IFI Audio Announces ZEN Blue Hi-Res Streamer

IFI has today announced their new ZEN Blue hi-res streamer, a device that will stream hifi audio to any device.  And, at just $129, this player remains within reach for listeners on a budget, too.

IFI Audio Announces ZEN Blue Hi-Res Streamer

IFI Audio Announces ZEN Blue Hi-Res Streamer from frontThis is the first in a range of devices priced at $129 from IFI Audio.

Supporting ALL the latest codecs, the ZEN Blue will work with any devices to deliver hi-res streaming. Computers – whether PC or Mac – as well as tablets and smartphones are all supported.

Sporting a rugged yet stylish aluminum enclosure, the Blue speaks to a level of quality few manufacturers can match.  In characteristic IFI fashion, engineers designed this device from the ground up.  This ensures top-notch internals for the very best audio quality.

While other manufacturer’s might include Bluetooth functionality simply and cheaply, IFI has gone the extra mile here.  Just like in other higher-end IFI units, the quality of the Bluetooth signal will spell out the quality of any transmitted audio signal.  As such, the signal processing and circuitry are on par with any higher end (or more expensive) IFI device.

In the case of the ZEN Blue, this begins with a QCC5100 chip for data processing.  And the ZEN Blue is the first product of its kind to benefit from this latest-gen Bluetooth IC.

All the latest hi-res Bluetooth audio formats find support with the ZEN Blue.  Indeed, aptX HD, LDAX, and HWA are all covered.  And the list of fully-supported codecs extends to include regular aptX, aptX LL, AAC, and SBC.  Such extensive coverage ensures usability regardless of device, meaning anyone can benefit from the ZEN Blue.

IFI Audio Announces ZEN Blue Hi-Res Streamer from side

Quality at the Core

As a system-on-a-chip, the Qualcomm QCC5100 can handle even D-to-A conversion, and many manufacturers would rely on it for such.  However, IFI has included separate digital and analogue stages.  There’s even a special DAC chip from Sabre to convert digital signals to analog ones, feeding the analogue stage in the process.

Using Hyperstream architecture and an integrated Time Domain Jitter Eliminator, the ZEN Blue delivers very low distortion as well as high dynamic range.  Syncing perfectly with the Qualcomm chip, this combination delivers exceptional Bluetooth audio.

All of these design choices hinge on impeccably laid-out internals, as well as the oversight of legendary audio designer John Curl.  John’s input, working in tandem with a design team headed by Thorsten Loesch, has ensured that the circuit design of every product remains fully optimized.

The ZEN Blue offers a balanced analogue output – an unusual option for a device at this price.  Incorporating a range of high-end circuitry components, carefully selected due to their audio performance, including pro-grade balanced line drivers, C0G capacitors from TDK, and a precision low-noise PSU IC from Texas Instruments.  This results in an affordable Bluetooth Streamer with a high-end sound.

The IFI Audio ZEN Blue will be available from IFI and authorized dealers in October.  As the first product in the ZEN Series range, it is also the first unit to utilize the series-specific 58x35x100mm (WxHxD) aluminium case.  It will be followed by the ZEN DAC, which will opt for a USB input in place of Bluetooth connectivity, while including an integrated amp.

Pre-order the IFI ZEN Blue for the best price here:


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Carroll is a headphone junkie residing in Brooklyn. He's a huge fan of Grado, UK hip hop, and the English Language in general. When not testing audio equipment or writing, you'll find him taking photographs or fiddling with circuit boards. You can contact him at carroll@majorhifi.com.