@olyaudio I forgot to follow up here!
I did end up going with the pontus/iris combo for the dac/ddc to pair with the Zen. They sound great, but definitely invest in a high quality HDMI and USB to use with them. The HDMI is best if kept very short (ideally less than 1m if possible. Mine is 0.5m). I got mine on sale from DH Labs. The cheap amazon cables I had did not sound great - in fact, connecting the DDC to the DAC with this cheap amazon HDMI actually made it sound worse, oddly enough. Like a veil was over the music. Replacing the cables eliminated this issue though.
Everything was fairly straight forward and easy to set up. The pontus was a little more annoying to set up, but they have a video walkthrough on youtube for it that was helpful. The pontus if buying new does NOT come with a power cord, so keep that in mind. I missed it when reading the listing details and was surprised when I received it. I had some spares laying around though.
The Zen is nice and the app is fairly simple to use, though I do have some annoyances with it. In order to navigate to qobuz to see my playlists, it's a fair amount of clicks, all of which have some slight delay, and the app likes to boot back out to the screen to select the device fairly often - which means clicking back on the device, then the music tab, then scrolling all the way down and clicking on qobuz, then scrolling down to get to playlists, etc. It's a minor thing, but it is a little irritating. I think once I get an ipad to use as a controller instead of trying to use it on my phone, it might be a bit less of an issue due to the larger screen.
Otherwise, easy to use, easy to drag and drop music files onto the device via shared network folder, etc. Spotify connection can be a little bit finicky if you use it or anyone else in your household does, but can connect multiple accounts to be able to use it for spotify as well, if you so desire.
Sound wise, I'm quite pleased. While it's not 1:1 vinyl equivalent, I wasn't expecting that at this price point. It's pretty close though, which is saying something. Significantly better than any of the more 'budget' solutions I've tried in the past.
Since I primarily listen to vinyl on my system, this works really nicely for me. If I ever choose to upgrade down the line, would likely just stick with these two brands and move up to their top of the line offerings most likely. I would consider demoing a Lampizator DAC at some point possibly, but the price points on those are a different ball game.
Anyway, long winded but hope that is helpful!