ZEN Stream
ZEN Stream From iFi audio

Streaming Unleashed

Wi-Fi audio transport

Download the Stream-iFi app here

Just add Remote Control

Beneath its classy exterior, the ZEN Stream is a technological streamer-de-force. It has one purpose – to send music simply from the Internet to your DAC with no loss of quality.

True hi-res performance of PCM384/DSD256 via WiFi/LAN. Just add your smart device as a remote and away you go.

Optimised open-source architecture – works with multiple dedicated platforms, completely and perfectly future-proofed as it is constantly updated.

Ease of use + audiophile implementation. Follow our simple set-up guides on YouTube. It is the bee’s knees of Streamers.

Check out what’s in the box here.

ZEN Stream From iFi audio

Warp speed tech

ZEN Stream is a true ground-up design by iFi — the hardware and software implementation is quite exceptional:

  • Two SuperSpeed USB3.0 ports with Active Noise Cancellation II
  • S/PDIF out with the iPurifier built-in
  • iFi software developed with Volumio open-source as the starting point, then coded and optimised by us to achieve the purest streaming software bar none

These are some of the factors behind why the ZEN Stream is at the cutting-edge handling PCM384/DSD256 on LAN and WiFi (802.11n, with 100Mbps on 5Ghz).

‘Exclusive’ for your ears only

The ZEN Stream has one of the most fully-optimised software platforms in the world.

From the device’s drivers, to the kernel (the heart of the operating system), to the shell (which interfaces with the kernel), to the applications and the user interface — everything is fully optimised for seamless operation and excellent sonic performance.

An ingenious part of the ZEN Stream’s design is the ability to select between ‘Exclusive’ modes – individual settings dedicated to specific modes of operation to deliver the purest possible performance. All other programs are shut down – to minimise ‘software jitter’ — an often overlooked aspect that negatively impacts the quality of computer audio playback.

This ensures that the ZEN Stream is not merely a ‘jack of all trades’, but a master of all too.

  1. All-in-one (AIO) covers all modes
  2. ROON Ready
  3. Tidal streaming
  4. NAA streaming
  5. DLNA streaming

Please note software updates may take 2-3 minutes. Please do not disconnect your device. 

Who’s who of Streaming

Hot off the press, the ZEN Stream has the following connectivity options:

  • Stream straight from Spotify/Tidal apps with Spotify Connect and Tidal Connect
  • Works with any DLNA certified streaming app
  • Integrated Airplay – easy streaming from Apple and Android devices
  • Now ROON Ready
  • NAA operation in conjunction with Sygnalist’s HQPlayer software
Scan the QR code here to download the Stream-iFi app. Set up your Wi-Fi connection and much more.

Tech savvy

Beneath the unassuming casework sits some serious horsepower in terms of both technologies and components:

  • Powerful 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex microprocessor
  • USB and S/PDIF interfaces regulated by femto-precision GMT clock to eradicate jitter
  • Active Noise Cancellation II and iPurifier technologies for USB and S/PDIF interfaces respectively
  • Intelligent Ethernet switch controller
  • High-PSRR, low idle current, low-dropout voltage regulators with soft start
  • Synchronous 1.6MHz high-speed precision power supply controller
  • C0G capacitors and Taiyo Yuden and Murata low ESR inductors
Contents

CONTENTS:

1 x ZEN Stream

1 x Ethernet cable

1 x Plastic screwdriver

1 x Power adapter

1 x Antenna

1 x User manual

1 x Instruction card

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.

Active Noise Cancellation

Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) reduces unwanted sound by the addition of a second sound wave specifically designed to cancel out the first. This basically results in no sound at all as it reaches unwanted sound even at the lowest frequencies.

Passive noise cancellation is done by means of insulating filters and works best on the middle to high frequencies. It does not work on the lower frequencies meaning that some sound can still be heard.

File Formats and Sample Rates

MP3 – this is the most popular 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.

