Getting Better Sound Is Easy: iFi ZEN Air DAC Improves Everyday Audio
You can easily improve improve the quality of your everyday audio with the iFi ZEN Air DAC. If you are new to the hobby, a DAC (digital-to-analog converter) converts the digital info in your source device — a computer, game console, tablet, or smartphone — to audio that you hear through loudspeakers or headphones. Every device that is a source of digital sound has a built-in DAC. But external DACs, like the ZEN Air, typically sound much better that the standard DACs used inside these devices.
The ZEN Air DAC outputs high-resolution audio, which is superior to the standard audio you would get from just using your computer, game console, tablet, or smartphone. Imagine the difference in video quality between a standard TV and a 4K Ultra HD TV. This is similar to the difference that an external DAC can make to your music and other types of audio.
The ZEN Air functions as both a DAC and a headphone amp. It's a great first step if you are beginning your audio journey, or if you are setting up a second system. Simply connect the ZEN Air DAC to your computer or smart device via the USB cable. Then connect it to your headphones via the headphone jack at the front, or to speakers via the RCA connections at the back. If you already have an amplifier, you can use the ZEN DAC Air as a pure DAC with this amp or speakers.
The flexible ZEN Air DAC supports different file formats — PCM 32bit/384kHz, fully native DSD256, and MQA. PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) is the file format used in CD, DVD, Blu-ray, and other digital audio applications. It’s the next step up from MP3. DSD (Direct Stream Digital) is a high-quality audio format, superior to CD quality. The higher the number (sample rate), the better the recording: DSD64, 128, 256, 512, and 1024. Fully native means that it hasn't been altered in any way from the original recording.
MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) is an award-winning audio technology that enables music fans to stream original master recording quality audio into their home, car, or mobile device. With the ZEN Air DAC, you can listen to MQA straight out of the box. Simply connect to TIDAL Masters and check the option to stream MQA.
Additionally, the ZEN Air DAC offers two proprietary sonic tweaks from iFi. PowerMatch adjusts the gain of the ZEN DAC Air so that it functions at the proper level for your headphones. Gain is a unit of measurement that indicates how loud an audio source is, and it is measured in decibels (dB). XBass+ allows you to tailor the bass to suit your headphones and your personal taste. Both of these features are designed to improve and personalize your listening experience.
Like all Music Direct products, the iFi ZEN Air DAC comes with the 100% Music Direct Satisfaction Guarantee.
The XMOS Difference
The XMOS 16-Core chip processes the audio data received via the USB digital input. This new, low-latency XMOS microcontroller offers greatly enhanced processing power. Compared to 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. The iFi digital development team has programmed the XMOS firmware to optimize the sound quality and ensure a perfect partnership with the Burr-Brown DAC.
The Burr-Brown "True Native" chipset means file formats remain unchanged, or bit-perfect. This allows you to hear music as the artist intended — in the format in which it was recorded. The iFi design team uses Burr-Brown extensively, having selected it for its natural-sounding "musicality" and "True Native" architecture.
Premium Build Quality
The 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.
The TDK C0G (Class 1 ceramic) capacitors offer high stability and low losses for resonant circuit applications. Getting ever closer to the theoretical ideal of pure, frequency-constant capacitance, these capacitors reduce capacitor-induced distortion to vanishingly low levels.
Input voltage: DC 5V/2.5A
Input: USB3.0 B Socket (USB2.0 compatible)
DAC: Bit-Perfect DSD & DXD DAC by Burr Brown
Output: 1V / 3.3V max.
Output Impedance: ≤50Ω
SNR: <-113dB(A) @ 0dBFS
DNR: >113dB(A) @ -60dBFS
THD+N: <0.04% @ 0dBFS
Output: 1V / 3.3V max. (variable)
Output Power: >280mW @ 32Ω ; >36mW @ 300Ω
Output Impedance: <1Ω
THD+N: <0.04% (100mW @ 16Ω)
SNR: >113dBA (3.3V)
Power consumption: No Signal ~0.5W / Max Signal ~2.5W
Dimensions: 6.2" x 4.6" x 1.4"
Weight: 0.969 lbs.
User Manual (PDF, 191 KB)