The UnitiCore - tested

I had a chance to listen to the UnitiCore and UnitiServe in my system.  NDS/552/300 into Harbeth SHL5+s.

Sound Quality:
The UnitiCore sounds a little more 'robust'  - the Unitiserve a little more thin sounding. The best way to describe the difference is like you went from a 200/300 vs 250/500. Not in terms of sound quality - more in terms of sound signature.

I don't get the digital out hype. Upnp vs. Digital out is very close. Any dealer being able to demo the digital out being way ahead of upnp probably has a sucky/noisy network setup. Cable used is Naim DC1. Sticking to Naim cables here - keeps it simple.

Having said that:

a) I do have an iFi on the Netgear switch.
b) I also did replace my netgear switches with the latest versions. The  newer versions (v5 for 5 port and v4 for 8 port) don't have capacitors and chokes in them and seem to be quieter.

This is from the perspective from someone who (ok - no double blind testing done - move on if you're that kind of person - nothing to see here) thinks Unitiserve > MinimServer > Assetupnp, with the latter two running on a QNAP Nas.

Unfortunately - could not test the UnitiCore with the Cisco switches. The uniticore becomes not discoverable when I have it plugged into the Cisco 2760.

@Phil Harris@Simon-in-Suffolk - any ideas? Any literature you can point me to on  how upnp discovery works? It's quite possible the ciscos either don't support those protocols - or stuff is timing out..

Setup was fairly pain free. I've got shares password protected to ensure that Apps don't do what they're not supposed to do (admin has r/w access. The UnitiServe userid has read access on some shares and r/w access on shares which it uses as a store etc.) - which made things a little more complicated for me to setup the uniticore - I'll document that at some point.

MetaData editing

I, for one, prefer the metadata editing capabilities on the UnitiCore, and the fact that we don't have a N-Serve application anymore. The Naim Desktop client, while more powerful (possibly cause you have a full keyboard and a big screen) was not used by me - too lazy to go to my PC to edit metadata.

From a R&D dollar spend, it makes more sense to polish and perfect the iOS app, rather than also invest in a Windows Desktop App. The way I see it, the system gets the metadata right 98% of the time (about 10 of my albums out of 500) had issues. For the few places where issues exist, it's a question of pressing a button and choosing metadata from one of a few providers. 

It's for Naim to decide what % of users are into classical and whether it makes sense to try to support them further.

The UnitiCore should be able to upload (anoymized, naturally) data to Naim indicating the tastes of their users - and use of features - which should then drive investments.

Finally - Upgrading from UnitiServe to UnitiCore ?

If  you have a UnitiServe already probably not the best use of your money to upgrade to the UnitiCore. You're better of spending a few cycles upgrading your network (iFi on switches, and a AudioQuest Vodka between the Comcast Cable Modem and Netgear router).

$3K can be better spent elsewhere. However, if you've had trouble optimizing your network at home, you could

a) use the UnitiCore's digital out into your primary system and
b) Use the upnp cability into your other systems. 

I will be taking the UnitiCore on a spin on a 272/250 based system and report back.

Original Post
MangoMonkey posted:

I had a chance to listen to the UnitiCore and UnitiServe in my system.  NDS/552/300 into Harbeth SHL5+s.

Sound Quality:
The UnitiCore sounds a little more 'robust'  - the Unitiserve a little more thin sounding. The best way to describe the difference is like you went from a 200/300 vs 250/500. Not in terms of sound quality - more in terms of sound signature.

I don't get the digital out hype. Upnp vs. Digital out is very close. Any dealer being able to demo the digital out being way ahead of upnp probably has a sucky/noisy network setup. Cable used is Naim DC1. Sticking to Naim cables here - keeps it simple.

Having said that:

a) I do have an iFi on the Netgear switch.
b) I also did replace my netgear switches with the latest versions. The  newer versions (v5 for 5 port and v4 for 8 port) don't have capacitors and chokes in them and seem to be quieter.

This is from the perspective from someone who (ok - no double blind testing done - move on if you're that kind of person - nothing to see here) thinks Unitiserve > MinimServer > Assetupnp, with the latter two running on a QNAP Nas.