DSD

DSD is a very high-quality digital audio format that’s even better than CD quality. The higher the ‘DSD rate’ – DSD64, 128, 256, 512 and 1024 – the greater the amount of music information available, which means better sound quality. Files can be remastered to higher file rates to improve sound quality. The pinnacle of this is DSD1024. Not many machines out there are capable of this feat, other than our Pro iDSD.

DLNA - Digital Living Network Alliance

DLNA allows you to wirelessly send content from devices like laptops, tablets and smartphones to a compatible TV. It makes sharing media in the home simple.

DLNA stands for Digital Living Network Alliance. It was set up by Sony in 2003. Now used in a wide range of modern home entertainment devices, it allows videos, music and photos to be streamed and enjoyed on the big screen or a home cinema system quickly and easily.

NNA - Network Audio Adapter

A Network Audio Adapter (NAA) can convert audio signals to high-quality digital signals.

Regardless of the geographical distance, the digital signals can be transmitted simultaneously over the IP networks, such as LAN or Internet.

PSRR - Power Supply Rejection Ratio

In electronic systems, power supply rejection ratio (PSRR) is a term widely used to describe the capability of an electronic circuit to suppress any power supply variations to its output signal.

ESR - Equivalent Series Resistance

Inductors have resistance inherent in the metal conductor, quoted as DCR in datasheets. This metallic resistance is small for small inductance values (typically below 1 Ω). It can be modelled as a resistor in series with the inductor, often leading to the DC resistance being referred to as the ESR.

Set-up your Wi-Fi connection using the our Stream-iFi app.

Scan the QR code to download the app today. The QR code will take you straight to our Stream-iFi app in the correct store for your phone or tablet.

Roon Ready network devices have Roon’s streaming technology built-in and are certified by Roon Labs to provide the highest level of quality and performance in network streaming.

Find out more about iFi and Roon here.

Buy a ZEN Stream via the Roon platform and get a FREE six-months subscription to Roon.

This is a true hi-res device. It uniquely supports PCM up to 32-bit/384kHz over Wi-Fi as well as Ethernet cable, plus DSD up to 11.2MHz (DSD256). Highly unusual in a Wi-Fi streamer.

Our ‘exclusive modes’ give you individual settings dedicated to specific modes of operation to deliver the purest possible performance.

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 Ready
Select this mode when integrating the ZEN Stream into a ROON environment.

Tidal streaming
If you are a subscriber to Tidal’s Masters Tier, this is the mode for you.

Use the ‘hotspot’ button on the front to join a Wi-Fi network.

Dual-band Wi-Fi reception supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac for a fast, reliable wireless connection.

The USB ports – both input and output – support the SuperSpeed USB3.0 standard and benefit from iFi’s Active Noise Cancelling technology to remove distortion from the audio signal.

Similarly, the coaxial S/PDIF output incorporates iFi’s iPurifier signal purifying technology.

Both of the two digital outputs – asynchronous USB and coaxial S/PDIF – that provide connectivity to an external DAC or an amp with digital inputs are regulated by iFi’s femto-precision GMT (Global Master Timing) circuitry to eradicate jitter from the digital audio signal.

The circuit design has been painstakingly engineered to deliver superb sound, with processing muscle supplied by a 64-bit, quad-core ARM Cortex microprocessor.

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 add to the quality build of this product.

Add to this, a synchronous 1.5MHz high-speed power supply controller for even great noise reduction and even less distortion.

Intelligent Ethernet. The device uses a high-performance Ethernet switch with a low-power integrated 5-Port Giga-PHY.

We’ve utilised high-PSRR, low idle current, low-dropout voltage regulators with soft start. This means maximised efficiency and minimised system noise.

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Input voltageDC 9V/1.8A-15V/0.8A
AC 100 -240V, 50/60Hz
InputWi-Fi / Ethernet / USB HDD

(Firmware updates via OTA and USB-C at rear)
FormatsPCM384
DSD256
(MQA passthrough)
OutputUSB3.0 (Type-A Socket) x2
SPDIF (Coaxial)
Power consumptionNo Signal ~6W
Max Signal ~10W
Dimensions158 x 100 x 35 mm
6.2" x 3.9" x 1.4"
Net weight578g (1.14 lbs)

Outstanding!

