Author Topic: Help needed: ifi ZEN DAC v1 to v2 upgrade problems  (Read 435 times)

Offline Tonteldoos

Help needed: ifi ZEN DAC v1 to v2 upgrade problems
« on: July 21, 2021, 12:02:17 PM »
I have been absolutely loving the iFi ZEN DAC, so I figured that an upgrade from v1 to v2 would be a sensible upgrade for low cost. Francois very kindly assisted with the upgrade, so it has been an easy switch.

I can report that the v2 offers a subtle upgrade over the v1. But... that's when it's playing. So far it has been really frustrating. For now, I still believe this is a software rather than hardware issue, which is why I'm asking for help here before trying to exchange the device itself.

My standard setup was as follows (and it has been working beautifully):
  • ifi ZEN DAC v1 (with GTO filter installed and iPower power supply)
  • plugged into Windows 10 64-bit laptop via Dell docking station (i.e. the ZEN DAC is plugged into the docking station, not directly into the laptop)
  • Tributaries Series 6 USB2.0 cable between dock and DAC
  • Tidal desktop app for music playback, with iTunes (Apple Music) as backup

I thought swopping the ZEN DAC v1 for v2 would be straightforward, but it hasn't been. I have experienced the following issues since swopping the devices:
  • Playback through Tidal halts intermittently - several times even during ONE TRACK. The streaming doesn't stop - I can see the track still playing
    To fix it, I have to click on audio settings and toggle "Exclusive Mode" off an on. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. The same happens on iTunes, but there you don't have the option of exclusive mode, so I have to restart iTunes.
  • Every time I close and reopen the Tidal desktop app, the audio settings reset to "disabled".
    So I have to re-enable Exclusive Mode, Force Volume and Passthrough MQA - every single time before I start listening. It was not like this with the v1.
  • When I try to upgrade the firmware from v7.20 to v7.20C (GTO filter), it fails. Every time.

I have tried the following so far:
  • Uninstalled the iFi device in Device Manager (I haven't been able to find directions to remove it from the registry entirely)
  • Uninstalled and reinstalled the iFi drivers (v3.20)
  • Uninstalled and reinstalled the Tidal desktop app
  • Cleared the Tidal cache and restored the app (under troubleshooting settings)
  • Tried the supplied USB3.0 cable (rather than the Tributaries cable)
  • Tried plugging the device directly into the laptop, rather than the docking station

NOTHING HAS WORKED to resolve the issues. I have logged support cases with both Tidal and iFi. iFi suggested that I try the firmware upgrade on another PC, which I haven't been able to try yet. Tidal have asked for the app logs, but I haven't seen any meaningful response as yet.

It is so bad that I have now gone back to plugging my headphones into my phone, because listening uninterrupted on PC is impossible, even for one track.

Has anybody experienced similar issues - especially with a v1 to v2 upgrade? Or have any advice for this?
« Last Edit: July 21, 2021, 12:05:09 PM by Tonteldoos »

Offline Drifter

  • Commercial Member
  • Trade Count: (+30)
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,864
  • Total likes: 567
  • otherside of the Boerewors Gordyn ...
Re: Help needed: ifi ZEN DAC v1 to v2 upgrade problems
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2021, 12:20:14 PM »
I use V5.3C of the driver, also the one with the updated filter.
My set up similar, i.e. ifi via USB to a Win 10 PC. I also use the iPower and an Audioquest USB cable.

I still have version 1 of the DAC BUT, I experienced the same issue.
Resolved it by maxing out the buffer on the ifi control panel.
I also use Tidal (and Roon). On the Tidal app I do us exclusive mode.

Below is the settings that I use:

tcf locations

Can you confirm your USB streaming MODE and ASIO Buffer size?

Offline Tonteldoos

Re: Help needed: ifi ZEN DAC v1 to v2 upgrade problems
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2021, 12:23:14 PM »
Can you confirm your USB streaming MODE and ASIO Buffer size?

Awesome feedback, thanks! Mine is set to Safe (streaming) and Auto (ASIO buffer size).

I'm going to try and see if that helps.

Offline Drifter

  • Commercial Member
  • Trade Count: (+30)
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,864
  • Total likes: 567
  • otherside of the Boerewors Gordyn ...
Re: Help needed: ifi ZEN DAC v1 to v2 upgrade problems
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2021, 12:25:01 PM »
Awesome feedback, thanks! Mine is set to Safe (streaming) and Auto (ASIO buffer size).

I'm going to try and see if that helps.

Reset your laptop after changing the settings and make sure after restart that they were stored successfully.


