Innuos Statement music server Page 2

Vitorino's music collection centers on blues, rock, and progressive rock. Pink Floyd, "the odd Dire Straits and U2," and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young are among his faves and currently serve as examples as he learns to play guitar. Recently, he's been listening to electronic music, including Yello and Boris Blank, and to titles influenced by "the psychedelic Pink Floyd aesthetic." After citing David Gilmour's "Faces of Stone" and Ry Cooder and Ali Farka Touré's "Amandrai," he admitted, sheepishly, that he uses the Eagles' "Hotel California" to test equipment. As I contemplated playing that track 10 times over during my listening tests, I thanked the good Lord that I've moved on from my California phase.

Connection and setup
The Statement arrived without a printed manual, the online manual was a complex work in progress, and the short on-line setup guide described a different playback protocol than Vitorino advised. Fortunately, just in time, Innuos's North America's sales manager, industry veteran Emmanuel Le Quéré, arrived to assist with setup and operation. There was much to learn in a short time, and several Skype and email exchanges with Vitorino followed.

The connections on the back panel of the Statement's server box, though, couldn't be simpler. In addition to the dual umbilical power connections, there are two reclocked Ethernet ports. One is labeled "LAN" for incoming connections from a router, the other "Streamer" for outgoing connections to network audio products (eg, streamers, wireless speakers, and the dCS Network Bridge). But don't fret if you confuse them—they are identical in function and sound quality.

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In addition to the (reclocked) USB-A port, which sits by itself at the far end of the server box's back panel and is the only way to connect the Statement directly to a DAC, that back panel features two other USB ports: a USB 3.0 slot for a backup drive, and a USB 2.0 slot for importing data from USB sticks and external HDs.

On the front of the server box, there's an on/off switch, a power indicator, and a CD drive slot. The power box's back panel includes, in addition to the two umbilical receptacles, a standard IEC receptacle and the main power switch. That's all.

I stacked the Statement's boxes on a bottom shelf of my double rack, using the server box's fancy feet to separate the two. With Vitorino's blessing, I placed three Grand Prix Apex support feet under the bottom power box. I then connected the Statement's power box to an AudioQuest Niagara 5000 power conditioner via a Nordost Odin 2 power cable.

There's a good time coming
In a few months, Innuos is expected to begin rolling out big changes to InnuOS, the server operating system. "Our software has been basically rebuilt from the ground up," Vitorino said. Roon's file management and other computational heavy-lifting. The Statement can also be used as a Roon output device only—an endpoint in common Roon parlance—the Roon Core located elsewhere on your network—specifically, in this case, on my Roon

That's a good thing because, compared to Roon, I found the InnuOS software frustrating. Configuration and operation required moving back and forth among different web pages, and there was no integration between the Statement's music library and subscription streaming services such as Tidal, Qobuz, and Spotify; separate searches of the library and each streaming service were necessary to find a desired album or track. For reasons unknown, sometimes Tidal disappeared altogether, and no amount of signing out and back in or restarting InnuOS or the server solved the problem. Liner notes were inaccessible in InnuOS, and every attempt to move forward or back in a track landed me at the beginning.

On the other hand, Innuos's CD-ripper software was excellent—it took 3–5 minutes to rip a CD, after which the disc auto-ejected, and metadata and album-art matching worked well. On the third hand, matching metadata to tracks and albums copied from a USB stick or another storage device was hit and miss. Some files that Roon could identify remained strangers to InnuOS. Next issue: Because the contents of attached media could only be displayed alphabetically, adding the 10 most recent files to the library was a major challenge. And when I attached a 4TB HD, I could only choose between adding one file at a time or adding all 1037.

Here's hoping that all this improves with the coming software update.

Core flexibility
Natively, the Statement uses its own software—of course it does—to manage the library and streaming services and play music. "Its own software" is the InnuOS operating system, which is identical on all Innuos music servers and upgradable by Ethernet. The Statement is also compatible with Roon software; in fact it can be used with Roon in two distinct ways. (Please note, however, that Vitorino describes this as "an experimental mode" in which playback is "limited to 24/192 and DSD64".) First, the Statement can be used as the Roon "Core"—Roon's computational center, which does Roon's file management and other computational heavy-lifting. The Statement can also be used as a Roon output device only—an endpoint in common Roon parlance—the Roon Core located elsewhere on your network—specifically, in this case, on my Roon Nucleus +. In neither of these configurations is the Statement either "RoonReady" or "Roon-tested" currently, but this is expected to change with upcoming updates. ("We are working with Innuos to have their future products fully Roon Ready," Roon's Bill Leebens wrote to me in an email.) In future, all Roon server partners will be required to run ROCK, Roon's operating system. Roon and Innuos are still discussing how the two systems will work together.

