Innuos Statement music server

We carry within us the wonders we seek outside us.—Rumi

There are plenty of difficult obstacles in your path. Don't allow yourself to become one of them.—Ralph Marston, The Daily Motivator

Put these two quotes together, shake vigorously, and you've got the essence of a music server. Unless your container isn't tightly sealed, in which case you've got a mess.

A dedicated streaming music server has but one overriding purpose: to enable the discovery and delivery of digitally encoded music—and then get out of the way. Ideally, it performs like the best of servants, keeping everything in order, noting items worthy of attention, doing exactly as its master wishes, and then bowing out without drawing attention to itself.

For probably the majority of music-lovers, an all-purpose computer, used for pretty much everything except washing dishes, serves as their music server. Some use a dedicated computer reserved solely for music playback.

Typical computers, though—dedicated or not—aren't optimized for music playback; because they run all sorts of processes irrelevant to audio, and, because noise usually doesn't affect nonmusical functions, they are saddled with noise—not the directly audible kind, but the kind that pollutes audio signals and makes them sound worse, in a variety of ways. The noise comes not just from apps working in the background—antivirus software, word processors, and a host of nondefeatable, automatically updating programs—but also from ports and pathways designed for multiple functions and not engineered to keep polluting EMI away from precious music signals.

Enter the dedicated high-end audio server, a class that includes the Innuos Statement music server/streamer/ripper ($13,750 and up), the flagship server from a Portuguese company that makes nothing but. Innuos was founded in 2013 by software engineers Nuno Vitorino and Amelia Santos, who met in 1994 as university students and, later, got married. Seeds for the company were planted in 2009, when Vitorino assembled a music server in his garage, offered it on eBay, and sold 200 units in six months.

"When I started Innuos, there was nothing available for people who were not technologically savvy," Vitorino explained in an interview via Skype. Seven years later, thanks in no small part to Managing Director Santos's INSEAD-honed business skills, the company employs teams of software and hardware developers and is expanding to new headquarters with a sound room exceeding 500 square feet. Building that room was essential for the couple, whose two children, ages 5 and 9, frequently commandeer the home system to watch Paw Patrol.

"We own the company 100%," Vitorino said. "We wanted to do our own vision and remain independent of investors or private-equity companies who might alter our approach in order to get their investment back fast. The good thing is that we've always been profitable."

Innuos unveiled a prototype of the Statement at the 2018 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest and launched the product in early 2019. At the 2019 RMAF, they launched the PhoenixUSB reclocker. Expected next is PhoenixNET, an Ethernet reclocker, which Vitorino likens to an audiophile network switch. In 2020, Innuos intends to completely revamp its software while also expanding the company's reach beyond Europe and North America, to Asia in particular.


Noise, begone!
I first met Vitorino at RMAF 2019, where I briefly auditioned several of the company's servers. It quickly became clear that, as the most transparent of the lot, the Statement was the most appropriate Innuos product for use in my reference setup. I set up a review.

The two-box Statement's "power unit" connects to its server via two short umbilical cords. The boxes are intended to be stacked, with the power unit on bottom, to keep the umbilical lengths short—shorter lengths presumed to be less susceptible to noise pollution than longer ones. Longer cords are available for users who must, or prefer, to put the two boxes side by side or on different shelves.

The power unit box is reserved for coarse AC/DC conversion. Eight cable pairs, each containing a power wire and its ground, carry otherwise untreated DC power to the top box via the two umbilical cords. Regulation occurs in the top box.


Once regulated to "nice, clean, steady power"—Vitorino's words—this direct current travels over very short cable lengths, soldered point-to-point, to the server unit's individual component blocks. "We don't give the power a chance to get polluted again," Vitorino said. "If we located the entire PS in the bottom box and did the regulation there as well, the clean power would have to go through cable connectors, external cables, more connectors, and then internal cable. Along the way, it would pick up all sorts of . . . interference. You can shield it, you can protect, but it's never 100% perfect. Our arrangement allows us to send cleaner power to the server's different components."

