Just purchased this unit on the basis that it has a balanced out for my HD660s headphones (4.4mm).
At £129 it is never going to sound brilliant, but I wanted it to match the sound quality I get from my FiiO M11 so that I can use the HD660s at my desk AND (crucially) make use of the full power of Roon (which the FiiO can’t do because of the restrictions of the android roon app). The Zen does this and matches the sound quality. Job done.
The unit works with Roon on all platforms (Windows 10, MacOS and linux (well, Rock)). It functions well as a Roon RENDERER ie Roon does the first unfolding. Balanced out drives the HD660s headphones well ie 12 O’Clock on the volume pot is loud enough! RCA out to amplifier has a fixed and a variable switch. Signal is clean enough.
So, for £129, pretty much a bargain
I have also used other iFi gizmos with it ie an iFi power supply and an iPurifier3. Both improve the sound quality. Obviously, the iPurifier costs as much as the Zen DAC - whether you would go out and buy the combo is questionable! Still, what balanced output, MQA, dac amp can you get for £350? I’m sure people will tell me!
GTO filter (using the latest iFi firmware) works well enough. I like the ability to update/rollback the firmware.
All in all, I would recommend this as an inexpensive and cheerful desktop dac/amp that works well with Roon.
Does Roon see the volume control, so I can adjust it via remote or the knob?
Roon sees ‘Device’ and ‘Fixed’ volumes in the settings. Either way, from what I can see at my end, the volume is fixed so you have to control the volume manually. This is from an ALSA connection (network bridge), so might be different if connected via a Windows 10 PC.
Thanks. So no difference to my actual iFi device. Does the volume and Bass button only control the headphones or also the RCA output on the back?
I really disliked the sq of their GTO filter on my Nano DAC but it did not work well with Roon and MQA on the older firmware. I stopped using it with Roon altogether and is now only used at work.
Just on the headphone output.
Hi Tim, just curious if you managed to get the iFi Zen DAC to do the second MQA unfolding if it is fed through Roon, and also if you’ve tried its DSD capabilities through Roon.
It acts well as an MQA renderer.
It also performs well with DSD files through Roon.
Some odd behaviour in terms of pausing and resuming (if you pause for several minutes, then return and play…sound is absent…changing the DSP brings sound back), so it is not perfect. However, as an inexpensive and versatile headphone amp it is hard to beat.
I now use it with a Pi4 RopieeeXL set up in my bedroom. Powers Audio Technica MSR7s well. Also works well with HD 660s but my other half can a hear a mouse fart from 2 miles away, so using the HD 660s is never going to happen