iFi audio ZEN Blue - The Official Thread
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Hi iFi (and others that may know) - A number of pre-sales questions if you don’t mind. I have a unique use case where I want to use one of these in my Audi. This one is on the bigger side, but should be fine in the glove box. Here they are:

Does it come with a USB-A to DC 5V? And if not, can you provide the outer and inner diameter spec of the DC 5V input (e.g. 5.5mm/2.1mm)? If you don’t provide the cable, it does seem like USB-A to 5V variants are available from 3rd parties.

I’d love to achieve AVRCP but I suspect that may be impossible with using the RCA line-out in to my AUX. While I realize that your Zen Blue is DC only, it looks like your iOne terminates with USB-B. Is the iOne capable of sending AVRCP data out the USB feed in addition to RCA audio, or is USB essentially unidirectional power only? I ask because the Audi MMI (receiver) allows both. I just don’t know if what I’m asking is feasible, and if you’ve implemented that BT profile. Assuming it’s impossible, I’d certainly lean towards the Zen given the more modern codecs.

Have you released the LDAC firmware?

Would you recommend against using iOne or Zen Blue in the car for any particular reason? For instance, would attempting to operate under 32 degrees F be problematic?

Will you be launching any mini/portable BT automobile specific products in the next few months?

Thanks!!
 
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dharmasteve

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@iFi audio
Ok...I have come across one problem that affects me quite badly. Whilst doing LDAC to the iFi Zen Blue from my FiiO M6, Samsung S9 plus, LG V30 the signal and sound is great and signal holds. BUT...with a Hiby R6 and especially the iBasso DX160 the signal is weaker. Suddenly the signal cuts, the iFi is still in LCAC connected mode, but the connection and sound is gone. I have to manually reset the iFi Zen Blue and then reconnect the DAP. It does not automatically reconnect to the R6 and is in all honesty a pain in the backside. With APTX HD, where it needs less bits, the connection can last, but it also often drops and does does not automatically reconnect. I'm having to use my Samsung S9 plus or LG V30 when I would rather use my Hiby R6. But as said when the signal drops....it's finito.......... no automatic reconnection. This is so annoying. Sound is great but once a signal drops the pallava of reconnecting is a big pain. Please cure this.

Steve
 
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Same issue with R3Pro using LDAC. Not sure it is a iFi or HiBy issue or both. Sometimes connection lasts for 1 song, sometimes I can get up to 10 songs, but never lasts for say 2 hours. Not using Tidal app, purely playing CD resolution FLAC files via Hiby internal music playing app. R3Pro and Zen are about 6 feet away.


@iFi audio
Ok...I have come across one problem that affects me quite badly. Whilst doing LDAC to the iFi Zen Blue from my FiiO M6, Samsung S9 plus, LG V30 the signal and sound is great and signal holds. BUT...with a Hiby R6 and especially the iBasso DX160 the signal is weaker. Suddenly the signal cuts, the iFi is still in LCAC connected mode, but the connection and sound is gone. I have to manually reset the iFi Zen Blue and then reconnect the DAP. It does not automatically reconnect to the R6 and is in all honesty a pain in the backside. With APTX HD, where it needs less bits, the connection can last, but it also often drops and does does not automatically reconnect. I'm having to use my Samsung S9 plus or LG V30 when I would rather use my Hiby R6. But as said when the signal drops....it's finito.......... no automatic reconnection. This is so annoying. Sound is great but once a signal drops the pallava of reconnecting is a big pain. Please cure this.

