The Innuos Pulse Mini emerges as an all-encompassing HiFi network player, boasting an integrated DAC that caters to the diverse needs of digital music enthusiasts. It offers support for audio files, access to streaming platforms like Qobuz and Tidal, internet radios, AirPlay reception, UPnP/DLNA compatibility, and Roon Ready certification, making it a comprehensive solution for music playback.
As the entry-level model of Innuos’ PULSE series, the Pulse Mini might be the youngest sibling, but it doesn’t lag behind its predecessors. In fact, it shares striking similarities with the Innuos ZenMini Mk3 music server, albeit without storage and ripping functionalities. The Pulse Mini’s array of digital and analog audio outputs ensures seamless integration into various audio setups, regardless of your existing equipment.
Advantages of the Innuos Pulse Mini Network Player:
- Exceptional Sound Quality: The Innuos Pulse Mini offers outstanding sound quality with a wide and well-layered soundstage, rich timbres, and nuanced detail reproduction. Its ability to convey the emotional essence of music enhances the overall listening experience.
- Versatile Connectivity: The Pulse Mini provides a range of connectivity options, including digital audio outputs (coaxial and optical), analog audio output (RCA), USB ports for external drives and DACs, RJ45 Ethernet sockets, and an HDMI service port. This versatility ensures compatibility with various audio setups.
- Scalability: The player’s design allows for scalability, enabling users to start with the integrated DAC and later upgrade their system by adding an external DAC if desired. This adaptability ensures future-proofing and flexibility for audiophiles.
- Innuos Sense Application: The Innuos Sense application enhances user experience by centralizing music library management and offering intuitive control. It provides access to streaming platforms, internet radio, and extensive customization options, including metadata editing.
- Linear Power Supply Compatibility: When paired with the ZenMini LPSU linear power supply, the Pulse Mini’s audio performance is further improved. The linear power supply enhances power delivery, resulting in cleaner and more natural sound, adding depth to bass response.
Disadvantages of the Innuos Pulse Mini Network Player:
- External Power Supply Not Included: One notable drawback is the absence of an external power supply dedicated to the Innuos Pulse Mini model, designed with matching dimensions for aesthetic integration. Users must purchase this accessory separately.
- Price Point: While it offers exceptional sound quality and versatility, the Innuos Pulse Mini is positioned at a relatively high price point, which may be a limiting factor for budget-conscious consumers.
- Limited Color Options: The Pulse Mini is available in a single all-purpose black color, lacking options for users who prefer different aesthetic choices or color coordination with their existing audio equipment.
- No Built-in Storage or Ripping Function: Unlike some other Innuos models, the Pulse Mini does not feature built-in storage or ripping functions for CD collection digitization. Users relying on these capabilities may need to consider alternative solutions.
- Additional Equipment Required for Optimal Performance: While the Pulse Mini delivers impressive sound quality, it may require the addition of the ZenMini LPSU linear power supply to unlock its full potential. This adds to the overall cost of ownership.
In summary, the Innuos Pulse Mini offers remarkable sound quality and versatility, but it comes with considerations such as pricing and the need for optional accessories. Users seeking an exceptional audio experience with flexibility and scalability may find it to be a compelling choice, while those with budget constraints or specific aesthetic preferences may need to weigh these factors carefully.
Introducing the PULSE Series: Dedicated to Pure Music Playback
In 2022, Innuos introduced the PULSE series, a range of dedicated HiFi players and streamers tailored exclusively for music playback. This series comprises three models: the Pulse Mini (a network player with an integrated DAC), the Pulse (a HiFi streamer designed for external DACs), and the Pulsar (a HiFi streamer also intended for external DACs). Unlike their ZEN MK3 counterparts, the PULSE series devices forego storage and ripping functions in favor of a sole focus on music playback.
The Pulse Mini, the entry-level offering, features an integrated DAC, setting it apart from its higher-tier siblings. With a price tag of €999, the Pulse Mini offers a compelling entry point into the world of high-quality music playback. For detailed specifications on the Innuos Pulse and Pulsar streamers, you can refer to our online store.
Type: network streamer
Streaming inputs: ethernet
Native streaming services: Qobuz, Tidal, TuneIn internet radio,
Wi-fi inputs: none
Digital outputs: coaxial, toslink optical, USB
Analogue output: single ended RCA
Supported file formats: WAV, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC, AAC, MP3. DSD & MQA (with supported DACs)
Supported Digital Formats: PCM up to 24-bit/192kHz via internal DAC. PCM up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD up to DSD512 via USB output
Headphone output: none
Control Software: Innuos Sense, RoonReady
Dimensions HxWxD: 74 x 227 x 160mm
Warranty: 2 years
Compact and Elegant Design for Seamless Integration
The design of the Innuos Pulse Mini player is characterized by its simplicity and functionality. It comes in a sleek all-black finish, devoid of any superfluous details or control buttons, except for the ON/OFF button conveniently located on the front bottom of the device.