Stereo

(Click name to read original review)

Simpler streaming

“The way in which the little box sees off even computers optimised for audio playback is nothing short of a revelation.”

A huge thank you to Andrew for his review of our ZEN Stream.

Andrew Everard

(Click name to read original review)

The best network transport on the market

“If you would like to fall into the category of believing spending more is better than I have a bridge to sell you. There’s so much snake oil out there they would have you believe that their networks streamers you would have to spend 4K, nope! All this does is a transport it’s a Netwerk transport not DAC just high Quality wireless streaming!”

Amazon

(Click name to read original review)

Great streamer for audiophiles

This product is exactly what I was looking for to upgrade the sound of my stereo. Coming from a Bluesound Node 2i, I wanted a streamer that sounds great, doesn’t waste money with a built-in DAC that I will bypass to my own external DAC, outputs to USB, and let’s me connect seamlessly to Tidal through Tidal’s application and Tidal Connect. Compared to the sound I was getting from my Bluesound Node 2i through its coaxial output, the Zen Stream is significantly improved: more detailed sound and the sound stage appears to be a bit deeper and more focused. I have heard that additional improvements can be had if you power the unit with an upgraded power supply, so that’s where I’m going next. All in all, a great product. You do need to update the software via the included ethernet cable first before connecting wirelessly to your home internet, but it’s really not that difficult. Some reviewers have made a big deal about the software, but these issues must have been resolved in the latest version because I’ve had no issues whatsoever. Works great!

Amazon

(Click name to read original review)

Perfect! Just what I needed.

I was using a laptop as a music source for my stereo, with JRiver Media Center as the controlling interface. The laptop started acting flaky after four years, so it was time to buy another one. Lo, and behold – I found a bunch of reviews about this streamer on internet audio sites, also reading about it on the ifi site before purchasing it on Amazon. It’s also priced cheaper than any of the prospective laptops that I was considering.

It arrived five days later, and was installed in minutes. The wifi antenna was attached, the ifi connected to the Exogal Comet dac via usb, and the ifi plugged into the Shenyata Hydra for power. That’s it – simple.

Ifi has a free control interface for phones, tablets, laptops, but the JRiver software on my control laptop had no problem finding and connecting with the ifi streamer over wifi. The sound is so good with zero dropouts that i’m not worrying about connecting with ethernet for now. The ifi is built specifically for music files versus a multipurpose laptop, outshining the laptop mainly in terms of clarity of instruments and voices.

I haven’t tried any of the streaming services, as I don’t have a subscription. JRiver has some services built into it’s interface that sound pretty good. I bought this as a solution to play my music from ssds, and it succeeds big time. My score: A-Plus, 10 out of 10, knocked out of the ballpark. I can’t imagine what those multi-thousand dollar player/streamers sound like if a consumer can get this much technology in a product at this price point. Well-done, ifi.

Amazon

(Click name to read original review)

Great little streamer!

Replaced my Bluesound node with this because it streams usb out with mqa to my DAC. I feel the sound quality is better. Also it’s much better looking in my audio rack. Great choice if you already have a good DAC…

Amazon

(Click name to read original review)

iFi ZEN Stream by Steven Stone, The Absolute Sound

“I own and regularly use four Raspberry Pis that have been configured with different systems and optimized for music streaming. After using the iFi Zen Stream, I seriously doubt I will bother configuring another Raspberry Pi. The Zen Stream is far easier to set up, more user-friendly, and sonically indistinguishable. It is almost four times as expensive as a Pi, but for all but the savviest computer user, the Zen Stream may well be the most hassle-free, flexible, and high-quality music streamer currently available.

The Absolute Sound

(Click name to read original review)

ZEN Stream gains an Applause Award from Stereonet

“My daily streamer is an Auralic Altair G2, which is many times the cost of iFi’s ZEN Stream – but not many times as good. I found the Auralic sounded more subtly delineated, but the improvement in no way reflected the price difference, showing what fine value the iFi is. The Auralic’s sonic superiority was quite noticeable when I first switched between the two, but as is so often the case with hi-fi, this seemed to grow less significant once I’d listened for half an hour or so. To my ears, the ZEN Stream punches way above its weight.”

