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