iFi Zen Air Dac
Improve the quality of your everyday audio with the ZEN Air DAC.
DAC stands for Digital to Analogue converter. In a nutshell, a DAC converts the digital info in your source device – your computer, games console, tablet or smartphone – to music that we can hear through speakers or headphones.
Every device that is a source of digital sound has a built-in DAC. External DACs sound much better that the standard DACs used inside these devices.
Hearing is believing
The ZEN Air DAC outputs very hi-res (high resolution) quality audio. This is much better that the standard audio you would get from just using your computer, games console, tablet or smartphone.
Imagine the difference in quality from a standard TV to an 8K Ultra HD TV — but in sound! This is the difference an external DAC makes to your music.
Once you hear it, you’ll be converted (not just your audio)!
The ZEN Air DAC functions as both a DAC and a headphone amp. It’s a great first step if you are just starting on your audio journey.
Simply connect it to your computer or smart device via a USB cable. Then connect it to your headphones via the headphone jack at the front or to speakers via the RCA connections at the back.
If you already have an amp, you can use the ZEN DAC Air as a pure DAC with this amp or speakers.
The ZEN Air DAC supports different file formats – PCM 32bit/384kHz, fully native DSD256 and MQA.
PCM – Pulse Code Modulation is the file format used in CD, DVD, Blu-ray and other digital audio applications. It’s the next step up from MP3.
DSD – Direct Stream Digital is a very high-quality audio format, better than CD quality. The higher the number (sample rate), the better the recording – DSD64, 128, 256, 512 and 1024. Fully native means that it hasn’t been altered in any way from the original recording.
MQA – Master Quality Authenticated is an award-winning audio technology that enables music fans to stream the original master recording into their home, car or their mobile. With the ZEN Air DAC you can listen to MQA straight out of the box. Simply connect to Tidal Masters and check the option to stream MQA. Find out more about MQA here.
The ZEN Air DAC also sports a couple of unique sonic tweaks from iFi.
PowerMatch adjusts the gain of the ZEN DAC Air so it functions at the right level for your headphones. Gain is just a unit of measurement that indicates how loud an audio source is and is measured in decibels (dB).
XBass+ allows you to tailor the bass to suit your headphones and your personal taste.
Both are designed to improve and personalise your listening experience.
Most DACs still use digital volume control – ours is analogue.
What does this mean? When you reduce the volume on other DACs you remove data from the song or soundtrack. With analogue volume control, you reduce the volume whilst maintaining the quality.
Put simply, the ZEN Air DAC is an easy way to experience super clear, hi-res audio quality in your everyday listening.
Sift through the noise, breathe in the Air.
The XMOS 16-Core chip processes the audio data received via the USB digital input.
This new low-latency XMOS microcontroller has greatly enhanced processing power. Compared to the current generation of eight-core chips, this new 16-core IC delivers double the clock speed (2000MIPS) and four times the memory (512KB), as well as the latest SuperSpeed USB standard.
iFi’s in-house digital development team has programmed the XMOS firmware to optimise sound quality and ensure a perfect partnership with the Burr-Brown DAC.
The Burr-Brown True Native® chipset means file formats remain unchanged or ‘bit-perfect’. This means you are listening to music as the artist intended in the format in which it was recorded.
At iFi we use Burr Brown extensively in our products having selected it for its natural-sounding ‘musicality’ and True Native architecture. Our experience with this IC means we know how to make the most of it.
Listen to Master Quality Authenticated audio straight out of the box. Connect to Tidal Masters and check the option to stream MQA.
MQA is an award-winning audio technology that enables music fans to stream the original master recording into their home, car or on their mobile. In the words of Gilbert O’Sullivan, iconic Irish-born singer-songwriter, “The great thing about MQA is that it delivers the finesse that was there in the desk sound. It’s tremendous, it sounds really good.”
Our video tutorials on You Tube show you how.
As with many other iFi audio products, we’ve incorporated a custom OV Series operational-amplifier. This top-notch component contributes to the extremely low noise, low distortion (0.0001%) and wide bandwidth.
Texas Instruments low-noise ICs offer great unity-gain bandwidth, very low noise and distortion, high output drive capability, Common-mode and Power Supply Rejection Ratios of over 100 dB, wide maximum-output-swing bandwidths and high slew rates.
TDK C0G (Class 1 ceramic) capacitors offer high stability and low losses for resonant circuit applications.
Getting ever closer to the theoretical ideal of pure, frequency-constant capacitance, these capacitors reduce capacitor-induced distortion to vanishingly low levels.
They are pricey but are a perfect addition to our products.
||USB2.0 B Socket
||Bit-Perfect DSD & DXD DAC by Burr Brown
||No Signal ~0.5W / Max Signal ~2.5W
||158 x 117 x 35 mm
6.2" x 4.6" x 1.4"
||1V / 3.3V max.
||<-113dB(A) @ 0dBFS
||>113dB(A) @ -60dBFS
||<0.04% @ 0dBFS
||1V / 3.3V max. (variable)
||>230mW @ 32Ω ; >36mW @ 300Ω
||<0.04% (100mW @ 16Ω)