Offline Tonteldoos

Re: Help needed: ifi ZEN DAC v1 to v2 upgrade problems
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2021, 02:14:59 PM »
No difference, I'm afraid.

iFi Support finally responded to me. Said I must try to update the firmware on another PC before they can assist me. So will have to do that in the evening.

Offline GoodEnoughGear

Re: Help needed: ifi ZEN DAC v1 to v2 upgrade problems
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2021, 02:30:56 PM »
A couple of thoughts:

Does the V1 still behave properly if you swap it back in?
Can you try WASAPI as opposed to ASIO and see if that makes a difference?
Mobile: LG V60, CA Andromeda
Portable: LH Labs GO2A SE, KEF M500
Home: Soekris DAC2541, Genelec 8030+7050, MHA100, HD600

Offline Tonteldoos

Re: Help needed: ifi ZEN DAC v1 to v2 upgrade problems
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2021, 02:41:38 PM »
Does the V1 still behave properly if you swap it back in?

I traded it in, so don't have it anymore.

Can you try WASAPI as opposed to ASIO and see if that makes a difference?

I wish I could say I knew how to do that or even what it meant... but I don't....  :nfi:
How would I go about that?

Offline Tonteldoos

Re: Help needed: ifi ZEN DAC v1 to v2 upgrade problems
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2021, 11:58:19 PM »
OK.... some good news.

Tonight I installed the ifi ZEN DAC v2 on my home PC. It was a completely clean install. I plugged in the ZEN DAC and then installed the drivers. The driver install asked me for a reboot (which it didn't on my laptop when I re-installed for the v2).

I then successfully installed the 7.2C firmware on the DAC. I tested it quite a bit, and didn't experience any of the playback issues I had on my laptop. It was playing very well on my home PC.

I then shifted the ZEN DAC v2 back to my laptop, testing it plugged straight into the laptop with the stock USB cable (no docking station). When I first plugged it in, it looked like it found new hardware, and then it played perfectly.

Once that was working, I moved it to my workstation proper - so the ZEN DAC v2 is now plugged into my Dell docking station with the Tributaries USB cable, and the iPower is back in too.

So far so good! It is playing beautifully on iTunes and the dropped playback on Tidal is also gone. And the 7.2C firmware (with GTO filter) sounds fantastic.

I am still experiencing significant issues with Tidal - but now it seems specific to streaming and the app itself. Tidal still defaults to the "disabled" settings, so every time I open the app I have to re-enable passthrough and exclusive use. And the streaming is terrible - it halts before each song and midway through the song. But now it is clear that it is Tidal that stops streaming, it's not like before when I could see the song playing but without any audio.

My gut feel is still that this was because I swapped the v1 for the v2 without a clean install, rather than because of driver/hardware clashes (which is what iFi Support thinks it is). But what do I know?

If Tidal keeps performing this badly I might have to drop the subscription. Life's too short. And hopefully Apple will eventually bring Lossless to iTunes too.

Edit: I just disabled hardware acceleration in the Tidal app. It looks like it made a massive improvement to the fits and stops. Will monitor it tomorrow... hopefully with a day of peaceful listening.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2021, 12:14:27 AM by Tonteldoos »

Online Trompie67

Re: Help needed: ifi ZEN DAC v1 to v2 upgrade problems
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2021, 05:56:44 AM »

*snip*

If Tidal keeps performing this badly I might have to drop the subscription. Life's too short. And hopefully Apple will eventually bring Lossless to iTunes too.

*snip*


Apple Music offers lossless streaming already - three different tiers: 16/44.1, 24/48 and top tier 48/196. Added bonus: No MQA Malarkey.

iTunes offers ALAC codec as lossless storage/playback for your own storage. On my PC all music is stored in ALAC for local listening or syncing with iPhone/iPod. On media server the same files are stored as FLAC for local streaming in the office/listening room.
"Trumpets are a bit more adventurous; they're drunk! Trumpeters are generally drunk. It wets their whistle."
Paul McCartney

With thanks to F_D for this pearl of wisdom!

Offline Agaton Sax

Re: Help needed: ifi ZEN DAC v1 to v2 upgrade problems
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2021, 07:55:33 AM »
Quote
Apple Music offers lossless streaming already - three different tiers: 16/44.1, 24/48 and top tier 48/196. Added bonus: No MQA Malarkey.

