IFI Zen Blue vs Audioengine B1:  What’s the Best Bluetooth Receiver?

Adding a Bluetooth receiver enhances your home audio setup by allowing you to connect Bluetooth-enabled devices to older technology like a vintage receiver. You can easily pair your phone or tablet and start streaming music.

The IFI Zen Blue and Audioengine B1 Bluetooth receivers are two of the top options. Both choices are easy to operate and use the latest technologies to deliver high-quality sound.

Use the following IFI Zen Blue vs Audioengine B1 comparison to decide which Bluetooth receiver is the right choice for your sound system.

bluetooth receiver for vintage receiver
An Audioengine B1 connected to a vintage receiver.

Audioengine B1 Features and Specs

The Audioengine B1 Bluetooth music receiver is designed to add Bluetooth functionality to any music system. You do not need any software or mobile apps. After connecting the device, it should appear under the available Bluetooth connections on your phone, tablet, or laptop.

The B1 is a sleek, compact receiver with a dark gray aluminum shell. You get everything needed to connect and set up your new Bluetooth receiver, including:

  • Stereo audio cable
  • USB power adapter and cable
  • Microfiber storage bag
  • Setup guide
  • Antenna

The provided antenna provides great coverage right out of the box. The Audioengine B1 has a range of up to 100 feet. The B1 receives audio from a Bluetooth connection and sends the signal to your receiver or speakers. The back of the device includes a digital optical output and a pair of stereo analog outputs.

IFI Zen Blue Features and Specs

The IFI Zen Blue includes many of the same features found on the Audioengine B1, including Bluetooth 5.0 technology. However, the IFI Zen Blue includes coaxial and mini-stereo connections, which are not found on the B1. You also get the following items:

  • Stereo audio cable
  • AC/DC power adapter
  • Setup guide
  • Antenna

Compared to the Audioengine B1, the IFI Zen Blue has a bulkier design that requires a little more space. The light gray colors and curved shell may also fail to blend well with your existing stereo equipment. Yet, the IFI Zen Blue is also slightly cheaper, which may appeal to those with a tight budget.

IFI Zen Blue vs Audioengine B1 Comparison

Here’s a quick comparison of some of the main features of the IFI Zen Blue and Audioengine BI receivers:

Audioengine B1 IFI Zen Blue
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Supported formats aptX, aptX HD, AAC aptX, aptX HD, AAC
Power source 5V USB power cable DC power adapter
DAC AKM4396 QCC5100
Dimensions 3.54 x 2.95 x 0.98 inches 6.22 x 3.94 x 1.38 inches
Weight 1.1 pounds 1.05 pounds
DAC RCA analog stereo, digital optical RCA analog stereo, digital optical, digital coaxial, mini stereo jack

 

b1 audioengineIFI Zen Blue vs Audioengine B1:  Bluetooth Range

The IFI Zen Blue and Audioengine B1 receivers both use Bluetooth 5.0 technology, which has a maximum range of 800 feet. However, in a real environment, the range is typically between 80 and 100 feet.

The Audioengine B1 receiver slightly outperforms the IFI Zen Blue. It has an extended WIFI range which enhances its coverage area. It is less likely to drop your connection as you walk between rooms.

IFI Zen Blue vs Audioengine B1 – Audio Quality

The quality of the audio depends largely on the quality of the connection and audio source. As both receivers use the latest Bluetooth technology, you do not need to worry about a reduction in quality due to signal loss.

Both receivers also support aptX HD, aptX, and AAC encoding for high-definition audio. You can stream CD-quality audio at 24 bits / 192 kbps.

The main difference between the two receivers comes from the digital-to-analog converter (DAC). The IFI Zen Blue uses the Qualcomm QCC5100 DAC. The Audioengine B1 is equipped with an AKM4396 DAC.  The AKM4396 is made by the world’s largest DAC manufacturer. It was created as a high-performance DAC for sampling DVD audio at 24 bits while the QCC5100 was made for wireless earbuds.

Compared to the Qualcomm QCC5100, the AKM4396 chip offers better audio. It was made to reduce high-frequency noise on high-end audio systems, which should help it deliver a better audio experience.

bluetooth receiver outputs audioengine b1

IFI Zen Blue vs Audioengine B1:  Outputs

Most Bluetooth receivers include a pair of RCA stereo outputs. You can connect the left and right audio directly to your audio receiver or powered speakers.

The IFI Zen Blue and Audioengine B1 also have a digital optical output. If your receiver or speakers have an optical cable input, using this connection delivers superior audio. Compared to analog RCA, optical connections provide better protection against interference and signal loss.

The IFI Zen Blue also has a coaxial digital output and a mini stereo jack. These extra outputs may make it easier to connect the receiver to certain devices.

For example, you may have a speaker system that only has a mini stereo jack or a coaxial connection instead of a digital optical connection. However, almost every analog receiver or powered speaker includes RCA analog inputs. You should have no problem connecting either Bluetooth receiver to your existing sound system.

Should You Choose the IFI Zen Blue or Audioengine B1?

The IFI Zen Blue and the Audioengine B1 are quality Bluetooth receivers with many of the same features. Both receivers use Bluetooth 5.0 technology and support HD audio.

b1 vs ifi zen
The Audioengine B1 has incredible audio quality, bluetooth connectivity, and is a compact unit.

The IFI Zen Blue offers a couple of advantages, including a slightly cheaper price tag and extra outputs. Yet, the Audioengine B1 is likely to deliver better audio.

The B1 Bluetooth receiver has audiophile-grade connectors. Whether you use analog or digital outputs, the metal connectors help protect against interference that may degrade the quality of the signal.

Maintaining the Bluetooth connection as you walk around the house is also easier with the Audioengine B1. The device has a range of up to 100 feet and stays connected through walls.

The Audioengine B1 is also smaller and easier to position. While both options are compact, the B1 is less than 1-inch tall and just 3.5 inches wide.

In the end, you can enjoy CD-quality audio streaming with the Audioengine B1 or the IFI Zen Blue. Yet, the Audioengine B1 is a step above the competition thanks to its superior DAC.

 

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