Ramblings: 2022, my year in hi-fi with the Innuos Pulse, SOtM iSO CAT7 and Lampizator Amber 4

tedwoods

Member
Dec 14, 2021
25
29
13
2022 was in many respects a particularly bitter year, for the reasons we all know. However, in purely hi-fi terms, it has proven to be quite interesting with numerous new equipment emerging and new thinking proliferating. For my system, I could even say it had a transformative effect, since my three main upgrades this year -all in the digital realm- brought about, both collectively and on their own, a serious boost in overall musicality and “being there” qualities.

My last purchase for the year -just in the nick of time, in fact- was the Innuos Pulse streamer, which I only have for a few days now and is already showing the qualities of a remarkable piece of equipment. I’ve had Innuos servers (Zen and Zenith) for a few years now but since I do all of my listening through Tidal these days and consequently, I don’t have any real need for storage space and with it a dedicated server, I was looking at a streamer only device for front end duties. Being a big believer in the effects of of a good power supply and having had very good experience with the Innuos servers and their “Sense” app, the Pulse series were on my radar ever since they were announced. There was also another thing: out of all the servers/streamers I have auditioned, Innuos gear always managed to sound more musical, with detail and nuance embodied in the fiber of music, avoiding a certain sense of detachment and lack of gestalt. The Pulse is no different, only it acts as a multiplier of these qualities. Dynamics, natural timbre, and unrestricted flow create an openness that just grabs you and pulls you into the music. It also sounds bigger and more extended at the frequency ends and has incredible presence and energy. I use the “Sense” app, which has proven stable and caters for intuitive browsing. In my opinion, the one thing that would benefit this intuitive nature of the software evolve even further would be the ability to add tags to Tidal albums (e.g., genres), something that sadly isn’t as of yet available.

Since the Pulse is largely dependent on the quality of the stream it receives from the net, a good clean signal is a must. That’s where my second purchase comes in: the SOtM iSO-CAT7 LAN isolator. Although I’ve had the SOtM iSO-CAT6 before (plus a whole bevy of other SOtM gear), I have always thought its effect was subtle at best. Most certainly not the case with the iSO-CAT7! In my system it had a huge effect, especially evident in the highs which now sound smooth and natural, reminiscent of really good analog sources. Also, the SOtM filter does not impede on the system’s dynamics at all, and it actually seems to improve the overall ebb and flow of the music.

To top everything off, the Lampizator Amber 4, my earliest purchase this year, receives this signal and produces great unforced music. I’ve had Lampi DACs for several years now, only I have been doing small upgrades within a given level, going from Level 4 to the Amber 3 and now the Amber 4, instead of going up the ladder. What is evident from the get-go with Amber 4 is that it’s a completely different animal. I had always thought that was particularly true for the Amber 3 when I first got it, but the Amber 4 surprised me with its completely fresh approach. It handles bass with punch and speed, transcending all stereotypes, and introduces you to a sort of music de-compression effect, both literally and metaphorically, as it unearths tons of low-level information but also sounds very natural at doing so.
 

charles1dad

Well-Known Member
Aug 23, 2021
335
333
70
68
Michigan, USA.
@tedwoods
Thanks for sharing your impressions of the Innuos Pulse network player. This is the direction I’m heading in, high quality online streaming. The Pulse and a couple of other units are on my short list to explore.

I have been thinking along the lines of a Network Acoustics MUON or ENO for effective noise filtering. I’m determined to have an uncluttered and simplified approach. No multiple boxes and cables.

I also like that Innuos seems to pay much attention to the power supply quality of the Pulse. Your listening impressions are very encouraging.
Charles
 
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Gjo

Well-Known Member
Aug 22, 2021
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@tedwoods, may I ask how you connect the Pulse to your Amber 4?

In the Pulse’s Settings, have you selected Digital Ouput as Pulse USB or Lampizator USB?
 

CKKeung

Well-Known Member
Jun 18, 2011
2,831
2,665
710
Hong Kong
2022 was in many respects a particularly bitter year, for the reasons we all know. However, in purely hi-fi terms, it has proven to be quite interesting with numerous new equipment emerging and new thinking proliferating. For my system, I could even say it had a transformative effect, since my three main upgrades this year -all in the digital realm- brought about, both collectively and on their own, a serious boost in overall musicality and “being there” qualities.

My last purchase for the year -just in the nick of time, in fact- was the Innuos Pulse streamer, which I only have for a few days now and is already showing the qualities of a remarkable piece of equipment. I’ve had Innuos servers (Zen and Zenith) for a few years now but since I do all of my listening through Tidal these days and consequently, I don’t have any real need for storage space and with it a dedicated server, I was looking at a streamer only device for front end duties. Being a big believer in the effects of of a good power supply and having had very good experience with the Innuos servers and their “Sense” app, the Pulse series were on my radar ever since they were announced. There was also another thing: out of all the servers/streamers I have auditioned, Innuos gear always managed to sound more musical, with detail and nuance embodied in the fiber of music, avoiding a certain sense of detachment and lack of gestalt. The Pulse is no different, only it acts as a multiplier of these qualities. Dynamics, natural timbre, and unrestricted flow create an openness that just grabs you and pulls you into the music. It also sounds bigger and more extended at the frequency ends and has incredible presence and energy. I use the “Sense” app, which has proven stable and caters for intuitive browsing. In my opinion, the one thing that would benefit this intuitive nature of the software evolve even further would be the ability to add tags to Tidal albums (e.g., genres), something that sadly isn’t as of yet available.