That is true . Apple High Res music is there, right there on my phone screen, but to get it from there to a DAC here seems to be virtually impossible. Oh yes, and you seem to need the latest Apple devices to make use of it ( Ka-Ching! Apple wins again). That is,it seems, to get CD quality from the latest Apple TV that only has HDMI. Sure, it is high res on your phone but to get it off the phone also seems to be a problem.

All this crap seems ,to me at least, to have put Apple further away from the Audiophile than all the pseudo -scientific woffle about MQA. As we are now pilosophyserating about MQA messing with the artist's intent ,how about "Mastered for i-tunes" and Apple Spatial audio?
« Last Edit: July 22, 2021, 07:57:51 AM by Agaton Sax »

Offline Larry

Re: Help needed: ifi ZEN DAC v1 to v2 upgrade problems
« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2021, 08:15:31 AM »

All this crap seems ,to me at least, to have put Apple further away from the Audiophile than all the pseudo -scientific woffle about MQA. As we are now pilosophyserating about MQA messing with the artist's intent ,how about "Mastered for i-tunes" and Apple Spatial audio?

Apple doesn't give two hoots about audiophile users, and don't really care to attract them.  By market share, we are just infinitesimal.  Adding lossless/high res to the service was a matter of flipping a switch to them, and all it does is tick a box on a list of comparisons between Apple Music and other streaming services.

I'm an Apple user, and I like their products.  But only my mobile music Apple device (iPhone)!  Even then its generally Tidal....

Offline Larry

Re: Help needed: ifi ZEN DAC v1 to v2 upgrade problems
« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2021, 08:24:44 AM »
Sorry - I digressed from the the thread  ;)

Offline lanties

  • Trade Count: (+3)
  • AVForums Super Veteran
  • ****
  • Posts: 1,955
  • Total likes: 19
  • Cape Town - Bellville - Protea Valley
Re: Help needed: ifi ZEN DAC v1 to v2 upgrade problems
« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2021, 08:58:00 AM »
Must say I am not experiencing any of the issues with Tidal that some mentioned here. But then I am using it only trough Roon. I do not use any Tidal Apps. I do have it on my phone but just use it to download some music for when I am on the road. I stream Tidal music at least 9 hours a day in my home office.
The correct statement of individual rights is that everyone has the right to an opinion, but crucially, that opinion can be roundly ignored and even made fun of, particularly if it is demonstrably nonsense! - Brian Cox

Offline Tonteldoos

Re: Help needed: ifi ZEN DAC v1 to v2 upgrade problems
« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2021, 09:00:14 AM »
Sorry - I digressed from the the thread  ;)

I would have been more anxious about that if I didn't solve the problem last night!

That is true . Apple High Res music is there, right there on my phone screen, but to get it from there to a DAC here seems to be virtually impossible. Oh yes, and you seem to need the latest Apple devices to make use of it ( Ka-Ching! Apple wins again). That is,it seems, to get CD quality from the latest Apple TV that only has HDMI. Sure, it is high res on your phone but to get it off the phone also seems to be a problem.

All this crap seems ,to me at least, to have put Apple further away from the Audiophile than all the pseudo -scientific woffle about MQA. As we are now pilosophyserating about MQA messing with the artist's intent ,how about "Mastered for i-tunes" and Apple Spatial audio?

I find the same. All good for Apple to offer lossless on the phone, but that's about it. You can only stream it in max 24/48 via AirPlay anyway. And on the phone most people are going to use Bluetooth headphones (compromised) or direct to wired headphones (where you lose the benefit of a DAC/headphone amp). I saw a video showing how to connect the phone with a cable to a hi-res DAC - but you need a special (lightning to female USB A, I think) adapter, and then your phone has to be left near the DAC.

Meanwhile the iTunes desktop app for PC does not support any of these lossless formats. So on the PC, Tidal Hi-Fi still sounds materially better (to me), and MQA even better still (my ears - YMMV).

And I've given a quick listen to "Spatial Audio" on wired headphones, and it sounded like poo compared to hi-res stereo. Meanwhile some non-audiophile friends are going ga-ga for it.  :headbanger:


Offline Francois

Re: Help needed: ifi ZEN DAC v1 to v2 upgrade problems
« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2021, 09:27:06 PM »
@Tonteldoos - Gosh sorry about the issues you experiencing. I use tidal via various Mac's and so far no issues, BUT that doesnt mean there is no issue. If it persists or come back, let me also chat to support ?


Wonder if Apple music via blu-tooth into ifi zen blue will offer higher rates...something Ill investigate. The Zen Blu has state of the art blutooth but still not REAL hires 24/96 Uncompressed  :thinking:
I was born analog, not digit by digit....