For most of my listening, I used the Statement with its native software and then, for comparison, auditioned the same tracks with the Nucleus +. In both cases, the servers were connected to one of two DACs—see below—by USB.

Sound and silence
Feeding the dCS Rossini DAC/Clock combo via a Nordost Valhalla 2 USB cable, differences emerged between the two servers, with the Nucleus + powered by an external LPS. I played two very different test tracks, Berg's sonically complex, 12-tone Three Pieces for Orchestra, from a San Francisco Symphony digital-only release (24/192 WAV, SFS Media SFS0070), and Rickie Lee Jones's bizarre cover of the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" (Tidal, 16/44.1 FLAC), from her album The Devil You Know. Sound from both servers was clear and transparent, with excellent, strong bass and wide soundstages. The main difference that emerged was this: With music played via the Statement, the treble seemed slightly rounded, the presentation a touch warmer than through the Nucleus +. With tracks that on my system can sometimes sound a bit too hot and sizzly—eg, the female vocals on Yello's "Electrified II" from Toy (24/48 WAV, Polydor 4782160/HDtracks)—the Statement proved less fatiguing. But on Farinelli (Decca 485 0214, 24/96 WAV)—our Recording of the Month for the February 2020 Stereophile—mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli's voice via the Statement sounded a bit warmer than when I've heard it live in three very different venues, and the contrasting colors of Il Giardino Armonico Ensemble's period instruments were slightly homogenized.

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This distinction held true for Patricia Barber's equally refined vocals, superbly recorded and electronically enhanced by Jim Anderson on another Stereophile Recording of the Month, Higher (ArtistShare AS0171). When I played tracks ripped directly from the CD to the Statement's drive and compared them to 16/44.1 FLAC files played from an SSD USB stick inserted into the Nucleus +, the Statement gifted Barber and her fellow artists with a bit of extra warmth and smoothness. It felt as though I was listening to Barber in a different nightclub, where someone had installed softer lighting that helped my cocktail go down easier.

Switching to percussion, I listened to Xenakis's complex Psappha on percussionist Kjell Tore Innervik's superbly recorded Utopias (MQA 24/352.8, 2L 2L-141). The Statement's depiction of low-end depth, dynamics, and impact was just great—everything that an artist or engineer could ask for. Also, for better or worse, treble overtones of the leading edge strikes were softer and warmer than through my reference.

For a weather report/reality check, as it were, I used the Rossini DAC/clock combo to audition Murray Perahia's performance, on piano, of Handel's Harpsichord Suite in E, HWV 430, from Murray Perahia Plays Handel and Scarlatti (CD, Sony Classical 62785). I listened three ways: direct from CD using the Rossini transport, streamed from Tidal (16/44.1 FLAC) using Roon on the Nucleus +, and streamed from Tidal using InnuOS 1.4.3 on the Statement.

Transport and Nucleus + did not sound identical, but their tonality was virtually the same—clear and full, with an ideal mix of fundamental and overtones and a natural-sounding leading edge. The Statement warmed the piano and smoothed out the top in a manner that some would call analoglike or tubelike.

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For another perspective, I connected the Statement, again by USB, to my other reference DAC, the EMM Labs DV2 ($30,000). The DV2 conveys more bass information than the dCS Rossini, and it is more microtonally layered and detailed and better controlled, but it is not as open or as realistically alive on top. The DV2's different cast was, in some ways, a better match for the Statement, with increased and more complexly layered bass compensating for the slight homogenization of color concomitant with the server's slightly warm top. My sister-in-law, Janet McNamee, who was visiting at the time, loved the "warmth and authenticity" of this DV2/Statement combo.

After accessing my.innuos.com on my iPad's Safari browser and scrolling to "Settings" and then "Server Integration," I chose to enable the Statement as "Roon Core." I could also have chosen "Roon as Player Only"—that's the setting in which the Statement serves as a Roon endpoint.

With the Statement as Roon Core, the music sounded markedly different than when the Nucleus + was the Core. With the Statement as the Roon Core, the music lacked transparency and detail, the soundstage wasn't as wide, etc. Setting the Statement to "Roon as Player Only" delivered music that was more involving. Bass seemed deeper and more profound, and the window between listener and source was scrubbed clean. Multiple back-and-forth comparisons on the opening section of "Hotel California" confirmed that with the Statement as Roon Player and the Nucleus + running Roon Core, guitar timbres sounded more interesting and complex, and the music as a whole grew more present and alive. Apparently, and unsurprisingly, the Statement works best with its own software running on its own hardware.

