Ifi Audio Zen Stream
The new member of the acclaimed ZEN range of successful and well-built products from audio specialists iFi Audio also follows the naming convention of its other family members, where name follows function, and is therefore simply named Stream.
Zen Stream is a highly flexible Wi-Fi audio transport that supports both Tidal and Spotify Connect out of the box. In fact, it can stream virtually all current relevant audio formats and with support for both Airplay and Chromecast (software update soon), it’s free to play from all iOS and Android devices. Zen stream connects digitally to your system either via SPDIF or USB to the DAC you prefer to use. Stream acts as a bridge between your music sources and your sound system, over both wired and wireless networks. If you don’t have a DAC, the Stream is best paired with a Zen DAC from the same family.
Stream, unlike many other manufacturers’ products, is based on an open platform and with software that can be easily updated online, ifi Audio believes it offers greater flexibility and a more future-proof product.
The open platform provides many options for playing your music from, for example, a NAS drive, a computer, wirelessly from streaming services like Tidal, Spotify, Qobuz and via DLNA clients like ROON, Audirvana, JRiver and others. ZEN Stream is compatible with ROON Bridge, making it suitable for integration with ROON. A full certification for ROON is also in the pipeline.
ZEN Stream handles high-resolution audio with a maximum resolution of up to 32bit/384kHz as well as DSD up to 11.2 MHz (DSD 256). The two clear LED lights on the front of Zen Stream show the connection speed to your network and the quality (sampling rate/KHz) of the music files you’re playing.
ZEN Stream is a pure streamer/transport and therefore needs to be connected to an external DAC, an amplifier with a built-in D/A converter or an active speaker with digital input. On the back of the Stream there are two SuperSpeed USB 3.0 with ANCII (Active Noise Cancellation II) for connecting the storage device and connecting to the USB DAC. There is also a Gigabit Ethernet connection to connect the Zen Stream with a fixed cable. ANCII (Active Noise Cancellation II) is a patented iFi Audio technology that dramatically reduces noise. You can also connect the Zen Streamer via the coaxial digital output with built-in iPurifier which, among other things, is a galvanic isolation of the SPDIF output.
ZEN Stream has the ability to adjust and optimise the signal depending on the source you are using. Exclusive mode disables the features you don’t use, in order to give the specific source as clean a signal as possible since Stream won’t `look` for the signals on the network.
You can configure Zen Stream on the back to one of the following five modes:
1. All-In-one (AIO)
Works for all platforms, audio formats and sources, looking for everything on the network
2. DLNA streaming
Optimal when using ZEN Stream with DLNA-compatible apps and sources
3. NAA (Network Audio Adapter)
Used when ZEN Stream is used as NAA with e.g. Signalyst HQ-Player software
4. ROON Bridge streaming
Optimal choice when integrating Zen Stream with ROON
If you use Tidal Masters, this is the one you choose
In the usual iFi Audio spirit, the interior of the ZEN Stream is built from high quality and specially selected components. At the heart of the streamer is the powerful ARM Cortex Quad-core 64-bit processor, providing lightning-fast signal processing and delivering superb sound, super-detailed at maximum resolution. The internal software that handles signal processing is a proprietary ifi Audio software. The digital outputs are controlled by a femto-precision GMT (Global Master Timing) clock combined with an intelligent memory buffer to completely eliminate jitter. The active noise reduction reduces unwanted noise in the USB connections, and the coaxial digital signal is cleaned and re-clocked by the built-in iPurifer technology.
Ifi Audio Zen Streamer in headlines:
o Supports Tidal Connect and Spotify Connect
o Integrated AirPlay and Chromecast (upcoming update)
o Supports up to 32bit / 384kHz, DSD 256
o Compatible with ROON
o Functions as NAA (Network Audio Adapter)
o Asynchronous USB output, ANCII (Active Noise Reduction II) Rebalance = iSilenser. Bi-directional, 384kHz
o SPDIF galvanically isolated / Reclock regenerate = iPurifier technology. SPDIF 192Khz
o Built-in GUI (graphical user interface) where, among other things, playlists can be created from the music on the network
o Built-in Web Radio
o Can also be used as a NAA (Network Audio Adapter) with e.g. Signalyst Software
o Exclusive modes, instead of looking for all data packets on the network (roon, Tidal, Spotify etc.) Zen Stream can be narrowed down to Tidal only, or Roon etc.
o Built-in Dual-band WiFi 2.4 and 5 GHz (802.11a/b/g/n/ac)