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.
Wi-Fi audio transport.
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.
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.
- All-in-one (AIO) covers all modes
- Roon only – feature coming soon – ROON ready
- Tidal streaming
- NAA streaming
- 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 (our own app is imminent!)
- Integrated Airplay and Chromecast* – easy streaming from Apple and Android devices
- ROON Ready functionality to be added in a future update.
- NAA operation in conjunction with Sygnalist’s HQPlayer software
*Chromecast to come in a future update.
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
Our ‘exclusive modes’ give you individual settings dedicated to specific modes of operation to deliver the purest possible performance.
This non-specific mode is great for all platforms, audio formats and devices.
Select this mode to optimise performance when using the ZEN Stream with DLNA-compatible apps and devices.
Select this mode when using the ZEN Stream as a Network Audio Adapter in conjunction with Signalyst HQPlayer software.
Feature coming soon – ROON Ready
ROON Ready functionality to be added in a future update. Select this mode when integrating the ZEN Stream into a ROON environment.
If you are a subscriber to Tidal’s Masters Tier, this is the mode for you.
|Input voltage||DC 9V/1.8A-15V/0.8A
AC 100 -240V, 50/60Hz
|Input||Wi-Fi / Ethernet / USB HDD
(Firmware updates via OTA and USB-C at rear)
|Output||USB3.0 (Type-A Socket) x2
|Power consumption||No Signal ~6W
Max Signal ~10W
|Dimensions||158 x 100 x 35 mm
6.2" x 3.9" x 1.4"
|Net weight||578g (1.14 lbs)|
ZEN Stream I THE audiophile music streamer to beat under $500
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”
iFi ZEN Stream Review from Gavin’s Gadgets
“Airplay works beautifully.” “Simple, straightforward device to use…. in terms of quality it’s absolutely excellent”
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.
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.
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.
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
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 (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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.