3 best Bluetooth Streaming DACs and DACamps of 2020

Audio Blog

DACs are an essential part of modern everyday life — everything from your phone to your TV has one to convert digitally transmitted signals into the analogue sounds your ears and brain can listen to. But the audio gods didn’t create all DACs equally and that’s where iFi audio steps in.

Our award-winning range of desktop and portable DACs and DACamps use the latest Bluetooth 5.0 chips that have been cleverly-customised to ensure every bit of audio data you stream is interpreted perfectly.

Affordable DACs and DACamps from iFi audio

iFi make a range of portable and desktop DACamps and whether you choose the entry-level but feature-packed ZEN Blue or the stunning all-in-one bamboo-clad Aurora, both released very recently in 2019, you’ll be able to stream hi-res formats including aptX and aptX HD, LDAC and HWA, hi-res Bluetooth codecs created by Sony and Huawei respectively, AAC, Apple’s favoured format and SBC, the standard Bluetooth codec.

These two products extend the current range and there’s another one coming very soon.

Background

Bluetooth was originally designed for VOICE (not audio quality calls). Remember the hands-free Jabra ear piece?

Today, Bluetooth is everywhere in audio but the quality is still found wanting (in our opinion).

Why does Bluetooth audio sound sucky?

When we wrote earlier that Bluetooth was original specified for voice calls, being small and efficient meant all the functionality was housed on one chip, called ‘System On a Chip’ or (SOC).

In our opinion, this approach will always compromise the audio quality as:

  1. Everything from reception to amplification is handled by the chipset
  2. Jitter which is a ‘degradation’ of the audio signal is awful

Here at iFi audio, we have investigated this and can see that we can get much better audio quality, but first we must break rules and split the duties out and apportion them to dedicated, separate sections.

So, what’s different about iFi Bluetooth?

  1. Qualcomm chipset, ‘only’ receives the signal
  2. De-jitter circuit, clean-up using a dedicated section
  3. Audio-grade DAC, for highest level for conversion of 1s and 0s
  4. Amplifier chip, for the best audio amplification
  5. Special power supply, to supply the cleanest power to the aforementioned sub-sections

So whenever you listen on Bluetooth on any iFI audio product, rest assured that it has been ‘hacked’ by audio purists. The result is that regardless of Bluetooth 3.0 or 4.0 or 5.0, the audio transfer is second-to-none because no other company carries this level of extreme execution.

Incidentally, Bluetooth 5.0 is primarily focused upon ‘low energy’ power consumption and is relevant for mobile phones but less so for portable audio devices. This has virtually nil bearing on audio quality because the fundamental architecture has remained the same, using the same SOC approach as before which is a fundamental compromise of epic proportions.

Finally

When listening to Bluetooth on an iFi audio device, the result is a nice whoa! Much better wireless than expected and barely discernible change compared to the wired connection.

With this in mind, the following iFi products offer a snapshot of the range of wireless audio products we carry.

Entry-Level Desktop

ZEN Blue

Working at home or in the office, the brand-new Zen Blue takes any Bluetooth signal up and including to the very latest aptX HD or Adaptive and boosts the sound quality and sends out via a digital or analogue port to just about any home audio component.

  • Add to any home system
  • Hi-Res Bluetooth
  • Supports 192kHz 32-bit resolution
xCAN by iFi audio

Mid-Range Portable

xCAN

If you are always on-the-go, then the xCAN is for you. It is the size of a pack of cards. It is a balanced headphone amplifier with wireless input via Bluetooth or wired 3.5mm/2.5mm input (ideal for those with iPhones that have the 3.5mm headphone jack)

  • Super-portable
  • Balanced audio output of 500mW
  • Supports 192kHz 24-bit resolution
iFi audio Aurora - all in one music system

Home Pro System

Aurora

This is the very latest in all-in-one music system for the modern home. It looks as good as it sounds. Send Bluetooth or WiFi and enjoy hours of endless, intoxicating music.

  • Stunning French & Japanese design
  • Hi-Res Bluetooth
  • Supports 192kHz 32-bit resolution
More from the blog…

The new ZEN Series

How to make headphones louder

How to make Headphones louder on your iPhone, Android or PC

USB connectors – does one size fit all?

Comparison: iFi audio xCAN and xDSD go head-to-head

The new ZEN Series
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