helper routinely contributes greater calm, focus and grip; precisely why it remains plugged into my Luxman. The Innuos on its own had so much body and plasticity that not only couldn't the li'l iFi improve upon it, it put a minor damper and veil on/over micro resolution. For once, 'without' sounded more clear, direct and transparent. Old dog, new trick. I continued in 'pure' mode to face off the Portuguese against three other transporters.

The first any deck like the Zenith must wipe the floor with is your garden-variety Computer Emporium laptop. The Zenith MkII aced that test with flying colours. My JRiver-17 fitted Notebook didn't stand a chance. Instruments got paunchier and flatter, precision diminished, stage visibility fogged up and the depth dimension congealed. I had the impression that the Innuos gripped each tone tautly to banish all seam fuzz and diffusive auras. It also trumped with better timing that didn't eat into sustains and delineated the bass far better. Even the higher registers on vocals or piano improved. Nothing was indistinct spatially or in the time domain. Soundstaging focused down and beat fidelity went up. Granted, my heroically indestructible laptop sold for less than a quarter but purely on sound, it just couldn't keep up. Sniff.