iFi Audio's ZEN DAC 3 Launches, Promises a Refreshingly New Audio Experience

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(April 17, 2024) From digital input to analog output, iFi Audio's new DAC converter has a little something for everyone. ZEN DAC 3 is crafted with a sleek, user-friendly design that can effortlessly fit into any home setup, from compact desk spaces to sophisticated audio racks or gaming rigs. Equipped with both a 4.4mm balanced output and a traditional 6.3mm headphone socket, the device can handle a variety of personal audio demands. For those with more advanced setups, the rear of the unit features a 4.4mm output that can be connected to amplifiers or active speakers equipped with balanced inputs, extending its utility to a full home audio system.

Under the hood, the ZEN DAC 3 utilizes a Burr-Brown DAC chip known for its fluid, highly musical sound quality. The DAC supports a wide range of audio formats, including PCM up to 768kHz and DSD up to 512, and is MQA friendly. This variety ensures that whether you are streaming Hi-Res audio from TIDAL or playing files from your collection, the ZEN DAC 3 processes them with utmost fidelity, maintaining the 'bit-perfect' quality of DSD files.

The analog stage of the ZEN DAC 3 is where it really shines. It offers a balanced design rarely found in DACs at this price point and integrates high-quality components like C0G capacitors from TDK. For headphone users, the device includes a switchable gain feature called PowerMatch which optimizes the output to suit the sensitivity of your headphones, ensuring optimal sound whether you're using in-ear monitors or over-ear headphones.

iFi doesn't just stop at high-quality hardware; the ZEN DAC 3 also carries a low-end feature that lets you tweak output to your liking. XBass+, an analog processing feature that enhances lower frequencies, is perfect for users of open-back headphones that might lack bass. iFi says it restores bass output without clouding the midrange, crafting a cleaner and more balanced audio attack.

Bonus features include a variable line output that can be adjusted to act as a preamp, allowing it to connect directly to a power amplifier or active speakers. It also offers a fixed output mode for when you're connecting directly to an integrated amp and a single USB-C input for simple connectivity and overvoltage protection.

Priced at $229, the iFi ZEN DAC 3 makes affordability a priority. It's available for purchase now through iFi's website and selected retailers.
 

Sonnie

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If using Dirac Live, it makes running something like this fruitless, doesn't it?
 

Todd Anderson

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I think so… I’m not sure there’s a good use case for using this between a source and a processor… unless the processor is set to pass through. But even then, I doubt it would be worth it
 
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