iFi audio ZEN Stream - Streaming elevated to a higher plane
Apr 2, 2022 at 5:40 AM Post #3,901 of 4,868

zolom

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Listening to some smooth jazz on tidal hifi, via roon (ZS, Hugo2, iFi iCan pro, Focal Stellia). Shuffling between Usb and SPDIF on the ZS (see iFi web ui screen). Roon DSP set to maximum OS, for both (DSD64 for SPDIF, DSD128 for Usb). It seems to me that SPDIF option sounds smoother and more refined.
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Apr 3, 2022 at 12:01 AM Post #3,902 of 4,868
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I haven’t found that to be the case—let me do some tweaking and see if I encounter what you’re describing. I’ve used convolution files and parametric EQ settings without any issues with MQA to my knowledge, if I set the audio settings to “decoder and renderer”. All I know is that if the software first unfold is on, it’s impossible to get MQA Studio—by definition that first unfold forces MQB decoding only

What DAC are you using out of curiosity?

Well you appear to be right about the MQA output with DSP, but I’m not sure what is going on to be honest. Here’s the signal chain when I have a parametric EQ enabled with the MQA software unfold off, vs on (see photos):

With it off, it seems to recognize the MQA file type, but my DAC shows 48 kHz PCM (?). With it on, the DAC shows 96khz OFS, even though the file is 192. I suspect that this is a result of MQB that it is not completing the final unfold or decoding MQA Studio.

Fortunately I have an amp with analog bass enhancement (the iFi Pro iCAN Signature), so I don’t need EQ adjustments. But it sucks that Roon doesn’t offer a full unfold option with DSPs enabled.

FYI, with my A&K SP1000M (Roon Ready), I get MQA full unfolds displayed on the screen (including 192 kHz) when using DSP. It makes sense to me that Roon needs to handle the first (core) unfold to apply the DSP and then reconstruct the stream for the renderer.

This is unfortunately correct, and not really something we can offer as far as my knowledge goes on the streamer side to alleviate Roon's processing path.

Hopefull[y, Roon can offer a full unfold option with DSPs enabled in the future for you all.

Listening to some smooth jazz on tidal hifi, via roon (ZS, Hugo2, iFi iCan pro, Focal Stellia). Shuffling between Usb and SPDIF on the ZS (see iFi web ui screen). Roon DSP set to maximum OS, for both (DSD64 for SPDIF, DSD128 for Usb). It seems to me that SPDIF option sounds smoother and more refined. Screenshot_20220402-122715_Roon.jpgScreenshot_20220402-122428_Chrome.jpgScreenshot_20220402-122626_Roon.jpgScreenshot_20220402-122448_Roon.jpg

Nice! Thanks for the feedback. We always welcome folks try out all of the connections before deciding on one.
 
Apr 3, 2022 at 9:03 PM Post #3,903 of 4,868

applesnowleo

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Hard reset and back to original software to get the official software and remove the beta.

Now roon does not update the bridge software, gives an error on bridge software update.

Could be on the roon site, frustrating coincidence.

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Apr 4, 2022 at 9:44 AM Post #3,906 of 4,868

Mr BubbaHyde

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Roon bridge 1.7 is what the Zen Stream defaults after an hard reset, then roon updates it, but now it does not, gives an error.
I'm a bit confused here, are you saying Roon isn't working for you since the update?

Over had no issues other than I miss the ability to use both outputs at the same time, I'll take the loss so I can stop hearing Roon "Ready" 😂😂😂

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Cheers!!
 
Apr 4, 2022 at 11:01 AM Post #3,907 of 4,868
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Roon bridge 1.7 is what the Zen Stream defaults after an hard reset, then roon updates it, but now it does not, gives an error.

What's the error that you're getting?
 
Apr 4, 2022 at 11:08 AM Post #3,908 of 4,868

applesnowleo

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Simply get the error on checking for update, it detects a new version but it does not update. I am not using the beta.

when I click update it updated all devices but the zen can not.

