New (was back in 2021) iFi Zen Stream device

Well I just cancelled my order with Musicdirect.
Ten days after receiving my defunct unit they have still not shipped a replacement so I just asked for a full refund instead.

I will shop elsewhere…


Well that’s not great news is it.
Hopefully you can get a working one quickly.
BTW what DAC are you planning to pair it with? I know you always move stuff around so quickly, just want to know if you still have it when the unit turns up.

I was planning on trying it first into the built in dac of the ML585 integrated.
That’s the test plan.

Where it was intended for long term was the built in dac of my Parasound classic integrated in the living room system.

Both are max 24/192 dac so big overkill.

However I also might try a Topping D50S as cheap as chips at $249 brand new to pair it with.

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Hi gents I just noticed the first firmware update (for those on v2.25) and the new version is 2.28

Updating mine now and not looking the most promising at this point (stopped at 60%).

I got an error with no information and then had to pull the power lead and waiting for a minute it seemed to restart OK and I started again (now stopped at 20%).

I will play more later, but just letting you know

Whatever you do, do NOT push the reset button at the back.
That would most certainly brick it!
Good luck and now nervous about even ordering another one tbh…

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I included the Fixes for you, as it seems to be the main fix.

I was hoping for Chromecast support.
I have to say the stability needs some serious work, mine is connected over Ethernet on a 350Mb connection and so far we have 60%, 40% and 50% downloaded
Also they have not made the download for USB install available.
Though iFi are known for bricking devices, so whatever even made me go in and manually check it :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

In case anyone else is brave enough to try it I eventually got this twice, but nothing the other time


Good news all
The update to 2.2.8 has finally completed, though besides the factory reset fix there does not seem to be anything there.


Seems like an ideal product except it only handles PCM 384khz. That takes out pretty much every HQPlayer user that has a Chord DAC. NAA functionality is essentially crippled from the get go. Oh well. Doesn’t beat Pi in that regard for sure.

Don’t Chord DACs do massive upsampling internally? Not sure how they would benefit from upsampling in the media player with all of the internal processing they have or are capable of.

On the other hand, I can definitely see how NOS DACs would benefit from upsampling in Roon or HQPlayer. Upsampling to 384 kHz likely delivers 98.5% of the benefits of upsampling to 768 kHz, even in the case of NOS DACs.

HQPlayer does PCM more efficiently than DSD, and Chord TT2 also sounds best with PCM 768 which is its maximum. Dual BNC of TT2 permits 768Khz via Coax which bypasses noisy Amanero USB input for darker backgrounds, and we use dual BNC through a device called SRC-DX. HQPlayer upsampled music fed into TT2 via Dual BNC, with an HQPlayer setting of Sinc M or L or Mx, at PCM 768Khz best approximates (or some say betters) the M-Scaler. I think looking at it from an M-Scaler comparison will put into perspective what the benefit is. So for those of us who don’t use an M-Scaler but want the best out of our Chord DACs through HQPlayer and ancillary devices, Zen Stream is not the best match for us if it can only get us 384Khz. But I can see this device to be really really good (I almost bought it); just not ideal for some of us.

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Jason so this is only useful for 99.9% of the planet then. OK I will take that.

I don’t mean that in a derogatory way either as almost all the world seems happy with 256KB AAC or 320 OGG or MP3

This is priced appropriately (or maybe just below) the value it offer’s for the quality components it uses.

Other than that I applaud those that love their music so much that they run another server to put HQP on and maybe one day I will join that group as well.


It’s a missed opportunity because It’s one thing to not have the NAA functionality, but it’s different when you got NAA but you can only get half out of it. Like getting a Porsche with a Prius max speed? Or a Roon endpoint that can only play Tidal and not Qobuz. I have a feeling a firmware update can open it up to 768. A little old raspberry pi3 with inferior hardware can do it…

I was a little shocked the see the NAA functionality to be honest
My guess is it came as a freebie as part of the distribution, but I guess you are right to the extent that HQP users are very discerning to their SQ or they would not use it.

Hopefully for the majority of users what is there fits 100% of the needs, and I am hoping for the Chromecast update and I might well buy another of them then as it is almost the perfect streamer for the majority at that point regardless of who is controlling the music.

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Lets see now Chord M-Scaler at $4795, iFi Zen Stream at $399…

I would SERIOUSLY hope the M-Scaler can do things and bring something extra to the table that the little iFi cannot!

M-Scaler performance is approximated by the total of the following components connecting to a Chord dac:

A) HQPlayer at 768Khz PCM, Sinc-Mx filter
C) Very good BNC cables
D) Good streamer that supports the format (eg $50 rPi)

Total of the above components is >$1k and also nobody is doing a direct 1:1 comparison between an M Scaler and the iFi streamer here. That’s bonkers.

It would have been fabulous to use a iFi Streamer for item (D) above. I have reached out separately to the iFi folks to clarify and check if it’s something that can be implemented in the future (for NAA at least)

These were your words not mine?

If you meant an equivalent to what you might achieve with parts that may give similar performance to the M-Scaler then that is a little different.

So you were really just comparing the iFi Stream to a Pi then?

Now I see…

Carry on!

Nice partial quote. You may wanna include the rest of the paragraph that lists down all the components that approximate an M-scaler performance. It’s a direct response to an earlier comment that a software upscaling wont seem to have perceivable improvement in sq. Hence, thinking about how the components can approximate an m-scaler will give an idea of how much an sq improvement there can be.

Jason are you missing the pretty high end machine to drive the HQPlayer (cost wise) or am I getting that wrong.

I can see that the Zen Stream doesn’t do what you want, which is fine, then use a Pi.
It met my needs and others and the quality is better than the Pi for me, unless you are looking to match your requirements.
I do not knock Pi’s as I have loads of them (and a couple of spares now after buying the Zen stream and Matrix Audio mini-i Pro 3) but these will be use elsewhere in my house over time.
I also have multiple Pi’s with digital and analogue out connectors as well and like those even more

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I agree, maybe iFi can do a future update. It seems doable as it is probably powerful enough to do 768 as an NAA endpoint.

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My spare 5 year old laptop, Intel i5-8gb ram running HQPlayerEmbeded OS booted from USB running in ram can easily handle the 768, Sinc-Mx task. If that’s all you want, you don’t need really big horsepower. If you want to do DSD and use some heavier filters, then different story.

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