Stereonet - James Michael Hughes

(Click name to read original review)

iFi Audio’s ZEN Stream Wi-Fi Audio Transport

“Having spent more than a month streaming tunes from TIDAL, Qobuz, and Spotify, along with a vast sea of internet radio stations accessed through the browser interface, ZEN Stream passed every musical test with flying colors. Add solid support for playback from USB memory sticks and network servers, and iFi gives music fans lots of reliable and clean performance for the coin. Great gear – Recommended!”

AVNirvana - Todd Anderson

(Click name to read original review)

Audiophilia – iFi audio ZEN Stream

“Once more, iFi engineers have produced a value added digital product that can play with gear much more expensive without embarrassing either.”

Audiophilia - Anthony Kershaw

(Click name to read original review)

Sounds amazing…

“…And the sound…omg, just amazing, never thought streamed audio could sound this good, better than all the other streamers I have tried. I’m streaming over Tidal btw, I can hear a big difference between Master and HiFi. Gotta be on Master. Anyhow, it’s the first streamer i can just leave it on all day long, without getting tired of it.”

Amazon

(Click name to read original review)

Beats the Brakes off ANY Bluesound product

“At the end of the day I have a HiFi system that I never dreamed I’d have. Although price does not necessarily equal quality in anything, especially HiFi I have close to 20 grand invested in my system. When it came time to buy a streamer, I had saved it for last and was low on available funds, then I found the Ifi. Yes it’s $500 but that $500 was put into making it tye ABSOLUTEKY best sounding streamer possible. The Bluesound for $500 streams, is a Dac and Preamp. That’s a lot of things to get done on a 500$ budget and in side by side comparison it’s evident the Ifi sounds far superior. Unless you are going to spend upwards of 4 or 5 grand you can do no better for streaming.”

Amazon

(Click name to read original review)

ZEN Stream Review

“The ZEN Stream has been the first streamer I have used this much, and that says a lot.”

 

Headfonia

(Click name to read original review)

A network streamer for the masses

“…the ZEN Stream is still the most inclusive and user-friendly network streamer in the market with a price to performance value that is absolutely very hard to beat…”

Ichos on Head-Fi

(Click name to read original review)

Instant all in one creator

 “The Stream is ambitious, capable and flexible. It’s not perfect (yet) but it’s seriously impressive nonetheless and comes Highly Recommended as a result.”

 

AV Forums

(Click name to read original review)

¡La reseña definitiva!

¡La reseña definitiva!

 

MundoHiFi OZ

(Click name to read original review)

iFi ZEN Stream WiFi Audio Transport Review plus Bonus Goodies

“Well, it just works brilliantly iFi have done a fantastic job on this…”

 

Geekanoids

(Click name to read original review)

Relaxing enjoyment. 5 stars

“The iFi Audio ZEN Stream is one of the rare network players that can rank among the best performing network players of the moment in terms of flexibility, possibilities and in particular with the sound quality provided.”

 

hifi.nl

(Click name to read original review)

ZEN Stream I THE audiophile music streamer to beat under $500

“When I streamed the same music via TIDAL Connect to the ZEN streamer, it was like several layers of grime were removed from a window, allowing me to see a lot clearer than before.”

 

HI-FI TRENDS

(Click name to read original review)

ZEN Stream vs Bluesound Note

Thanks to the guys at Audio Excellence. The fun starts at around 10 mins in.

“Just has more of everything, way more detail…better sorted out, soundstage is bigger…”

“I’m sitting there, and I’m getting the shivers.”   “I would compare it to something that is 2 to 3 times the price.”

