iFi Audio ZEN DAC V2 Desktop USB DAC & Headphone Amplifier

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iFi's most popular and affordable DAC/headphone amp just got even better.The ZEN DAC V2 is a combination USB DAC/headphone amplifier that connects to PCs, Macs, smartphones, and tablets via USB to take your audio experience to a higher plane. Designed... Read More
iFi's most popular and affordable DAC/headphone amp just got even better.

The ZEN DAC V2 is a combination USB DAC/headphone amplifier that connects to PCs, Macs, smartphones, and tablets via USB to take your audio experience to a higher plane.

Designed for home use – on a desk or in the living room – the ZEN DAC V2 connects to PCs, Macs, tablets, and phones via USB. Its hi-res digital-to-analogue conversion technology processes all forms of digital audio to a high standard, while the simple integrated headphone amplifier delivers the sound to your headphones, from in-ear monitors to larger over-ear designs.

It's even stylish enough to use in your home system as a USB DAC. Just add your favourite active speakers or amp.

The new ZEN DAC V2 includes a new 16-core XMOS chip – this is the engine that handles the digital data received over USB prior to analogue conversion. The chip’s increased processing power, coupled with iFi’s custom firmware, enables MQA support to be upgraded from rendering to full decoding. The ZEN DAC V2 also features an upgrade to iFi’s GMT (Global Master Timing) crystal clock circuitry, delivering even lower jitter performance with corresponding sonic benefits.
  • Improve the sound quality of your music with the ZEN DAC quickly and easily.
  • Connect the ZEN DAC via USB in between your PC, Mac or smart device – tablet or phone – and chill. Power consumption < 1.5W via USB power. Or, add a 5v DC power supply for even better performance (we suggest the iFi iPower 5V).
  • Add the ZEN DAC to your home audio system and use it as a USB DAC, with or without the sound engaged.
  • Whether you are hooking up headphones, an external amp or active speakers, you can choose between a single-ended or balanced connection – a remarkable facility at this price.
  • Pentaconn 4.4mm balanced outputs at both the front and back. On the front, there’s also the popular 6.3mm headphone socket, so you get both headphone options.
  • The ZEN DAC V2 delivers hi-res, ‘bit perfect’ PCM and DXD to 24-bit/384kHz, DSD256 and full MQA decoding.
  • The analogue output stage of the ZEN DAC is a balanced design which means less interference and cross talk.
  • Benefit from PowerMatch – a single switchable gain mode – to cater for headphone sensitivity.
  • Turn on TrueBass to add missing bass to open back headphones or IEMs.
New in V2: 16 core = hardcore
Thanks to the processing power of the new 16-core XMOS chip, the ZEN DAC V2 is now an MQA Decoder rather than just a Renderer.

This enables you to fully unfold MQA audio files and streams up to 384kHz internally, as opposed to only the final unfold, delivering the sound of the original master recording.

The LED glows green to indicate that the unit is decoding and playing an MQA stream or file, and denotes provenance to ensure that the sound is identical to that of the source material. It glows blue to indicate it is playing an MQA Studio file, which has either been approved in the studio by the artist/producer or has been verified by the copyright owner.

New in V2: Smooth and balanced.
A new and improved low jitter, crystal clock means >20dB better performance. The super-low noise performance helps the ZEN DAC V2 remain quiet even in highly noisy environments such as yachts or RVs.

The ZEN DAC V2 still features Pentaconn 4.4mm balanced outputs at both the front and back. On the front, there’s also the popular 6.3mm headphone socket.

DAC implementation
The DAC section is based around a Burr-Brown DAC chip, selected for its fluid, highly musical sound quality and ‘True Native’ architecture.

This, together with the new 16-core XMOS chip used for input processing, enables the delivery of excellent sound across all manner of digital audio formats including hi-res PCM, ‘bit-perfect’ DSD and MQA decoding ­– the hi-res streaming codec, as used by Tidal’s ‘Masters’ tier. The ZEN DAC V2's digital audio credentials are highly impressive for a product in this price range.

The digital stage
PCM and DXD audio data is supported up to 24-bit/384kHz, alongside DSD sampling rates from 2.8MHz to 12.4MHz (DSD256).

Thanks to the Burr-Brown chip’s True Native design, PCM and DSD take separate pathways – this enables DSD to remain ‘bit-perfect’ in its native form, right through to analogue conversion. Many DACs that claim DSD compatibility accept DSD data but then convert it to PCM. For DSD purists, the ZEN DAC V2 is a fantastic affordable solution.

Extensive clock-locking is used throughout the digital stage to eradicate jitter, maintaining the integrity of the digital signal until conversion.

The analogue stage
The ZEN DAC V2's analogue stage is a balanced design – not often found in a combination DAC/headphone amp at this price point. It incorporates a range of quality circuit components, carefully selected for their performance in an audio context, including C0G capacitors from TDK and an analogue volume pot.

The headphone amp stage has switchable gain, which we call PowerMatch. This matches the level of drive to the load presented by the headphones, by adjusting input sensitivity and thereby signal strength. With high-sensitivity headphone types such as in-ear monitors, leave PowerMatch at its lower setting for ultra low-noise performance. But if your headphones require more drive – most on/over-ear types, for example – press the PowerMatch button on the front panel to increase gain.

TrueBass is another user-selectable feature. An evolution of our established XBass circuit, TrueBass is a sophisticated form of ‘bass boost’ that subtly enhances low frequencies without muddying the midrange – particularly useful with earphones and open-back headphones that may lack deep bass. It operates entirely in the analogue domain rather than messing with the digital signal via DSP and may be switched in or out via another button on the front panel.

Looking for an even better headphone amplifier?  Stack ZEN DAC V2 with ZEN CAN for an amazing desktop head-fi experience, particularly with sensitive IEMs and harder-to-drive headphones.

Well connected
The ZEN DAC V2 sports Pentaconn 4.4mm balanced outputs, both front and back, designed to enable balanced signal transfer between compact products that cannot accommodate traditional XLR connections. The front-mounted 4.4mm output sits alongside a standard, single-ended 6.3mm headphone socket — which can accommodate the included 6.3mm to 3.5mm adapter — thus, the benefits of balanced headphone designs are fully utilized, whilst also accommodating every type of headphone, both balanced and single-ended.

The 4.4mm output to the rear enables connection to amps and active speakers equipped with a balanced input – either a Pentaconn 4.4mm input, or XLR inputs via a 4.4mm-to-XLR cable. Single-ended RCA outputs are also provided.

For example, our favourite option for upgraded headphone performance — the ZEN CAN analogue headphone amplifier — can connect via RCA, or use iFi’s 4.4mm to 4.4mm interconnect cable for superior balanced performance.

These line-level outputs – both balanced and single-ended – can be switched between ‘variable’ and ‘fixed’, enhancing the ZEN DAC’s versatility. The variable setting applies volume control to the audio signal, enabling the ZEN DAC to perform as a preamp feeding a power amp or active speakers. The fixed option bypasses the volume control, fixing the output at 4.2V (balanced) or 2.1V (single-ended) for connection to an external preamp or integrated amp.

The ZEN DAC’ V2's asynchronous USB Type B input supports the ‘SuperSpeed’ USB 3.0 standard and is also compatible with USB 2.0.
    Dimensions: 117 x 100 x 30 mm / 4.61 x 3.94 x 1.18 in
    Weight: 1.13 lbs
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