iFi's new DAC is lossless and wireless – and there's a high-powered headphone amp too

iFi ZEN Blue 3 DAC
(Image credit: iFi)

iFi has launched two brand new products for people who are serious about sound: the new Zen Blue 3 DAC, and the Zen Can 3 headphone amp. And the DAC is a world first: iFi says it's the world's first wireless DAC to both receive and transmit lossless audio – which could make it a unique addition to our best portable DACs guide

The new ZEN Can 3 headphone amp is impressive too. It includes xMEMS solid state drivers, which are used by the Creative Aurvana Ace 2 and some of the newest in-ear monitors we tried at CES 2024, thanks to their super-speedy response times and precision. And it has new options for gamers and movie buffs to get even better audio.

No wires, no loss: the ZEN Blue 3 offers superior streaming

The Zen Blue 3 has Bluetooth 5.4 and the aptX Adaptive codec, which includes aptX Lossless. It delivers Hi-Res audio up to 96kHz via LDAC and LDHC/HWA, enabling you to stream hi-res audio from your phone or computer in lossless CD quality. And because it's two-way, it enables you to benefit from hi-res audio streaming to suitable earbuds and headphones too.

The Zen Blue 3 has a low latency mode that you can use when watching video or playing games to reduce the lag that can sometimes send audio out of sync with the visuals. 

It's not just for wireless use, though. The Zen Blue 3 also a normal wired DAC with USB-C and S/PDIF inputs and a balanced line out, and iFi stresses that it doesn't use a bought-in system on a chip; it has separately sourced Bluetooth, DAC and Op-Amp chips. The amplification stage boasts iFi/AMR’s own ‘OV’ (Operationsverstärker) series op-amps, which iFi says outperforms many commercial chips that use "low grade copper and inexpensive aluminum bond-wire".

When iFi talks DACs, we listen (quite literally) – just see the iFi xDSD Gryphon, iFi hip-dac 3 and iFi Uno for a small taster of what this company can do for your music on the fly. 

The Zen Blue 3 is available from 9 July with a price tag of $299 / £299 / AU$299.


(Image credit: iFi)

iFi's headphone amp brings xMEMS for your IEMs

The headline feature of the new Zen Can 3 is the use of xMEMS speaker technology, which promises performance that's close to 150x faster than traditional drivers on compatible hardware. And there's improved power output too, with the Zen Can 3 delivering up to 2,000mW of continuous power to drive pretty much every wired headphone imaginable.

In addition to the existing XBass+ and XSace audio enhancements, the Zen Can 3 offers two new audio modes for gaming and movies respectively. Gaming mode ups the level of background sounds so you can better hear enemies approaching, while the movie mode boosts the clarity of dialog. 

Like the Zen Blue 3, the circuitry is cherry-picked from multiple suppliers and uses iFi/AMR's own OV op-amps. 

The Zen Can 3 is available now from ifi-audio.com for $229 / £229 / AU$229.

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now and her next book, about pop music, is out in 2025. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind.