Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by purr1n, Oct 27, 2022.
Has anyone had the chance to compare the Zen DAC Sig V2 to MMB2 and/or BF2, OG or 2/64?
I owned a Zen DAC Sig and a BF2 at the same time. You could tell they shared a lot of similarities. Punchy bass, warm mids and similar-ish presentation. However, the ZDS had a more upfront and a closed-in type of presentation relative to the Bf2. Bf2 was a bit strident in the lower treble and inoffensive in the upper treble. Whereas, the ZDS was inoffensive in the lower treble but after a few weeks it started to bother me in the upper treble. While the ZDS did come off as a baby Bf2, it just didn't have the realism the Bf2 had. In fact, despite the way I liked the ZDS was voiced in the mids, the overall tone just wasn't convincing. Bf2 also resolved more texture, inner details and micro details and had an upper hand in depth, layering, separation and imaging. ZDS punched a tad harder than the Bf2.
Going balanced out from the Zen One Sig doesn't seem to have made the biggest difference that I can hear. Then again, the Freya is still converting it back to SE so maybe that's the issue. I'd say the SE outs on this don't leave much performance potential on the table.
I've had my eye on the Zen One Signature for a while as an affordable do-anything DAC, and when I saw a good deal on an open box unit I snapped it up. My first impression was that it sounded like crap when compared to the MMB2 or even the built-in DAC on my amp. "Mushy" is a good word, and it was also extremely dark. This didn't change when updating the firmware on the unit either. When I connected it to my DAP over USB and played a rip of the same CD I had been playing over SPDIF, things improved somewhat, though it remains mushier (for lack of a better word) than the MMB2.
I'm not entirely convinced that cables could be the issue either. I have an automatic SPDIF switch that performs jitter reduction and I've been feeding the output of that into the MMB2 over optical, which oddly enough sounded better to my ears than from its coaxial output into the MMB2. I've tried both outputs into the Zen, with the coaxial cable being a WBC SPDIF cable. Using coax with the WBC cable is maybe slightly better than optical, but not by a huge degree.
I'll leave it on for a while and see how much it improves. How long did you leave yours on before the SPDIF opened up?
I didn’t try it for a few days, maybe even over a week. I don’t know when the sound change would have happened within that timeline.
It opened up within a few days. My overall impression now is "meh". It's better than other delta-sigma DACs that I've used, but to my ears it's a little drier than the MMB2, with the typical D/S highs present but toned down a little. It's pretty close, but where the difference is audible, it's not subtle. The MMB2 also has a magical synergy with the Magni Piety as preamp in my system, and the Zen doesn't work as well with the Piety. Perhaps it'd work better with a Zen Can, but I don't feel like dropping another couple of hundred bucks into this.
I'll keep it in the system for a while to see if my impressions change. On the plus side, the Bluetooth works well, and if I ever end up with DSD or (god forbid) MQA files I now have something that'll decode them.
Could also be a synergy thing. I compared mine against an Yggdrasil and a BF2 and felt any differences were minor enough in my system with my ears that I didn’t need to upgrade. I still enjoy the Zen One Sig every day and have no desire to upgrade.
My iFi Audio ZEN DAC Signature V2 (Firmware: v7.4b) is performing quite admirably; surprisingly so.
It has completely replaced my two older Benchmark DACs (DAC2 D and DAC3 L) that exhibited too much "digititus" (digital glare/edge/sharpness) for my liking and listening preference. They both tended to make the upper midrange and treble fatiguing to my sensitive ears. It also replaced my Schiit Audio MMB, which I also sold off along with my Benchmarks, as it just didn't pair as well with my custom tube amp.
I have auditioned quite a number of well regarded DACs (Holy Audio Spring 2, Chord Dave, Chord Hugo 2, Denafrips Ares II, Schiit Audio Bifrost 2, etc.) all to no avail... nothing synergizes as well as the iFi Audio ZEN DAC Signature V2 has. Something about the implementation of the Burr Brown chip perhaps.
I am still actively hunting around and demoing DACs. Currently, awaiting on a to be loaned Gustard R26 and brand new A26 to arrive in the coming weeks (fingers crossed), as well as possibly an older Rockna Wavelight and Denafrips Pontus (although the Ares II did not perform that well in my system I have been told that the Pontus is a much different performer especially with tube amps).
I have yet to write a formal review of the iFi Zen Signature DAC (assuming I have the V2), but my experience aligns with yours. With most amps headphone combos I have in my stable, I actually prefer the much lower coat Zen DAC V2 (non-sig) reviewed in the first post here.
The non-sig V2 is bit more dirty sounding compared to the signature version. It actually reminds me a slightly of the MMB1 with its darker tonality. The sig version is super clean, a bit zippy, and as you said: better than most other DS DACs, but still a bit dry, maybe clinical. Yes, technically better, but less compatible with my headphone and amp chains. The Sig V2 I would say is like a mini Convert-2 DAC but less refined and much less explosive.
At the $300 price, I would have liked the iFi Zen Signature DAC (V2) to have an SPDIF input and iFI's trademark filter options such as the BitPerfect. iFi can of course lose the the "GTFO" filter since MQA is kaput. LOL, this is the first time in a while that I've had a "meh" or more "it's not bad, but not for me" experience with iFi stuff.
I do see an open box Zen DAC V2 for $100, but I swore to myself that the next time I'm thinking about getting another component I don't really need just because it's cheap I'd put some of that money into the audiophile swear jar and save up for something really nice. Guess I have my first contribution to that fund...
I should have written the latter instead of "meh". It's not an objectively bad component, but it's not inspiring me to go out of my way to listen to it. Again, personal and subjective evaluation, your ears and system synergy may vary.
The One Signature doesn't have any filter options either, unfortunately. The only way I see to get those and SPDIF is the significantly more expensive Neo IDSD.
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