Perfectly Future-Proofed. ZEN Stream has arrived.

Khankat

Well-known Member
It is still available in some countries. You can find it at a few of our distributors' shops. Let me know where are you based and I could direct you to the closest partner.
I am in the UK.
Is this model no longer being manufactured?
 

iFi audio

Active Member
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I'll drop you a message regarding the Micro iTube2's availability in the UK.
 
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iFi audio

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A few more words about our NOVA The cable incorporates five conductors, each made from heavy-gauge, continuous-cast OFHC (Oxygen-Free High Thermal Conductivity) copper, arranged in a geometrically balanced configuration – highly unusual at such a price point.

Two pairs of live and neutral conductors are arranged either side of the earth conductor, which is positioned at the centre of the cable. A further pair of air-dielectric delineators – essentially polymer matrix tubes filled with air – are arranged either side of the earth conductor, keeping the two pairs of live and neutral conductors apart whilst improving the cable’s overall dielectric performance and constructive solidity.

The cable is finished with a tough yet flexible polymer outer sheath and iFi’s bespoke audiophile-grade connectors, complete with 24ct gold plated oxygen-free copper conductors.

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iFi audio

Active Member
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A few more words about the Ground Zero.
As already mentioned, the cable incorporates five conductors, each made from heavy-gauge, continuous-cast OFHC (Oxygen-Free High Thermal Conductivity) copper, arranged in a geometrically balanced configuration.

Two pairs of live and neutral conductors are arranged either side of the earth conductor, which is positioned at the centre of the cable. The ground conductor is arranged in a shotgun configuration and not twisted around like other mains cables. The live and neutral conductors are arranged in a truly balanced configuration, hence their magnetic fields cancel each other out perfectly.

As a result, there is no residual magnetic field being applied to the centre ground conductor, and no unwanted induced voltage on the Ground conductor – we call this design Ground Zero.
 

iFi audio

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Our NEO iDSD won an award from the lovely people at HiFi Critic.
"I found myself coming to the inescapable conclusion that this little device is pretty close to all the DAC most listeners would ever need: it’s space-efficient, fine-sounding, flexible, simple to use, beautifully engineered and finished – and remarkably affordable for all it offers."

The NEO iDSD being awarded with their Best Buy Award!

Read the full review below https://bit.ly/3sXckCC

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killiefan

Active Member
Hi there. I have a question and wonder if you could explain to me a simple point that I see in various forums causes much debate - HiRes Bluetooth. How is it possible?

I think that most people would consider that HiRes cannot be a lossy format. Standard Red Book CD quality (which most would not class as HiRes even though it's probably plenty good for many/most people) requires a transfer rate of 1,411 Kbps. HiRes is at an even higher rate (e.g. a 24-bit/192kHz file has a data rate of 9,216kbps).

Finally we have Bluetooth. From what I've read it is not possible with technology as is today to transfer even red book CD 1,411 Kbps over Bluetooth (tops out in the 900s?). On that basis anything recorded to at least Red Book CD quality that is transferred via Bluetooth must be in a lossy format.

Is that correct? If so, on what basis are lossy transfers described as HiRes?

Thanks.
 

iFi audio

Active Member
AVForums Sponsor
@killiefan thanks for your question. It is an interesting one. I am aware that there is no straight answer to this question, as there is not one universal definition of high-res.

The main point of discussion is what exactly determines whether a track is high-res.

Some believe that high-res is reserved exclusively for lossless tracks. However, It is not so much about the compression, but rather about the bit-depth and sampling of the audio formats. It is recommended to understand high-res as tracks with a higher than 44.1 kHz sample rate or higher than 16-bit audio bit depth. It commonly refers to 96 or 192 kHz sample rates.

Some codecs allow for lossy, and others allow for lossless audio streaming.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), in cooperation with the Consumer Electronics Association, DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, and The Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing state that recordings which have been mastered from better than CD quality (48kHz/20-bit or higher) can be considered high-res. LDAC capable of connecting up to 990 kbps at 32 bit/96 kHz reaches that level.
 

killiefan

Active Member
@killiefan thanks for your question. It is an interesting one. I am aware that there is no straight answer to this question, as there is not one universal definition of high-res.

The main point of discussion is what exactly determines whether a track is high-res.

Some believe that high-res is reserved exclusively for lossless tracks. However, It is not so much about the compression, but rather about the bit-depth and sampling of the audio formats. It is recommended to understand high-res as tracks with a higher than 44.1 kHz sample rate or higher than 16-bit audio bit depth. It commonly refers to 96 or 192 kHz sample rates.

