iFi celebrates record store day with a brand new DAC and a new phono stage too

The new ZEN DAC 3 and ZEN Phono 3 will make your Record Store Day purchases sound even better

iFi ZEN Phono 3
(Image credit: iFi)

It's Record Store Day on Saturday 20 April, and to mark it iFi has released two brand new products to make your new purchases sound even more amazing. The ZEN DAC 3 is the latest member of the firm's DAC family, while the ZEN Phono 3 is a brand new phono stage designed to eliminate pitch changes from slightly warped records without losing that all-important low end.

The ZEN DAC 3 isn't just for vinyl, of course: like any DAC it can improve audio in gaming, movie watching and digital music too. This model has two 4.4mm balanced outputs, one for headphones and one for connecting to other high-end hi-fi hardware, and PCM and DXD audio data is supported up to 24-bit/384kHz, alongside DSD sampling rates from 2.8MHz to 12.4MHz (DSD256) and full MQA decoding for the likes of TIDAL Masters. 

The device is based around a Burr-Brown DAC chip that uses separate pathways for DSD and PCM audio, enabling the DSD to remain untouched until it goes to the analogue conversion.

Make your records sound better with this clever phono DAC

The ZEN Phono 3 is a DAC too, but it's a phono stage made with vinyl in mind and targets one common source of audio irritation: warping. Warped records can produce a low-end rumble, and filtering that out can also mean filtering out some of the low end that's supposed to be there – the bass guitars, low synths, drums and so on. The subsonic filter here is made of smarter stuff, and according to iFi it restores the audio to its original glory without sacrificing low-end or letting rumble get through.

The ZEN Phono 3 is exceptionally quiet and has its own isolated power supply to prevent unwanted audio artefacts. It's made from high-end components including TDK C0G and Murata multilayer capacitors and an ultra-low distortion OV series op-amp. The usual RCA ins and outs are joined by a 4.4 balanced output for your amp or active speakers, and according to iFi the ZEN Phono 3 is the only phono stage in this price bracket that delivers such a feature.

The iFi ZEN Phono 3 is available online and from selected retailers with a price tag of £249 / $249 / $AUD249. The iFi ZEN DAC 3 is also available from the same places and its price is £229 / $229 / $AUD229. Full tech details should be available later today on the iFi Audio website.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).