Problems with the IFI Zen Stream.. What's a better Alternative?

I own two Zen Streams  and use them in different systems. I have used them for approximately two years. On the positive side they both deliver excellent sound quality. The problem is, as of the last few months, they both drop the network signal frequently for seconds to minutes. The red light comes on, then goes back to green. They are both running through ethernet cable, not wirelessly. After hours of trouble shooting, I have concluded that the problem is with the streamer, not something else. I suspect they might be failing due to the heat they generate. That's just a guess. 

My question is: what produces of similar or better sound quality with better reliability new or used? I would like to stay under $1,000.


Sorry for your difficulties

What convinced you that it’s not the ISP quality?

My Pro-Ject S2 Ultra runs hot but it’s pretty solid if you can handle USB out. It always snaps up to the network when rebooted.

"What convinced you that it’s not the ISP quality?" Too big a coincidence that it happened twice under two different ISPs. Also called technical support and no indication of drop offs.

I have the “Iffy” stream and the sound quality is stunning for its size and price.  Not far off from my main system’s Bricasti M5.    I have resisted to move onto something else even though it is finicky to connect.  I have to reset my Dac and hardware selection each time i turn in on to use it.  Not a big deal.  Mine experiences a little network hiccup on occasion I can’t explain.  The Holo Red is on my radar once they are in stock.  Good luck!

I’ve also got a Zen Stream and also like its sound quality especially for the price, but I had problems with the Wi-Fi connection and unfortunately found iFi support to be non existent, which is inexcusable to me for a company of this size.  It’s a little over your price target, but I’d highly recommend looking at the new Innuos Pulse Mini as it offers some of their latest thinking, their highly-regarded Sense app, and excellent customer service.  After my very frustrating experience with iFi I’ve come to the conclusion that some things are just worth paying up for.  Just my $0.02 FWIW. 

I’ve had mine for about 2 years and have nearly zero issues. Began using it wirelessly, but over the last few months wired via a Wi-Fi router extender. 

Granted, using wireless it could be quirky on setup, or reconnect, but almost always solid without any dropouts. Connected via ethernet cable directly, almost all issues are nonexistent. 

Seems odd to me this is happening with two units, and have to think there is an issue elsewhere.

Great sound for the $

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i have two zenstreams that i use to do simultaneous feeds for dac comparisons

i have had zero trouble with them, though I would add here that i am a roon user (with all other functionalities turned off), and i use a network feed via hardwire lan (not wifi)

they have worked without flaw for me in the way i have used them, and sound very very good

Why not try the Wiim Pro? It has a great software interface which works flawlessly for me. I have used Tidal but find myself very satisfied with the sound quality from Amazon Music for my needs. They recently added Roon capabilities as well. Best bang for the buck in my system. I have connected it via wi-fi of lan without any problems. They say it is bit perfect. I don't know if more expensive streamers are able to provide better sound. Wiim has constant software updates and plenty of support online.

I have a Zen stream and I’ve been planning to purchase another "higher end" streamer for months ... But I haven’t yet because it just sounds so good. I’ve certainly had some frustrating moments with it but once it settled into it’s role that it’s been in for the past year, it just has performed very well.

Obviously the frustrating things are the Volumio software which I don’t use, the customer support and the fact that in order to play Qobuz either Room or a Upnp must be employed.

I’ve been using the JPLAY app to stream Qobuz via my IFi Zen Stream with all the functions turned off except for Upnp in the Source Selection settings. It sounds amazing. (I also have it powered by a 12V linear supply from LHY). It’s also being fed ethernet from an EtherRegen which connects to my router.

Every now and then I have some hang-ups where I can’t send songs to the renderer and I have to close the app and re-open it.... but I think that issue is the JPLAY software rather than the Zen

Thanks to all for the suggestions of alternatives. I would welcome more suggestions to research. I’m also curious about the ultrarendu.

I appreciate the thoughts from those of you who suggest or imply that finding other solutions to preventing the drop offs by continued troubleshooting may work. I wish this was so as I used both Zen Streams in different locations with no problems for months and was thrilled with the quality, especially when adding a network switch and fiber optic cable. It is certainly possible that I missed something. However, after weeks of annoyance and attempts to fix the problem, I am ready to throw in the towel and just buy something that I have more confidence in.

Forgot to mention that the unit I’m looking to "upgrade" to , if and when I do it, is the Innuos PulseMini.

