The iFi Zen DAC is a powerful, versatile desktop DAC with a small footprint. In addition to it's smooth DAC it features a capable amp that can power a good range of IEMs and over-ear headphones. Team it up with the iFi Zen CAN for the incredible entry level audiophile power and versatility.
You can read more about the Zen DAC in our Zen CAN Review.
From iFi Audio
This superb hi-res USB DAC/headphone amp delivers a level of specification and performance that punches above its super-affordable price tag. Compact enough to use as a USB DAC/amp on your work desk with your much-loved headphones. Stylish enough to use in your home system as a USB DAC. Just add your favorite active speakers or amp.
The ZEN DAC supports PCM and DXD to 24-bit/384kHZ, DSD256 and MQA. DSD remains ‘bit-perfect’ thanks to the True Native Burr Brown chip design. Our R&D maxes out the circuitry with bespoke, easy to install firmware to bring you the joyous musicality of hi-res. The ethereal music quality will leave you grinning ear to ear.
We’ve used a balanced design for the analogue stage – rare and not found at this price point. This makes it pretty special for the best sound quality. With super-low noise performance, it will remain quiet even in noisy situations such as yachts or RVs. The ZEN DAC sports Pentaconn 4.4mm balanced outputs at both the front and back. On the front, there’s also the popular 6.3mm headphone socket. You get both headphone options.
Switch effortlessly between ‘variable’ and ‘fixed’. Set to ‘Variable,’ use the ZEN DAC as a pre-amp to feed a power amp or active speakers. On ‘Fixed’ to bypass the volume control. Connect to an external pre-amp or integrated amp.
Our headphone amp has PowerMatch – switchable gain to perfectly match your headphones. IEMs are high-sensitivity, Leave PowerMatch at its lower setting for hiss-free listening. On/over-ear types with relatively low impedance require more oomph – press PowerMatch to increase the level of drive.
The ZEN DAC boasts TrueBass. This proprietary tech is a switchable ‘bass boost’ operating in the analogue domain. There’s no DSP with iFi gear. TrueBass enhances the bass but does not muddy the mid-range. Perfect for use with IEMs or open-back headphones which often lose out on bass. So, in the words of the great Eric Clapton and from the film Back to the Future, Heaven is One Step Away. Go find your ZEN.
|Input||USB3.0 B Socket (USB2.0 compatible)|
|Formats||44.1/48/88.2/96/176.4/192/384kHz PCM 2.8/3.1/5.6/6.2/11.2/12.4MHz DSD 353/384KHz DXD|
|DAC||Bit-Perfect DSD & DXD DAC by Burr Brown|
|Output||Audio RCA (UnBAL) — 2.1V fixed
1V / 3.3V max. (variable)
4.4mm Pentaconn (BAL) — 4.2V fixed
2V / 6.2V max. (variable)
|Zout||<= 100 Ohm (UnBAL)
<= 200 Ohm (BAL)
|SNR||< -116dB(A) @ 0dBFS (UnBAL/BAL)|
|DNR||> 116dB(A) @ -60dBFS (UnBAL/BAL)|
|THD+N||< 0.0015% @ 0dBFS (UnBAL/BAL)|
|Output||6.3mm (UnBAL) — 1V / 3.3V max.
12 Ohm - 300 Ohm Headphone
4.4mm Pentaconn (BAL) — 2V / 6.2V max.
12 Ohm - 600 Ohm Headphone
|Output Power||UnBAL > 280mW @ 32R, > 36mW @ 300R
BAL > 380mW @ 50R, > 70mW @ 600R
|Output Impedance||< 1 Ω (UnBAL/BAL)|
|THD & N||< 0.005% (125mW @ 32R)|
|SNR||> 113dBA (3.3V UnBAL / 6.2V BAL)|
|Power consumption||< 1.5W|
|Dimensions||117(l) x 100(w) x 30(h)mm|
|Weight||491g (1.08 lbs)|
|Warranty period||12 months|
Customer ReviewsWrite a review
So far, so GREAT!
Just installed. Powered by the PC’s USB so far for now.
May get a 5v power supply soon so as to allow the USB to focus on data.
I’m planning on experimenting with different cabling strategies soon.
The first impressions are so good, it’s hardly worth the effort...
I got an adapter from Amazon to allow the Balanced 4.4mm output to convert to an unbalanced 3.5mm stereomini female. This is what’s now feeding my desktop Klipsch THX 2.1 speakers with the setting to a fixed output allowing for the Klipsch volume control to be the only one next to the PC’s settings.
Other options to try are the included 6.3mm to 3.5mm headphone output adapter, and then an adapter cable, also from Amazon, male RCA pair to a female 3.5mm.
Software and Drivers were updated easy-enough from ifi’s site.
Love the color-coded light ring indicator for streaming rate!
Very well made unit, looks unique with the brushed aluminum face and rear panels and the micro-textured sparked dark grey main body surround surface. Solid feel with thoughtful grippy rubber feet. My concern is the complete lack of any ventilation whatsoever; perhaps it’s just not necessary.
Just in the time of writing the review, 5-8 tracks in, the soundstage is creepy-precise, noise floor is only allowing me to be annoyed with my PC’c fan. With the speakers at each end of dual monitors, it makes for a perfect equilateral triangle with my position, about 3.5’ to me from each speaker, as well as 3.5’ from each other. About 2’ from the wall.
The output gain must be quite high as the Klipsch’s effective volume is restricted to: “zero volume”, down to full counterclockwise-lock at about 7 on the dial. Then, up to 8 on the dial for a quiet but usable volume. Then, only up to 9 on the dial is PLENTY loud.
Anything higher is just stupid-loud! May need to fiddle with some settings to get this less sensitive. So, much more delicate control when switched to variable and using the Zen’s wonderfully precise knob. So much to try!
BLOOM was great with quick shipping, well protected boxing, and having a handwritten thanks note in the packaging list with a KitKat treat accompanied with the owner’s business card. That is truly premium-level pro client service! Great job!
Best bang-for-the-buck of any audio system’s components purchased, ever.