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iFi announces ZEN One Signature DAC

  • iFi’s steady stream of DACs n’ dongles is threatening to become a flood with the announcement of yet another new D/A converter. The ZEN One Signature takes the ZEN DAC V2’s aluminium enclosure, colours it blue, strips away the headphone amplifier, adds TOSLINK and coaxial digital inputs and borrows the Bluetooth input from the ZEN Blue V2. The coaxial socket can also be deployed as a digital output should one wish to use the ZEN One Signature as a USB-S/PDIF converter.

    Inside the unit, iFi has once again deployed a Burr-Brown chipset to support MQA as well as PCM 32bit/384kHz / DSD256 with separate signal routing for each data format. Bit-perfect playback is also guaranteed.

    However, the press release reminds us – quite literally – that a D/A converter’s sound depends on more than its chosen DAC chip. For USB and S/PDIF reception, iFi has specified a “low latency” 16-core XMOS microcontroller after which digital signal jitter is reduced by the UK company’s Femto-clocking and data buffering.

    For better-sounding Bluetooth reception and the broadest possible codec support, iFi has optioned a 4-core QCC5100 chip from Qualcomm. Hello aptX, aptX Adaptive, aptX HD, aptX Low Latency, LDAC, HWA/LHDC, AAC and – of course – SBC.

    On analogue signal handling, the ZEN One Signature offers not only a balanced circuit design but an “enhanced true-differential balanced” topology. The balanced output comes in the form of a rear panel 4.4mm Pentaconn socket. Otherwise, we fall back to the neighbouring single-ended RCA sockets for our amplifier connection.

    From the press release: “…every element of its circuitry is designed for pure performance. Key surface-mounted components have been upgraded to high-end devices, including Panasonic OS-CON and Elna Silmic II capacitors, and the design has been refined to ensure short, direct signal paths.”

    Power supply comes either via USB or optional external power brick.

    The iFi ZEN One Signature is available now for Β£349, €349 or US$349.

    Further information: iFi Audio

    Written by John Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

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