High-Resolution Streaming Made Simple: Roon Ready iFi Zen Stream Sends Music from the Internet to Your DAC with No Loss of Quality
If you're eager to dive into the world of streaming, the iFi Zen Stream network player could be your new best friend. Flexible and easy to use, the Zen Stream is an open-source Wi-Fi audio transport for music lovers who care about sound quality. Acting as a bridge between your Wi-Fi network and your audio system, the Zen Stream is devoted to one task, which it does superbly: It sends music from the internet to your DAC with no loss of quality. You can stream your favorite music — with the best audio quality — with your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer.
It's simple to use the Hotspot button on the Zen Stream's front panel to join a Wi-Fi network. And whether you're connected wirelessly or via an Ethernet cable, the Zen Stream is your pathway to endless hours of music from TIDAL, Qobuz, Spotify, and more. An LED light (labeled kHz) on the front panel will change colors to indicate the audio format that the Zen Stream is using.
Beneath its sleek, straightforward exterior, iFi's Zen Stream is a technological marvel, offering true high-resolution performance of PCM384/DSD256 via Wi-Fi/LAN. All you need to do is add your smart device as a remote, and away you go! Optimized with open-source architecture, the Zen Stream works with multiple dedicated platforms, and it is completely future-proof because it can be constantly updated over the air.
Every aspect of the Zen Stream is fully optimized for seamless operation and excellent sonic performance — from the 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.
For fans of Roon, the Zen Stream allows you to turn any DAC into a Roon-compatible DAC. The Roon Ready Zen Stream directs packets of audio data received over Wi-Fi or Ethernet cable straight to the connected DAC without applying any processing whatsoever. Plus, it is a simple process to stream straight from TIDAL or Spotify via their apps.
One particularly ingenious part of the Zen Stream's design is the user's ability to select between "Exclusive" modes. These are individual settings dedicated to specific modes of operation to deliver the purest possible performance. When using this feature, all other programs are shut down in order to minimize 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.
Additionally, both of the 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. Like all Music Direct products, the iFi Zen Stream comes with the 100% Music Direct Satisfaction Guarantee.
"For Roon users, the Zen Stream offers an inexpensive no-fuss Roon endpoint, or potential multiple endpoints, as you add additional Zen Streams to different rooms. For owners of DACs that don't have a USB input option, the Zen Stream offers an SPDIF digital-output connection, so virtually any DAC can be used with the Zen Stream.... [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."
—Steven Stone, The Absolute Sound
"What's not to like about this cute little bit of kit?... IFi's little ZEN Stream streamer is a seriously impressive new streamer, offering great functionality and fine sound in a small package at a low price. Its genius is that it will work with any DAC with a USB connection, which is most these days. Yet it's also a very pretty picture together with iFi's own ZEN DAC V2, both visually and sonically. Together they give an engaging and entertaining sound with more detail than you'd expect, plus a lot of operational flexibility in terms of driving headphones. I became rather taken with both of them and reckon they're both something of a steal — whether you're looking to use them in your main system or as a desktop or office companion."
—James Michael Hughes, StereoNET Applause Award
"iFi has come up with a pre-configured unit that sounds excellent, and supports a ton of streaming services.... Then you can pick the DAC that fits your preferences. As I found out during my testing, it also works well with integrated amps that have a good DAC built-in.... I think the ZEN Stream fulfills a sorely unmet need within the Hi-Fi market, and it's highly recommended for those looking for a value-priced alternative to megabuck streamers. This is the streamer to beat..."
—Paul Cash, Hi-Fi Trends
The iFi Zen Stream's "Exclusive" modes give you individual settings dedicated to specific modes of operation to deliver the purest possible performance. 1) All-in-One: This non-specific mode is great for all platforms, audio formats, and devices. 2) DLNA Streaming: You should select this mode to optimize performance when using the Zen Stream with DLNA-compatible apps and devices. 3) NAA Streaming: You should select this mode when using the Zen Stream as a Network Audio Adapter in conjunction with Signalyst HQPlayer software. 4) Roon Bridge Streaming: You should select this mode when integrating the Zen Stream into a Roon environment. 5) TIDAL Streaming: If you are a subscriber to the TIDAL Masters tier, then this is the mode for you.
Zen Stream Is Roon Ready
Following extensive testing, Roon Labs certified the Zen Stream as fully Roon Ready. This means that the Roon application, on whatever platform you use, will recognize the Zen Stream as a native player and connect to it at its highest audio quality.
- SuperSpeed USB3.0 ports with Active Noise Cancellation II
- S/PDIF out with the iPurifier built in
- Power supply with Silent Power tech
- iFi software developed with Volumio open-source as the starting point, then coded and optimized to achieve the purest streaming software
- Powerful, 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex microprocessor
- Supports PCM up to 32-bit/384kHz over Wi-Fi as well as Ethernet cable, plus DSD up to 11.2MHz (DSD256)
- 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
Input voltage: DC 9V/1.8A-15V/0.8A
AC 100 -240V, 50/60Hz
Input: Wi-Fi / Ethernet / USB HDD
Formats: PCM384, DSD256
Output: USB3.0 (Type-A Socket) x2, SPDIF (Coaxial)
Power consumption: No Signal ~6W
Max Signal ~10W
Dimensions: 6.2" x 3.9" x 1.4"
Weight: 1.14 lbs.
User Manual (PDF, 547 KB)