iFi’s third-gen ‘affordable’ Zen DAC is in – and it’s got a phono stage pal too

bose soundbar, rel sub, En İyi Ev Ses Sistemi, Ev Ses Sistemleri Online, müzik dinlemek için en iyi hoparlörler, ev stereo sistemi bileşenleri, Satılık Müzik Seti

Regular readers will need no further introduction to iFi, the digital-to-analog audio specialist responsible for the loveable iFi Uno and iFi xDSD Gryphon DACs, to name only a few. But what you probably won’t know until now is that iFi has today announced the arrival two new products: the Zen DAC 3 and Zen Phono 3.

Not to be confused with the excellent iFi hip-dac 3 (which somehow bettered even the inaugural iFi hip-dac and its subsequent follow-up), Zen DAC 3 is the third iteration in the company’s entry-level desktop Zen DAC lineup.   

iFi is pitching the Zen Dac 3 at gamers (and why not when gaming/audio collabs are so hot right now – see the Final Fantasy 14 turntable?), casual listeners, and audiophiles alike owing to its bijou casework and less-than-flagship pricing. That said, there is a $70 or £70 over the previous model (which launched at $159 / £159 / AU$229) to stomach this time around. 

What are you getting for the money? This time around, it promises “ultra-res audio” (more on this later), a refreshed design, and USB-C input for plug-and-play connectivity. The Zen DAC 3 features two 4.4mm balanced outputs – one dedicated to your pick of the best wired headphones and the other to all other hi-fi equipment – a design that iFi says “minimizes distortion, crosstalk, and noise”. 

Zen DAc 3 seen from the back, on white background

Small in size, big for connectivity  (Image credit: iFi )

And the hi-res chops or “ultra-res” chops iFi mentions? PCM 768kHz to DSD 512 and full MQA decoding are all onboard, plus billed enhancements such as improved DC offset and “overvoltage protection” where the USB-C input is concerned, to keep your music playing nicely. 

This is iFi, so firm favorites XBass+ and PowerMatch analog processing modes also feature. Although I’ve yet to test this newest model, I did test both older Zen DAC iterations and liked them very much indeed. Having said that, this is a fair price increase over the March 2021-issue Zen DAC 2, so it’ll be interesting to see where the money’s gone – and whether this latest proposition still represents value. 

The iFi Zen DAC 3 is available to buy from today (April 16) at ifi-audio.com and from selected retailers with a quoted price of $229 / £229 / €229 / AU$229.

iFi’s double-Zen Record Store Day offering

iFi Zen Phono 3 on gray background

As phono stages go, it’s a looker (Image credit: iFi )

But that’s not all! To celebrate Record Store Day (which falls on Saturday, April 20. You knew that) the Stockport UK-based firm has introduced the Zen Phono 3. This hi-fi separate for your turntable is crafted, says iFi, “for vinyl lovers who demand nothing but the best”. To that end, the Zen Phono 3 includes an intelligent subsonic filter that aims to eliminate pitch changes from warped records (remember, super-cheap players can actually damage your records) but without simply removing the low end.

To dig a little deeper into that filter, traditional solutions can sometimes fall foul of eliminating both the rumbling side-effect of warped vinyl and your recording’s juicy bass frequencies. However, according to its makers, the Zen Phono 3’s intelligent subsonic filter can “selectively remove” the imperfections while preserving the integrity of your music. Heady stuff. 

Its RIAA equalization circuit boasts an Equivalent Input Noise of -151dBV (which for clarity is really rather low, otherwise known as ‘quiet’) meaning it should deliver a big dollop of fidelity and detail over the phono stage built into any inexpensive deck it’s partnered with – some of which can be found in our best turntables guide. 

You also get balanced and RCA line outputs around the back, an adjustable gain range, and a power supply controller to further tweak your system’s performance, plus two loading options for MM and MC-High (100 & 200pF capacitance) and three options for MC-Low and MC-V Low (100, 400 & 1kOhm) cartridges. 

The iFi ZEN Phono 3 is available to purchase from ifi-audio.com and selected retailers for $249 / £249 / €249 / AU$249 and while I haven’t yet heard it, on paper I like it a lot.

You may also like

  • Tidal just made its hi-res music subscription as cheap as Apple Music
  • Pure’s three-strong Classic radio lineup is all of the retro radio I need
  • Spotify HiFi lossless audio could show up as a new Music Pro feature

En İyi Ev Ses Sistemi,
Ev Ses Sistemleri Online,
müzik dinlemek için en iyi hoparlörler,
ev stereo sistemi bileşenleri,
Satılık Müzik Seti