Living with the Statement
In its flagship Statement music server, Innuos has created a transparent instrument that scores big in soundstage size and depth, dynamics, and bass reach. InnuOS 1.4.3 scores fewer points, and might best be described as a work in need of progress, so it's good that a major software revamp is anticipated; I hope to publish a Follow-Up review when that occurs. Once the software is in order, the Statement will make a great choice for those who like their music files played back in a mostly transparent fashion but with a touch of warmth and smoothness.

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ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
Bogolu Haranath's picture

Waiting for a review of the Innuos Phoenix USB Reclocker by JVS :-) ..........

chuckles304's picture

Here's to hoping no one accuses JVS of trying to spread plague by having his sister-in-law over or "waving his middle finger" at those of us who can't afford the server.

Other than that, nice review.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

I'm glad you like the review.

My sister-in-law returned to Oakland safely on January 3. The only plague she carried with her was the hi-end audio bug.

Unfortunately, she also returned to her job teaching 4th graders. That's where she may have contracted COVID-19. She and her hubby have now fully recovered. Fingers are currently crossed for my neighbors two houses down. We only have 19 confirmed cases in the entire county, and three are my neighbors.

Stay safe.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Uncle Sam may start tracking your neighborhood with GPS :-) ........

John Atkinson's picture
I have written a follow-up review of the Innuos server for the May issue, comparing it with the Roon Nucleus+.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture

JA1 could also review the Innuos Phoenix USB Reclocker :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be JA1 could also review the new Aurender flag-ship W20SE music server :-) .......

DH's picture

The measurements are at a level of -130 to -145db; so any noise or differences are inaudible in any case, aren't they?
Would seem to belie the descriptions in the review.

In addition, the results with the Mytek would indicate that with any well engineered audiophile DAC the Statement makes no difference. The Dragonfly DACs aren't really audiophile, and the Cobalt actually measures worse than it's $100 cheaper brother.

thyname's picture

JVS: you have the Roon facts a bit wrong here. The experimental feature is when using Statement as Roon Core with SqueezeLite Player. I wish I could post a screen grab here to show you that setting on my Statement. There is nothing experimental here when using Statement as “regular” Roon Core only, or Roon Core + Player.

Here is the description on the experimental feature:

****(Experimental) New option in Roon Settings to allow using our internal player with Roon, enabling RAM playback. Please see setup instructions below.***

Also, I was shocked to hear you liked Nucleus more than Statement as a Roon Core. To me, Statement when used as Core + Roon Endpoint is significantly better than when used as a Player only with Roon Nucleus as the Core. Even the Zenith MK3 I used to own before the Statement is better that way. I suggest you give it another shot, and ask Innuos folks for help with the set up, as something must have been terribly wrong with the way you had configured stuff.

Habanero Monk's picture

My endpoint system buffers entire tracks. How does this server help vs my QNAP?

CG's picture

Perhaps the measurements would be more revealing if they were made using the Max Hold function in the analyzer. That would capture peaks in the noise spectra over a period of time. Averaging tends to, well, average incoherent or faux-coherent disturbances into almost nothingness. That's the reason for using averaging.

Many sources of noise and interference only appear every few samples. So, they'd get averaged out or only appear as a modest bump in the noise floor. In the communications system biz, engineers figured this out some time back. You can lose a couple symbols out of a thousand, and it only shows as a couple hundredths of a dB in averaged degradation. Yet, those bits are entirely corrupted.

People tend to listen to a continuum of samples - how silly! - which means that averaging isn't representative of how something might sound. A noise burst that only appears once every hundred samples might be pretty loud for those samples, but the average would only show a slight perturbation.

I'm not sure whether the most recent Audio Precision products have this function. Older units certainly did, and AP is not a company that skimps on useful design features.

This might be a trip down the rabbit hole in regard to audio. It only takes a couple mouse clicks and a small amount of time to see if there's anything there. (Easy for me to say - I'm not the guy doing the work!)

John Atkinson's picture
CG wrote:
Perhaps the measurements would be more revealing if they were made using the Max Hold function in the analyzer. That would capture peaks in the noise spectra over a period of time.

I will try this. I have been using averaging because so many of these things at very low levels become impossible to see without the noisefloor being lowered by the averaging.

CG wrote:
This might be a trip down the rabbit hole in regard to audio.

There's always that possibility, of course. :-)

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

CG's picture

This might be compared to (maybe) not seeing the forest for the trees.