Some codecs allow for lossy, and others allow for lossless audio streaming.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), in cooperation with the Consumer Electronics Association, DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, and The Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing state that recordings which have been mastered from better than CD quality (48kHz/20-bit or higher) can be considered high-res. LDAC capable of connecting up to 990 kbps at 32 bit/96 kHz reaches that level.
Thanks, but I still struggle with the notion that any format with a data transfer rate of less than CD quality is correctly described as HiRes when it appears that what is being subject to that resolution is a file that contains lossy data.
 

iFi audio

Active Member
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I feel you. It would be easier for us as well if there was an international institute of audio, which could easily define many terms audiophiles disagree on. I think it's come to a point that if you do not found such a body, there is always going to be a good deal of misunderstandings and subjective interpretations among us - audio enthusiasts.
 

iFi audio

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An interesting read!


 

iFi audio

Active Member
AVForums Sponsor
Streaming elevated to a higher plane

Introducing ZEN Stream: a flexible and affordable Wi-Fi audio transport, equipped to unleash the full potential of every digital music source – from online streaming to local network storage

Southport, England –
From mainstream smart speakers to specialised audio systems, digital streaming – often over a Wi-Fi network – has become the dominant method of listening to music at home. For those who care about sound quality, building a system from dedicated audio components remains the best route to sonic satisfaction – even in the streaming age.

There are various ways in which Wi-Fi streaming can be incorporated into an audio system. Amps with integrated Wi-Fi reception are available, as are dedicated audio streamers, many with onboard DACs – these serve the purpose of a traditional hi-fi source component, such as a CD player. But there are drawbacks – some solutions offer less-than-ideal sound quality, others lock you into a specific streaming platform or ‘walled garden’ system, while some specialised solutions are prohibitively expensive.

Enter the ZEN Stream: the latest addition to iFi’s award-winning ZEN Series of compact and affordable audio devices, designed to deliver flexible, high-quality network streaming to any audio environment.

Described as a ‘Wi-Fi audio transport’, the ZEN Stream acts as a bridge between your Wi-Fi network and your audio system. It connects to a router via Wi-Fi or Ethernet cable, and outputs to an external DAC (or an amp with digital inputs) via USB or S/PDIF. Its open-source architecture makes it flexible and future-proof; its purpose-built hardware and software deliver excellent sound quality; and its price makes it an eminently affordable solution for high-performance network audio streaming.

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Superb sound, no matter how you stream
The ZEN Stream’s hi-res audio credentials are top-notch, supporting PCM up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD up to 11.2MHz (DSD256) over Wi-Fi – highly unusual – as well as over Ethernet cable. There are multiple ways in which the device can interface with your music collection or favourite streaming service, depending on the user’s preference, and thanks to the ZEN Stream’s open-source architecture these will expand over time. Here are some of the options provided at launch:

  • Integrated Tidal Connect and Spotify Connect
    Users of these hugely popular online music services can stream directly from the Tidal and Spotify apps – simple, seamless and effective.
  • DLNA certification
    Any DLNA-compatible streaming app – including iFi’s forthcoming Stream-iFi app – can be used to control the ZEN Stream and access audio content from online services and DLNA-certified network storage devices.
  • AirPlay and Chromecast
    Integrated Airplay and Chromecast ensures easy streaming from Apple and Android devices. AirPlay is included at launch; Chromecast will be added as a free firmware update later this year.
  • Roon compatibility
    The Roon platform has become the standard-bearer for high-quality digital music management and streaming – a great interface, strong flexibility and high-quality sound are all benefits, although Roon-compatible hardware does not tend to come cheap. At launch, the ZEN Stream is compatible with Roon Bridge software, making in suitable for a Roon environment, and full Roon Ready certification is in the pipeline – a tempting proposition given the ZEN Stream’s affordable price point. With the ZEN Stream, you can add Roon compatibility to any DAC on the planet.
  • NAA operation
    The ZEN Stream can operate as an NAA (Network Audio Adapter) in conjunction with Sygnalist HQPlayer software – favoured by many serious music streaming enthusiasts. This means it can direct packets of audio data received over Wi-Fi or Ethernet cable straight to the connected DAC without applying any processing whatsoever.
 

iFi audio

Active Member
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iFi delivers hot exclusives
An ingenious part of the ZEN Stream’s design is the ability to select between ‘exclusive modes’ – individual settings that deliver fully optimised performance by focusing operation on one particular mode of use. The following modes are provided:

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All-in-one - This non-specific mode is great for all platforms, audio formats and devices.

