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Zidoo Neo S Owner Observations

muslhead

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In my office setup, i was happy using roon via matrix mini pro3 to drive an Ncore amp (to drive Susvara headphones) or my Neuman active speakers (paired with Kef sub).
While i like roon, i am not confident of their long term viability nor am i a fan of their support (or lack thereof) group who have been to me anything but supportive. In case roon disappears or i lose internet access, I need a backup, which has always been Jriver (dlna). Everything i listen to is a local file on my network, no services so jriver is perfect for what i need.
Unfortunately the only way the Matrix to access and use dlna protocol is to put a raspberry pi (ropieeexl) infront of the it since it is not dlna compliant. Jriver is not as slick or easy to use and Roon but it does all the same things as roon for a ton less money.
Getting a big tax return, I began a quest to look for a reasonably priced, one box solution that is both roon and dlna compliant. The solution needed to be able to handle dsd files natively, have the features and appearance i wanted but also as importantly, be the appropriate size as my desk is not huge and prefered not to overwhelm it with a player.
I narrowed down the search to a short list that included (android based) players from HifiRose, Zidoo and soundaware. I eventually decided on the Hifirose 150b. Unfortunately i did not stick to my first list of needs as it was way out of the price range i wanted to pay and it was big. But went ahead with it anyway as it met so many of the criteria i set plus what i perceived as from a less risky company. After getting it, unboxing and using, I really wanted to keep it but i could not justify the $5k price tag, the fact it is huge (not just huge but HUGE) and the software had way too many bugs to make it useful (not really an issue for me as i was going to use roon or jriver anyway). So, i returned the unit and revisted my (now much shorter) list.
With both the zidoo and soundaware being chinese, the documentation for the US market is so bad its a huge downside to any buying decision that needed more info to make that decsion. I first reached out to soundaware and asked a couple of questions. I got an immediate, next-day, response but their answer provided no real answer, instead just additional questions. I fired off another email asking for more clarification on the first email and some additional questions. No response. Multiple resends and never heard back again. I was ghosted. That "support" made the decision to remove them from the list easy and left only one other vendor, Zidoo which had recently come out with their first 2 audiophile players.
After some research, I selected the neo s as their top-of-the-line, neo x, was discontinued leaving only the s. I have owned a zidoo z9x video player for years and like it a lot. It does everything i want, was priced competitively and provided me some knowledge of their software so there would be little time needed getting myself up and running when purchasing the neo.
After receipt and unboxing the neo from a UK based seller, i was pleased with the size, build, look and features. Time to plug it in.
Once connected i fired up, roon worked as well as it did with the Matrix, playing all file types and (m3u) playlists i have accumulated over the years. A good start.
I then opened up jriver. The NEO player was immediately discovered and, like roon, it played every file type i threw at it. But when i fed it a playlist, it stumbled. It would play one song and then stop, To play the next song it required me to go back to jriver and click the next button ... no support of gapless even though it is clearly called out as a supported feature.
I posted on their forum (feature request) and sent an email inquiring about both issues. The response back (on the forum from zidoo) was that the purchased a jriver license and would look into it. Another superuser on the forum confirmed it did not play nicely with jriver nor m3u playlists.
The zidoo also includes their video player capabilities so it can function as both. Sadly, in my office i cant take advantage of it since i am setup for music only.
So for now, I have a roon player only. It replaced a less expensive, better performing, smaller, Matrix Audio player. I am disappointed.

After more digging and asking, their software app supposedly can handle playlists (not m3u but those created within the app) and gapless playback. But the music software is so bad, it's infantile and riddled with bugs and stuff that doesnt work (including the fact it barfs managing my 180k song library) it isnt an option for anything other than a casual music listener. I cant use it as a fallback for local files in lieu of jriver, unfortunately.

Zidoo has positioned both NEO players as audiophile streaming solutions combined with excellent video player capabilities, stuffed it with audio and videophile components, designed it to perform well (again, assuming the numbers they provide are correct). This marketing fluff sounds really good until you find out they stepped all over their winkies with the horrendous software which not only diminish the seriousness of this specific player but also their breakthrough into the audiophile market, which this was supposed to be.

Sure, if at some point in the future they fix the gapless and dlna non-compliance issues it will go a long way to meeting my needs and for a price i thought was very reasonable. But anyone considering something a bit more complex should really give this a long thought before purchasing (or at least buy from a dealer who has a trial period). If it meets your needs, it becomes a compelling buy. If not, its not yet ready for primetime and needs a lot more work.

Oh, and if anyone is interested i could not tell any difference when switching between the Matrix and the Neo listening to either my hp's or active speaker set up. Not that anyone should expect i could. Both, i consider to be excellent.
 
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muslhead

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Wanted to circle back around and update my original post. Zidoo, put out a number of firmware updates that have addressed the complaints i had.
I can now comfortably state if your use case is similar, this unit does everything i want (and more) and i feel much more comfortable recommending it. When you compare its internal components and ability to stream music (and even better with video) against its cost, i am not aware of a better value out there. Note, i have not addressed its specs and measurements. IF you take them at face value, they are very good but since it has not been measured by a 3rd party, i am reticent to comment.
My one niggle is its app. I would considered it poor for audio but since i dont use it for audio its not an issue for me. Plus, depending upon what you are comparing it to (my baseline is roon and jriver) it could be very good. WRT video, the app is very good and is well beyond its competitors.
 
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