iFi Audio ZEN Stream Review & Comments

Ed Gayton

Standard Member
Ok, but how does it compare with the (much simpler and cheaper) option of a Chromecast Audio outputting via digital?
 

DT79

Well-known Member
Nice review, thanks. I am potentially interested in this to plug into my Lyngdorf amp. Predominantly to use as a Roon endpoint, but having the facility for the occasional bit of airplay would be very handy. The coaxial output means I wouldn’t have to fork out £400 for the USB module for my amp which most of the competitors would necessitate. Plus I can tuck it away somewhere so it doesn’t take up a shelf.

Bit concerning that it couldn’t be set up via the iOS app though.
 

Ed Selley

AVF Reviewer
is their anything that sounds this good at 3X the price?

It doesn't really 'sound;' it's a front end so it simply enables the decoding of what it is connected to. If you are exclusively using Roon, I prefer the SOtM because it's bulletproof but there's no arguing how much more flexible the iFi is if you aren't a Roon user.

Bit concerning that it couldn’t be set up via the iOS app though.

There was a recent app update to iOS. I reset the test sample and this time, it connected correctly. As noted in the review, iFi is really pushing the software on the Stream and sweeping bugs as quickly as they can.
 

jag1

Standard Member
i just returned mine to TREO in Singapore after spending 2 months trying resolve connection and power down issues though various firmware upgrades. i have asked TREO to send me a new unit, but they want to "replicate" the issues after months of exchanges between them before they will ship a new one. frustrating.
 

Zozo

Novice Member
I find it rather weird that in an audio related review there isn't a single word on sound quality, including the final score board. I have the same SOtM and would have been interested in some detailed description of the sound quality differences, not functionality which I can read myself in the specs.
 

jag1

Standard Member
I find it rather weird that in an audio related review there isn't a single word on sound quality, including the final score board. I have the same SOtM and would have been interested in some detailed description of the sound quality differences, not functionality which I can read myself in the specs.
the sound quality is very very good, however i think it is still in beta development. i would gladly trade some of its features to that of the SOtM stability
 

Ed Selley

AVF Reviewer
I have the same SOtM and would have been interested in some detailed description of the sound quality differences

Into the same USB sources. There are no differences sonically. None. Zip, zilch, nada etc. The error correction on the various USB sources I tested is far beyond any output differences the two devices might have between them. The most I will say for any of these devices (and why I like them) is that they are quieter than most computer based USB sources which can sometimes manifest as an audible improvement in some situations as well as offering useful flexibility in terms of system setup.

If you already have an SOtM and you don't need the extra features of the ZEN Stream, it will in no way change the performance of your existing system.
 

Zozo

Novice Member
Into the same USB sources. There are no differences sonically. None. Zip, zilch, nada etc. The error correction on the various USB sources I tested is far beyond any output differences the two devices might have between them. The most I will say for any of these devices (and why I like them) is that they are quieter than most computer based USB sources which can sometimes manifest as an audible improvement in some situations as well as offering useful flexibility in terms of system setup.

If you already have an SOtM and you don't need the extra features of the ZEN Stream, it will in no way change the performance of your existing system.
Thanks for the reply. I'm not quite sure what your mean by "into the same USB sources". Do you mean the same USB DAC? The source I use is exclusively network based from my PC server running Roon Core and HQPlayer. On the SOtM I use either Roon Ready end-point or HQPlayer NAA. Anyway, if you hear no difference, that answers my question.
 

iFi audio

Member
AVForums Sponsor
The Zen Stream,
DSCF6737.jpg
 
Last edited:

iFi audio

Member
AVForums Sponsor
@Cebolla , Was supposed to edit the post, but other things got in the way and it got deleted. Anyway, I was saying that the Zen Stream's main purpose is transport/passing the signal through, that it is not a decoder per se. It receives and streams the signal without any degradation, which is often the case if you are using a different audio configuration. You rightly pointed out that a DAC receives a signal not a file. I think that was it.
 

Mike Foley

Novice Member
I’ve had one of these since the end of July, and at first it was a bit unstable. Since then there have been a number of software updates, and I haven’t had any problems for a couple of months.
ifi seem to be quick to sort any issues raised by users. 👍
I’m using it in my headphone system, with Zen Dac V2 into Zen Can. I’m tempted to try it through my Schiit Bifrost 2, in the speaker system, but haven’t got around to it yet.
 

jag1

Standard Member
got the Zen Stream replaced, but now my NAD D1050 DAC'S coax connection has gone south. its being repaired but is 8 years old. still it sounds terrific. can anyone who knows this DAC recommend something as good or better to replace it with?
 

jag1

Standard Member
borrowed a Node 2i and it works perfectly in my environment while the IFI Zen Stream is still dropping out and losing the connection. the DAC in the 2i sound better than my NAD D1050! seems that the Zen Stream can not handle a high traffic environment as well as the Node 2i. i will upgraded to a WiFi 6 router and try that with the Zen Stream. meantime purchase a Node 2i to listen to music. keep the Zen to tinker with. the Zen is just a hair more transparent than the 2i but its stable and very good with its internal DAC. i like the Burr-Brown chip so perhaps a Zen DAC Signature DAC V2 for the 2i? can anyone elucidate the deference between the V1 and V2 SQ?
 

larkone

Member
@jag1 No point in getting a wifi6 (ax) router for the Zen Stream because it only supports up to wifi5 (ac)
 

jag1

Standard Member
had the Tech guys come out and switch my connection to 5G think that would fix the connection issues with the Zen Stream. it worked for about an hour and then crashed. back to the drawing board everyone is baffled. using the 2i in the meantime flawlessly.
 

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