ZEN One Signature DAC is iFi’s most universal DAC yet

posted on Monday, 17th January 2022 by Steve May

High-end  High Res Audio  Hi-fi 

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Southport-based audio specialist iFi has added a new component to its ZEN Signature range, the ZEN One Signature DAC.

The ZEN One Signature’s purpose is to take the digital audio signal from any device, via cable or Bluetooth, and convert it to analogue to feed an external amp and speakers, or headphones. It’s suitable for use with a wide variety of digital devices, including smartphones, PC, disc players, audio servers, TVs and games consoles.

The new model utilises the DAC stage from the ZEN DAC V2, adds optical and coaxial digital audio inputs alongside the USB port, and Bluetooth technology first seen on the ZEN Blue V2.

Beneath the lid is a Burr-Brown DAC chipset partnered with an XMOS chip that processes the audio data received via the USB and S/PDIF digital inputs. Bluetooth v5.1 support includes aptX Adaptive and aptX HD, LDAC and HWA/LHDC. Other codecs covered include regular aptX and aptX Low Latency, AAC and SBC.

The ZEN One Signature’s hi-res audio credentials encompass 32-bit/384kHz PCM over USB (192kHz over S/PDIF), DSD to DSD256, and single- and double-speed DXD. Thanks to the Burr-Brown DAC chip’s four-channel True Native design, PCM and DSD take separate pathways, which this enables DSD, as well as PCM, to remain ‘bit-perfect’ in its native form right through to analogue conversion.

ZEN One Signature Rear Connections

The unit is also compatible with the MQA hi-res streaming format, and supports full decoding of MQA files up to 384kHz. The complete ‘three unfold’ decoding process is performed internally, as opposed to just the final unfold in the manner of an MQA renderer, ideal for subscribers to Tidal’s HiFi Plus tier, where Tidal Masters MQA content can be found.

When it comes to installation, power can be supplied over USB from a connected device or directly from the mains via an AC/DC adapter. Analogue outputs are joined by a balanced 4.4mm output, enabling fully balanced connectivity with a suitably equipped amplifier. iFi makes a balanced 4.4mm to stereo XLR cable, ideal for connecting the ZEN One Signature to amps with XLR inputs.

The ZEN One Signature sports the same 158 x 35 x 100mm aluminium enclosure as the rest of the ZEN range, and is finished in Deep Space Blue(the colour iFi uses to differentiate its Signature-level models).

The iFi ZEN One Signature retails for £349.

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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