With throwaway cables, my DAC enjoyed the ZENith's USB output a bit more than its RJ45 in Roon Core mode. Naturally the gap grew bigger with the full iFi stack in the USB pipeline. Still, I lacked a premium LAN cable. Perhaps such a one would decrease the quality fissure sufficiently to have me ditch iFi's USB line without regret? After earlier adventures with exotic network cables, this could happen. Guesswork aside, the takeaway was clear. As a Roon Core device, the Innuos didn't sound bluntly inferior to InnuOS via the iPeng 9 app. With no extra USB sorters involved, I'd say it was just a small step behind. At such a low hit to my setup, I'd likely switch to Roon for its sheer conveniences.

File-based playback has come a long way. Early machines designed for it were troublesome, sounded nowhere near as good as they do now, didn't look as nice, weren't as stable and required geeky know-how to operate. It took years but finally this inaccessible dweeb stuff has blossomed into easy use for all. Today's Innuos ZENith Mk3 not only is a fine example for how but also emerged as the most accomplished I've come across.

Many network players rely on buttons and displays but the ZENith Mk3 renders them unnecessary yet on functionality still ticks all the boxes. Its minimalist bling-free modern look scores high and so does its assembly. It goes the extra mile with a ripper slot, fully embedded Roon, broad compliance with streaming services and hassle-free operation. Keen execution of all tasks without hiccups, near instant readiness and overall stability are clear indicators of thorough engineering. Considering all this, very soon I stopped missing that it couldn't render UPnP.

In closing, the functionality of the Innuos ZENith Mk3 shines as brightly as does its sonic performance. Its comprehensive noise suppression kept the usual digital gremlins at bay and created a firm foundation for tonal evenness, fluidity, spatial grandeur and wide dynamic contrasts which resulted in an experience which many seasoned aficionados would associate with costly boutique gear not a glorified PC. It's the overall balance of virtues where the ZENith Mk3 truly excels. Not only does it seamlessly connect audiophile sonics to mainstream needs, it's priced attractively for what it does and how it goes about it.

If I didn't already own the fidata, I'd ask for the invoice.