iFi audio - Zen DAC V2

Added oomph!

This ZEN DAC V2 is the same award-winning hi-res USB DAC/headphone amp as before but with added oomph!

We’ve upgraded its digital engine from an 8 core XMOS chip to a 16 core chip. It’s ultra-capable while still being super-affordable.

Compact enough to use as a USB DAC/amp on your work desk and stylish enough to use at home with your favourite active speakers or amp, it delivers a level of specification and performance that punches above its super-affordable price tag.

The ZEN DAC V2 supports PCM and DXD to 32-bit/384kHz, DSD256 and MQA. DSD remains ‘bit-perfect’ thanks to the True Native Burr-Brown chip design.

16 core = hardcore.

Thanks to the 16 core tech, the Zen DAC V2 is now an MQA Decoder rather than a Renderer.

Upgraded GMT Clock!

The Upgraded Global Master Timing (GMT) clock circuitry with even lower jitter performance and improved sonics.

To learn more, head over to our site and media portal.

The Zen DAC V2 will be available for purchase soon for the retail price of €169 (incl VAT of 20%)
US$159 (ex-tax).

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Pretty quick upgrade after ZEN DAC V1 launched late 2019? Perhaps component shortages forcing to update the device.
But amp part of ZEN DAC is the same as V1 ?

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Yes, the AMP is the same!

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Thank you for clarifying. That’s disappointing, as I called out the amp as the weakest link in my V1 review. The ZenDAC is a nice all-in-one unit except for the amp limitations.

I personally don’t use MQA or DSD, so they aren’t relevant. The clock was already fine. I’d still choose the V1 at $129, or a version with a stronger amp at $169 or even $199.

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I understand where you are coming from, appreciate your feedback!

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Just got mine (I also have the v1 so I can A/B) and finally had a chance to set it up. Also took delivery of a WireWorld “Ultraviolet 8” USB 3.0 A - B audio cable. I’m feeding the ZEN uDAC v2 from my H-P PC tower with a Quad-Core AMD A10 CPU and 16GB of RAM. The music is stored on an 8TB WD NAS file server into a Netgear 8-port network switch. th PC output is feed the ZEN DAC thru a iPurifier3 and the unit is powered by a dedicated IfI Power Supply. Headphones are HiFiMAN HE400i connected to the 4.4mm Balanced port. The software is Audirvana v3.5.45 and it’s also connected to my HRA (Highresaudio.com) streaming (virtual vault) account on line. More later on how it all plays back.

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looking forward to your feedback!

THE SOUND - iFi Zen DAC v2

Low Frequencies

The low end is warm and thick. And though the transient response is relatively speedy, you will not hear a particularly tight bass; it has more of a voluptuous feel. The bass seems to spread across the soundstage giving the impression of a larger sound “picture”. This was especially true when I listened to the into of the Steven Wilson remix of Jethro Tull’s “Song from The Wood” with it’s multi-layered vocals. Yes, you will hear plenty of bass punch when listening to pop/rock like “Jazz Funk Soul”, but it’s more of a rounded punch, rather than a hard smack in the face. And this bass profile works particularly well for rock, giving the tracks tons of meat. For some material, if you really need to, press the “True Bass” button for a real low end ride.

Middle Frequencies

The present low and high mids nicely balance each other out. I listened to Pat Metheny’s “From This Place” to hear how both the highs and mids balance each other. It was very rewarding. Next, to get a true feel for the vocals, I listened to Joni Mitchell’s “Hejira” and Denise Donatelli’s “When Lights are Low” for a comparison using expertly mixed and mastered albums with strong female vocal charts. In both cases, the vocals never sat artificially forward in the mix. I got a natural and all-encompassing feel when listening to any track with well mixed instrumentation backing the main vocal track

High Frequencies

The highs are pristine. Not that much different from the Zen DAC v1, but here in the version 2, they seem a bit “airier” if that’s a good word to use. I chose Leonard Bernstein “An American in Paris” because of it’s light recording framework (not heavy like a Deutsche Grammophon recording) to get the strings up in the air. The highs aren’t sparkly, but they tend to emphasize the slightly bright side of the spectrum. Female vocals are fat, velvety, and fluid; cymbals are clear with just the right amount of “ping” even if the drummer is using a dry ride cymbal in a Jazz combo setting like German session drummer Mareike Wiening on her “Metropolis Paradise” release which just plain swings and is expertly recorded in Brooklyn, NY.

I think everybody should just start off with the iFi Zen DAC v2. That’s all I can say, You’ll have some wonderful listening sessions no matter what kind and style of material you listen to.

PROS and CONS

Pros: Well-balanced; rich and full-bodied; colorful imaging. Clearer highs and rich bottom end.

Cons: Not that much different from Zen DAC v1.

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