Since the Pulse Mini doesn’t include storage or ripping capabilities, its chassis is more compact than the ZenMini MK3. Measuring a mere 16cm in depth, 22.5cm in width, and 7.5cm in height, the ultra-compact form factor ensures unobtrusive integration into any audio setup.
Upon unboxing, you’ll find the standard power supply, a mains cable, and a 2-meter RJ45 cable, providing you with the essentials to get started.
Elaborating on the Build Quality of the Innuos Pulse Mini
The Innuos Pulse Mini network player exudes a build quality that reflects its commitment to delivering a reliable and high-performance audio component. Here, we delve into the intricacies of its construction and design, highlighting the aspects that contribute to its overall build quality.
1. Chassis and Finish: The Pulse Mini’s chassis boasts a simple and elegant design, characterized by its minimalist aesthetics. It comes in an all-purpose black color, emphasizing its focus on functionality rather than extravagant design elements. The choice of a single color enhances its versatility, allowing it to seamlessly blend into a variety of audio setups and environments.
2. Compact Form Factor: One of the standout features of the Pulse Mini’s build is its compact size. Measuring only 16cm in depth, 22.5cm in width, and 7.5cm in height, it exhibits an ultra-compact form factor. This compactness not only adds to its visual discreetness but also ensures easy integration into audio systems where space might be limited.
3. Simplicity and Functionality: Innuos has prioritized simplicity and functionality in the design of the Pulse Mini. The front panel is uncluttered, featuring only a single ON/OFF button, strategically placed at the front bottom of the device. This minimalistic approach ensures ease of use and emphasizes the player’s core functionality without unnecessary distractions.
4. Sturdy Build: While compact, the Pulse Mini is constructed with sturdiness in mind. The robust build quality ensures durability and longevity, essential for an audio component expected to deliver reliable performance over time.
5. Precision Connectors: The Pulse Mini is equipped with a range of connectors that contribute to its overall build quality. These connectors are thoughtfully designed to provide secure and reliable connections for various audio setups. Whether it’s the digital audio outputs, analog audio output, USB ports, RJ45 Ethernet sockets, or HDMI service port, each connector is built to exacting standards.
6. Versatile Design for Scalability: Another aspect of build quality lies in the Pulse Mini’s versatility. Its design allows for scalability, which is an important consideration for audio enthusiasts. Users have the flexibility to start with the integrated DAC and later enhance their setup by adding an external DAC if desired. This forward-looking design emphasizes the player’s adaptability and future-proofing.
7. Linear Power Supply Compatibility: In pursuit of enhanced audio quality, the Pulse Mini is compatible with the ZenMini LPSU linear power supply. This addition demonstrates Innuos’ dedication to providing audiophiles with options to further refine their listening experience. The linear power supply ensures clean and stable power delivery, positively impacting audio performance.
In summary, the build quality of the Innuos Pulse Mini is characterized by its elegant simplicity, compact yet sturdy construction, and thoughtful design elements that prioritize functionality and versatility. These attributes collectively contribute to a reliable and high-quality audio component that aligns with Innuos’ commitment to delivering exceptional music playback experiences.
Versatile Connectivity for a Scalable Audio Experience
The Innuos Pulse Mini player offers a range of connectivity options, mirroring those found on the Innuos ZenMini Mk3 music server:
- 2 digital audio outputs in coaxial and optical formats, capable of decoding audio files up to 24 bits/192 kHz.
- 1 analog audio output in RCA format, also supporting audio files up to 24 bits/192 kHz.
- 4 USB 3.0 ports for connecting external hard drives and USB DACs, enabling playback of audio files up to 32 bits/768 kHz and DSD512.
- 2 RJ45 Ethernet sockets for network connectivity.
- 1 dedicated HDMI socket for servicing purposes.
Selecting high-quality HiFi cables for connecting the Pulse Mini to your audio system is recommended to ensure optimal audio performance.
Scalability and Integration into Your HiFi System
The Innuos Pulse Mini player’s multiple audio outputs make it a highly scalable device. You can initially harness the integrated DAC by connecting the Pulse Mini directly to active speakers or a power amplifier. Later on, you have the flexibility to enhance your HiFi system by adding an external DAC to the setup. It’s worth noting that the built-in DAC already delivers impressive sound quality, producing rich and detailed audio.
This adaptability allows you to configure your setup with the following components:
- Innuos Pulse Mini player for music playback.
