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ifi Zen Blue Review (Bluetooth Receiver & DAC)

FeddyLost

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Pretty obvious that analog performance on this isn’t great
For sure.
I suppose it's crappy PS provided, most probably better low noise LPS would improve it.
But LPS will multiply its price as original balanced cable do.
So, i use it with youtube and SQ is totally adequate. Maybe i'll buy v2 into main system later as digital bridge.
 

xema

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amirm

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What balanced outs are there? is it the small connector on the far left? if so what type?
Yes. It is a 4.4 mm Jack used for headphone amps normally.
 

amper42

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My understanding is that the review is for V1.

If you look at the back of the review unit it has a square sticker (QRL code) that only shows up on the version 2 units on the various store sites displaying the back image. The version 1 units do not show the QRL Code.
 

turbotuff

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What affordable DAC would couple well with this unit?
 

trl

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If you look at the back of the review unit it has a square sticker (QRL code) that only shows up on the version 2 units on the various store sites displaying the back image. The version 1 units do not show the QRL Code.
If this is this is true, then @amirm might need to change the title of the review to reflect the V2 test unit.

L.E.: If you look closer to what Amir wrote and to the antenna you will see this is a V1.
 

PeteL

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Read this. Jtest is not a simple sine wave.
https://www.bramjacobse.nl/wordpres...21/04/TN-118_Measuring_Jitter_with_J-Test.pdf
You test digtal outs by 1k thdn, normaly you'll just get the AP's DAC performance, wich is always similar.
But well, bluetooth is shit enough to screw AP's DAC thdn performance though.:confused:
But all measurments of Digital outs with a FFT at 1k are done with the same AP DAC, and still results differs between devices! That said Yes I'd like Jitter tests. Not only Bluetooth can make a digital signal not bit perfect and contain errors, but really I know what you mean, it would not make sense if there is no decoding, but in this case there is.
 

nagster

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Read this. Jtest is not a simple sine wave.
https://www.bramjacobse.nl/wordpres...21/04/TN-118_Measuring_Jitter_with_J-Test.pdf
You test digtal outs by 1k thdn, normaly you'll just get the AP's DAC performance, wich is always similar.
But well, bluetooth is shit enough to screw AP's DAC thdn performance though.:confused:
Thank you.
According to that document, J-Test is a signal for measuring the analog output of a DAC.

I will quote from the introduction.
---
When a digital audio signal with jitter enters a D/A (Digital to Analog) converter, any jitter the converter is unable to correct will manifest itself as defects in the reconstructed analog audio waveform.
Therefore, under certain conditions, it is possible to measure the effect of jitter in the physical digital transport stream by analyzing the analog audio signal at the converter output.

The late Julian Dunn developed a special digital test signal for this purpose called J-test
---
 
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amirm

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You test digtal outs by 1k thdn, normaly you'll just get the AP's DAC performance, wich is always similar.
No AP DAC is used in any of these measurements. Indeed I rarely if ever use that DAC output. If I am testing an analog device like an amplifier, I use its high performance analog waveform generator since it has lower distortion than its DAC. The DAC however is needed when the waveform is complex such as multitone. But again for testing digital products like DACs and this BT receiver, no DAC is involved as the device receives a digit bitstream to play.
 

ShiZo

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Are all of LDAC implantations the same? For instance, would my d90se benefit from this or is the integrated bluetooth the same?
 

GWolfman

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An additional version with USB input would be nice!
 

bravomail

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Conclusions

I am going to recommend the ifi Zen Blue for its excellent digital pipeline. Company has also been very good to work with over the the last few months which I appreciate.

With fully digital pipeline there shouldn't be any distortions/noise. Only the ones introduced by codec compression/decompression. Good achievement - but it should be achievable by every good company.
Then, in light of this, it is a real shame, at this price point, they didn't put a good DAC for analog tract. I cannot recommend this product for anyone. It is "half-baked", the engineer who developed this should be fired. Did the company test it? What did they think? And they still released it to the market?! Whoa!
 

iFi audio

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Thanks for your review Amir and thank you all for your comments. Our aim is to become better and better, so we appreciate your feedback (good and bad), because it is what we can learn from. I'll also do my best to address your questions.

Just looked here and it is £159 on Amazon UK.
I was thinking of getting one to compare with Airplay but maybe not here in the UK :(

It is, but the UK often gets "rip-of" prices since I don't think our market is as competitive as many others and it looks like there may be sone sort of price control going on (which isn't actually legal here) since every dealer stocking it quotes the same price even though the official ifi "shop" is on Amazon UK.
It is quite dependant on importer business model but I think the USA is the most price focused market so it is not uncommon for US prices of UK goods to be less in the USA (though the opposite is true for fashionable brands).
Quoted prices always include tax too, unlike the USA, which is 20%

You are right. You pretty much already summed it all up. In our case, the price differences are a result of the different tax systems and regulatory mechanisms in the countries where you can find iFi products. In the UK and the EU member states there is a standard VAT rate that is charged on almost all purchases. The standard rate of VAT in the UK is currently 20% and this is the rate charged on most purchases.

In the United States, there isn’t a cohesive tax like VAT. This means a product can have different levels of taxation depending on where it's sold, that is why the tax is not included in the price. Different states have different sales taxes, so the same product may have a different tax based on which state it is sold in. Sometimes, different counties or even cities have their own taxes. So, much depends on the location of the company/store.

There are quite a few reasons why prices may differ. We need to take into account fluctuating currency exchange rates, etc.,
 
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