Unfortunately - could not test the UnitiCore with the Cisco switches. The uniticore becomes not discoverable when I have it plugged into the Cisco 2760.

@Phil Harris@Simon-in-Suffolk - any ideas? Any literature you can point me to on  how upnp discovery works? It's quite possible the ciscos either don't support those protocols - or stuff is timing out..

Setup was fairly pain free. I've got shares password protected to ensure that Apps don't do what they're not supposed to do (admin has r/w access. The UnitiServe userid has read access on some shares and r/w access on shares which it uses as a store etc.) - which made things a little more complicated for me to setup the uniticore - I'll document that at some point.

MetaData editing

I, for one, prefer the metadata editing capabilities on the UnitiCore, and the fact that we don't have a N-Serve application anymore. The Naim Desktop client, while more powerful (possibly cause you have a full keyboard and a big screen) was not used by me - too lazy to go to my PC to edit metadata.

From a R&D dollar spend, it makes more sense to polish and perfect the iOS app, rather than also invest in a Windows Desktop App. The way I see it, the system gets the metadata right 98% of the time (about 10 of my albums out of 500) had issues. For the few places where issues exist, it's a question of pressing a button and choosing metadata from one of a few providers. 

It's for Naim to decide what % of users are into classical and whether it makes sense to try to support them further.

The UnitiCore should be able to upload (anoymized, naturally) data to Naim indicating the tastes of their users - and use of features - which should then drive investments.

Finally - Upgrading from UnitiServe to UnitiCore ?

If  you have a UnitiServe already probably not the best use of your money to upgrade to the UnitiCore. You're better of spending a few cycles upgrading your network (iFi on switches, and a AudioQuest Vodka between the Comcast Cable Modem and Netgear router).

$3K can be better spent elsewhere. However, if you've had trouble optimizing your network at home, you could

a) use the UnitiCore's digital out into your primary system and
b) Use the upnp cability into your other systems. 

I will be taking the UnitiCore on a spin on a 272/250 based system and report back.

i quite agree with the majority of your comment.

As you, i tested unitserve / tp ps vs uniticore : i found the sound quality very very near the same, the serve had little more body and bass( with the ps) and the core was a little more dynamic, but the differences were marginal.

So a uniticore is better vs the stock serve on sound quality. But not in the degree of 250 to 500 amp.  Nap 500 is a huge step vs nap 250.

The advantage of the serve is to add a linear ps of your choice. Today i have uptone audio js2, and the step is quite important vs my past serve/ tp ps.  So logically unitserve / js2 is better vs uniticore. 

To end,  if someone have already the serve, it is better to put 2500 pounds on upgrading the network and adding a big linear ps to the serve.

But if i had not the serve, i would perhaps not buy a core, for other hardware reasons... Or wait a bit...

MangoMonkey posted:

...

It's for Naim to decide what % of users are into classical and whether it makes sense to try to support them further.

The UnitiCore should be able to upload (anoymized, naturally) data to Naim indicating the tastes of their users - and use of features - which should then drive investments.

...

I am not sure that uploading data from Core users would provide Naim with meaningful guidelines for investments, at this point.

Let's assume, for instance, that data from Core users show very little user interest in classical music. Is this because of genuine lack of interest in classical music from Naim users? Is this because classical music listeners tend to avoid the Core because of its miserable support for classical music? Hard to say.

Naim should first implement a UPnP server that is roughly on par with MinimServer, Asset, etc. Then they could start collecting data from Core users and fine tune their investments. Until then, they should probably collect data from users of more advanced UPnP servers.

nbpf posted:
MangoMonkey posted:

...

It's for Naim to decide what % of users are into classical and whether it makes sense to try to support them further.

The UnitiCore should be able to upload (anoymized, naturally) data to Naim indicating the tastes of their users - and use of features - which should then drive investments.

...

I am not sure that uploading data from Core users would provide Naim with meaningful guidelines for investments, at this point.