It’s not stratospherically priced at about $1200. Has a built in DAC incase you need to use that but certainly can feed whatever DAC you already have and most importantly brings the Sense software to the table.

Seems like a rational upgrade from the Zen

@dbb, I suggest you not give up and schedule an appointment with your ISP to check your Internet equipment, etc.

I was also having streaming issues so I recently had my ISP check all my devices, signal performance, frequency in range, etc. He replaced my inside connector/cables, replaced the connectors at my outside distribution cable box and the connectors at the cable box outside my home. He performed speed tests at each point (inside modem, cable box outside home and distribution box at the street) to ensure everything was working. I suggest you schedule an appointment with your ISP to check everything including your router and modem.

BTW, I have issues with routers dropping packets and having other issues that corrupted the cable signal. I suggest you get everything checked before you replace any equipment. I hope this helps. 

During one ISP visit, he deterred my cable signal was out of its normal range so he adjusted it.  


@j_andrews  I'll look into the Innuos PulseMini. I already have a high quality DAC so I would like to avoid paying for something I don't need. Still, sometimes you have to pay more to get what you need. Thanks for your input.

@hgeifman At my summer location, I have upgraded the modem and router to no effect. Your suggestion is well taken on bringing in the IPS tech for a home visit. They will charge me but less than buying a new piece of equipment.

@dbb, I pay my ISP a fee for cable service so my visit was included. As I said, your router and modem may be okay but your cable signal frequency may be out of range. Mine was so a home visit is suggested. Some of my cable connectors were not tight so he replaced them. 

Totally agree with hgeifman, I was a AT&T tech for 40 years, recently retired. You could have the best modem or router inside,  but you have no idea how fragile the outside infrastructure is. Especially if you are still on copper cable.  There is so many connection points between your router and the central office that can fail slowly over time, you would not believe . 

Don't  trust the test that are ran remotely from some office when you call in to complain,  let them send someone out to test the sync at your router, and if there is a issue work their way back to the source. 

Your suggestion is well taken on bringing in the IPS tech for a home visit. They will charge me but less than buying a new piece of equipment.

Don’t discount that you’ll have peace of mind knowing for sure one way or another if your incoming signal is the problem.  Seems like a much better initial option rather than blindly throwing other equipment at the issue and hoping it magically works.  Best of luck in sorting this out. 


Have you tried performing a factory reset? Make sure to follow the directions in the manual.


Also - have you tested the ports that the iFi's are connected to with a PC or other device just to make sure that the router / switch is ok?

Consider the Eversolo DMP-a6. It is a streamer wirh an on board Dac, but what it does sonically just as a streamer makes it worth it's $859 asking price. IMO

@soix @allanblissett The outside hardware was checked by a tech a few years ago at my summer location and some equipment was replaced. Again, given that I have had the same experience at two locations, I am not optimistic that this is the problem, . Nevertheless, on your suggestions I will spend the money and schedule a tech visit to be sure. It seems to be a rational move to possibly avoid spending another $800+

@yage Yes, I previously did a factory reset on the one in my summer location to no avail. (Since I use cable and not wi-fi, I’m not sure the reset matters, but I did it any way.) Yes I checked the switch by bypassing it and the problem persisted.

@dbb - Your problem may be Volumio, not the iFi hardware.  I had a miniDSP SHD streamer running the Volumio OS.  It didn't drop the signal, but it behaved in a quirky, intensely frustrating manner that I couldn't control.  The hardware was excellent, but after knocking my head against the wall for six months I sold the unit.

With a budget of $1000 why not the Cambridge or Blue sound.  You could get a Node and an LHY lps and stay within budget using your external DAC.  Best of luck.



  I second this post.  I had the same problem with the MiniDSP SHD.  I had bought the Dirac,mini DSP combo, primarily to add Dirac to my system, and that has worked great.  However at the time I decided to get the Dirac/Streamer combo, because it was only an extra hundred bucks and figured what the heck, another streamer to play with.  I had the same issues with Volumio and never use it.

  I also have the CACXN 60 and had previously owned the Bluesound.  The CA is a real bargain and I bought a second unit for a second system 

These are some suggestions with sound comparable to Ifi below $1k. You might have watched some of these reviews already. Take a grain of salt as always but I found iiwi’s recommendation is quite reliable.

