ifi Zen One signature: potentially great (with the emphasis on potentially)

robdmarsh

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I posted this review of the ifi Zen One signature on another site. Unfortunately, my experience with it has been beset with connection glitches. I think it all stems from the fact that previously I was using the Zen blue and the One Signature uses almost exactly the same bluetooth receiver so my phone is very confused. Currently, neither of these devices will connect to my bluetooth network. Ifi know about my problems and they are working on it. Shame as there is quite a lot of negative feedback about software issues with ifi products. I really hope they can sort them out.

It's pretty obvious to me that ifi have produced something quite special here. I very much liked the Zen blue, but I don't need to do an A/B comparison to know that the One signature puts out a SQ on another level, and I'm only using blue tooth Amazon HD (using LDAC).

There is plenty more detail and layers are more clearly defined. I'm noticing a lot more nuance in the mix of some of my favourite music but the increased detail never comes at the expense of sublety and does not slap you about the head..Sound stage is more 3d, bass is a bit tighter (kick drums sound superb!) and all this without any compromise in refinement. Some time ago I tried a Topping D50s connected my Bluesound Node (in a vain attempt to actually enjoy it before I sold it on) and the presentation was metallic and edgy. This is not the case with the One sig, the engineers have really done a great job on this one.

The One sig has quite a lot of features: optical in, balanced and USB connections and can do MQA and all fancy formats, but I haven't explored any of them yet. I'm very happy with the rock solid blue tooth connection and SQ is beyond what I had expected. It will be nice to plug my TV to enjoy what is obviously a pretty high quality Burr Brown DAC.

£350 is not peanuts and there are competitor products which might offer as much functionality for less but I doubt they'll match the quality. Low level listening is now transformed. This is a winner!
 
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twinkletoes

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Great review and glad you have have found something that works for you. Can’t help but thought why you’re not just using the blusound node, others rant and rave about the performance? And why use Bluetooth when you can use the streaming capabilities of that unit to great affect. No slight against you just filling in the “plot hole” of this meet cute. Lol
 

robdmarsh

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Great review and glad you have have found something that works for you. Can’t help but thought why you’re not just using the blusound node, others rant and rave about the performance? And why use Bluetooth when you can use the streaming capabilities of that unit to great affect. No slight against you just filling in the “plot hole” of this meet cute. Lol
Ok, well, first off it's not working for me cos I can't connect it. And I'm sorry to say that there are too many reports about glitchy software with ifi products. But yes when it works it's a fantastic little device.
So the Node, well, I don't get it really. Fully featured it might be but the sound leaves me cold, and yes that was fully hi-res over wifi. A lot of people are saying it doesn't have a very good DAC but is a good streamer so you should you hook it up to another DAC but in that case you're paying £550 for a streamer and whatever more for another DAC.
The One signature over bluetooth is already sounding very good, and the convenience of blue tooth is a big bonus in my view. The native streaming apps are so much better than BlueOS, Heos and such like. In the future I can try hooking up a tablet to the One sig via USB and I'm sure the sound quality will go up another notch.
If you look at AVforums review, they give it a 10, and I have to say on SQ and value for money I'd agree with them, but on reliability.... well, let's not go there.... yet! :mad:
 
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robdmarsh

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OK, well the One sig is back and playing music. This is really good sound imo. Those who look down their noses at bluetooth as a serious medium for sound quality should hear this!
 

aversaurus

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I have the ifi zen stream.i would say it also has connection issues from time to time most of the time it works really well.
But sometimes it seems to loose all connections and I have to reset it and do a full setup .
It doesn't happen often but it does happen.
 

twinkletoes

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Ok, well, first off it's not working for me cos I can't connect it. And I'm sorry to say that there are too many reports about glitchy software with ifi products. But yes when it works it's a fantastic little device.
So the Node, well, I don't get it really. Fully featured it might be but the sound leaves me cold, and yes that was fully hi-res over wifi. A lot of people are saying it doesn't have a very good DAC but is a good streamer so you should you hook it up to another DAC but in that case you're paying £550 for a streamer and whatever more for another DAC.
The One signature over bluetooth is already sounding very good, and the convenience of blue tooth is a big bonus in my view. The native streaming apps are so much better than BlueOS, Heos and such like. In the future I can try hooking up a tablet to the One sig via USB and I'm sure the sound quality will go up another notch.
If you look at AVforums review, they give it a 10, and I have to say on SQ and value for money I'd agree with them, but on reliability.... well, let's not go there.... yet! :mad:
Fair enough
 

robdmarsh

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I have the ifi zen stream.i would say it also has connection issues from time to time most of the time it works really well.
But sometimes it seems to loose all connections and I have to reset it and do a full setup .
It doesn't happen often but it does happen.
What DAC do you use with the Zen stream?
 

robdmarsh

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Just putting this out there to all those thinking of dropping £900 on a Denafrips Aries ii or even more on something else... Hold your horses and give this a try. I haven't heard a Denafrips or a Chord qutest or any of these other DACs costing around £1k or more.

What I do know is that the One Signature gives a sound that is airy at the top, layered, subtle with a hint of warmth and allows me to listen plenty without getting fatigued. Ifi forum member I hope my cheque is in the post! 😉
 

Gray

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Good advice there Rob.
But some of those with £900 to blow on a DAC wouldn't stoop as low as £350 🤨

...and I think Camcroft is the iFi ambassador on forums -the cheques must be going to him 😉
 

SteveR750

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Just putting this out there to all those thinking of dropping £900 on a Denafrips Aries ii or even more on something else... Hold your horses and give this a try. I haven't heard a Denafrips or a Chord qutest or any of these other DACs costing around £1k or more.