Since the Pulse is largely dependent on the quality of the stream it receives from the net, a good clean signal is a must. That’s where my second purchase comes in: the SOtM iSO-CAT7 LAN isolator. Although I’ve had the SOtM iSO-CAT6 before (plus a whole bevy of other SOtM gear), I have always thought its effect was subtle at best. Most certainly not the case with the iSO-CAT7! In my system it had a huge effect, especially evident in the highs which now sound smooth and natural, reminiscent of really good analog sources. Also, the SOtM filter does not impede on the system’s dynamics at all, and it actually seems to improve the overall ebb and flow of the music.

To top everything off, the Lampizator Amber 4, my earliest purchase this year, receives this signal and produces great unforced music. I’ve had Lampi DACs for several years now, only I have been doing small upgrades within a given level, going from Level 4 to the Amber 3 and now the Amber 4, instead of going up the ladder. What is evident from the get-go with Amber 4 is that it’s a completely different animal. I had always thought that was particularly true for the Amber 3 when I first got it, but the Amber 4 surprised me with its completely fresh approach. It handles bass with punch and speed, transcending all stereotypes, and introduces you to a sort of music de-compression effect, both literally and metaphorically, as it unearths tons of low-level information but also sounds very natural at doing so.
Congrats!

I listened to the Pulse Mini and Pulse at Volent Audio HK, the local Innuos dealer last week.

They have great performance/price ratios!

IMG_20221231_073829.jpg

I look forward for the arrival of Pulsar, the top streamer of the series.
It's the upgrade target of several friends of mine.
:)
 
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Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
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Welcome to WBF, Ted!

Thank you for your report!

I recently ordered a PULSEmini and a Linear Tube Audio LPS+ linear power supply.
 
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charles1dad

Well-Known Member
Aug 23, 2021
335
333
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Michigan, USA.
Congrats!

I listened to the Pulse Mini and Pulse at Volent Audio HK, the local Innuos dealer last week.

They have great performance/price ratios!

View attachment 102654

I look forward for the arrival of Pulsar, the top streamer of the series.
It's the upgrade target of several friends of mine.
:)
Thanks for sharing this. How much of a performance gap between the two? I’m interested in both, particularly the Pulse if it’s worth paying the additional cost.
Charles
 

CKKeung

Well-Known Member
Jun 18, 2011
2,831
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710
Hong Kong
Thanks for sharing this. How much of a performance gap between the two? I’m interested in both, particularly the Pulse if it’s worth paying the additional cost.
Charles
IMHO the higher price of Pulse is justified.
The dynamics, quietness & musicality are better than the Pulse Mini.
 
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charles1dad

Well-Known Member
Aug 23, 2021
335
333
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Michigan, USA.
IMHO the higher price of Pulse is justified.
The dynamics, quietness & musicality are better than the Pulse Mini.
Thank you for replying. My gut feeling is that was probably the case (Higher level power supply). It’s good to receive feedback from an experienced listener who has had an opportunity to actually hear both components (Particularly if in same listening environment) of interest.

I acknowledge the obvious subjective nature of it all. However throug the years I’ve found this method of information/listening impression inquiry very beneficial. Yours and @tedwoods comments on a newly launched product is appreciated.
Charles
 
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charles1dad

Well-Known Member
Aug 23, 2021
335
333
70
68
Michigan, USA.
On another audio topic forum a listener heard the Innuos Pulse mini and was quite impressed with it in its stock form. I have no doubt that an external LPS would raise the sound quality further upward. As this is most often the result.
Charles
 

tedwoods

Member
Dec 14, 2021
25
29
13
@tedwoods, may I ask how you connect the Pulse to your Amber 4?

In the Pulse’s Settings, have you selected Digital Ouput as Pulse USB or Lampizator USB?
I connect via Lampizator USB.
 

tedwoods

Member
Dec 14, 2021
25
29
13
Congrats!

I listened to the Pulse Mini and Pulse at Volent Audio HK, the local Innuos dealer last week.

They have great performance/price ratios!

View attachment 102654

I look forward for the arrival of Pulsar, the top streamer of the series.
It's the upgrade target of several friends of mine.
:)
Pulsar will have the ARC 6 power supply and separate supplies for the SSD and the reclocker. It looks like it's going to be an amazing product.
 

tedwoods

Member
Dec 14, 2021
25
29
13
Welcome to WBF, Ted!

Thank you for your report!