- External DAC such as the Chord Qutest DAC or Cambridge Audio DAC Magic 200M for digital-to-analog conversion.
- Amplifier like the Marantz Model 40N, connected to passive speakers.
This future-proof design sets the Innuos Pulse Mini apart from competitors like the Wattson Emerson players. Wattson Audio offers two player models in the same price range as the Pulse Mini: Emerson Analog and Emerson Digital. However, they lack the flexibility for future upgrades, unlike the Innuos Pulse Mini, which allows you to adapt and improve your system over time.
Installation Options for Your HiFi System
Upon plugging in the Innuos Pulse Mini player into a power outlet and connecting it to your home network via an RJ45 Ethernet cable, you have several configuration choices:
- Using the Pulse Mini’s Integrated DAC: The Pulse Mini player features a Texas Instruments PCM5102 DAC, capable of decoding audio files up to 24 bits/192 kHz. If you don’t have an external DAC or your amplifier lacks one, you can utilize the Pulse Mini’s integrated DAC to convert the digital signal to analog, using the RCA analog output.
- Using an External DAC: If you prefer the sound signature of your amplifier’s built-in DAC or possess a higher-quality external DAC, you can employ one of the Pulse Mini’s digital outputs (coaxial, optical, or USB). This bypasses the Pulse Mini’s internal DAC, letting your superior DAC handle the digital-to-analog conversion.
- Enhancing Sound Quality with a Linear Power Supply: For an upgraded listening experience, you can opt for the ZenMini LPSU linear power supply, which replaces the standard power supply. This upgrade enhances the performance of components like the streamer and DAC, elevating the musical quality of your setup.
Innuos Sense Application: Your Music Library’s Command Center
The Innuos Pulse Mini network player provides access to your entire digital music collection. Whether your music is stored on USB media, a NAS server, or streaming platforms, the Innuos Sense application serves as the central hub for all your musical content. Available on iOS and Android devices, Innuos Sense simplifies the management and navigation of your music library.
Access Streaming Platforms and Internet Radio
The Innuos Sense application seamlessly integrates with popular music streaming platforms, including Qobuz and Tidal, as well as thousands of internet radio stations through Radio Paradise. Access to Qobuz and Tidal requires a paid subscription, while internet radio is freely available.
Additionally, the Innuos Pulse Mini player is compatible with Spotify Connect. This feature establishes a direct link between the Pulse Mini player and Spotify servers, enabling you to control playback through the official Spotify application on your mobile device. This connectivity ensures uninterrupted music enjoyment, even if you leave the WiFi coverage area.
For other music services like Deezer, Apple Music, or Amazon Music, you can stream your music via AirPlay from an iOS device, leveraging the Logitech Media Server platform.
Access Audio Files Stored on Your NAS Server
Thanks to UPnP/DLNA compatibility, the Innuos Pulse Mini player grants access to audio files stored on your Synology NAS server. Once synchronized, the Pulse Mini player can play your entire library of purchased or downloaded music, making it readily accessible through the Innuos Sense application.
Furthermore, the Innuos Pulse Mini player holds the Roon Ready certification. If you have a Roon server, the Pulse Mini can serve as a playback device, offering an enriched audio experience with comprehensive information about your music files.
Access Audio Files Stored on USB Media
With its four USB ports, the Pulse Mini accommodates USB hard drives for music storage. The Innuos Sense application provides intuitive navigation through your audio files, offering convenience and ease of access. For optimal security and installation simplicity, it’s advisable to consider a Synology NAS server for storing your audio files.
Edit Musical Metadata Effortlessly
The Innuos Sense application offers a unique feature allowing customization and correction of album metadata. Whether you notice an error or wish to personalize album information, you can easily edit the metadata. Additionally, you have the option to select and download your preferred album cover art. This functionality, typically found on audio servers, sets the Innuos Pulse Mini apart by offering features that are hard to come by elsewhere.
Listening Quality: Embracing the Emotion of Music
To evaluate the Innuos Pulse Mini player’s sonic performance, extensive listening sessions were conducted at our showroom. The impressions from these sessions provide valuable insights into the player’s acoustic prowess.
The Pulse Mini player impresses with its ability to deliver a wide, well-layered soundstage that captures intricate spatial details. Listening sessions revealed a rich tapestry of timbres and a nuanced rendition of every sonic nuance. The Pulse Mini has the remarkable capability to make you feel like you’re attending a live concert, providing a level of musical immersion akin to witnessing a performance in person.
Even when compared to other high-quality players, the Pulse Mini stands out. Its ability to convey the breathing of vocalists and the spatial placement of instruments sets it apart. In tracks like the introduction to “Hotel California,” the listener is treated to a captivating sense of each musician occupying a distinct position on the stage. The Pulse Mini elevates the emotional connection to music, delivering an experience that transcends mere audio playback.