The DC emerging from the bottom box comprises eight separate supplies: three for each voltage of the motherboard, one for the CPU, one for the SSD storage device, one for the Ethernet Reclocker board, one for the USB Reclocker Board, and one that feeds only the USB clock. (The Statement uses OCXO clocks—oven-controlled crystal oscillators, which are large because their mass allows more carefully controlled internal temperature, hence superior stability, to the oscillator. There are separate clocks for the USB and Ethernet boards.)

Regulators, which are intended to ensure stable power, can themselves be a source of noise. Which is why "there are no switching regulators on our USB board," Vitorino told me. "Switching regulators are quite efficient, but they create a lot of noise because they oscillate a lot." Instead, the external supplies provide the board with the three voltage levels it needs, each voltage level stabilized by discrete, low-noise LT3045 regulators. "The objective is low noise and a better-timed signal," Vitorino told me. Vitorino also told me that the normal precision of an oscillator on a computer motherboard or USB board is about 30 parts per million. "Ours is 3 parts per billion," he said. "Our clocks, handmade in the US, are the kind used in missiles and aviation because they offer less noise and greater precision. To get as much precision out of our clocks as we can, we use two independent clocks at the right frequencies, 24MHz for USB and 25MHz for Ethernet. The clock signal travels directly through the board without using cables. The better timed the signal is that you send your DAC, the less work the DAC has to do to interpret the results."

Inside the Statement, Vitorino and his crew have attempted to identify, isolate, and eliminate all contributors to noise: "We went through the motherboard and all the components with an oscilloscope and a proper probe, identified which components made the most noise, and worked with our custom motherboard supplier to remove non-essential noise-creating components that might be useful for a PC but have no place in an audio server."

Given Vitorino's attention to noise and power delivery, it came as no surprise to hear him say, "The Statement certainly benefits from a really good power cable. In addition, a lot of our users have had very good experiences with changing the fuse to another slow-blow fuse. We tested quite a number of fuses, some of them very high end, before deciding on any. They do make a difference in terms of sound quality—they convey more air around instruments—but some aftermarket fuses negatively affect dynamics. We like our systems to have quite a lot of dynamics and rhythm—a lot of PRAT—and with some fuses, my feet weren't tapping anymore."

I needed no convincing about the impact of power quality on a fine audio system. More than a year ago, when I was working with Roon's Rob Darling to improve playback from a Roon-equipped Intel NUC (since replaced by Roon's Nucleus +), we moved my router to the hallway, far from the system, and created an Ethernet > optical > Ethernet pathway to isolate router-related noise. Then we replaced the switch-mode power supply on one of my Ethernet/optical converters with a Small Green Computer 15W linear power supply ($160) fed by a Nordost Odin 2 power cable. The increase in transparency and detail was so dramatic that I tried an LPS on the router, and then the NUC. The additional increase in bass, color saturation, and detail was so marked that every wall wart in my system was banished and replaced by two Small Green Computer/HDPLEX 200W power supplies, each of which can power up to four devices of different voltages.

Moving up
The Statement's server box, which includes a CD ripper, is fitted with special support feet, asymmetrically positioned to minimize vibration. "The bottom power box is not very sensitive to vibration and not in need of special feet with special placement, but the top box is very sensitive." Vitorino said. "One foot is below the SSD, and another below the regulators for the USB port. We wanted to put the third under the boards on the other side, but because the box needs to be balanced, we put it a little further back under the motherboard, which is also a sensitive component. The feet are tuned to the weight and resonant frequency of the chassis and designed to remove low-frequency vibration that comes from air moved by speaker drivers. They're fairly high end and would cost about $500/set of three at retail."

Goals and preferences
I have yet to encounter a manufacturer whose ultimate goal is the sonic equivalent of a huge Saint Bernard slobbering all over the floor. Some, however, do prefer a bit of warmth to what they call sterility. Not Vitorino, who declared, "We don't pursue a 'sound' per se. It would be very attractive to make it very warm sounding, particularly for those who like valve amplifiers. If you go to shows and make it nice and warm and smooth, everyone will like it. That's not what we want to do. We want to keep it as neutral as possible, reduce as much as we can the amount of power noise interference that might affect the signal, and provide the best timing possible for that signal. This enables the rest of the hi-fi chain to perform at its best. We don't tweak the tonal balance or the amount of treble or bass."

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:

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: 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.

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.