Author Topic: ifi Zen DAC Signature Edition  (Read 2795 times)

Offline XL1000

ifi Zen DAC Signature Edition
« on: November 10, 2021, 07:38:30 PM »
Ok, so Amanda from Audio Exchange calls me to say ifi Streamer has arrived.
Excited I rush over to take a look and immediately Iím a little disappointed, not because there is anything wrong with the streamer, but more because I had expectations beyond what this product offers. I want a full size component with an OLED display.
So, @Francois comes up and chatting as we usually do, he shows me the Zen DAC Signature V2 that arrived and for shits and giggles I take one, along with the 4.4mm to XLR ifi cable. Now, having recently paid more than double for a Denafrips DAC, I was really not expecting much from this DAC. Man was I wrong.


I thought it would be ok, and Iíd use this ifi until my Pontus arrives (not yet ordered) and then move it to the office.
Synergy is obviously a big factor and this DAC, together with my Valve Audio Predator and Lyras seem to be an amazing match.
Perhaps the Pontus order will wait, this small ifi Zen DAC Signature V2 has honestly astounded me for the money.
I had the Neo DSD for a short time, but in fairness, it was paired with a Marantz power amp, and it was not nearly as impressive as this combination is. This is a winner for me. Iím thinking Iím likely to be late to bed tonight and even later to work tomorrow morning. Thank you Francois for the recommendation, Iím still a little shell shocked. More listening 👂 will reveal more over time, but this is a great DAC.
Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. Plato

Offline muddda

Re: ifi Zen DAC Signature Edition
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2021, 09:05:17 PM »
Yip, sounds about right ...

I have the signature version as well , and well lets just say its nothing short of amazing ... you going to need to empty the bank account to beat it ... and even then, it will be so marginal, golden ears territory  ...

I use it with headphones ... might try it with hifi if Im feeling energetic ...

The v2 is true MQA, but having the version 1 I aint complaining   :cool:





Offline WarrenD

Re: ifi Zen DAC Signature Edition
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2021, 07:33:45 AM »
I have both the Zen Signature and the NEO DSD. I had a similar experience however I bought the Neo after experiencing how good the Zen Signature was and was expecting everything that the Zen was but a step up. I similarly disappointed, however its not the DAC but the power supply IFI include with the NEO that's the problem. Even the Zen comes with IFI Xpower which is better than the NEO's standard Ipower. I tried the Xpower on the NEO and already heard an improvement,  I then purchased the Elite Power which is IFI's linear power supply and the NEO became a wonderfully different DAC and in my opinion significantly better than the Zen.

@XL1000 If you are interested to hear what the NEO really can sound like drop me a PM. I have the Valve Audio Exclame and the IFI Stream so you should get a good idea of what the NEO may sound like in your own system.

Offline XL1000

Re: ifi Zen DAC Signature Edition
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2021, 08:11:17 AM »
@WarrenD - Thanks mate, I may just take you up on that, or just pick up an Elite ifi Power Supply and Neo from Francois, as he is around the corner from me.
The other reason I returned the Neo was that the display had been damaged in transit. I was working blind and that was very frustrating.
Keen to see the improvement, it's just disappointing at this price point that the Neo does not come standard with the power supply or Balanced cables.
The 4.4mm to XLR also set me back R2K so that was an unexpected expense, but, the cable is gorgeous and something about silver plated connections...😉
Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. Plato

Offline XL1000

Re: ifi Zen DAC Signature Edition
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2021, 01:28:11 PM »
So I added the iFi Streamer to the Zen DAC Signature V2 and currently have Cowboy Junkies flowing like smooth  silk over me.  Following the baseline is gratifying and I did not have this experience over USB from my aging Mac Mini late 2012 Server, i7 16GB Ram.
The soundstage is noticeably wider and definitely more defined. Love the symbols and the voicing on track two off the Master Quality The Trinity Sessions. Everything is just better. Set the streamer to dedicated mode of Tidal or Roon and it simply gets on with delivering the music to you in the most enjoyable manner.


Should you be in the market for a top notch DAC, I have no hesitation in recommending the iFi Zen DAC Signature V2 and then pairing it with the iFi Streamer for a total solution. Even at low listening levels this is a seriously good setup and value for money second to none.


As a recent comparison I listened to the Node 2 and this is subjective but the Zen, itís just better. Also better than the Ares II so no need for me to have to order a Pontus  :angel:


Convenience too as I donít have to run my PC to enjoy the music either as Tidal has my playlists and Master Quality albums by the dozen. Does not mean I am not using the Mac, I am. Itís just that itís nice to not have to always boot up and load Roon if just wanting music whilst working in my room.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2021, 01:53:53 PM by XL1000 »
Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. Plato

Offline Francois

Re: ifi Zen DAC Signature Edition
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2021, 07:37:44 PM »
I also had this strange experience! I streamed via MAC and also Intel Laptop, yet the streamer sounds better ?! Very much better than the Intel Laptop.


