(October 16, 2019) Right on cue, iFi Audio has officially unveiled its second new portable Hi-Fi audio solution, the ZEN DAC USB DAC/Headphone amplifier. Much like its sibling, ZEN Blue, this space-friendly device is aggressively priced at $129.
ZEN DAC is intended to act as a middle man between a PC, Mac, or handheld device and a music fan’s headphones, designed to offer superior digital to analog processing for stellar personal audio. Secondarily, it can be integrated with a home audio system to act as a USB DAC with or without volume control functionality.
The ZEN DAC’s musicality is anchored by a digital stage featuring a Burr-Brown DAC that offers two separate pathways for PCM and DSD audio. Designated as “True Native” architecture, the DAC chip allows DSD audio to stay bit-perfect from processing to analog conversion. From a more technical perspective, the chip supports PCM and DXD audio up to 24-bit/384kHz with DSD sampling rates from 2.8MHz to 12.4MHz.
The included XMOS chip, which processes input, is programmed by iFi engineers, shunning the chip’s OEM firmware for a tailored audio experience. Of course, the ability to update firmware allows ZEN DAC to be fine-tuned and optimized, while also providing owners access to different firmware versions that contain unique digital filters.
ZEN’s analog stage is balanced by design, relying on high-quality parts such as C0G capacitors from TDK and a low-noise power supply from Texas Instruments. And iFi gives owners access to an adjustable output gain for mating the onboard amp with a range of headphone sensitivities, while elegantly boosting bass performance with TrueBass technology.
Connectivity-wise, the unit’s frontside presents 4.4mm and 6.3mm sockets, while the back houses a balanced 4.4mm output, stereo RCA outputs, and an asynchronous USB Type B digital input (USB 3.0 and 2.0 compatible).
ZEN DAC is available for purchase now. For more information, visit https://ifi-audio.com.