iFi's new wireless DAC features Bluetooth streaming in lossless CD-quality audio

iFi Zen Blue 3 wireless DAC
(Image credit: iFi Audio)

Not content to sit still, iFi Audio has followed up its recent Zen DAC 3 and Zen Phono 3 launches with another duo of announcements: the iFi Zen Blue 3 wireless DAC and the iFi Zen Can 3 headphone amplifier. 

Let's start with the Zen Blue 3 DAC, which iFi claims is the "world’s first wireless DAC that can both transmit and receive lossless CD quality with no data loss." It does this by supporting Qualcomm's latest aptX Lossless codec, which allows for lossless 16-bit/44.1kHz (CD-spec) transmission over standard Bluetooth with a bitrate transmission between 1100kbps and 1200kbps.

That's the highest transmission data rate yet for a Bluetooth codec, with the LDAC codec able to transmit audio up to 990kbps. The Zen Blue 3 DAC also supports LDAC, as well as aptX Adaptive, aptX, AAC and SBC, so it can stream music from just about any Bluetooth device – although those wanting to stream in higher quality CD or hi-res need a source device that also supports the lossless codec. 

The DAC supports Bluetooth 5.4, and inside it features an ESS Sabre chip alongside a balanced line output that offers reduced signal noise and crosstalk between the channels for cleaner sound.

The DAC comes with three selectable modes: RX (which receives a Bluetooth stream from a source device), TX (which sends a Bluetooth stream to another device) and Wired DAC mode (which lets you connect the DAC to devices using a wired connection). If using the DAC in a gaming or video set-up, a low latency button on the front panel should help reduce any audio-video sync delays.

Wired connections include a pair of RCA stereo inputs, a USB-C input, S/PDIF optical and coaxial inputs/outputs (for 24-bit/192kHz native playback) and a pair of RCA stereo and 4.4 balanced outputs. 

The iFi ZEN Blue 3 wireless DAC is available to buy from 9th July for £299 / $299 / AU$299.

iFi Zen Can 3 headphone amplifier

(Image credit: iFi Audio)

Meanwhile, the new Zen Can 3 headphone amplifier is an analogue-only affair with 6.35mm and balanced 4.4mm headphone jacks on the front panel, alongside stereo RCA, 3.5mm and 4.4mm inputs at the back. The headline feature here is that it features support for in-ear headphones that use the next-gen xMEMS driver technology – which uses solid-state drivers instead of traditional voice coil and magnet designs and claims to be 150 times quicker to respond than mechanical drivers. So if you're one of the lucky few to have an IEM with xMEMS driver tech, the Zen CAN 3 will work with it.

The headphone amp is now more powerful, with iFi claiming up to 2000mW of continuous power (into balanced 64 ohms) to work with even the most difficult-to-drive headphones. There are also two new EQ modes – Movie and Gaming – for clearer dialogue and low-level/background sound effects, respectively, plus the usual two XBass+ and XSpace EQ filters.

The iFi ZEN CAN 3 headphone amp is available now for £229 / $229 / AU$229.


Read our original iFi Zen Blue review

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Kashfia Kabir
Hi-Fi and Audio Editor

Kashfia is the Hi-Fi and Audio Editor of What Hi-Fi? and first joined the brand over 10 years ago. During her time in the consumer tech industry, she has reviewed hundreds of products (including speakers, amplifiers, turntables and headphones), been to countless trade shows across the world and fallen in love with hi-fi kit much bigger than her. In her spare time, Kash can be found tending to an ever-growing houseplant collection and shooing her cat Jolene away from spinning records.