iFi audio ZEN Blue - The Official Thread
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@iFi audio - is there any ETA on LDAC firmware, and can you elaborate on how it will be delivered to the unit? I’m assuming OTA via iOS/Droid phone and a new app yet to be published?
No ETA just yet, but once we have anything firm, we'll announce here. We're not too far off.
 
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Interested in showing us pics of your car setup along with a parts list with links?

I tried my Hiby W3 in my car and it wasn't blowing out of the water my car stereo's own bluetooth. Maybe it is just a good car stereo to begin with. I would be curious to try my Zen Blue to see how it performs.


Wow - I just got one of these and installed it in my car. In case it helps anyone, I have confirmed it takes a 5.5mm x 2.1mm (aka barrel tip) DC power, and I found a cable on Amazon that adapts to USB type-A for my unique use case.

I was trying the FiiO BTR5 for the past few weeks and despite it being geared towards headphones, this thing blows it away and I’m amazed with the quality.

@iFi audio - is there any ETA on LDAC firmware, and can you elaborate on how it will be delivered to the unit? I’m assuming OTA via iOS/Droid phone and a new app yet to be published?
 
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dharmasteve

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Just to say that desktop LDAC receivers are so rare that the Zen Blue at it's price point is quite special. There is a software reconnection problem, which will hopefully be fully sorted soon, but I would like to say what a really nice piece of equipment this is. I have a few methods of listening to music, through a DAP, headphone amp, personal Bluetooth such as FiiO BTR3, and the Radson ES100. Lots of pleasure and joy, but to sit in my lounge using my LDAC capable phone to 'stimulate' the Zen Blue into action is just a total pleasure. The Sabre DAC gives a good sound and even through the most simple system of an Amptastic Mini 1Tripath amp and Wharfedale Diamond 9.1 speakers........ can't get more simple than that........ the Zen Blue feeds some really nice pound per pleasure sound. Maybe as an old analogue buff this suits me, but there are many up to date digital options in it. The Zen Blue is just pound for pound such a rare product....and it is not easy to tell the difference between LDAC and wired.
 
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Just to say that desktop LDAC receivers are so rare that the Zen Blue at it's price point is quite special.
We agree and at the same time we're aware of issues. It shouldn't take long to fix them.
 
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Interested in showing us pics of your car setup along with a parts list with links?

I tried my Hiby W3 in my car and it wasn't blowing out of the water my car stereo's own bluetooth. Maybe it is just a good car stereo to begin with. I would be curious to try my Zen Blue to see how it performs.
Hah, I’ll bet you’d be underwhelmed with pics of the Zen in my car because I just shoved it in the glove box as a proof of concept. The Audi A4 that I have has an AUX “AMI” (Audi Media Interface) proprietary input in the glove box so it’s sort of practical temporarily. There is a non-OEM AMI cable I found on Amazon that does USB-A charging + headphone line-in. I then converted both sides - the USB-A to barrel for power and headphone to RCA for audio. I can say that the barrel side is a little too long so it is not as snug a fit as I might prefer, but I haven’t been able to find the exact spec.

Post-receiver, I have some pretty good quality DSP and Amplification with Mosconi products - using the 4to6 DSP and AS 100.4 amp. Speakers are some old school MB Quarts and a JL 12w3.

I will say I am experiencing some dropouts so I’m not entirely sure if it’s due to early software bugs or electrical interference in that area of the car. I’m thinking once I get it stabilized, I might move the Zen under the passenger seat as the 6 foot cabling should allow for a more concealed location.

I’m new on here so hopefully posting those links is not a problem. As usual, Amazon has some pretty quirky knockoff brands that I don’t know how else I could link!
 
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There is a software reconnection problem
Is that why I’m hearing some dropouts? It’s usually just a split-second here and there. I have a unique installation to say the least so it would be helpful to understand what the perceived known bugs are beyond LDAC. I am streaming from iOS (iPhone X), so AAC codec.
 
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Is that why I’m hearing some dropouts? It’s usually just a split-second here and there. I have a unique installation to say the least so it would be helpful to understand what the perceived known bugs are beyond LDAC. I am streaming from iOS (iPhone X), so AAC codec.
Haven't used my iPad so not sure about AAC signal connection. With Android I find on mine at slower bitrate connections (Aptx) the signal keeps the connection in general, APTX-HD can rarely drop a little and once or twice had to be manually reconnected. At LDAC better quality (660-990) if the signal drops the Zen Blue does not automatically reconnect and I have to play around reconnecting. This has happen a few times. It's annoying at the highest bitrates. With my Samsung S9+ though LDAC it works generally quite well at most bitrates, but if it does drop it won't reconnect automatically which is a bit of a pain. Mostly with LDAC best adaptive it holds well enough though and I can get uninterrupted sessions, and as I say sounds exceptional with a good little HiFi system. All in all I would recommend this and once they sort out the software reconnection problem I would not understand why anybody does not have one. Sweet but muscular sound from the Sabre DAC. Great quality sound, and at LDAC highest bitrates I can't really tell the difference from a fully cabled system or a WiFi connected (DLNA signal) system.
 
