iFi Unveils New Zen Series – RMAF 2019

iFi Zen Blue

Browsing through the HeadSpace are of Rocky Mountain Audio Fest on Saturday morning brought me to some conclusions about Denver people and their weekends. Friday at the show, in all exhibits, was a madhouse of activity. Headspace in particular was more crowded than I was ready to deal with considering I’d be trying to gather information on new product from my favourite brands.

Saturday morning comes, and the show is much less busy. As it turns out, a weekend beautiful weather in Denver is important to the locals, and if it’s nice outside, good luck getting them to do anything indoors. Such is life. As I make my way into the HeadSpace at RMAF, I notice that the iFi booth is still rather busy compared to the rest of the show. I throw my hands up, curse the sky, and dive in.

All the buzz is centered around iFi’s new Zen Series of electronics. The Zen Series starts with ZenBlue, an all-new Bluetooth receiver which features both balanced 4.4mm and single-ended RCA analog outputs, as well as digital output via coax or optical Toslink. Codecs included are: AAC, aptX, aptX HD, LDAC and HWA

iFi ZenDAC

The ZenDAC is a USB input device that does PCM 384kHz, DSD256, and MQA. The Burr-Brown DAC chip used in the new Zen DAC has been carried over from the Micro iDSD and Pro iDSD series. Features include an independant gain switch called PowerMatch, and the new TrueBass technology —  which is an evolution of iFi’s existing xBass technology.

Front facing headphone outputs on the ZenDac are as follows: unbalanced 4.4mm, and balanced 2.5mm. There are two analog outputs around back: single-ended RCA and balanced 4.4mm.  Rear outputs can be selected as variable or fixed. Turning this new ZenDAC into a very capable and compact desktop preamp. Exsqueeze me?!?

Release dates for both products is estimated to be October 2019. Street price on the Zen Blue is estimated to be $129 USD, the Zen DAC is estimated to be $149 USD.

by Eric Franklin Shook