Let's assume, for instance, that data from Core users show very little user interest in classical music. Is this because of genuine lack of interest in classical music from Naim users? Is this because classical music listeners tend to avoid the Core because of its miserable support for classical music? Hard to say.

Naim should first implement a UPnP server that is roughly on par with MinimServer, Asset, etc. Then they could start collecting data from Core users and fine tune their investments. Until then, they should probably collect data from users of more advanced UPnP servers.

i am a little bit generalizing, but most classical music lovers go to tubes gear or soft sounding gear like accuphase or esoteric...  When i am reading reviews of tube components, 90% of time the music of the reviewer is classical music.

For naim, the vast majority is rock , a little jazz and very little classical music.  Go to the topics like" your best concert", " best albums "....and you can compare the profile with the music...

I know, it is a bit a generality, but a little true also...

Keler Pierre posted:
nbpf posted:
MangoMonkey posted:

...

It's for Naim to decide what % of users are into classical and whether it makes sense to try to support them further.

The UnitiCore should be able to upload (anoymized, naturally) data to Naim indicating the tastes of their users - and use of features - which should then drive investments.

...

I am not sure that uploading data from Core users would provide Naim with meaningful guidelines for investments, at this point.

Let's assume, for instance, that data from Core users show very little user interest in classical music. Is this because of genuine lack of interest in classical music from Naim users? Is this because classical music listeners tend to avoid the Core because of its miserable support for classical music? Hard to say.

Naim should first implement a UPnP server that is roughly on par with MinimServer, Asset, etc. Then they could start collecting data from Core users and fine tune their investments. Until then, they should probably collect data from users of more advanced UPnP servers.

i am a little bit generalizing, but most classical music lovers go to tubes gear or soft sounding gear like accuphase or esoteric...  When i am reading reviews of tube components, 90% of time the music of the reviewer is classical music.

For naim, the vast majority is rock , a little jazz and very little classical music.  Go to the topics like" your best concert", " best albums "....and you can compare the profile with the music...

I know, it is a bit a generality, but a little true also...

Classical music has a general market share of about 3%. I do not know whether this figure is lower or higher among users of Naim equipment or what is the share of classical music listeners in sales of hifi gear. But all this does not matter: the point that I was trying to make is that if you sell a device that is not meant to be used by classical music listeners, collecting information about classical music listeners through that device seems a little bit pointless!  

MangoMonkey posted:

<<SNIP>>

@Phil Harris@Simon-in-Suffolk - any ideas? Any literature you can point me to on  how upnp discovery works? It's quite possible the ciscos either don't support those protocols - or stuff is timing out..

<<SNIP>>

Not sure exactly what info you're looking for but maybe these will get you a primer...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Plug_and_Play

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...e_Discovery_Protocol

Cheers

Phil

Keler Pierre posted:
nbpf posted:
MangoMonkey posted:

...

It's for Naim to decide what % of users are into classical and whether it makes sense to try to support them further.

The UnitiCore should be able to upload (anoymized, naturally) data to Naim indicating the tastes of their users - and use of features - which should then drive investments.

...

I am not sure that uploading data from Core users would provide Naim with meaningful guidelines for investments, at this point.

Let's assume, for instance, that data from Core users show very little user interest in classical music. Is this because of genuine lack of interest in classical music from Naim users? Is this because classical music listeners tend to avoid the Core because of its miserable support for classical music? Hard to say.

Naim should first implement a UPnP server that is roughly on par with MinimServer, Asset, etc. Then they could start collecting data from Core users and fine tune their investments. Until then, they should probably collect data from users of more advanced UPnP servers.

i am a little bit generalizing, but most classical music lovers go to tubes gear or soft sounding gear like accuphase or esoteric...  When i am reading reviews of tube components, 90% of time the music of the reviewer is classical music.

For naim, the vast majority is rock , a little jazz and very little classical music.  Go to the topics like" your best concert", " best albums "....and you can compare the profile with the music...

I know, it is a bit a generality, but a little true also...