What I do know is that the One Signature gives a sound that is airy at the top, layered, subtle with a hint of warmth and allows me to listen plenty without getting fatigued. Ifi forum member I hope my cheque is in the post! 😉
Presumably you prefer the DAC in the ifi over the one in 800ne? I'm happy with the sound of the DAC in my 600ne, it's better than the one in the Connect that I'm using atm as a streamer. I'm about to plump for an Ifi stream, but all these reports of instability are a concern, it's £350 for goodness sake.
 

robdmarsh

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Yes it's much better. It's a very well-designed product with no frills: no volume control, no headphone amp, no remote control. That is why it's so good at what it does imo. Do you have a fairly recent Android mobile phone? If you do you can enable bluetooth LDAC in the settings. Hold your horses with with the ifi Zen Stream. Just get one of these with a 30 day return return policy and stream using bluetooth. I use Amazon HD and it sounds awesome. Read the review on AVforums. I don't think that guy is prone to hyperbole.

One last point, the connection problems are now a thing of the past. If you have more than one ifi product, the easiest thing to do is to rename them in settings on your phone, tablet or computer.
 
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Friesiansam

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One last point, the connection problems are now a thing of the past. If you have more than one ifi product, the easiest thing to do is to rename them in settings on your phone, tablet or computer.
I think problems with Bluetooth are, more often than not, caused by the transmitting device getting confused about what it is supposed to be connecting to.
 

SteveR750

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Yes it's much better. It's a very well-designed product with no frills: no volume control, no headphone amp, no remote control. That is why it's so good at what it does imo. Do you have a fairly recent Android mobile phone? If you do you can enable bluetooth LDAC in the settings. Hold your horses with with the ifi Zen Stream. Just get one of these with a 30 day return return policy and stream using bluetooth. I use Amazon HD and it sounds awesome. Read the review on AVforums. I don't think that guy is prone to hyperbole.

One last point, the connection problems are now a thing of the past. If you have more than one ifi product, the easiest thing to do is to rename them in settings on your phone, tablet or computer.
I ordered the stream, and immediately had buyers remorse, so it's going straight back without me even opening the box. I was thinking about the wiim pro, but none available atm in the UK that I could find, as that looks like doing all the things I need.
One question about LDAC, doesn't that require a compatible BT receiver? The 600ne has BT but APtx, are these not different?

EDIT: It's moot anyway, HD audio using BT is greyed out on my phone, so LDAC is not an option. Also, the Z1Sig is a DAC, so I'm paying for something I wouldn't need.
 
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robdmarsh

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Yes you need an LDAC compatible receiver. The Zen One is a DAC and bluetooth receiver. The DAC will considerably better than the one in your amp and the bluetooth receiver also. You are paying for the ability to stream in very quality (imo) without the need to buy a streamer. If you are bothered by the fact that it's bluetooth, then that's another question.
 

SteveR750

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I'm not convinced anymore that DACs warrant that much investment, its rare to get a shoddy implementation, mine sounds fine. One in my phone equally so, so I'd still be buying additional hardware that I don't want / need.
It's 9n the list though, but a WiiM Pro increasingly looks like the device I'm searching for.
 

robdmarsh

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I'm not convinced anymore that DACs warrant that much investment, its rare to get a shoddy implementation, mine sounds fine. One in my phone equally so, so I'd still be buying additional hardware that I don't want / need.
It's 9n the list though, but a WiiM Pro increasingly looks like the device I'm searching for.
They really don't all sound the same. And I don't even have expensive gear to hear the difference.
 

Gray

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Maybe a subject for a thread of its own - although not everyone has compared DAC sound.
But it would be interesting to know where people place DACs in the scale of (potential) audible difference:
On a scale of 1-10, where 1 is the difference cables can make and 10 is the differences speakers can make.
Where would you place DACs in that scale? (hopefully not below cables 😏).

Streamers (as opposed to DACs) must score the same as cables mustn't they 👹.
 
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SteveR750

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Maybe a subject for a thread of its own - although not everyone has compared DAC sound.
But it would be interesting to know where people place DACs in the scale of (potential) audible difference:
On a scale of 1-10, where 1 is the difference cables can make and 10 is the differences speakers can make.
Where would you place DACs in that scale? (hopefully not below cables 😏).

Streamers (as opposed to DACs) must score the same as cables mustn't they 👹.
Surely 0-10?
The more I listen to, and research dacs the less inclined I am to spend money on them. I posted a long thread about this about 8 years ago!
I've already compared my amp, the Connect dac and my JDS Element. Maybe the connect was slightly inferior, no noticeable difference using the JDS, and it's as good as anything Ifi uses. I'm more interested in hi res Bluetooth though, that's a step forwards in practicality.
 

robdmarsh

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There's differences between cables, for sure. Do you have to spend stupid money? No! But Chord clearway X and AQ rocket 11 sounded very different in my system, Rocket 11 better with my set up. DACs, well, I don't know, if you want to believe they all sound more or less the same, go ahead and believe it. For the rest of us, experiment with different sounding units. Again, do you need to spend large sums to get a good sound? I don't think so.
 
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