The iFi ZEN DAC encourages you to chill with your music at a price that won't make you sweat. Doubling as a USB DAC for active speakers as well as an ultra-compact headphone amplifier, the 1.38 x 6.22 x 3.93-inch (HWD) unit features a balanced analog stage as well as switchable balanced and single-ended outputs for extended flexibility. Yet the connectivity pales in comparison to its sonic acumen, guided by a Burr-Brown chip, in-house-programmed XMOS chip, and True Native Architecture that reproduce high-res 24-bit/384kHz PCM, bit-perfect DSD up to DSD256, and MQA in resplendent fashion. Credit the balanced design that incorporates high-quality circuit components, including TDK C0G capacitors, a Texas Instruments low-noise power supply IC, and a first-rate analog volume pot. What's more, extensive clock-locking exists throughout the digital stage to eradicate jitter.
iFi also ensured ZEN DAC stays up to date as technology advances. You can even download and install different versions of iFi firmware to experiment with different digital filters. Similarly flexible, a surfeit of connections – Pentagon 4.4mm balanced outputs on the front and back, designed to enable balanced signal transfer between compact products that cannot accommodate traditional XLR connections – abet a USB Type-B input, single-ended 6.3mm headphone socket, and single-ended RCA outputs. Every line-level output can be switched between variable and fixed, further enhancing ZEN DAC's versatility. The variable setting applies volume control to the audio signal, enabling ZEN DAC to perform as a preamplifier feeding a power amp or active speakers. The fixed option bypasses the volume control, fixing the output at 4.2V (balanced) or 2.1V (single-ended) for connection to an external preamp or integrated amp.
A mirror match with other ZEN Series products, ZEN DAC comes housed in an aluminum enclosure and touts an aluminum volume control for tactile feel. For another practical aesthetics touch, the LED changes color to indicate the sampling rate. For the price, this unit cannot be beat.
Input: USB3.0 B Socket (USB2.0 compatible)
DAC: Bit-Perfect DSD & DXD DAC by Burr Brown
Audio RCA (UnBAL)
1V/3.3V max. (variable)
4.4mm Pentaconn (BAL)
2V/6.2V max. (variable)
<= 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)
6.3mm (UnBAL) 1V/3.3V max., 12 Ohm - 300 Ohm
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
Headphone Output Impedance: <1 Ω (UnBAL/BAL)
Headphone THD & N: <0.005% (125mW @ 32R)
Headphone SNR: >113dBA (3.3VUnBAL/6.2VBAL)
No Signal: ~0.5W
Max Signal: ~2.5W
Dimensions (LWH): 4.6" x 3.9" x 1.2"