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ifi Zen DAC and Headphone Amp Review

faitoq

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Imo balanced DACs are rather overrated for home use. "balanced in balanced out" is really some Zeos review meme.
$299 drop 789 and a nice SE DAC like the $129 Topping E30 works out to a lot less than $600.
Is that stack far better than Zen DAC? Sorry I just want to know because I might be disappointed after hearing not much of difference and spent that amount of money.
 

Veri

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Is that stack far better than Zen DAC? Sorry I just want to know because I might be disappointed after hearing not much of difference and spent that amount of money.
In any case these are incremental differences and not big. If your current iFi gear sounds "good" then unless you really want to spend the cash, you might get disappointed. Dishing returns are huge in this 'hobby'.
 

faitoq

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In any case these are incremental differences and not big. If your current iFi gear sounds "good" then unless you really want to spend the cash, you might get disappointed. Dishing returns are huge in this 'hobby'.
I see, now it is clear. Thank you so much for the time good sire. Have a good day
 

Veri

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I see, now it is clear. Thank you so much for the time good sire. Have a good day
No problem. The best thing of course is to try before you buy, but I know that is often quite difficult to do.
 

maverickronin

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I have HD 58X and DT 177X Go. I am planning to get DT 1990 Pro and Fostex TR X00 Ebony

With those headphones the differences, like @Veri said, would probably be incremental.

Something considerably more efficient could benefit from something with less noise than Zen and something much less efficient could benefit from the extra power of the THX but I don't think any of those headphones would be "bad" matches for the Zen going off of their specs and Armir's measurements.
 

raistlin65

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~Help!~
If I own iFi Zen DAC/Hip DAC and upgrade to SMSL SU-8~THX 789 stack will I hear a noticeable difference? It is a 150$ vs 600$, is it worth it?

If you want a significant upgrade in terms of measurable performance, get the Schiit Heresy and Schiit Modi 3 stack for $200, then sell your ifi Zen DAC on ebay to recoup part of the cost. Will you notice a big difference in sound quality? Likely not, unless you are running very difficult to drive headphones with the iFi.
 

freezer2k

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Hi,

I'm considering to get the Zen DAC to use with
1) Philips Fidelio X2HR
and/or
2) beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 80 Ohm

Would that be powerful enough?

Alternatively I'm considering getting a stack of Khadas Tone Board and some suitable amp.

I'm in Germany and it does not seem easy to get a good+affordable amp though (that is in stock). Would also appreciate suggestions for locally available alternatives, stack or combo device.
 
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Veri

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Alternatively I'm considering getting a stack of Khadas Tone Board and some suitable amp.

I'm in Germany and it does not seem easy to get a good+affordable amp though (that is in stock). Would also appreciate suggestions for locally available alternatives, stack or combo device.

I would recommend khadas tone board+case and an amp like JDS atom magni heresy, ...
Modi 3 + magni heresy is also a very sweet combo considering both have very good performance.

The iFi does nothing terrible, nothing superb. It is not stellar, but it might do the job if you're into its looks etc.
 

freezer2k

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Thanks,

Actually i found the Sound BlasterX G6 and Schiit Hel .. would one of those be a good alternative?
 

zjx1017

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Thanks,

Actually i found the Sound BlasterX G6 and Schiit Hel .. would one of those be a good alternative?
for gaming i would go G6 for its other features (dolby audio,5.1/7.1surround sound virtualizer).Schiit Hel might sound better for just listening to music.Depending on your budget, you could listen to them both and decide.
 

stefano-mbp

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iFi should clearly declare in the ZEN dac specs that it is only an MQA renderer, not a decoder, thus it will not be able to perform MQA unfolding if you don’t use a software to perform the first unfolding (like Tidal app, Audirvana, …).
It is very disappointing this kind of misleading information by iFi.
 

Nathanael

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I want to find out how my ifi zen will sound with an external power supply (for now not with the overpriced ifi power supplys). Is a 5v 1A power supply enough or should I buy the stronger 5v 2.25A? Or it doesn't matter at all? USB 3.0 has only max 900 mA, Ifi says that it is full USB 2.0 compatible, then it would be only 500 mA. So I think 1A should be enough or are there any disadvantages or advantages?
 
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robnescor

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I want to find out how my ifi zen will sound with an external power supply (for now not with the overpriced ifi power supplys). Is a 5v 1A power supply enough or should I buy the stronger 5v 2.25A? Or it doesn't matter at all? USB 3.0 has only max 900 mA, Ifi says that it is full USB 2.0 compatible, then it would be only 500 mA. So I think 1A should be enough or are there any disadvantages or advantages?
I've bought a generic external power (similar ifi power, 5v 2.5amp) and can't heard any changes. My laptop has 2 usb type c 3.1 ports, perhaps will be noticeable with usb 2.0, I don't know.
 

Nathanael

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I've received my 5V1A power supply today and I hear a slight difference. The sound becomes cleaner, as little bit darker and it sounds a little bit more (subjectively speaking) powerfull. It's possible that you don't hear difference at all, USB ports can vary when it comes to effective output voltage.
 

zjx1017

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I've received my 5V1A power supply today and I hear a slight difference. The sound becomes cleaner, as little bit darker and it sounds a little bit more (subjectively speaking) powerfull. It's possible that you don't hear difference at all, USB ports can vary when it comes to effective output voltage.
I think more power wouldn’t be needed.5V 1A should just work just fine, although iPower rated 5V 2.5 A.i have mine Zen DAC fed by a 5V 1.6A (peak 3A)linear PSU. There’s incremental difference I could hear but definitely not much.
 

Nathanael

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That's strange: when using only a USB 2.0 port (tested with several cables, driver versions and usb ports) the ifi zen gets quiter (what's ok because of the lower power of USB 2.0) and there are very significant disturbing noises (normal listening to music is not possible anymore). With external power supply they're gone, it happens only when powered via USB 2.0. According to Ifi this device is fully USB 2.0 compatible and should work in this case without external power too.

Does anyone have issues with USB 2.0 too?
 

phattio

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hello all! i feel really stupid asking this, but how would i connect an ifi zen dac to and ifi zen amp in balanced configuration? do they make a 'pentaconn 4.4mm to pentaconn 4.4mm' cable?
 

Jimbob54

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hello all! i feel really stupid asking this, but how would i connect an ifi zen dac to and ifi zen amp in balanced configuration? do they make a 'pentaconn 4.4mm to pentaconn 4.4mm' cable?

Drop will sell you one for something like $70.

Look on ebay etc
 
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