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Apr 5, 2022 at 9:12 PM Post #3,909 of 4,868

srkbear

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I’ve discovered a new issue with my ZS since upgrading the firmware to the new “Roon Ready” authentication. When I have the ZS set to “All-in-One” or the universal setting on the back, Roon recognizes it and populates the correct settings in the Audio setup—max PCM of 384, 32 bit, DSD 512 (although technically it can’t process higher than DSD 256). However, when I switch to the “Roon Exclusive” mode on the back, suddenly the maximum PCM is 192 and 24 bit. I’ve switched back and forth several times to confirm the behavior.

Has anyone else experienced the above behavior since installing the latest firmware on the ZS?

@iFi audio or @Sebastien Chiu if you’re participating in this thread I could use some assistance with this, since I can’t seem to get your support website to open a ticket for me—I’ve tried three browsers but there seems to be a glitch going on of late…
 
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Apr 5, 2022 at 9:19 PM Post #3,910 of 4,868

Mark200

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I’ve discovered a new issue with my ZS since upgrading the firmware to the new “Roon Ready” authentication. When I have the ZS set to “All-in-One” or the universal setting on the back, Roon recognizes it and populates the correct settings in the Audio setup—max PCM of 384, 32 bit, DSD 512 (although technically it can’t process higher than DSD 256). However, when I switch to the “Roon Exclusive” mode on the back, suddenly the maximum PCM is 192 and 24 bit.

I’ve attempted to submit an ticket to iFi, but their Wordpress website has a bug currently that won’t allow me to open one. Has anyone else experienced the above behavior since installing the latest firmware on the ZS?
There are other similar comments in this thread, mostly related to Tidal exclusive mode. So it does appear to be a common problem. iFi support has suggested that you just leave the hardware switch in AIO mode, and go into the Settings (using the web interface) and turn off the "Sources" that you don't need. But in any case, just leaving it in AIO mode (via the hardware switch or software settings) doesn't hurt either.
 
Apr 6, 2022 at 9:15 AM Post #3,912 of 4,868

srkbear

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There are other similar comments in this thread, mostly related to Tidal exclusive mode. So it does appear to be a common problem. iFi support has suggested that you just leave the hardware switch in AIO mode, and go into the Settings (using the web interface) and turn off the "Sources" that you don't need. But in any case, just leaving it in AIO mode (via the hardware switch or software settings) doesn't hurt either.
Well, I didn’t seem to have this problem before they jettisoned the bridge in the latest update. However this seems to obviate the whole point of the Roon-exclusive mode offered on the ZS to begin with. I tend to doubt the significance of the “software jitter” this feature is supposed to combat (they supposedly included anti-jitter tech in their USB port already) and I have no problem using the AIO mode personally. But I think they might as well have left that dial off the back, since it’s basically an unnecessary addition to the signal path.

I’m not certain that I’ve noticed any practical differences since they jettisoned the Roon Bridge in favor of the Roon Ready status either, other than that Roon now recognizes that my ZS can’t process higher than 384 kHz PCM (it still incorrectly populates the max DSD settings at 512). I actually didn’t mind the Roon Bridge, as Roon allowed in-app bridge updates to be flashed to the ZS. And I never had any problems with Roon utilizing their RAAT audio transport protocol with the bridge either, so I question whether the upgrade offered any audible improvements.

It’s apparent that the bridge still exists in some vestigial form, because if I now select the ZS as my Roon Endpoint (whereas before it was a Roon Bridge with my Topping DAC as the actual endpoint—that’s what the bridge is for), the ZS shows up twice in the Roon signal path—once as a bridge and again as an endpoint. Makes no sense.

All in all I love my ZS; it just seems like iFi again promoted a bunch of features at launch (similar to their Tidal Connect MQA implementation) that have been called into question over a sketchy run of beta firmwares. I like the simplicity of the ZS, and I wish they hadn’t been forced to deviate from that principle chasing down truth-in-advertising priorities over a couple of unnecessary bells and whistles. I hope from this point that they leave the thing alone.
 
