iFi audio ZEN DAC Signature: Tech Note #1
Premium version of the What Hi-Fi 5-star winning ZEN DAC
. The Signature edition simplifies the design and maxes out the audiophile goodness
- enhanced circuit design,
- end-to-end True Differential Balanced design, and
- premium parts selection inspired from our $3000 Pro range,
A device that’s deceptive in its simplicity and a beast in performance.Awesome Home Fi audio
Our best-selling ZEN DAC has a plethora of prestigious awards won, including the 5-stars What Hi-Fi award
. We were tasked with an audiophile version of the entry-level ZEN DAC. We listened, delivered and hopefully, beat expectations. In collaboration with Drop (previously Massdrop), we created a powerful system with all audiophile-grade components complemented with state-of-the-art sonic design, drawing many cues from the $3000 Pro iDSD and Pro iCAN. Doubled the amount of audiophile componentry goodness and put the DAC and amp sections in separate products (they certainly won’t fit in the same box anymore). This is how the ZEN DAC Signature and ZEN CAN Signature 6XX were born.
The ZEN DAC Signature offers a purist form designed for the demanding audiophile who is ready for the next level. The unique combination of 4.4mm balanced output, high-grade audio components and native MQA decoding means you enjoy the highest music quality at an approachable price. The product is so simple to control, that you will never have to worry about confusing settings and switches again. Less is more. We believe that simplicity is superior to elaborate embellishment.
Our engineers designed to empower the user with a choice in the ZEN DAC Signature. YOU decide whether or not the ZEN DAC analogue volume control is used. When set to 'Variable', it can be used to control the volume of powered speakers, or its volume as a preamp. If using with downstream equipment with their own volume control - set to 'Fixed' for bypass as if it were a ‘straight wire’ from the digital source to the analog amplifier.Nothing but the best flagship ‘Pro series’ circuits.
Descended from the $3,000+ flagship Pro iDSD, the ZEN DAC Signature has quite special DNA, making it perform as a DAC on a much higher level sonically than the modest price suggests. Why does it sound so special?Clean power = Clean sound.
The power supply section is a masterpiece underpinning the digital and analogue section. In this vein, the ZEN DAC Signature uses among others, TI low-noise power supply ICs
, well-designed ground planes for the PCB, ELNA Silmic II
, Panasonic OS-CON
, Taiyo Yuden and muRata
AND TDK C0G
capacitors, and ingenious solutions to cleaning up the power for the DSD1793 chip. SMT
processes are employed to extract the very last bit of signal from noise.
The hard work here pays off, giving performance in excess of what even the specs of the premium DACs and opamp chips used below would suggest.Brimming with quality technology from end to end
From the USB input, the digital signal goes to the XMOS USB chip for support of all audio formats up to 32bits/384kHz, DSD512, and full native MQA decoding
, which then feeds the Burr-Brown DSD1793
Jitter from the source is eliminated using the separate Global Master Timing
(GMT) circuit inherited from AMR, our high-end audio parent company. Taking audio data from the XMOS and clocking it according to the GMT, the BB DAC chip outputs the converted analogue signal to the end-to-end balanced analogue circuit
with custom-designed premium OV2637A opamp
, fitted with Vishay MELF resistors
for suppression of thermal noise. The music signal can then be controlled by the ZEN’s multitrack analogue volume control
(to feed powered speakers or power amps) or directly out to an integrated amp—or, of course, the matching ZEN CAN Signature.