The idea that classical listeners like a soft sound is rather bizarre. I real violin is anything but soft, as going to see a string quartet will reveal. And a Bach Concerto can boogie like a bastard.  My all Naim system is brilliant for classical, and quite look in what are you listening to now will reveal hundreds of classical albums being played. Yes, the Core is limited when it comes to classical, but that can easily be fixed with a decent upnp server. 

Hungryhalibut posted:
Keler Pierre posted:
nbpf posted:
MangoMonkey posted:

...
 

...

...

The idea that classical listeners like a soft sound is rather bizarre. I real violin is anything but soft, as going to see a string quartet will reveal. And a Bach Concerto can boogie like a bastard.  My all Naim system is brilliant for classical, and quite look in what are you listening to now will reveal hundreds of classical albums being played. Yes, the Core is limited when it comes to classical, but that can easily be fixed with a decent upnp server. 

That's it. And since implementing a decent UPnP server (and SPDIF player / UPnP renderer) is not that difficult, Naim should simply have done it.

Hungryhalibut posted:
Keler Pierre posted:
nbpf posted:
MangoMonkey posted:

...

It's for Naim to decide what % of users are into classical and whether it makes sense to try to support them further.

The UnitiCore should be able to upload (anoymized, naturally) data to Naim indicating the tastes of their users - and use of features - which should then drive investments.

...

I am not sure that uploading data from Core users would provide Naim with meaningful guidelines for investments, at this point.

Let's assume, for instance, that data from Core users show very little user interest in classical music. Is this because of genuine lack of interest in classical music from Naim users? Is this because classical music listeners tend to avoid the Core because of its miserable support for classical music? Hard to say.

Naim should first implement a UPnP server that is roughly on par with MinimServer, Asset, etc. Then they could start collecting data from Core users and fine tune their investments. Until then, they should probably collect data from users of more advanced UPnP servers.

i am a little bit generalizing, but most classical music lovers go to tubes gear or soft sounding gear like accuphase or esoteric...  When i am reading reviews of tube components, 90% of time the music of the reviewer is classical music.

For naim, the vast majority is rock , a little jazz and very little classical music.  Go to the topics like" your best concert", " best albums "....and you can compare the profile with the music...

I know, it is a bit a generality, but a little true also...

The idea that classical listeners like a soft sound is rather bizarre. I real violin is anything but soft, as going to see a string quartet will reveal. And a Bach Concerto can boogie like a bastard.  My all Naim system is brilliant for classical, and quite look in what are you listening to now will reveal hundreds of classical albums being played. Yes, the Core is limited when it comes to classical, but that can easily be fixed with a decent upnp server. 

Soft is not perhaps the good term....Just to point that a lot of classical music lovers like tube gear....

There doubtless is a minority of classical listeners on the forum. However generally it's been this sector which has championed new technology, such as stereo, CD and hi-res streaming. What percentage of popular music enthusiasts care about high quality sound? The vast majority is happy with iTunes! To say, as some have in this thread, that classical listeners like tube gear is a to fall in to the trap of type casting. I listen almost entirely to classical music and I seek accurate sound reproduction which by definition must be lifelike and musical. 

Chris G posted:

There doubtless is a minority of classical listeners on the forum. However generally it's been this sector which has championed new technology, such as stereo, CD and hi-res streaming. What percentage of popular music enthusiasts care about high quality sound? The vast majority is happy with iTunes! To say, as some have in this thread, that classical listeners like tube gear is a to fall in to the trap of type casting. I listen almost entirely to classical music and I seek accurate sound reproduction which by definition must be lifelike and musical. 

yes man, i wrote before that i made a generalization... there is of course no type of gear to hear classical music.  The important thing is neutrality and fidelity to the music recorded.

But there is a fact that a lot of naim owners like rock music and a lot of tube gear owners like classical.  I am reading often reviews on stereophile, absolute sound, and other audio sites, and when a tube amp or preamp is reviewed, 90% of time the reviewer is hearing mostly to classical music.  But of course it is not always the case,

For myself i have an all tube preamp and my music is modern jazz mostly.

