• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are many reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

SMSL SD 9 or IFI ZEN STREAM

raysay

Member
Joined
Apr 17, 2021
Messages
8
Likes
1
Hi,

I want to choose a streamer / player for my existing system with dac. I can choose between SMSL SD 9 and IFI ZEN STREAM. What shall I choose? I currently have a Qobuz subscription which I prefer, but may well choose Tidal Hifi if the integration to the player is better. My current streamer is RaspberryPi 2GB with Volumio.

Best Regards
 
I understand Amir has panned the Bluesound Node, but the darn thing just works. The more alternative products I read about, the happier I am to have purchased it. Its lone real flaw is its mediocre DAC, and that's easily remedied by using a different one fed by the Node's digital out. Its integration of Qobuz is flawless.
 
i have the IFI Zen Stream and it is extremely good. very transparent and open.
 
The IFI Zen Stream could benefit from some built in presets for different streaming services. The way it's sold is very limiting.
The 'unpretentious' Node (with external DAC) runs rings around it in this regard.
 
what would DAC would you recommend for <$1000 that would beat my current NAD D1050? SMSL, Denafrips, IFI?
 
I would like to pull the trigger (buy) on one of these but uncertain which
 
My only reason to purchase a streamer is to make music connection / selection a quick and simple affair at reasonable price and intuitive interface. The Blue Sound Node points the way with the best coverage of sources. "Node" (third iteration) are still a bit scarce but can be found. If you need to set up "zones" (re-stream music around the house) you DO need a streamer.

If you just need a digital source an ipad, mac mini, mac air or intel nuc (or basic laptop) provides the most flexible, easiest access to all my sources.

My wifi provides all the bandwidth I need and more. If I move around the house I can use the same device. I am now testing the repurposed mobile phone option. Small, easy, plug and play over USB in different setups around the house. Works well with an iphone 6s.

If I went the "streamer" route it would be imperative for me not to restrict bandwidth (bluetooth is out). An app on my mobile phone would be used to redirect wifi or ethernet streams. What streamers can do this at reasonable cost? (Each point has its own DAC).
 
Last edited:
Control via bubble upnp worked perfectly well, but I returned my SD-9 to the dealer after being unable to overcome occasional but nasty cracking and frightening noises between tracks, and difficulty with the gapless setting. I liked it a lot, but now I'm using an iFi Zen streamer which worked flawlessly right out of the box. It connects to everything, and no problem with MQA. I don't like the unattractive, rather crude, styling of the iFi unit but sound quality is excellent & is at least equal to the SD-9. The iFi Zen connected and works so easily using either TIDAL Connect or mconnect from my iPhone with not a single issue.
 
Last edited:
how old is your IFI Zen Stream and how long have you been using it?
thank you
 
how old is your IFI Zen Stream and how long have you been using it?
thank you
I've had it less than two weeks. Recommend it most highly, super simple to connect & use!
 
i have had mine for 2 months this may tell me that yours is a latter production run and hence no connection errors. this is my second unit that was probably built in late July. can i have your serial number? if this is true IFI should issue a recall on earlier units. have not heard from them btw. i agree the sound is very very good but for all the trouble and anxiety that this has added on top of Covid. i am tempted to go with a Auralic G1. life is short, this helps. please keep us posted, thank you.
 
The serial number of mine is: Zen Str AU 5309002697 (AU = designated for Australia, which is where I live). It would take longer to get here, so can't be sure of the length of time since manufacture.
 
The serial number of mine is: Zen Str AU 5309002697 (AU = designated for Australia, which is where I live). It would take longer to get here, so can't be sure of the length of time since manufacture.
thanks, as i suspected you have a latter production run. i have worked with IFI and other forum members trying to iron out the bugs. no luck. i have contacted IFI and my retailer. hopefully i can get an exchange or refund. i can spend up to $1500 for something that does not cause frustration. maybe i should just wait a couple of months and re-purchase? spent 2 months with IFI and other forum members trouble shooting to no avail. any suggestions would be appreciated. thanks
 
Last edited:
my unit now mysteriously powers down. shuts off. seems like a separate issue other than a connection issue? could this be a hardware or software issue. i am using a IFI Ipower 12v. psu.
 
my unit now mysteriously powers down. shuts off. seems like a separate issue other than a connection issue? could this be a hardware or software issue. i am using a IFI Ipower 12v. psu.
My first (very early #5309000575) one bricked itself during an attempted software update. That part of it is now much better (once the initial update was successful) and have been very happy with the replacement. It would be better (for the price) if it had an IR remote to turn it on, but you can always leave it on and turn off the main LED indicators if you want to. It will be interesting to see if future updates include an update to Volumio 3 which seems to be in beta which had a better audio pipeline including DSP and EQ support. Goldensound has measured the jitter and noise performance of it and it is good. Remember the Zen Stream is not a DAC, a wifi/wire streamer only.
 
Back
Top Bottom