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Keep us up to date on how the experiment is working out. I use the Zen in my garage man cave and it's working out well. For the kids I can go to my phone using AAC and stream their favorites. Though rare it can lose connection via AAC. For myself, I get the HiBy R3Pro and once I get LDAC working it does fine with single albums. I can get it to be stable for hours on a single album. However, if I expand it out to larger playlists it will lose connection fairly quickly. Not sure why but it happens every time.

One Zen at home is probably good for me but if they make a portable bluetooth dongle I'd definitely give it a shot in the car, on a run, at work, etc.

garage cave sm.jpg


Hah, I’ll bet you’d be underwhelmed with pics of the Zen in my car because I just shoved it in the glove box as a proof of concept. The Audi A4 that I have has an AUX “AMI” (Audi Media Interface) proprietary input in the glove box so it’s sort of practical temporarily. There is a non-OEM AMI cable I found on Amazon that does USB-A charging + headphone line-in. I then converted both sides - the USB-A to barrel for power and headphone to RCA for audio. I can say that the barrel side is a little too long so it is not as snug a fit as I might prefer, but I haven’t been able to find the exact spec.

Post-receiver, I have some pretty good quality DSP and Amplification with Mosconi products - using the 4to6 DSP and AS 100.4 amp. Speakers are some old school MB Quarts and a JL 12w3.

I will say I am experiencing some dropouts so I’m not entirely sure if it’s due to early software bugs or electrical interference in that area of the car. I’m thinking once I get it stabilized, I might move the Zen under the passenger seat as the 6 foot cabling should allow for a more concealed location.

I’m new on here so hopefully posting those links is not a problem. As usual, Amazon has some pretty quirky knockoff brands that I don’t know how else I could link!
 
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Keep us up to date on how the experiment is working out. I use the Zen in my garage man cave and it's working out well. For the kids I can go to my phone using AAC and stream their favorites. Though rare it can lose connection via AAC. For myself, I get the HiBy R3Pro and once I get LDAC working it does fine with single albums. I can get it to be stable for hours on a single album. However, if I expand it out to larger playlists it will lose connection fairly quickly. Not sure why but it happens every time.

One Zen at home is probably good for me but if they make a portable bluetooth dongle I'd definitely give it a shot in the car, on a run, at work, etc.

Looks a great little setup with the Zen Blue centrestage. What is the amp, if you're OK with that?
 
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Definitely ok.

Emotiva A-150

Fun little rig.

iFi Blue Zen > Burson Audio Cable+ Pro > Schiit Sys > Emotiva A-150 > KEF Q150 & Era subwoofer

Need to step up my speaker stand game but it's harder and more expensive than one thinks :wink:



Looks a great little setup with the Zen Blue centrestage. What is the amp, if you're OK with that?
 
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All ZEN Blue/Aurora users, please take a look here: https://ifi-audio.com/downloads/

... and please select the 'Bluetooth Firmware' tab. In there you'll find our latest Bluetooth firmware for ZEN BLUE and Aurora.

Bug fixes include:
  • LDAC operational improvements
  • iOS occasional signal drop bug fixed
  • Sleep mode adjustment
You'll also find the step-by-step installation guide. If you have any questions about the process, please ask away!
 
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What is the new Sleep mode adjustment? Longer shorter, easier to pair after/during sleep?
 
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All ZEN Blue/Aurora users, please take a look here: https://ifi-audio.com/downloads/

... and please select the 'Bluetooth Firmware' tab. In there you'll find our latest Bluetooth firmware for ZEN BLUE and Aurora.

Bug fixes include:
  • LDAC operational improvements
  • iOS occasional signal drop bug fixed
  • Sleep mode adjustment
You'll also find the step-by-step installation guide. If you have any questions about the process, please ask away!
First glance
So just upgraded to the new firmware. Usual great sound though to my HiFi in LDAC. I'm using 660 kbps from a Samsung S9 plus using developer options. 990kbps was a bit stuttery, but that's not the Zen, thats my phone but importantly it did not drop the signal. So in 660kbps it really sounds good. Most importantly, IMHO, it's impossible for me to tell the difference between the sound quality of the Zen Blue LDAC Bluetooth Receiver Bluetooth sound and WiFi Receiver DLNA sound . Bluetooth has come a long way. It's been very interesting watching Bluetooth development and the improvement between APTX sound, APTX-HD sound and now LDAC sound. LDAC is very special and has a nice analogue sound. (It sounds great using the Radsone ES100, but that's another thread)

Update
Just tested my LG V30, updated to Anroid 9, and it seems to play LDAC 990kbps without a problem.
 
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Plan to get this one, can anybody tell me what advantage it has over the es100? also i'm confused, is the 4.4 balanced out for headphones? many thanks
 
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