DAC - Digital to Analogue Converter

DACs convert digital information, stored or streamed by computers, into music we can hear through speakers or headphones. Every device that’s a source of digital sound has a built-in DAC (TVs, games consoles, CD players, phones, portable music players etc). Dedicated external DACs sound much better than standard DACs used in digital devices such as phones.

Balanced audio (ZEN Range)

This is a type of audio circuitry topology that uses individual left & right channels. It is a superior method to the single-ended circuit approach. Balanced circuits reduce noise and crosstalk. While single-ended is used by most at this price level, iFi is implementing balanced circuits across the ZEN range which is quite a step-up.

File Formats

MP3 – this is the most popular file format, every device in the world can use it.

PCM – Pulse Code Modulation is the most common format for CDs and DVDs.

DSD – Direct Stream Digital is a very high-quality audio format, better than CD quality. The higher the number (sample rate), the better the recording – DSD64, 128, 256, 512 and 1024.

DXD – Digital eXtreme Definition is a very high-quality PCM format. It was developed to edit hi-res (high quality) recordings recorded in DSD.

Bit Perfect

If a file is ‘Bit Perfect’ it means it has stayed the same. For example, if a PCM file is played through a DAC to improve the sound quality and the DAC does not change the file format. The file is ‘Bit Perfect’.

MQA

MQA is the breakthrough audio technology that enables music fans to stream the original master recording into their home, car or on their mobile. Read more from MQA here.

ZEN DAC Signature V2
ZEN DAC Signature V2
ZEN DAC Signature V2 from iFi audio
ZEN DAC Signature V2 from iFi audio
Even purer DAC performance.

Our specialist desktop DAC, ZEN DAC Signature V2, has been upgraded to bring you an even purer performance than the original.

Enjoy an enhanced experience.

The ZEN DAC Signature V2 has been improved to offer an even greater, purer listening experience.

Just like the original, its sole purpose is to feed an external amp, be it a headphone amp, or an amp and speakers.

Unlike the original, it has a 16 core XMOS chip instead of 8. This new and improved digital engine is more powerful than ever. We’ve also upgraded the clock circuitry to enhance the purist, audiophile design even further.

Enjoy music without any distortion or colouration.

Check out what’s in the box.

ZEN DAC Signature V2 from iFi audio

Balanced. Blissfully quiet.

The ZEN DAC Signature V2 incorporates boutique parts and circuitry inspired by the £3,000 iFi Pro range.

It sports a fully-symmetrical, true differential balanced dual-mono signal stage with direct signal paths to ensure optimal signal purity.

The new low jitter crystal clock means >20dB better noise reduction. The ZEN DAC Signature V2 will remain quiet wherever it’s used.

Outstanding components including C0G capacitors from TDK, Panasonic OS-CON and ELNA Slimic II capacitors complete the design.

A ‘Bit’ special…

The ZEN DAC Signature V2’s digital stage retains its True Native DAC architecture. It delivers Bit-Perfect up to 32-bit/384kHz and native DSD up to DSD256 as well as DXD.

The iFi-programmed XMOS chip, which processes data received at the USB input, and jitter-eradicating, audiophile-grade oscillators, contribute to exemplary handling of digital audio signals as they are received, processed and converted to analogue form.

ZEN DAC Signature V2 from iFi audio

16 core means more…

MQA an award-winning British technology that delivers the sound of the original master recording.

Thanks to the processing power of the new 16 core XMOS chip, the ZEN DAC Signature V2 is now a full MQA decoder.

The ZEN DAC Signature V2 includes MQA technology, which enables you to play back MQA audio files and streams, delivering the sound of the original master recording. The LED glows green or blue to indicate that the unit is decoding and playing an MQA stream or file, and denotes provenance to ensure that the sound is identical to that of the source material. It glows blue to indicate it is playing an MQA Studio file, which has either been approved in the studio by the artist/producer or has been verified by the copyright owner.

 

Confident connections

You can trust in accurate, jitter free data transfer from your source device. The USB Type B input is asynchronous, meaning that the data rate is regulated solely by the ZEN DAC Signature V2’s specialised, and now upgraded, audio clock circuitry.

A pair of RCA sockets provide a single-ended connection to an amp and a Pentaconn 4.4mm output enables balanced signal transfer between compact products that cannot accommodate traditional, bulky XLR connections.

The full benefit of the ZEN DAC Signature V2’s balanced circuit design can be heard when connected to an amp or active speakers equipped with a balanced input. This can be either a 4.4mm Pentaconn input, or stereo XLR inputs via a 4.4mm-to-XLR cable.

ZEN Signature Set HFM from iFi audio

Fixed or variable. You decide.

The outputs of the ZEN DAC Signature V2 can be switched between ‘variable’ and ‘fixed’.

Variable – use this setting if you wish the ZEN DAC Signature V2 to control the volume of powered speakers or its volume as a preamp.

Fixed  – this option is for when you use it with downstream equipment with its own volume control. This will bypass the ZEN DAC Signature V2 as if there was a ‘straight wire’ from the digital source to the analogue amplifier.

