Ifi Zen and Ananda/Arya , is it enough?

Hey all, very new to this whole world and still working on nailing down my first set up.

I got a pair of the Sundaras and really love them. I got them with what I had seen was a widely praised good starter dac/amp the ifi Zen.

I wanted to see about using a larger budget and going a bit more forward and was eyeballing the Ananda and the Arya.

My plan currently is to get a nice pair of headphones that will last me for the forseeable near future and then shortly down the road upgrade from the dac/amp combo into a separate dedicated dac and amp setup ( or at least just upgrade to a different amp and use the ifi zen in it’s dac-only mode)

For the time being though, I wanted to know if the ifi Zen was going to be enough to drive the Ananda and/or the Arya before I pull the trigger on ordering either one. I had heard that the Zen wouldn’t be able to support either more expensive pair.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, thank you for reading my post!

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Hi. I’m glad you’re enjoying the Zen and the Sundara. I might suggest that you hold off on headphones this time around, though. I doubt the Zen is getting the most out of your Sundara. The Zen is sweet little DAC but not the most powerful amp. IMO your best move right now would be to get an amp like the Schiit Asgard 3. You might be surprised by how much better your Sundara gets on that amp. Use the Zen as a dac. Then, listen for awhile. What features of the sound do you like and which features do you wish were better? Once you do that it you can come back here and tell us what you’re looking for. My concern right now is a big planar like the Ananda or Arya will underwhelm you if driven only by the Zen. I have a Massdrop-HiFiMan Edition XX that is supposedly easy to drive. I also have an iFi Hip-Dac, which actually has higher rated power than the Zen. Even the Hip-Dac struggles to truly make the Edition XX sing. My Asgard though really brings wonderful sound out them, though. Food for thought.


Thank you so much for your advice, I really appreciate all the information, it’s a nice breathe of fresh air to have some really solid advice and explaining the reasoning behind it as I seem to have been window shopping myself in circles for the past week.

I’ve seen the Asgard recommended around but I’ve also seen the Thx Drop 789 also highly recommended. Do you have any personal opinions between the two?

I seem to bounce back and forth between what I might want to invest in due to severe doubting my own hearing ability and the idea that I don’t know if my untrained ears would actually be able to notice and hear the differences between a better amp or even the ananda/arya to the sundaras. If/when I end up getting a separate dedicated amp, are you able to maybe dumb it down and clarify what the difference between the sound that may be noticeable would be?

Thank you again so much for your help!

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You’re welcome! This community has helped me out a lot too. There are lots of friendly and helpful people on this forum.

Yes. I had an SMSL SP200 amp for awhile, which is based on THX amp tech. IMO, the Asgard is the much better sounding amp. I find it to be more natural sounding and reproduce space much better than the THX amp. Throw in that the Asgard is $100 cheaper than the 789 and it’s a no-brainer, IMO. The Asgard has plenty of power to scale up to higher tier headphones, too. That’s important because…

Your instinct to spend most of your budget on headphones is a good one. Ordinarily I would encourage you to get the headphones you like first, then get an amp that complements them well. In your case already having Sundaras that you like, I think you’re at the stage where investing in an amp makes more sense. I also have a sneaky suspiscion you’ll fall more in love with the Sundaras if you drive with an Asgard. Moving forward (as you inevitably do if you truly get into this hobby) the Zen really won’t handle headphones in the next tier up like an Asgard will. I worry that if you dropped $800+ on an Ananda or $1500 on an Arya and powered it with the Zen you’d feel like you threw money away.


To add onto this, if you went with the arya, at that point you would want to upgrade your signal chain further to get the most out of them imo, with the ananda/xx I don’t think that’s needed and the zen + a3 will drive them very well

Def agree with what has been said


Thanks for the input!

Just to make sure I’m understanding right, what you’re saying is with the a3 I would be able to get good performance out of the Ananda but the a3 might not let the Arya’s shine as much as a more expensive amp option?

[the above reply was meant to be a quote reply but I’m all over the place in navigating this forum lol]

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Yes, the arya are a decent bit more amp picky than the ananda/xx, and also scale better as well. You would want to look at something like a bifrost 2 or ares ii as a dac, and then an amp like a violectric v280, monolith liquid platinum, perhaps a gilmore lite mk2


Do you think the RNHP is a good amp for the Arya @M0N?

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Yes, but personally I prefer a bit more heft and power with the arya to really get it moving, in that same price range I would most likely end up with like a liquid plat, g111, or gilmore lite mk2 depending on my dac if I wanted to prioritize an arya. That being said I personally wouldn’t be disappointed with an rnhp + arya, it just wouldn’t be my first pick

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