Chris G posted:

There doubtless is a minority of classical listeners on the forum. However generally it's been this sector which has championed new technology, such as stereo, CD and hi-res streaming. What percentage of popular music enthusiasts care about high quality sound? The vast majority is happy with iTunes! To say, as some have in this thread, that classical listeners like tube gear is a to fall in to the trap of type casting. I listen almost entirely to classical music and I seek accurate sound reproduction which by definition must be lifelike and musical. 

By the way, with 12.5, iTunes started supporting basic classical music indexes such as as Work and Movement. This is not enough for classical music collections, of course. But it is still better than what Naim is offering with the Core.

Chag... posted:

As far as the OP and listening tests, I understood that HifiCritic may publish their review of the Core in the next issue. It should be interesting. Will Naim post this review on the Connection page? Nothing is less certain.  

Chag -

Martin Colloms wrote to me some months ago that he will publish a uniticore review in hificritic. But recently i asked him by mail about his feelings of the core vs unitserve. I asked twice and he never responded. The hificritic new number was published 1 month ago and there is no core inside.  Perhaps, due to all recent metadata and software problems with the core, naim audio don't allow reviews of this product in the press. No magazine, no audio site, have done a review of the core.  It is another reason for myself to not buy the core yet: i am not confident in this product for now.

Chag... posted:

As far as the OP and listening tests, I understood that HifiCritic may publish their review of the Core in the next issue. It should be interesting. Will Naim post this review on the Connection page? Nothing is less certain.  

Chag -

Chag, i just went on hificritic site and have seen a uniticore review to be published at the end of june. So i was a little wrong just before....i am very curious to read it.   

I can't read dutch either 

But google translate is your friend!

In any case, the mentioned points in the resume (both posititve and negative) are a bit silly. For example the number of streaming services is listed in both the positives and negatives...

Felix H posted:

Hi MM - Thanks for writing the report. Which iFi product do you have on your switch and what's the effect?

The one to go for is the iPower. It makes things sound a bit more natural. I had one for a while on my Netgear switch but sold when I got an internally powered Cisco. The Cisco made far more difference than the power supply. There are a number of threads about this. 

Felix H posted:

Keler Pierre - I didn't get your logic why UnitiServe + aftermarket linear psu would be better than UnitiCore, which already has Naim's linear PSU inside the box?

Felix

because i have compared the sound quality of the core vs unitserve tp ps . The sound was very very similar. Without the tp ps, the core was better.

After i bought a much better ps for the serve, uptone js2, and the sound quality improved clearly. So i conclude that with the ps i have now, it is better than the core.

Felix H posted:

Thanks. The iFi looks cool on paper. Which Cisco switch you got HH? 

the cisco 2960 catalyst, refurbished and factory reset on ebay.  You have a lot of posts for it. I am not sure to keep mine...i will compare tomorrow vs paul pang switch with the second output of my uptone audio js2 ps.  But the cisco is without problem better than stock and common switch as netgear gs or dlink.   You can find the cisco for around 50/60 GBP.

Thanks Pierre!

Ah ok I looked at threads  - so this is the Catalyst 2960-8TC-L. Cisco site says they'll be supporting it until mid 2018.  I'd take Cisco reliability over cheapo consumer switches any day, and I actually happen to prefer CLI instead of web UI's. But this Cisco comes with an internal SMPS, hmmm...  In Ken's switch thread he decided to stay with the iFi, and Sbilotta seems to have done even better by using a linear psu on his (consumer?) switch...

Interesting that uptone audio + UnitiServe is doing a better job than the Core internal PSU. One obvious advantage of uptone of course is that it is external!

You said the audible difference was small. But the differences due to psu must be much bigger when using S/PDIF instead of Ethernet. Did you try S/PDIF to NDS in your Core vs UnitiServe comparison? 

Felix

Of the people who have tried the Cisco, there have been more choosing to keep it. I'm not sure that the fact it has an internal SMPS is that important when the hifi is on a separate mains circuit, as it should be. The Israeli power supply that is often used with the Serve is also SMPS. The idea of an 'audiophile' switch such as the Paul Pang seems like a bit of a ruse to separate people from their money. I'm not sure how a switch knows it's playing music rather than printing Word documents. 