- Matrix mini-i 4 ($650) with optional remote RM5 ($50)

- EverSolo DMP A6 ($900) with optional remote BTR12 ($20)

- Pi2Design Mercury V2 ($800) (look under the hood for some tech details)

- Innuos Pulse Mini ($1250 new; if you could stretch the budget a bit OR $970 used

@lanx0003 Thanks for yout post. It was very helpful in bringing me up to date on the latest in sub $1000 streamers. Since the Zen Streamer sounds so good, it  probably is a good idea to spend more. I’m considering also a used opticalrendu.


To bring all up to date, the cable tech visited today. He found no hardware issues. He suggested the drop offs may come from the Zen Stream switching wifi off and on causing hicups in the router. I did note that turning wifi off through the settings of the zen and saving it didn’t always hold.

I also had a lot of drop offs with with ZS and I was almost ready to give up. Then, I found this on a ZS forum and my ZS is rock solid since (I did it 1 year ago) : Of the top of my head :

1) I Configure my router to reserve a local IP address to be used by the ZS

2) I Configure the ZS to use the reserved IP address and a Google DNS (server 1: enter, server 2 :

Do not know if it will work for you...but it worked for me. Good luck.

PS : I do not use wi-fi. All toggle are off in the app except UPNP and I use the UPNP mode on the ZS 

@cagma7  Thanks. I implemented your suggestions except for the Google DNS address, which I didn't know how to do. No drop offs yet after about 1/2 hour. Fingers crossed. 

I found the procedure re ZS issue / Google DNS. Like you, I am not an expert. I just follow this procedure and it solves my issues. Hope it will work for you as the ZS sounds very good for the price and you have to spend much more to... PS : A better power supply (I use a SBooster) makes a significant improvement with the ZS. Good luck. Procedure (it was for a Cambridge streamer but it also works for the ZS): This is caused by an incompatibility with the Internet Service Provider's DNS servers. This is a known issue with Fastweb ISP in Italy. Resolution: Manually assign Google's Public DNS server IP addresses to the Cambridge Audio network device. Steps: Configure your router to reserve a local IP address to be used by the Streamer or choose an IP that is outside of the range of your DHCP scope This will stop the chosen IP address from being used by another device on your network. Streamer after the latest iOS update. How to connect your CXN (V2) manually using the IP address Configure your Streamer to use a Static IP address and Google DNS: On the front of the Streamer navigate to Home -> Settings -> Network -> Edit Config Use DHCP? NO IP address: Enter the reserved IP address Network Mask: Enter your networks subnet mask Gateway Address Enter the IP address of your router DNS Server 1: Enter DNS Server 2: Enter Choose no to "Enter DNS Server 3"

Check out the Primare NP5 Prisma MK2 - $750 Retail (recently offered by Roon Store for $600 on sale). Great sounding streamer when paired with a quality DAC.  Sounds even better with an upgraded power supply.  I use and recommend the Topping P50 power supply ($100 to $129 retail).

i would concur with the advice for zenstream owners to do what they can to make the unit work in their internet setup, its is well worth the trouble -- once working, the unit provides really excellent sound quality

too bad it can often be a pain to get going, but for the very low cost of the unit, the setup pains are part of the ’actual’ cost, so to speak

i am fortunate that as a roon user, the zs has been 100% useable and reliable right out of the box for me, and the sonic capability of the unit is truly impressive

This is an update. I finally figured out that the problem was not with the Zen Stream at my summer location. It was with the ethernet switch. Once I replaced it, no drop-offs.

In the course of trying to solve the problem, I bought a used Ultrarendu. The purchase was not wasted since, to my ear, it is a definite improvement over the Zen Stream. That’s not surprising since it costs over twice as much new. While I am still a fan of the excellent neutrality and resolution of the Zen Stream, the Ultrarendu has a lower noise floor making details and decay better. It also has a stronger bass which is arguably more accurate. To my ear the added warmth is welcome.


A question for my personal info (re comparison with the Ultrarendu) : Did you use a better power supply with your ZS or did you use the OEM one?


@cagma7 First I used the upgraded ifi ps. Later, in my Florida system I upgraded to lps unit I bought on ebay. In the summer house setup, that I have been comparing with the Ultrarendu,  I use a Topping P50 Linear Power Supply. The Ultrarendu uses the lps currently  supplied by Small Green Computer.