But, you're partially retired, right? Mostly confined to home for now, right? No concerts or time at the pub, right? So, you probably are just looking for things to keep you busy.

No need to thank me...

Bogolu Haranath's picture

JA1 is currently busy, binge-watching movies on Netflix ......... He could take a break and do something useful in audio ...... Just kidding JA1 :-) ........

John Atkinson's picture
Bogolu Haranath wrote:
JA1 is currently busy, binge-watching movies on Netflix ......... He could take a break and do something useful in audio ...

I just posted my follow-up review of the Innuos Statement from the new (May) issue. It's appended to the end of Jason's review: www.stereophile.com/content/innuos-statement-music-server-john-atkinson-may-2020.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture

I'm glad JA1 is binge-reviewing audio equipment instead of binge-watching movies :-) .......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

With all due respect ...... it is not a fair comparison ....... You (JA1) could have used at least Vimberg Mino speakers for Innuos comparison test, not LS-50 :-) .......

John Atkinson's picture
Bogolu Haranath wrote:
With all due respect ...... it is not a fair comparison ....... You (JA1) could have used at least Vimberg Mino speakers for Innuos comparison test, not LS-50 :-)

Perhaps the Mino speakers would have been more revealing. Perhaps. However, I wanted to use my regular reference system for the comparisons with the Nucleus +. More of a real-world context, if you wish.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

direstraitsfan98's picture

The best streamers seem to jump in price from entry level ones.
I just want something with good features, an attractive looking chassis, and a price tag that makes sense for me. Doesn't seem like one exists that checks all these boxes... perhaps I will just make do running my computer into my DAC until I'm close to retirement age...

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Mytek Brooklyn Bridge (DAC) reviewed by Stereophile, is not very expensive ....... Of course, it also has a DAC :-) ........

direstraitsfan98's picture

After doing some research I found that Innous sells a much simpler and 'standard' version of their statement Statement model that as far as I can tell has the same features. The price? 10 percent of the statement's cost. I think I will look to get one of those. I'm not considering the Mytek because I have a dedicated DAC already.

Is it safe to say that the standard Innous Zen will offer up a large portion of the Innous Statement's performance, at a fraction of the cost? Probably.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May I ask, what DAC you are using? ........ Does it offer several digital reconstruction filters like Mytek? :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

The new Innuos Zen models also offer 1 TB HDD storage :-) ........

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

I chose the Statement for review because when I heard it at the audio show, it was noticeably more transparent than the server beneath it, even with the USB reclocker added. Have you considered the Roon Nucleus or Nucleus + together with an outboard LPS? You have to use Roon, of course, which costs $, and there's no storage unless you add some. But it sure sounds great.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

When we add storage, Nucleus becomes an 'Atomic nucleus' :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

The only thing MBB can't do is, you can't use it to post comments on Stereophile website :-) .......

jameslockie's picture

I am currently using the supplied wall wart.
Be interested to learn of your experiences with External LPS for this device.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

I discuss this in a review recently posted to AudioStream: https://www.audiostream.com/content/sonore-opticalmodule-review. Much smoother sound, greater detail, more saturated colors, far deeper bass... fill in the blanks.

In virtually every interview I've conducted with a manufacturer or designer, they have emphasized the supreme importance of the power supply or transformer. In my admittedly limited experience, what is true for internal power supplies applies equally to external power supplies. Unless a designer has made a superhuman effort to isolate the noise from a switch mode power supply, from my admittedly limited experience, a linear power supply will improve the sound. I'm not an electrical engineer, and cannot discuss this with more sophistication - for all I know, there's an isolated example where what I've said isn't true - but I've certainly heard the difference in my system. I would never want to go back.

There are undoubtedly better LPSs on the market than the ones I've tried, but I haven't had the financial resources or time to explore them. The ones I've used have made such a significant difference that I've been happy. Once we get past COVID-19, or I win the lottery...

jameslockie's picture

Thanks JVS.
Good article.
I will investigate LPS alternatives.
Cheers
James

tresaino's picture

I don’t have the Statement but am very very happy with its smaller brother Zen Mk3. Software being the same, I never encountered the software problems JVS described. And sonically the Zen Mk3 delivers in my system, in spades. I don’t say this easily but over the years I learned reading between the lines and found Serinus’ review overall wrong and also unfair. I had a few servers and streamers before buying the Mk3 and never looked back. The Zen doesn’t cost a fortune, sounds much better and the software is very intuitive and also very reliable. I was almost upset reading JVS’ review. Thank to John Atkinson for a more balanced follow up review. Greetings from a Stereophile subscriber since more than 25 years.

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