Hi Felix,  before this drifts into a LPS vs SMPS thread,  please don't assume one is superior to another,  some LPS can be noisy, it depends on the voltage regulator used & how its applied.  Also a lot of off-the-shelf regulators date back many years - e.g. Naim have moved on from LM317 to DR regulation.    SMPS when designed correctly can be lower noise than LPS,  remember every modern electronic device on the planet has SMPS,  audio seems to one of the last bastions of LPS,  that said Linn have been SMPS for a long while.  

The iFi iPower mentioned in the thread is SMPS with some very specific noise cancellation features that (iFi claim) gives significantly lower noise than an 'audiophile LPS'  1uV vs 20uV.    I'm guilty of encouraging the forum to consider them  .............. forum, https://forums.naimaudio.com/topic/ifi-ipower-smps-carried-over-from-hifi-corner

Felix H posted:

Thanks Pierre!

Ah ok I looked at threads  - so this is the Catalyst 2960-8TC-L. Cisco site says they'll be supporting it until mid 2018.  I'd take Cisco reliability over cheapo consumer switches any day, and I actually happen to prefer CLI instead of web UI's. But this Cisco comes with an internal SMPS, hmmm...  In Ken's switch thread he decided to stay with the iFi, and Sbilotta seems to have done even better by using a linear psu on his (consumer?) switch...

Interesting that uptone audio + UnitiServe is doing a better job than the Core internal PSU. One obvious advantage of uptone of course is that it is external!

You said the audible difference was small. But the differences due to psu must be much bigger when using S/PDIF instead of Ethernet. Did you try S/PDIF to NDS in your Core vs UnitiServe comparison? 

Felix

ethernet is better by a clear step, when the network is optimized with good lans, network isolation, linear ps on switch....

As for the cisco, it is more dynamic and there is better drive. but the cisco is a little edgy on ears, as for my ears. I put a good power cord on it and the sound is a little softer.

You will have to test by yourself.  I normally will test the paul pang switch with my big linear ps tomorrow.

When i bought my nds, i was not aware of the importance of network optimization :  it changes a lot the sound, when all the tweaks are done...

Hungryhalibut posted:

Of the people who have tried the Cisco, there have been more choosing to keep it. I'm not sure that the fact it has an internal SMPS is that important when the hifi is on a separate mains circuit, as it should be. The Israeli power supply that is often used with the Serve is also SMPS. The idea of an 'audiophile' switch such as the Paul Pang seems like a bit of a ruse to separate people from their money. I'm not sure how a switch knows it's playing music rather than printing Word documents. 

the israeli tp ps is linear, not smps.  A lot of forums like computer audiophile, devialet chat or even naim forums are relating the benefit of the paul pang switch with additional linear ps.

If i will not find the benefit of it vs the cisco, i will return it. ( it costs around 150 GBP). I will just loose the postage.  My uptone ps has 2 outputs, so i can power my serve and also the switch.

We will see....

Mike-B posted:

Hi Felix,  before this drifts into a LPS vs SMPS thread,  please don't assume one is superior to another,  some LPS can be noisy, it depends on the voltage regulator used & how its applied.  Also a lot of off-the-shelf regulators date back many years - e.g. Naim have moved on from LM317 to DR regulation.    SMPS when designed correctly can be lower noise than LPS,  remember every modern electronic device on the planet has SMPS,  audio seems to one of the last bastions of LPS,  that said Linn have been SMPS for a long while.  

The iFi iPower mentioned in the thread is SMPS with some very specific noise cancellation features that (iFi claim) gives significantly lower noise than an 'audiophile LPS'  1uV vs 20uV.    I'm guilty of encouraging the forum to consider them  .............. forum, https://forums.naimaudio.com/topic/ifi-ipower-smps-carried-over-from-hifi-corner

i had before the ifi power 12v on my switch : it was better than the stock smps. But my last israeli ps and now the uptone gave better fluency, bigger soundstage and better true tones colors than ifi. It was immediate.

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