DLNA streaming - Select this mode to optimise performance when using the ZEN Stream with DLNA-compatible apps and devices.
NAA streaming - Select this mode when using the ZEN Stream as a Network Audio Adapter in conjunction with Signalyst HQPlayer software.

Roon Bridge streaming - Select this mode when integrating the ZEN Stream into a ROON environment.

Tidal streaming - If you’re a subscriber to Tidal’s Masters Tier and use it exclusively, this is the mode for you.


Built for sonic brilliance
Outwardly, the ZEN Stream is encased in the distinctive dark grey aluminium extrusion that houses every device in iFi’s ZEN Series. Its silver-coloured aluminium faceplate sports two multi-colour LEDs – one to indicate internet/intranet connection and speed; the other to show the incoming audio format and sample rate (these LEDs may be switched off if preferred). There are just two buttons: the power switch and a ‘hotspot’ button, the latter used to join a Wi-Fi network.

While there is no display other than the status LEDs, all information about the music being streamed will be displayed on the control app selected by the user. iFi has taken the decision that it is better to focus on performance and value-for-money, rather than increase cost by incorporating a display that would arguably be superfluous to the end-user.


Around the back, alongside the Wi-Fi antenna, reside an array of sockets and ports. Dual-band Wi-Fi reception supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac for a fast, reliable wireless connection, while a high-grade Gigabit Ethernet port supplies a cabled network option of the highest quality. There’s also a USB-A input, giving the option of playing music from HDD and solid-state storage devices, and a USB-C programming port to upload software/firmware updates (an alternative to OTA updates via Wi-Fi).

Two digital outputs – asynchronous USB and coaxial S/PDIF – provide connection to an external DAC or amp with digital inputs. Both these outputs are regulated by iFi’s femto-precision GMT (Global Master Timing) clock circuitry to eradicate jitter from the digital signal. The USB ports – both input and output – support SuperSpeed USB3.0 and benefit from iFi’s ANC II active noise cancellation to remove distortion from the audio signal. Similarly, the S/PDIF output incorporates iFi’s iPurifier technology.

The ZEN Stream’s circuit design has been painstakingly engineered to deliver superb sound, with processing muscle supplied by a 64-bit, quad-core ARM Cortex microprocessor. This is accompanied by carefully chosen circuit components including discrete, high-grade surface-mounted devices such as TDK C0G multilayer ceramic capacitors and inductors from Taiyo Yuden and Murata.

Regulators with high PSRR (Power Supply Rejection Ratio), low idle current and low dropout voltage are used, together with a synchronous 1.5MHz high-speed power supply controller, further contributing to the ZEN Stream’s pure, distortion-free performance. As befits an audiophile-grade device, the ZEN Stream does not incorporate a noisy fan – instead, iFi has designed low-profile heatsinks to prevent overheating whilst maintaining the unit’s compact size.
 

iFi audio

Active Member
AVForums Sponsor
Connection Guide - Our ZEN Stream provides the perfect, easy-to-use entry level solution. For use with your existing gear or to try out with some of ours.

Add the ZEN DAC and ZEN CAN for an affordable, quality system that punches far above its weight.

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iFi audio

Active Member
AVForums Sponsor
I would also highly recommend taking a look at our Zen Stream PCBs, because the truth is always in the PCB.

ZEN-Stream_-Pcb_Ver1.6.jpg
 

iFi audio

Active Member
AVForums Sponsor
The ZEN Stream - "Exclusive Modes"

An ingenious part of the ZEN Stream’s design is the ability to select between ‘exclusive modes’ – individual settings that deliver fully optimised performance by focusing operation on one particular mode of use. The following modes are provided:

• All-in-one
This non-specific mode is great for all platforms, audio formats and devices.
• DLNA streaming
Select this mode to optimise performance when using the ZEN Stream with DLNA-compatible apps and devices.
• NAA streaming
Select this mode when using the ZEN Stream as a Network Audio Adapter in conjunction with Signalyst HQPlayer software.
• Roon Bridge streaming
Select this mode when integrating the ZEN Stream into a ROON environment.
• Tidal streaming
If you’re a subscriber to Tidal’s Masters Tier and use it exclusively, this is the mode for you.

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