Steve
 
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dharmasteve

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Same issue with R3Pro using LDAC. Not sure it is a iFi or HiBy issue or both. Sometimes connection lasts for 1 song, sometimes I can get up to 10 songs, but never lasts for say 2 hours. Not using Tidal app, purely playing CD resolution FLAC files via Hiby internal music playing app. R3Pro and Zen are about 6 feet away.
It's not the Hiby its the Zen Blue. With a strong signal from both of my phones and FiiO M6, that doesn't drop or have a weak signal, it will play on and on. If the signal gets weak it drops, but the Zen Blue stays connected even though the Hiby or iBasso on their side have dropped the signal. There is no mechanism for the Zen Blue to know the Hiby or iBasso need to reconnect. So we have to do it manually. So I have turn the Zen's power off, restart it, and reconnect manually. Surely the Zen Blue firmware could be adapted to reconnect. This is a frustrating problem. C'mon iFi.
Regards
Steve
 
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Middy

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From asking i know they are working on the reconnection issue, dont know about the Hiby, my S8 has the issue forgetting.
Hopefully this will be fixed next month after new year....
LDAC is working for me now @600. Dont know what i did but edges over standard Aptx.
What does sound good, as this is new to me was LDAC and Amazon music. Got the 4 month trial for 99 pence.
Weird the same song sounds different over wifi to BT than UAAP memory card to BT.
The songs i compared are on my phone are flacs but cant compare as Amazon doesnt show meta data i can see. But mine where the highest std i could get. Could be different could be using a wifi receiver BT transmitter causes less noise than internal memory? Doesnt sound right? Buffer is better?
Dont know and probably talking out my ass but sounds great..just Amazon is clunky and you need to build up a library...
.
Power scaling does get more out on zen. If you have a good PSU try it..

Ether2 coming tomorrow so ill see how this mixes things up. Got a relative bargin..


Happy new year gents and if you have any Zen tips pass them on please...

Good luck
Dave
 
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From asking i know they are working on the reconnection issue, dont know about the Hiby, my S8 has the issue forgetting.
Hopefully this will be fixed next month after new year....
LDAC is working for me now @600. Dont know what i did but edges over standard Aptx.
What does sound good, as this is new to me was LDAC and Amazon music. Got the 4 month trial for 99 pence.
Weird the same song sounds different over wifi to BT than UAAP memory card to BT.
The songs i compared are on my phone are flacs but cant compare as Amazon doesnt show meta data i can see. But mine where the highest std i could get. Could be different could be using a wifi receiver BT transmitter causes less noise than internal memory? Doesnt sound right? Buffer is better?
Dont know and probably talking out my ass but sounds great..just Amazon is clunky and you need to build up a library...
.
Power scaling does get more out on zen. If you have a good PSU try it..

Ether2 coming tomorrow so ill see how this mixes things up. Got a relative bargin..


Happy new year gents and if you have any Zen tips pass them on please...

Good luck
Dave

From my Samsung S9+ using Amazon HD I agree the sound is fantastic. Luckily the BT LDAC signal never drops from the Zen Blue even at the highest LDAC bitrate from the Samsung. I hardly play my own library any more but rely on Amazon HD, whether through IEMs or the Zen Blue into my amp the Amptastic Mini. I have a few large Flac files yet Amazon HD is just as good, and is a good enough Bitrate for me, especially the Ultra HD. Good to know iFi are working on the reconnection issue.
 
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From my Samsung S9+ using Amazon HD I agree the sound is fantastic. Luckily the BT LDAC signal never drops from the Zen Blue even at the highest LDAC bitrate from the Samsung. I hardly play my own library any more but rely on Amazon HD, whether through IEMs or the Zen Blue into my amp the Amptastic Mini. I have a few large Flac files yet Amazon HD is just as good, and is a good enough Bitrate for me, especially the Ultra HD. Good to know iFi are working on the reconnection issue.
For those of you with Amazon Music HD + Zen Blue, I'd be interested in how Droid/LDAC compares to iOS/AAC. I know LDAC is superior, however if you have an iPad laying around let me know what you find (if anything). Thanks!
 
