Freshly Squeezed Reviews: Zen DAC Revisited

Mar 13, 2022 | Reviews | 0 comments

Roughly half a year ago, I did a review of the ifi Zen DAC v2. I thought I’d bring you up to speed on my experience thus far.

I use my Zen DAC in my studio apartment, attached to my iMac. I run it off of phantom power and have it hooked up externally to a pair of Audio Engine 2+ computer speakers.

Let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons I have found over these past six months.

CONS: There are only two that I have come across. One may be trivial but the other could be a dealbreaker for some. First, for reasons that I can’t conceive, the Zen DAC has no power button.
So, once you plug it in either via USB plug (phantom power plus data) or a 5v power supply, it stays on. Honestly, I have no idea if this taxes the internals or not but it definitely isn’t going to make them more efficient. It’s been running on phantom power steadily for six months without any negative effects so far, so time will tell.

Second, you are supposed to also be able to enhance the signal to your headsets. Unfortunately, my experience has been that when I plug my headsets in, the external speakers keep playing. That defeats one of the reasons you would use headsets. I contacted the manufacturer and was informed that this is a known issue in number of the units and they hope to correct it in a future firmware update. Until such time, I was told that I should manually unplug my speakers to remedy the situation. Huh!?!

PRO: My aforementioned speakers sounded great when I purchased them. But running them through the Zen DAC v2 elevated them to a whole new level. They fill my studio apartment with brilliant sound. There is definitely a wide audio field, the highs are crisp and clean, and neither the midrange or bass are muddied in the least. I’m listening to albums that I’ve played literally over a hundred times and discovering whole new aspects of their production. It’s like hearing the recording for the first time again.

To summarize, there is no way they’ll be able to remedy my unit’s power switch situation. But hopefully, they can remedy the headphone situation via firmware in a timely fashion. I’ll continue to use the Zen DAC v2 with my external speakers as the sound is that good.

©2022 Frank Petrie


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