13. January 2022 · Comments Off on iFi ZEN One Signature DAC · Categories: Hifi News · Tags: , , , , ,


British audio brand iFi expands its ZEN Signature range with the iFi ZEN One Signature.

Described as a ‘universal DAC’ owing to its many input options, the iFi ZEN One Signature takes the DAC stage from the ZEN DAC V2, adds S/PDIF inputs (optical and coaxial) alongside the USB port, Bluetooth technology from the ZEN Blue V2 and finishes it off with Signature-grade circuit enhancements.

iFi ZEN One Signature DAC

iFi ZEN One Signature DAC


The result is a pure DAC (no built-in headphone amp or volume control) that serves as a home audio hub for all your digital devices, from smartphones and tablets to PCs and Macs, disc players and audio servers to TVs and games consoles.

The iFi ZEN One Signature’s singular purpose is to take the digital audio signal from any device, via cable or Bluetooth, and convert it to analogue to feed an external amp and speakers (or headphones).

iFi ZEN One Signature DAC

iFi ZEN One Signature DAC front and back


The ZEN One Signature’s ‘digital engine’ is based around a Burr-Brown DAC chipset that iFi uses extensively. Another critical component is the XMOS chip that processes the audio data received via the USB and S/PDIF digital inputs. The iFi ZEN One Signature uses a low-latency, 16-core XMOS microcontroller delivering enhanced processing power; 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.

iFi ZEN One Signature DAC

iFi ZEN One Signature DAC with headphones


Extensive jitter-eradication technologies are also applied to the digital stage, including the latest generation of iFi’s GMT (Global Master Timing) femto-precision clock and intelligent memory buffer.

iFi ZEN One Signature DAC

Extensive jitter reduction technologies havebeen applied to the iFi ZEN One Signature DAC

The ZEN One Signature’s hi-res audio credentials encompass 32-bit/384kHz PCM over USB (192kHz over S/PDIF), all levels of DSD to DSD256, and single- and double-speed DXD. Thanks to the Burr-Brown DAC chip’s four-channel True Native design, PCM and DSD take separate pathways – this enables DSD, as well as PCM, to remain ‘bit-perfect’ in its native form right through to analogue conversion.

MQA is also supported, with full decoding of MQA files up to 384kHz. This means that the complete ‘three unfold’ decoding process is performed internally, as opposed to just the final unfold in the manner of an MQA ‘renderer’ – ideal for subscribers to Tidal’s ‘HiFi Plus’ tier, where Tidal Masters (MQA) content can be found.


Making full use of Qualcomm’s latest four-core QCC5100 Bluetooth processing chip, every current high definition Bluetooth audio format is supported, including aptX Adaptive and aptX HD, LDAC and HWA/LHDC. Other codecs covered include regular aptX and aptX Low Latency, AAC and SBC (the ‘plain vanilla’ Bluetooth codec).

The ZEN One Signature is Bluetooth v5.1-compliant, ensuring the best possible range, stability and performance. Up to eight paired Bluetooth source devices can be stored in memory, making it easy to switch from one device to another.

iFi ZEN One Signature DAC

iFi ZEN One Signature in Deep Space Blue


The Signature-level ZENs, such as the ZEN DAC Signature and ZEN CAN Signature, feature enhanced true-differential balanced topologies. From input to output, every element of its circuitry is designed for pure performance. Key surface-mounted components have been upgraded to high-end devices, including Panasonic OS-CON and Elna Silmic II capacitors, and the design has been refined to ensure short, direct signal paths.

Power can be supplied over USB from a connected device – a laptop, for example – or directly from the mains via an AC/DC adapter. Optimum performance is provided by iFi’s ultra-low noise iPower2 DC power supply, included in the price (£69 when purchased separately).

iFi ZEN One Signature DAC

Top view of the iFi ZEN One Signature DAC


The iFi ZEN One Signature DAC sports the same 158x35x100mm aluminium enclosure as the rest of the ZEN range, finished in Deep Space Blue – the colour iFi uses to differentiate its Signature-level models – rather than the grey finish of the regular ZEN Series devices. This is complemented by dark grey front and rear panels (silver-coloured on the standard versions) and blue controls.

At the front are buttons for powering up/down and switching between the USB, S/PDIF and Bluetooth inputs, alongside colour-changing LEDs to indicate the incoming audio format and sample rate. A further button switches the LEDs on or off, as well as activating the Bluetooth pairing mode.

Around the back resides an asynchronous USB Type B port, alongside two S/PDIF inputs – optical and coaxial, the latter doubling as a digital output. RCA analogue outputs are joined by a balanced 4.4mm output, enabling fully balanced connectivity with a suitably equipped amplifier. iFi makes a balanced 4.4mm to stereo XLR cable, ideal for connecting the ZEN One Signature to an amp with XLR inputs.

iFi ZEN One Signature DAC


iFi ZEN One Signature is available from 14th January at an RRP of £349.

HiFi Pig Says: We are still impressed by how iFi manages to pack so much into such a small package and keep the price in the very much affordable bracket.


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