Is the iFI Zen Dac better in V2 than V1

Per the manufacturer iFi site the V1 did MQA decoding but the newer V2 does MQA rendering? I’m sure Studio would benefit especially if I stream Qobuz. Is this correct?strong text

Got that one answered but do either Qobuz or Tidal support MQA? I’ve subscribed to Qobuz recently.

Tidal has a bunch of mqa content some albums are in mqa only

V1 is an Renderer
V2 Decoder

Qobuz does not support MQA. But there will be a few MQA files. Audirvana wil not recognize this files as MQA. With the V2 you can decode this files.

Tidal is the only streaming service that supports MQA.

Depending on the firmware, this DAC uses GTO filtering. This is een MQA like filter. Not everyone likes this.

MQA is just a proprietary lossy compression format for streaming which helps to carry high res audio at lower bitrates than FLAC (that’s a simplified explanation :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:).
If you play a high res FLAC from Qobuz, you will have the full quality in lossless.

Depending on what you listen to, MQA or high res audio can be totally beside the point (for older records, such as 1960s-80s, the releases can be many, and picking the right release will have much more impact than bitrate).

I’m not sure about the “MQA likeness” of the GTO filter, but this internal upsampling method found in some iFi products does change the sound signature and there’s no consensus whether it’s better with or without, it will depend on many things as usual (your gears, your ears, your tracks).

It seems that except the MQA functionality, the Zen Dac 2 doesn’t have anything different, except the LEDs are apparently looking better. In fact, iFi started to ship Zen Dac v1 with the v2 components months before the release of the v2 because their was a component shortage which forced them to upgrade to more recent components, but the sound signature remains identical.

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If you’re buying a new Zen DAC, go for the latest version. It has a better USB interface (XMOS that also does MQA decoding). The only reason why you might want to go for the older version is if it’s heavily discounted and you’re on very tight budget.

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