iFi Neo Stream Network Streaming Device Review

The Neo Stream is the current flagship streamer from iFi, and is sold for $1299 MSRP. The Stream is a significant upgrade over their previous Zen Stream device and this review unit was sent to me directly from iFi to take a look at.

The Neo Stream comes in an all-aluminum metal chassis, and in a relatively small package. It's larger than the Zen series, but is significantly smaller than a traditional audio component, and takes up about 30% of the space of my Holo Audio Spring 3 KTE DAC or Holo Bliss headphone amplifiers, which are the traditional ~17 x ~12 inch width sizes of normal full-sized audio devices.

The Neo Stream is meant to be a desktop device, and can be placed horizontal with included feet, or placed vertically with a base stand included in the box. For most of my testing, it made the most sense to place it horizontally on top of my Holo system, but for many, the vertical stack on the desk may provide the best space savings, and it would fit neatly next to a desktop speaker. It also pairs perfectly with the Neo iDSD or iDSD 2 all-in-one DAC & Headphone Amp, as they use the same chassis design.


The front of the device has a small display screen on the left side that can display album art and information, as well as displays the menu and options. The center of the front panel has a large multi-functional knob that controls volume and scrolling through menu options. On the right side are a menu button and a power button, as well as a USB-C input.

The back of the device has a large array of input/output options. For inputs, there is an additional USB-A input, and ethernet connector. There is also an optical to ethernet adapter in the box as well for those who want to use this functionality. In addition, there is an included Wi-Fi antenna, which is my preferred option for input signal.

On the output end, I2S (HDMI), S/PDIF (Toslink and Coaxial) as well as AES/EBU outputs are available. There is also a USB-A output to DAC included too. 

Finally, this NeoStream also has a custom DAC built-in that can also output via traditional stereo RCA and a 4.4mm output for those who want balanced output. Most users who use this option will need a 4.4mm to dual XLR 3-Pin cable to connect to your speakers or amplifiers.

Device Usage

For my configuration, I used wireless Wifi to send data from my Roon Core server to this device, or via my iPad using Tidal Connect or Airplay 2. There is also option for Spotify Connect and DNLA. The Neo Stream was connected to my Holo Spring 3 KTE DAC using I2S connection, and also directly to my Holo Bliss Headphone Amplifier using 4.4mm to XLR balanced connectors. I connected directly to see how the internal DAC performed, but more on this later.

The initial setup of the device was fairly straight forward, as long as you follow the manual. Once you plug it in and power it on, you'll want to move the menu option to enable the Hot Spot mode. This allows you to connect your computer, phone or tablet, to the Neo Stream's internal hotspot network. Once there, you can assess the setup page in your browser and configure it to connect to your wireless network.

After that, I was able to quickly find the streamer on my Roon software without any additional work. This device is Roon Ready, so that makes it a breeze.

Sound Quality

For sound impressions, I tried the Neo Stream in both digital and analog output. In the first scenario, my Roon Server sent music via wifi to the iFi device, and I used I2S to send to my Holo Audio Spring 3 KTE, and from there, it was XLR to the Holo Audio Bliss headphone amplifier to my Hifiman Susvara. That's a lot of H's and I's in one paragraph!

I turned on Nanna's How to Start a Garden record from 2023, and right away, I was impressed by the clarity and slightly forward sound of the Of Monsters and Men vocalist. Nanna's voice was delicate and resolving, and the Icelandic vocalist's breathiness was captured quite well in this setup. I wouldn't have expected less, as I would prefer to have as transparent of a sound as possible from a streamer who's job was to only to be a digital transport.

I enabled Group mode in Roon with the Spring 3 on USB and also connected to the Neo Stream and swapped back and forth between inputs to see if I could hear any significant or appreciable differences between with and without the digital streamer.

The one thing that caught my eye was the trailing end of each line of lyric on "Disaster Master," my favorite track on this record. The Neo Streamer has just a touch of a brighter edge to these notes, and a generally brighter tonality throughout. It's subtle, and perhaps borders on the sibilance if given the right track, but this provides that sense of clarity to the track.

The rest of the tonal curve seemed fairly inline with and without the streamer in the chain.

Interestingly enough, these trailing high "spots" didn't seen to present itself when I swapped to analog out -- sending signal from the Streamer through its built-in DAC to my Holo Bliss headphone amplifier, bypassing the Spring 3 altogether.

In this configuration, it seemed less bright than having it connected through the DAC, but it lacked the depth and felt a little smaller in stage than with the R2R Spring 3 KTE in the picture. This felt very much clean and neutral, with a slight touch of warmth and body that I believe the Holo Bliss provides.

Comparing this to a normal DAC such as the SMSL DO300SE that I use primarily at work, or any number of dongles I have at home, I find the sound output from the Neo Stream DAC to be resolving and well-tuned and balanced as a neutral player. It doesn't sound as bright as some of circa 2020-2021 iFi products which I disliked, but has a sound that is more aligned with their recent offerings which are neutral but not too bright.


In my current setup, which is a bit more unique than others with an R-2R DAC in the chain, I find the Neo Stream added a tad of brightness to the system that was not present when I went directly to the amplifier itself. This was a bit strange, since I don't hear this same brightness without the Neo Stream, but that could just be a setup synergy thing too. 

The Neo Stream was fairly easy to setup and operate, and is well-built. The screen is a tad small for my taste, and I wish this device came with a remote, as it operates kind of clunky through the front panel knob and buttons. 

Other than that, it's provides strong clarity, and neutral tonality, and has a ton of input/output features that makes anyone deep into digital audio a very happy person with many choices.