“iFi – better”

 

Audio Excellence

(Click name to read original review)

iFi ZEN Stream Review from Gavin’s Gadgets

“Airplay works beautifully.”  “Simple, straightforward device to use…. in terms of quality it’s absolutely excellent”

 

Gavin's Gadgets

(Click name to read original review)

ZEN Stream – “Plug and play streaming solution. Takes the guess work out “

I have used this as a Roon endpoint and NAA with HQplayer. Both were easy to setup. There were some tricky steps with Roon. It has an odd way of seeing devices. For this selection it identified my dac with the clue alsa vs asio or wasapi using USB direct to dac. . Haven’t tried any other options. Happy camper.

Amazon

(Click name to read original review)

ZEN Stream – “Solid streamer but know what you are buying “

This is a high quality Volumeo based music streaming device. If you don’t want to constantly tweaking with a raspberry pi but want a quality streamer this is it! If your a Tidal user connect is built in. If your an Apple user Airplay2 is built in and lossless access is yours. Do your homework understand the device and how it will work with your system and you won’t be disappointed.

Amazon

(Click name to read original review)

ZEN Stream – “Best streamer for Roon “

External DACs have been around for several decades. In the hi-fi context, they were initially a popular way to improve the sound of a CD player with digital output or to separate sensitive analog circuits from the mechanical vibrations and stepper motors in a CD transport. Fast forward a decade or two, and CD transports begin to give way to computer audio and streaming. In 2021, external DACs are still central to hi-fi, but we want them tethered to our home networks instead. While a few external DACs have Ethernet inputs, most do not. Enter the ZEN Stream from iFi Audio.

Essentially, the ZEN Stream network-enables any DAC with a USB or COAX S/PDIF input. It supports several popular audio streaming protocols, including Roon R.A.A.T., Signalyst HQPlayer NAA, DLNA, Spotify and TIDAL Connect, and AirPlay. Of these, I tested Roon and TIDAL; however, Roon is my primary use case. I’ve used many Roon endpoints over the years, including all sorts of Raspberry Pi builds, the Sonore microRendu, SOtM sMS200, and Allo USBridge Signature Player. The ZEN Stream sounds better than all of these, and in most cases, the difference is not small.

How is using a streamer different from connecting my DAC to a laptop or desktop PC? While you can undoubtedly get decent sound out of a modern DAC using a general-purpose computer as a transport, computers are not audio components. They have CPUs, GPUs, and other components that generate RFI, EMI, and all sorts of other noise that spills into a directly connected DAC. Well-designed DACs clean much of this up, but some of this noise can still make it to the delicate analog components in the DAC, spoiling the sound.

I read accounts all of the time from folks who say that their 10+ year-old CD or SACD player still sounds better than streaming. I then discover that they are feeding their external DAC with a USB connection from a laptop computer. Of course, the dedicated audio component will sound better! Ditch the laptop and use a proper network audio transport, like the ZEN Stream. You’re then looking at a different level of performance that will not only match but exceed the performance of that old CD player. The ZEN Stream is an audio component with loads of technology that reduces software jitter and noise, sending the most precise possible signal to the downstream DAC.

While you could buy a DAC with network functionality built-in, separating network functionality from your DAC makes sense. Network protocols and features change frequently and need updates, but if you have a great DAC, you can enjoy it for years without changing anything.

To get the best results from the ZEN Stream, you need to have a couple of other things in your environment. Besides a home network and DAC with USB or S/PDIF input, you’re going to need a music server. While not inexpensive at ~$10/month, I had the best experience and results by far with Roon Server. The ZEN Stream has a switch on the back that allows selection among several dedicated modes, including one for Roon. When in Roon mode, other processes are shut down to further reduce noise and improve performance.

The ZEN Stream is all about network streaming (wired Ethernet or Wi-Fi). It does not support Bluetooth. If you want that, look at the ZEN Blue instead. But, if you’re looking for the best sounding Roon endpoint solution, the ZEN Stream, combined with a good DAC, gets my highest recommendation.

Amazon

(Click name to read original review)

ZEN Stream – “Great little Streamer”

Great little streaming product, especially for Roon users
I have it plugged into my ZEN DAC
It will be perfect once they have it updated for Chromecasting

Amazon

(Click name to read original review)