Ifi Audio debuts versatile ZEN Stream Wi-Fi transport

posted on Wednesday, 7th July 2021 by Steve May

Wireless  Hi-fi  Streaming 

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The ZEN Stream, the latest addition to iFi’s popular line of compact ZEN Series devices, is described as a ‘Wi-Fi audio transport.’

Acting as a bridge between Wi-Fi network and audio system, the streamer connects to a router wirelessly or Ethernet cable, and outputs to an external DAC (or an amp with digital inputs) via USB or digital audio.

The ZEN Stream uses the same dark grey aluminium extrusion as other iFi’s ZEN models, with a silver-coloured aluminium faceplate. Two multi-colour LEDs indicate internet connection/ speed and audio format/sample rate.

In addition to dual-band Wi-Fi reception, there’s a high-grade Gigabit Ethernet port, USB-A input, and a USB-C programming port for software/firmware updates. Two digital outputs, asynchronous USB and coaxial digital audio, provide connection to an external DAC or amp with digital inputs.

ZEN Stream Rear Connections
There’s support for PCM up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD up to 11.2MHz (DSD256) over Wi-Fi as well as over Ethernet cable. There are multiple ways in which the device can interface with a music collection or favourite streaming service, depending on the user’s preference.
It comes with integrated Tidal Connect and Spotify Connect, and is DNLA certified. It also has AirPlay and Chromecast onboard, for easy streaming from Apple and Android devices. AirPlay is included at launch; Chromecast will be added as a free firmware update later this year.

It’s also Roon compatible, working with Roon Bridge software. Integrators can use the ZEN Stream to add Roon compatibility to any DAC, most obviously iFi’s matching ZEN DAC.

The device can also operate as an NAA (Network Audio Adapter) in conjunction with Sygnalist HQPlayer software. This means it can direct packets of audio data received over Wi-Fi or Ethernet cable straight to the connected DAC without applying any processing whatsoever.

Using an open-source Linux-based operating system architecture, iFi is encouraging the Hi-Fi community to create additional features to add via OTA (Over The Air) updates.

Operational modes comprise All-in-one, for all platforms, audio formats and devices; DLNA streaming; NAA streaming; Roon Bridge streaming and Tidal streaming.

The iFi ZEN Stream retails for £399. Distribution is via Armour Home.

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology specialist who also writes for T3TechRadarHome Cinema Choice, Trusted Reviews and The Luxe Review.

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