IFi has extended a hand of friendship to digital audio enthusiasts – anyone can try to write software for the iFi ZEN Stream networked audio bridge. The novelty is designed to provide network content to any DAC (with the rest of the iFi ZEN Stream products, the design of the case is similar). The ZEN Stream connects to the router via Wi-Fi (dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac) or Gigabit Ethernet. The signal is output to an external DAC via USB-A or S / PDIF.
The heart of the novelty is a quad-core ARM Cortex microprocessor. The board also houses surface mount components such as multilayer ceramic capacitors and TDK C0G inductors from Taiyo Yuden and Murata. As for the power supply in the 1.5 MHz switching source, PSRR stabilizers with a high coefficient of suppression of instability, low no-load current and low voltage drop are used.
ZEN Stream’s bitrates are on par with compatible iFi models: PCM up to 32-bit / 384 kHz and DSD up to 11.2 MHz (DSD256). The software working with these signals must be compatible with Linux – it was this platform that was chosen for the novelty. Updates are installed over the air or via USB-C in version 3.0.
The iFi ZEN Stream supports AirPlay out of the box, and the Chromecast is promised a little later, as is the Roon Bridge certified Roon Ready. A proprietary Stream-iFi application for DLNA storage devices is also being prepared. Streaming from the Tidal and Spotify apps will be available immediately. As a network audio adapter (NAA), the novelty works with the Sygnalist HQPlayer, sending audio data received over the network directly to the DAC.
In the UK, the iFi ZEN Stream is already available for £400.