Innuos Factory Tour | On the Road

innuos factory tour

The story of my Innuos factory tour starts off in a fascinating part of the world–Faro, Portugal, at the southwestern tip of the Iberian peninsula, a relatively short distance from the Spanish border, Gibraltar, the entry into the Mediterranean Sea and even the continent of Africa. In mid-October, Faro was warm and sunny and full of palm trees, and still so full of British tourists that all of the locals automatically spoke English to this pasty-faced guy from Oregon.

Words and Photos by Marc Phillips

I’ve been considering an Innuos factory tour since pre-Covid, when I first met Innuos’ Nuno Vitorino and Amelia Santos at the very last Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, the one at the Gaylord. I approached Scot Hull in a crowd at the hotel bar and he immediately pointed me out and volunteered, “Marc’ll go to Portugal!” I replied, of course, that I would love to visit Portugal. When should I start packing my bags?

Four years later, I stepped off a plane in Faro and I looked around and instantly realized I was in a very new place in the world, much different from any other place I’ve visited. I have a tendency to fall in love with every country I visit, but this time I was swept off my feet the first few hours.

faro portugal
The view from my balcony at the EVA hotel.

My time in Portugal was split equally between touring the Innuos factory and falling in love with the food, nightlife and atmosphere in Faro. This is a vibrant, exciting town as well as a safe one, as is most of Portugal. Inside the Innuos factory, however, it’s clear that this is a successful and growing company, just a few years old, and everyone takes their job very seriously despite their extremely friendly manner and generous smiles.

When you enter the Innuos factory offices, you’ll immediately see the current product line-up–this static display is very similar to the ones you’ll find in an Innuos exhibit room at a high-end audio show. Then you enter the main office, where the part of the team is focused on everything from software to sales to customer service. Innuos is constantly busy with improvements to their world-class music servers and streamers, but there’s an interesting twist to customer service with the Feedback Zone, a customer portal where users can make suggestions to the company about product features and the user interface.

innuos factory lobby


innuos factory tour

When a user makes a contribution to this virtual suggestion box, the idea is handed off to an appropriate member of the team for further investigation. (It can be anyone within the company, depending on the suggestion.) While my first instinct, based on my own experiences on the business side of high-end audio, is that many customer suggestions turn out to be completely unreasonable, Innuos takes a very different approach. They treat all of this feedback seriously and try to resolve the issues the best that they can. Nuno showed me the Feedback Zone interface on his computer, and many suggestions from Innuos owners have been implemented simply because the company is that committed to its customers.

clean room

That theme of seriousness and thoroughness continues as you enter into the assembly area, which follows ESD (electrostatic discharge) protocols. I donned a lab coat, strapped grounding strips to my shoes, and I had to test myself for static electricity every time and walked in and out of the room. Clean rooms are fairly standard for high-end audio manufacturers, but the Innuos factory took it to a level I haven’t seen before. (The last time I visited a clean room at a high-end audio factory, there were no such precautions in place–leading to one journalist in our tour group to suggest the place would get the Silkwood treatment the minute we left.)

Why? Because it is imperative that no static electricity is transferred to any of the parts that go into an Innuos music server or streamer. It turns out that static electricity is a slow and silent killer for parts with tolerances this exact, especially with such precision parts as clocks. (The US-made clocks used by Innuos are among the most precise devices ever used in a commercial product.) Static doesn’t cause immediate failures–it happens over time, and the next thing you know you have a $20,000 music server that no longer works. That’s why strict ESD protocols are observed in all assembly areas in the Innuos factory, and especially in the room designated for repairs and upgrades.

innuos factory tour

grounding strip for esd

innuos factory tour

statement top plate


Amelia Santos and Nuno Vitorino, both engineers, own Innuos. They both came from the corporate world, working on an international scale. While talking to them during the Innuos factory tour, it’s clear that this new autonomy allows them to pursue their objectives as far as possible without having to compromise with outside forces–other than the marketplace, of course. (By the way, “Innuos” is a portmanteau of “innovation” and “OS,” as in operating system.)

They are also married, something they prefer to downplay. Still, it’s wonderful to see them completely submerged in the development of their technologies, making some of the most complex and precise gear in the industry–and then leave the office to pick the kids up from school. Innuos is also deeply involved with the community, providing scholarships and supporting institutions that mentor underprivileged children toward professional careers, and helping their own employees continue their educations. Even at the cutting edge of technology, I thought in passing, there are still human beings behind it, living their lives. Sounds a little corny, but that’s exactly what I thought at the time.

The “project” that became Innuos started in 2009. But the actual company began in 2016–just seven years ago. While there are 45 people working at Innuos, they are spread throughout the world with offices in Portugal and the UK, and individuals placed in US, Austria and France. (As the infrastructure of Innuos grows and strengthens, the company will begin to focus on Asian markets.) Innuos products are available in 45 countries, coincidentally, but so far the company works directly with dealers and only a handful of distributors. The company is also proud of partnerships with other high-end audio brands throughout the world, which is perhaps the reason you see Innuos music servers in so many exhibit rooms.

nuno vitorini
Nuno Vitorino
amelia santos
Amelia Santos

innuos factory tour

Before, during and after the Innuos factory tour, I wound up spending a significant amount of time in their dedicated sound room which, once again, closely resembles the Innuos room at a high-end audio show. In fact, I’m sure that’s where I’ve seen much of this gear before–Audiovector speakers, Gryphon electronics and cables, Chord Electronics DAC, The Chord Company Cables, Isotek Power Conditioner and Artesania Rack. This system was detailed and informative while freely expressing its effortless and seamless personality. (Yes, I just anthropomorphized audio gear.)

This, in a nutshell, is why I enjoy going into the Innuos room at the shows–the system has always been meticulously set up to reveal all of the sonic differences during their always informative A/B comparisons. The sound room in the Innuos factory, of course, was designed with far more purpose than a typical hotel room. Needless to say, the room acoustics were extraordinary. I was able to hear clear differences between all of the products Innuos builds–including the PhoenixNet ethernet switch. If you’re curious about how these devices perform, the Innuos factory is the place to find out.

innuos factory tour

innuos sound room

innuos factory tour


I walked away from the Innuos factory tour with a sense of excitement, that I understood far more about modern digital audio technologies than I did when I walked in. No, I’m still not an expert. But I’m currently reviewing the Innuos Pulsar network streamer ($7,999 USD), and before I left I was enjoying its seamless user interface as well as its stunning sound quality. When I returned from my road trip, I immediately headed back to the Pulsar and listened to it with new ears, so to speak. I had a renewed sense of appreciation for it–what it does, and how it does it so well.

In fact, I’m so enamored with the Pulsar that I’m going to try to keep it around for a while. It’s enhanced my enjoyment and my understanding of streaming music, and I may never use my laptop as a digital source again. Thanks goes to the folks at Innuos for such an informative and fun visit. And if you’ve never been to Portugal, I strongly recommend that you do at least once in your life. I can’t wait to go back one day.

innuos staff

clean room

innuos factory tour

innuos pulsar at home

innuos factory tour