Crucial combo.

The ZEN DAC Signature V2 works well with both the ZEN CAN Signature 6XX and the new ZEN CAN Signature HFM model.

These products can be bought separately or as special ZEN Signature Sets, either 6XX or HFM. The sets include a high-performance 4.4mm Pentaconn cable to connect the units together.

When used together, the two ZEN Signatures make a fantastic, desktop-sized headphone system for both digital and analogue sources, further extending the reputation of iFi’s ZEN Signature Series for delivering exceptional performance and versatility at remarkable prices.

The XMOS 16-Core chip processes the audio data received via the USB* digital input.

This new low-latency XMOS microcontroller has greatly enhanced processing power. Compared to the current generation of eight-core chips, this new 16-core IC delivers double the clock speed (2000MIPS) and four times the memory (512KB), as well as the latest SuperSpeed USB standard.

iFi’s in-house digital development team has programmed the XMOS firmware to optimise sound quality and ensure a perfect partnership with the Burr-Brown DAC.

(* Also on S/PDIF on the NEO iDSD/Diablo)

The Burr-Brown True Native® chipset means file formats remain unchanged or ‘bit-perfect’. This means you are listening to music as the artist intended in the format in which it was recorded.

At iFi we use Burr Brown extensively in our products having selected it for its natural-sounding ‘musicality’ and True Native architecture. Our experience with this IC means we know how to make the most of it.

Hi-Res True Native® playback of all music formats from MP3 to DSD256, PCM384 and DXD384.

MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) is supported through the USB with full decoding of MQA files up to 384kHz thanks to the processing power of the new 16-core XMOS chip.

Check out how to set up your MQA decoder via Tidal, Roon and Audirvana here.

This means that the full ‘three unfold’ decoding process is performed internally, as opposed to only the final unfold in the manner of an MQA ‘renderer’.

Globally, MQA has become an important consideration for any comprehensively equipped DAC. It is available through for Tidal Masters, Audirvana and Roon.

Extensive jitter-eradication technologies are applied to the digital stage, including our GMT (Global Master Timing) femto-precision clock and the intelligent memory buffer.

The low-jitter crystal clock has been updated to provide >20dB better performance

Panasonic OS-CON caps totaling 5,410uF give very-low Equivalent Series Resistance (ESR), excellent noise reduction capability and frequency response characteristics. In addition, OS-CONs have a long-life span and its ESR changes little even at low temperatures since the electrolyte is solid.

They are not often found in products costing <US$1000.

Texas Instruments low-noise ICs offer great unity-gain bandwidth, very low noise and distortion, high output drive capability, Common-mode and Power Supply Rejection Ratios of over 100 dB, wide maximum-output-swing bandwidths and high slew rates.

A Tokyo Cosmos Electric Co. (TOCOS) multi-track potentiometer is used. This has close channel matching tolerance for optimal performance (always use above 11 o’ clock).

muRata control-type, low-ESR high-Q multi-layer capacitors. The ‘ESR control’ aspect of the Murata is something special. Their noise suppression abilities are impressive.

We use ELNA Japan Silmic II capacitors for the power supplies.

The primary constituent of the newly developed dielectric is silk fibre. This material was believed as unfathomable as an aluminium electrolytic capacitor. The new material beats silk fibre and mixes it with Manila hemp fibre to provide the dielectric to an aluminium electrolytic capacitor used for high-grade music. The result is second-to-none superior acoustic properties and excellent linearity.

Support

InputUSB3.0 B Socket (USB2.0 compatible)
FormatsPCM (384/352.8/192/176.4/96/88.2/48/44.1kHz)
DSD (256/128/64), DXD(384/352.8kHz),
MQA (Decoder)
DACBit-Perfect DSD & DXD DAC by Burr Brown
OutputsBalanced 4.4 mm
UnBAL RCA
2V-6.2V max. (variable) / 4.2V (fixed)
1V-3.3V max. (variable) / 2.1V (fixed)
Zout<= 200 Ohm
<= 100 Ohm
SNR<-117 dB(A) @ 0dBFS (BAL/SE)
DNR>117 dB(A) @ -60dBFS (BAL/SE)
THD+N<0.0011% @ 0dBFS (BAL/SE)
Power ConsumptionNo Signal ~0.5W
Max Signal ~2.5W
Dimensions158(w) x 117(d) x 35(h) mm
6.2" x 4.6" x 1.4"
Weight505g / 1.11lbs

Reviews

Game changer!

“Amazing, like no others i own. Amazing sound options. This has more power than i can use and i never say that! Sounds great at any volume.”

 

(Click name to read original review)

Compare

ZEN DAC SignatureZEN DAC Signature V2
Formats2.8/3.1/5.6/6.2/11.2/12.4MHz DSD
352.8/384KHz DXD
MQA
2.8/3.1/5.6/6.2/11.2/12.4MHz DSD
352.8/384KHz DXD
MQA
DACBit-Perfect DSD & DXD DAC by Burr BrownBit-Perfect DSD & DXD DAC by Burr Brown
MQARendererDecoder
XMOS8-Core16-Core
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