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Apr 6, 2022 at 9:33 AM Post #3,913 of 4,868

srkbear

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In Roon mode with the new firmware the Stream only works on coax output, hence the limitations in regards to PCM and resolution. I can't find a way to maintain USB output when switching to Roon mode. Using it in AIO mode for now, works just fine.
This is why I think the bridge was preferable over the Roon Ready certification. A Roon bridge is far more versatile than a simple endpoint—it allows whatever device it’s attached to to function as an endpoint, which in this case was my Topping D90se. With the bridge, Roon recognized my DAC’s maximum PCM and DSD capabilities correctly, even if the ZS topped out at 384 kHz PCM. Now in AIO mode my settings are reflecting the decoding stats of the ZS instead (albeit it still incorrectly shows a maximum DSD resolution of 512 instead of 256).

When I had the bridge I had no problem playing my 384 kHz FLAC files through the ZS to my DAC in Roon Exclusive mode. Now I can’t. Whether it matters audibly is another question, but I think they should have kept the bridge and never should have advertised Roon Ready capabilities in a “future update”. It was already Roon Ready with the bridge. And I am also inclined to blame the myriad uninformed consumers on here who kept haranguing iFi for the Roon Ready “upgrade” without understanding how a Roon Bridge works.

Whatever, it seems to work fine in AIO mode. But I think @iFi audio has some explaining to do about this “software jitter” nonsense—something that has only been demonstrated in a PC.
 
Apr 6, 2022 at 3:22 PM Post #3,914 of 4,868
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I’ve discovered a new issue with my ZS since upgrading the firmware to the new “Roon Ready” authentication. When I have the ZS set to “All-in-One” or the universal setting on the back, Roon recognizes it and populates the correct settings in the Audio setup—max PCM of 384, 32 bit, DSD 512 (although technically it can’t process higher than DSD 256). However, when I switch to the “Roon Exclusive” mode on the back, suddenly the maximum PCM is 192 and 24 bit. I’ve switched back and forth several times to confirm the behavior.

Thanks for your feedback and we've asked our R&D about this. We'll be happy to address this matter further as soon as we get a reply, thanks!

But I think @iFi audio has some explaining to do about this “software jitter” nonsense—something that has only been demonstrated in a PC.

ZEN Stream is a computer that relies on its OS that has multiple software processes engaged and their optimizations aren't anything new. A streamer's software layer in general greatly impacts its audio performance, so knowing that we took the extra step to really shut down everything but just one user-selected mode of operation.
 
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Apr 6, 2022 at 3:44 PM Post #3,915 of 4,868

Mark200

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Well, I didn’t seem to have this problem before they jettisoned the bridge in the latest update. However this seems to obviate the whole point of the Roon-exclusive mode offered on the ZS to begin with. I tend to doubt the significance of the “software jitter” this feature is supposed to combat (they supposedly included anti-jitter tech in their USB port already) and I have no problem using the AIO mode personally. But I think they might as well have left that dial off the back, since it’s basically an unnecessary addition to the signal path.
I recently purchased a Zen Stream, along with a Zen DAC Signature V2. My ZS is hard wired to my LAN via Ethernet and out to the Internet via AT&T fiber. The local Ethernet connection speed is 1 Gbps to my AT&T Fiber Router, and my Internet access is about 375 Mbps (up and down). I am using Tidal along with a USB thumb drive that has a copy of my iTunes library.

When I updated the ZS firmware to the latest production release (not beta), I had all kinds of problems and had to reset the system back to the factory installed firmware to be able to consistently stream Tidal (controlled from an iPhone). I tried updating about 5 times and had to revert back each time. I did lose the ability to have ZS do the unfolding of MQA for Tidal when I went back to the prior firmware. iFi needs to drastically improve the quality of their firmware testing, and I am not just talking about beta releases. Right now, I am experiencing some occasional freezes when streaming Tidal, but it works most of the time.

I contacted iFi support about the connection problems with the latest production firmware, but they didn't even understand what I asked them, and they told me it works better when the ZS is connected to Ethernet, even though I told them it was already to connected to my LAN via Ethernet and out to the Internet via Ethernet fiber. So contacting iFi support may be a waste of time.

Supposedly the reason for using an exclusive mode rather than AIO is that it shuts down some unnecessary processing that goes on, and the ZS already runs pretty warm since it is basically a PC without any fans inside. But as you experienced, using the hardware switch to do exclusive modes does not work. with the latest production firmware.
 

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