Is it because the whole Operating system is removed ? Sorter internal paths/circuits insed Streamer ?


One obvious thought that pops up is Power Supply and hard drives, cooling fans etc.


Cheap and Nasty USB in computer....


Ok....I think I answered my own question....  :facepalm: :ROFLMAO: :nutter:
I was born analog, not digit by digit....

Offline GECO

Re: ifi Zen DAC Signature Edition
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2021, 10:00:25 PM »
The streamer will sound better if the clock is the same as the source material. Multiples of 44.1 and 48. Anything else just doesn't sound right. You might as well be using a stock raspberry Pi. The there is the issue of parasitic noise. PC and MACs aren't engineered to be digital source players

Sent from my SM-G975F using Tapatalk


Offline XL1000

Re: ifi Zen DAC Signature Edition
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2021, 08:08:40 AM »
The streamer will sound better if the clock is the same as the source material. Multiples of 44.1 and 48. Anything else just doesn't sound right. You might as well be using a stock raspberry Pi. The there is the issue of parasitic noise. PC and MACs aren't engineered to be digital source players

Sent from my SM-G975F using Tapatalk



Hence the need for Roon to recommend an Intel NUC 10th Gen i7 as its core platform running Linux. This must have a positive impact on reducing the "Noise" in the chain.
I just really love that Tidal and others can conect without the need of a PC. When the Mac is in use, it's also streaming wirelessly to the streamer and then USB from Streamer to DAC.
Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. Plato

Offline Music_Lover

Re: ifi Zen DAC Signature Edition
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2021, 03:07:42 PM »
What's the difference between the Zen DAC Signature V2 and the Zen DAC V2?

Has anyone compared them sonically?

Is there a way to control the volume on these units remotely?
Midrand

Offline WarrenD

Re: ifi Zen DAC Signature Edition
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2021, 03:23:31 PM »
The Signature drops the headphone amp but gets better capacitors and a FEMTO clock. I've not listened to the regular Zen DAC but theoretically the Signature should sound better.

You can't control the volume on both units remotely.

Offline AlleyCat

Re: ifi Zen DAC Signature Edition
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2021, 03:44:40 PM »
Stereophile, Jullie Mullins reviews the IfI ZEN DAC Signature V2 and ZEN DAC CAN Signature in the Jan '22 issue (released yesterday).

Her Conclusion :

"I was surprised that these ZEN Signature sets, used as directed, produced too much volume with the recommended headphones. Once that was fixed, with the iFi iEMatch attenuator, the ZEN Signature sets delivered highly resolved, clean, pristine, dynamic sound. The amplifiers are powerful. Backgrounds black as new moon night time sky brought musical details to the foreground.
These two components sounded more expensive than they are and offer impressive sound quality - and a bit of style - for not a lot of money,"

I don't own a single product of theirs,the more I read, the more impressed I am. Seems like @Francois (Audio Exchange) is on a good wicket with their products.
"Not everything meaningful is measurable, and not everything measurable is meaningful" - Floyd Toole

Offline Music_Lover

Re: ifi Zen DAC Signature Edition
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2021, 04:35:04 PM »
Seems like @Francois (Audio Exchange) is on a good wicket with their products.

Great service and very fair prices as well.
Midrand

Offline Francois

Re: ifi Zen DAC Signature Edition
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2021, 09:46:40 PM »
I am rather on a very hot plate  :giggle:
Unexpected orders mean I import now every 2 weeks. Top sellers are the Zen stream, Zen DAC and then Zen Blue
And then the ifi Pro - the master!


I expect a range coming in the R20k-R40k price range. There is a black hole between the NEO at R16k (Damn exchange rate) and ifi Pro Signature (R65k).  :thinking: :thinking:


A thing that shocked me, well a client shocked me. The iFi Go Blu.....works so amazing in cars! especially any car with AUX input. Client installed it in his M3, I was amazed that suddenly his system sounded 2x better at least...Im going to do the same. and 9h battery life is just obese  :goofy:


Gosh-there I go and let my own excitement turn into a sales blurp.....apologies  :facepalm:
I was born analog, not digit by digit....

Offline Music_Lover

Re: ifi Zen DAC Signature Edition
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2021, 11:36:17 AM »
These iFi products are really very good. I also have the Zen Blue which works a treat.

I do have a complaint though in that their Zen DACs do not seem to fully complement the other members of the Zen family. The Blue and Stream offer coaxial and USB outputs but both the Zen DACs are single input USB DACs.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2021, 11:43:26 AM by Music_Lover »
Midrand

Offline jvr

Re: ifi Zen DAC Signature Edition
« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2021, 08:14:11 PM »
I just stumbled onto this:
https://ifi-audio.com/products/zen-stream/

The answer to our streaming woes ito compatibility issues? Apparently it does Apple high-res, Tidal and mostly everything else..
Lend me your ears