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For those of you with Amazon Music HD + Zen Blue, I'd be interested in how Droid/LDAC compares to iOS/AAC. I know LDAC is superior, however if you have an iPad laying around let me know what you find (if anything). Thanks!
I can vouch that APTX-HD is blown away by LDAC. I can't really speak for AAC on an iphone, but I do have an ipad mini, but I don't listen through it anymore. LDAC is very special and I have tested it against WiFi playback through an Arcam Airdac (which has no compression) and I can't tell the difference from LDAC through my Zen Blue to my HiFi, or even to just listening through my Radsone ES100 BT receiver. LDAC seems at times to give air to the sound and does not lose some of the highs like APTX HD. It is a great codec.
 
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The Arcam Airdac uses Airplay that does resample and sounds bad IMO, did you try tbe digital out of the Zen blue yet? Thanks!
 
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Sorry don't have any apple products. Digital out into a chord qutest on my rig.
 
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The Arcam Airdac uses Airplay that does resample and sounds bad IMO, did you try tbe digital out of the Zen blue yet? Thanks!
There are different ways of connecting. Airplay is one and I didn't use it. Airplay limits the sample rate. The Airdac gives more choices. I'll explain when I wake up tomorrow.
 
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The Arcam Airdac uses Airplay that does resample and sounds bad IMO, did you try tbe digital out of the Zen blue yet? Thanks!

There are different ways of connecting. Airplay is one and I didn't use it. Airplay limits the sample rate. The Airdac gives more choices. I'll explain when I wake up tomorrow.
The Arcam Airdac is not restricted to Airplay. I connected it through DLNA which as far as I know is uncompressed. Uncompressed the highs are all there. Wireless LDAC matched the wireless WiFi DLNA sound. APTX HD lost a smigeon of highs and was not as good as LDAC. As there were no full size desktop BT LDAC receivers at the time I had to use a FiiO M9 as the Bluetooth sink connected to my amp, sometimes the same with a FiiO M6 as a BT sink. I also connected my FiiO BTR3 to my AMP with a 3.5mm to 2 x RCA cable. All gave LDAC to my HiFi and it was as good as my WiFi AirDac sending a DLNA signal (not Airplay) to my HiFi. Nowadays I use the Zen Blue, it's easy, and it sounds excellent. Back in the day one had to be creative to get LDAC and DLNA signals to my HiFi.

Steve
 
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Please cure this.
Long story's short, we have an upcoming firmware for this. We don't have any insight when exactly it'll be available, but it's comming.

Have you released the LDAC firmware?
In the pipeline.

Does it come with a USB-A to DC 5V?
No, the product doesn't cone with this cable, but we can provide you with one.

Is the iOne capable of sending AVRCP data out the USB feed in addition to RCA audio, or is USB essentially unidirectional power only?
We'll ask internally about this.

Would you recommend against using iOne or Zen Blue in the car for any particular reason? For instance, would attempting to operate under 32 degrees F be problematic?
Temperature isn't any issue. If you only need BT in your car, then we'd suggest our ZEN. If multiple digital inputs are needed, then iOne would be our recommendation.

Will you be launching any mini/portable BT automobile specific products in the next few months?
If we will, you'll read about this on HF as that's the first place we announce our new products.
 
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Long story's short, we have an upcoming firmware for this. We don't have any insight when exactly it'll be available, but it's comming.



In the pipeline.



No, the product doesn't cone with this cable, but we can provide you with one.



We'll ask internally about this.



Temperature isn't any issue. If you only need BT in your car, then we'd suggest our ZEN. If multiple digital inputs are needed, then iOne would be our recommendation.



If we will, you'll read about this on HF as that's the first place we announce our new products.
It's really important to sort the connection problem of reconnection with LDAC. An iBasso, a Hiby R6, and even my Samsung S9+ disconnected. The Zen Blue thinks it is still connected but the DAP/Phone shows it has disconnected. Fatal for listening to music. It does make LDAC very difficult to use for lots of tracks at a session because one regularly has to keep restarting the Zen Blue to connect again. APTX HD holds the signal better but I upgraded from a APTX HD receiver in the first place. So please hurry your firmware guys along because we all need the LDAC to work fully....quickly.
 
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