I recently ordered a PULSEmini and a Linear Tube Audio LPS+ linear power supply.
Thank you! Congrats on the Pulse mini!
 

Gjo

Well-Known Member
Aug 22, 2021
200
139
50
I have been evaluating an Innuos Pulse for a couple of days. It's fully broken in.

It's connected to a Bricasti M3 Networked DAC via AES and USB.

I have listened to Qobuz/Tidal content and local files via Innuos Sense and Roon, and as most report, Sense sounds better than Roon from the Innuos Pulse. Smoother, more refined with less perceived hash. All digital signal processing is disabled on Roon.

That said, I find Roon via the Bricasti M3 Networked DAC's LAN input preferable to the Innuos Pulse via USB or AES. It offers more air and detail without sacrificing naturalness. Frankly, I am somewhat surprised by what I have concluded thus far.
 
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charles1dad

Well-Known Member
Aug 23, 2021
335
333
70
68
Michigan, USA.
I have been evaluating an Innuos Pulse for a couple of days. It's fully broken in.

It's connected to a Bricasti M3 Networked DAC via AES and USB.

I have listened to Qobuz/Tidal content and local files via Innuos Sense and Roon, and as most report, Sense sounds better than Roon from the Innuos Pulse. Smoother, more refined with less perceived hash. All digital signal processing is disabled on Roon.

That said, I find Roon via the Bricasti M3 Networked DAC's LAN input preferable to the Innuos Pulse via USB or AES. It offers more air and detail without sacrificing naturalness. Frankly, I am somewhat surprised by what I have concluded thus far.
This is exactly why I find subjective listening experiences posted on audio forums valuable.
A somewhat different perspective from what Ted and some others (I’ve seen) have reported. Different listener, system/circumstances, all important data points until one can hear for themselves in their specific audio system.
Charles
 

lordcloud

Well-Known Member
Jul 5, 2016
167
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Austin, Texas
I had a very different experience with the Innuous Pulse than most.

We listened to it against a $400 SMSL SD9, and it was immediately obvious that the SD9 was better. More open, spacious, and alive. Which was very shocking to everyone.

Both units were broken in.

As usual, ymmv, and every system/pair of ears/brain in-between are different.
 
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charles1dad

Well-Known Member
Aug 23, 2021
335
333
70
68
Michigan, USA.
I had a very different experience with the Innuous Pulse than most.

We listened to it against a $400 SMSL SD9, and it was immediately obvious that the SD9 was better. More open, spacious, and alive. Which was very shocking to everyone.

Both units were broken in.

As usual, ymmv, and every system/pair of ears/brain in-between are different.
This seems like the ASR type of David versus Goliath scenario/outcome. Interesting for certain. How is the tone and timbre aspect/presentation of the SMSL SD9? Srajan Ebaen of 6 Moons likes it as well.
Charles
 

Gjo

Well-Known Member
Aug 22, 2021
200
139
50
I had a very different experience with the Innuous Pulse than most.

... the SD9 was better. More open, spacious, and alive. Which was very shocking to everyone.
This mirrors my observation during a comparison between an Innuos Pulse and a Bricasti M3's installed network streaming card, which was more open and alive with room cues that were subdued by the Pulse.

I was thinking about this yesterday, and the closest analogy I could make to the Pulse is the sound of a well recorded metal cassette tape: smooth, creamy and pleasantly detailed. Not the most faithful reproduction of source material, however.
 
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lordcloud

Well-Known Member
Jul 5, 2016
167
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Austin, Texas
This mirrors my observation during a comparison between an Innuos Pulse and a Bricasti M3's installed network streaming card, which was more open and alive with room cues that were subdued by the Pulse.

I was thinking about this yesterday, and the closest analogy I could make to the Pulse is the sound of a well recorded metal cassette tape: smooth, creamy and pleasantly detailed. Not the most faithful reproduction of source material, however.
Agreed. It was thick sounding, and honestly kind of dead sounding, in comparison. I imagine without a comparison, it would sound great to many audiophiles.

I now have a Wavedream Net that is SUBSTANTIALLY better than the SD9 and the Pulse to my ears.
 
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lordcloud

Well-Known Member
Jul 5, 2016
167
41
135
46
Austin, Texas
This seems like the ASR type of David versus Goliath scenario/outcome. Interesting for certain. How is the tone and timbre aspect/presentation of the SMSL SD9? Srajan Ebaen of 6 Moons likes it as well.
Charles
For the money.... I think it's an incredible deal. To my ears it didn't have many overt flaws. It was tonally very neutral, which was why I bought it.

It lacks refinement and some nuance. But only compared to very good streamers.
 

charles1dad

Well-Known Member
Aug 23, 2021
335
333
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68
Michigan, USA.
For the money.... I think it's an incredible deal. To my ears it didn't have many overt flaws. It was tonally very neutral, which was why I bought it.

It lacks refinement and some nuance. But only compared to very good streamers.
Thank you for your listening assessment. I’m unaware of the Wavedream Net. Based upon your comments I’ll have to explore further.
Charles
 

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