The iFi ZEN DAC Signature V2 DAC Offers Balanced, Blissfully Quiet Performance, Allowing You To Enjoy Captivating Sonic Details for an Enhanced Listening Experience
The team at iFi has developed a stellar DAC with incredible sound and a very affordable price. The ZEN DAC Signature V2 DAC has been improved to offer an even greater, purer listening experience. Just like its acclaimed predecessor, its sole purpose is to feed an external amplifier, 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 far more powerful, and the clock circuitry has been upgraded for superior sound.
The ZEN DAC Signature V2 incorporates boutique parts and circuitry inspired by the iFi Pro range. It sports a fully symmetrical, true differential balanced dual-mono signal stage with direct signal paths to ensure optimal signal purity. Plus, the new low-jitter crystal clock delivers dramatically better noise reduction. The ZEN DAC Signature V2 has been meticulously engineered to remain quiet wherever it's used. The iFi team utilized premium components — including C0G capacitors from TDK, plus Panasonic OS-CON and ELNA Slimic II capacitors — to ensure outstanding performance.
The ZEN DAC Signature V2's digital stage retains its True Native DAC architecture. It delivers bit-perfect performance 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 analog form.
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 on the front panel glows green or blue to indicate that the unit is decoding and playing an MQA stream or file, and it denotes provenance to ensure that the sound is essentially 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.
With the ZEN DAC Signature V2, you get 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 specialized (and 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.
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 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. The iFi in-house digital development team has programmed the XMOS firmware to optimize sound quality and ensure a perfect partnership with the Burr-Brown DAC.
Using the Burr-Brown True Native chipset means file formats remain unchanged, or bit-perfect, so that you hear music precisely as the artist intended, in the format in which it was recorded. Burr-Brown is used extensively in iFi products, having been selected it for its natural-sounding "musicality" and True Native architecture.
Like all Music Direct products, the iFi ZEN DAC Signature V2 DAC comes with the 100% Music Direct Satisfaction Guarantee.
"The ZEN Signature sets delivered highly resolved, clean, pristine, dynamic sound.... Backgrounds black as a new-moon nighttime sky brought musical details to the foreground. These two components [the ZEN CAN Signature HFM Headphone Amplifier and ZEN DAC Signature V2 DAC] sounded more expensive than they are and offer impressive sound quality — and a bit of style — for not a lot of money."
—Julie Mullins, Stereophile
"But how good can the iFi Zen DAC Signature sound? I went full-tilt-boogie tweeko-crazy, adding the iPuriFier3 and DC iPuriFier2 to the Zen DAC Signature with the PowerX and cued up the latest Diana Krall album, This Dream of You, and was greeted by sublimely seductive sonics. Krall's voice was natural and relaxed without sounding dull or overly laid-back. Depth cues were obvious, as the backing group was substantially behind Krall's commanding centerstage vocals."
—Steven Stone, The Absolute Sound
"On the decoder end, the Burr-Brown multi-bit chip used is also an improved chip inside the ZEN DAC Signature, which can do bit-perfect on PCM up to 32-bit/384kHz and native DSD up to DSD256. DXD is up and running plus full-MQA, which is now decoded at the hardware level.... I'm getting better extension but more so especially up top, with better high-frequency presence, more shimmer plus a slightly cleaner top end. It still carries over some of the warm signature [sound that] iFi units are known for, but the bilateral extension is just better."
—Louis Gonzalez, Headfonics
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. 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.
Extensive jitter-eradication technologies are applied to the digital stage, including a 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.
Premium ComponentsPanasonic OS-CON capacitors totaling 5,410uF give very-low Equivalent Series Resistance (ESR), plus excellent noise reduction capability and frequency response characteristics. In addition, OS-CONs have a long lifespan and the ESR changes little, even at low temperatures because the electrolyte is solid.
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 100dB, wide maximum-output-swing bandwidths, and high slew rates.
The iFi team has selected ELNA Japan Silmic II capacitors for the power supplies. A newly developed approach provides the dielectric to an aluminum electrolytic capacitor used for high-grade music. The result is superior acoustic properties and excellent linearity.
PCM: 44.1 / 48 / 88.2 / 96 / 176.4 / 192 / 352.8 / 384kHz
DXD: 2.8 / 3.1 / 5.6 / 6.2 / 11.2 / 12.4MHz DSD 353 / 384KHz
DAC: Bit-Perfect DSD & DXD DAC by Burr Brown
Balanced 4.4 mm: 2V-6.2V max. (variable) / 4.2V (fixed)
UnBAL RCA: 1V-3.3V max. (variable) / 2.1V (fixed)
<= 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)
No Signal: ~0.5W
Max Signal: ~2.5W
Dimensions (WDH): 6.2" x 4.6" x 1.4"
Weight: 1.11 lbs.
User Manual (PDF, 606 KB)