During the listening tests, the Pulse Mini was integrated into a setup featuring the Marantz Model 40N amplifier and KEF LS50 Meta speakers. While the Pulse Mini’s internal DAC already offers excellent sound quality, the addition of the ZenMini LPSU linear power supply further enhanced the sonic performance. The upgrade introduced more substance, naturalness, and improved bass response.
In terms of audio quality, the Pulse Mini positions itself between the ZenMini Mk3 and the Zen Mk3, offering enhanced detail, nuance, and a more expansive soundstage compared to the Zen Mini Mk3.
Highlighting the Sound Test of the Innuos Pulse Mini
The sound test of the Innuos Pulse Mini network player is a critical aspect of evaluating its overall performance and audio quality. During extensive listening sessions, the Pulse Mini demonstrated several key characteristics that set it apart as a formidable HiFi network player. Here, we highlight the noteworthy findings from the sound test:
1. Expansive Soundstage: One of the standout features of the Pulse Mini is its ability to deliver an expansive and well-layered soundstage. Listeners reported experiencing a sense of depth and space in the music that is reminiscent of live performances. This characteristic contributes to a more immersive and engaging listening experience, allowing users to feel as if they are present at a concert rather than simply listening to recorded music.
2. Rich Timbres: The Pulse Mini excels in reproducing the rich timbres of musical instruments and vocal performances. During the sound test, listeners noted the exceptional clarity and authenticity with which the player conveyed the tonal characteristics of different instruments. The timbral accuracy adds a level of realism to the music, enhancing the emotional connection with the audio content.
3. Nuanced Detail Reproduction: The Pulse Mini displayed a remarkable capability to reproduce intricate musical details with precision. This level of detail retrieval allows listeners to appreciate subtle nuances in the music, such as the delicate nuances of a vocalist’s phrasing or the fine articulation of instrumental passages. It contributes to a more engaging and captivating listening experience.
4. Spatialization and Imaging: The spatialization and imaging capabilities of the Pulse Mini were highly praised during the sound test. Listeners reported a heightened sense of spatial awareness, with instruments and vocals occupying distinct and well-defined positions within the soundstage. This spatial accuracy adds depth and dimension to the music, creating a more realistic and immersive listening environment.
5. Emotional Engagement: Perhaps one of the most remarkable aspects of the Pulse Mini’s sound quality is its ability to evoke strong emotional engagement. The player’s ability to convey the emotional essence of music was consistently noted by listeners. Whether it was the delicate intimacy of a ballad or the dynamic energy of a rock track, the Pulse Mini managed to convey the emotional content of the music effectively.
6. Linear Power Supply Enhancement: The use of the ZenMini LPSU linear power supply further enhanced the Pulse Mini’s sound quality during the test. The linear power supply contributed to a cleaner and more stable power delivery, resulting in improved audio performance. It added depth to the bass response and heightened the overall materiality and naturalness of the sound.
7. Comparison with Other Players: The sound test involved a comparison between the Pulse Mini and other network players, including the Bluesound Node and Wattson Emerson. In this comparison, the Pulse Mini consistently stood out for its ability to offer a wider, more detailed, and emotionally engaging soundstage. It bridged the gap between the ZenMini Mk3 and Zen Mk3, positioning itself as an intermediary with enhanced detail and spatialization.
In conclusion, the sound test of the Innuos Pulse Mini player reaffirmed its status as a top-tier HiFi network player in its price range. Its ability to deliver an expansive soundstage, rich timbres, nuanced detail reproduction, precise spatialization, and emotional engagement impressed listeners. When coupled with the ZenMini LPSU linear power supply, it further elevated its audio performance. These findings underscore the Pulse Mini’s commitment to providing an exceptional and immersive listening experience for music enthusiasts.
Conclusion: An Exceptional HiFi Network Player
In its price range, the Innuos Pulse Mini player unequivocally stands as one of the premier HiFi network players available. Its scalability, top-tier Innuos Sense application, and sound reproduction quality contribute to its excellence and outstanding reputation. Whether you’re building your first audio system or seeking to elevate your existing setup, the Innuos Pulse Mini player is a reliable choice for those desiring HiFi or even audiophile-quality music playback.
- Outstanding musical quality with a well-defined and spatialized soundstage, rich timbres, and intricate detail reproduction.
- The Innuos Sense application rivals the best in the market, offering intuitive control over your music library.
- Scalable design with digital outputs for connecting an external DAC, ensuring future-proof flexibility.
- The absence of an external power supply dedicated to the Innuos Pulse Mini model, designed with matching dimensions for aesthetic integration.