The iFi Zen series of affordable hi-fi components has proven a huge success, with the trio we've tested all garnering positive reviews. Now, two of the models in the range – the five-star Zen DAC/headphone amp and the Zen Can analogue-only headphone amp – have been treated to enhanced circuitry to spawn Signature versions.
The Zen DAC Signature (pictured below) and Zen Can Signature 6XX (top) were initially made in a limited-edition capacity to be sold by a US crowd-shopping site, but now that stock has sold out the British audio brand is launching a proper run of the Signature models worldwide. They both sport a deep Space Blue finish, as opposed to the dark grey colour of the standard models – but that is by no means the only adaptation justifying their existence.
The Zen DAC Signature is actually positioned as a slightly different beast to the regular model, sacrificing the Zen DAC's headphone amplifier and getting upgraded fully balanced circuitry instead – namely improved capacitors and shorter, more direct signal paths – in the name of enhanced sound quality. File support and inputs match the exhaustive tally of the original model, though: it's compatible with PCM (up to 32-bit/384kHz), native DSD (up to DSD256), DXD and MQA tracks and boasts USB Type B and RCA sockets, plus a balanced Pentaconn 4.4mm output. For those who value headphones listening, the idea here is that the Zen DAC Signature is paired with the Can Signature 6XX headphone amplifier.
Speaking of which, the all-new Signature variant of the Zen Can also largely mirrors the versatile functionality of its legacy model (namely four gain settings and RCA, 3.5mm, 6.3mm and balanced 4.4mm connections) but too benefits from superior balanced circuit design.
There's a new custom EQ setting called ActivEQ, and in the Zen Can Signature 6XX it has been specifically tailored to the Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 6XX headphones (based on Sennheiser's HD 650, which iFi says can also benefit from this specific EQ curve). A second Zen Can Signature model with ActivEQ tailored to another pair of headphones is on the cards, with iFi having opened a vote for which model it should be.
iFi's Zen DAC Signature and Zen Can Signature 6XX are available now for £249 (AU$399) each, however two can be bought together for £499 (AU$799) with a 4.4mm Pentaconn cable (worth £69, AU$149) chucked in, allowing the two to be connected together over their balanced connections. For a limited time, both models come with iFi’s iPower X AC/DC power adapter (normally £99, AU$165), too.
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