Zen Stream/Zen DAC v2 a Surprisingly Good Combo

I picked up a Zen Stream a couple of months ago to use in my main system with the intention of getting a 'higher' end DAC to use with it. Maybe something from Schiit, Denafrips, Topping or Geshelli. In the meantime I took the Zen DAC v2 off my desk and connected it to the Stream to test out in my main system. Wow!

The Zen DAC has been performing headphone and powered speaker preamp duties on my desk for the past couple of years and doing it well. I never thought to try it out in my main system and wish I had done so sooner. Suffice it to say, I'm no longer in the market for a DAC from another company the Zen Stream/Zen DAC v2 is an excellent match for my main system (Kinky Studio EX-M1+ and Buchard s400 MKII).

I'm using the Stream as a Roon End Point. Setup was easy and I have had no issues with connectivity and stability over Wifi since I started using it in my system. I also upgraded to a iPowerX for the Stream and it made a slight noticeable difference to the sound in terms of soundstage.

Overall, I'm very happy with the Zen Stream/Zen DAC v2 combo and highly recommend this setup for those that don't need the tiny screen or AIO convenience of the Neo Stream. The $700 combo of a Zen Stream/Zen DAC v2/iPowerX is a streaming solution that can hold it's own with the likes of Bluesound Node and CA CXNv2 or MXN10 streamers in terms of sound quality. However, Bluesound and CA options provide a better native software solution for those that don't use Roon. 

Ag insider logo xs@2xmindhead1

Nice to hear that a sub-$1K streamer/DAC is so satisfying! This belies the assertations of the moneyphiles that only gear costing multi-thousands is capable of doing justice to the music embedded in those ones and zeroes!

The Zen Stream has been working well for me, and over the past year, I’ve experimented with several DACs alongside it, including Zen DAC v2. I ended up returning the DAC but I think personal preference plays a significant role. I’ve kept the Schiit Modius, as I prefer its particular house sound signature. I recall the Zen DAC being somewhat lean in the mid-bass and bass notes regions.

I recently bought the everSolo DMP A6, and in terms of being a streamer, it outperforms the Zen Stream. Particularly at low volume levels, I noticed that the soundstage didn't collapse with the A6 compared to the Zen Stream. Additionally, the A6 showcases better soundstage depth and instrument separation. I find the A6-Modius combination more preferable than the analog output from the A6's internal DAC.

The Eversolo devices look good. I might consider one if it was purely a streamer or a preamp with streaming capabilities. While it’s not always avoidable (MQA) I prefer not to pay for functionality I won’t use. In this case the Eversolo DACs and Screen.

While I’m currently content with the Zen DAC v2 handling my DAC duties I know there are other DAC in my future. As long as I continue using Roon I don’t think I can find a better endpoint under $1000 than the Zen Stream.

I like the ZS, and it has been serving me well. It is a very capable performer up to its price point. However, I wouldn't go as far as to claim it as the best under $1k. There are several candidates reported to be equally capable performers in that price range, in addition to the DMP A6:

0. Wiim Pro / Pro+ ($180/$220)

1. Volumio Primo V1 ($400) stream/DAC w/ the perpetual subscription of Volumio;

2. Matrix i4 mini ($650)

3. Volumio Primo V2 ($750?) stream/DAC

4. Mercury V2 ($850)

5. Volumio Rivo ($1,050) streamer

I believe that over time, the lower-priced market will become saturated with these affordable yet capable performers. Their functionality will likely be enriched to include several useful and desirable features such as PEQ, upsampling, and possibly DSP.  Hang onto our good friend ZS until those promising days arrive.

@lanx0003 I agree, technology marches on. A friend is using the Wii Pro in a very nice stereo and it sounds great.

With that said, I own the Stream and DAC v2 Signature and agree with the OP; outstanding functionality and sound quality for the money.

BTW, the Stream, DAC v2 and WiiM Pro all benefit from power supply upgrades.