Pros: Versatility from IEMs to Planars, excellent body to the sound, XBass and 3D switches, quality fun sound with authority
Cons: sound could be more opened and airy, hiss at some worse quality recordings
I used Fiio X3 first gen. to listen to music with a Schiit Vali. (And HD600) I liked the line out of the X3, as it was much cleaner, more detailed superior sound over the headphone out. However I used the headphone out sometimes if needed some extra bass. (Hardware bass eq on X3 works just via hp out, not line out. And yes, I know it is double amping.)
Anyway, as a first gen X3 owner I had the offer from Fiio to upgrade to the second one with 40% off. So I did it, as I was curious. :)
The sound of X3ii is much better than the first gen. I loved it immediately. Cleaner, more refined, more details... But with the Schiit Vali I felt, I lost some bass, as the 2nd gen X3 does not have the hardware bass eq, just the software one. Which I do not like. And anyway, the line out sound again is much more superior to the headphone out... So I enjoyed the more refined, detailed sound with the X3ii and my Vali, but I was missing some extra bass sometimes, so I started to look for solutions.
I did not like any software eq I tried. Cause the line out on X3 is better on its own than used as a DAC or headphone out.
So I started to look for an amp with hardware bass eq. There is not too many options in this price range. I checked some portable ones, but I wanted a desktop amp. I did not want to bother with charging battery, etc. Also I think for the same price a desktop amp usually sounds better than a portable one, as you have to pay a lot for the portable size, when size does not really matter if it is a desktop amp...
After forgetting Fiio E12A and Headstage Arrow, decided to buy the iCan.
Did some A/B comparison with my Vali, and the iCan came out as a clear winner.
I liked my Vali, it has a great, opened, airy, natural sound. I just need some more bass sometimes... Also it often sounded 'thin' compared to the iCan. iCan has just such a rich, full sound... Amazing. There is more body and weight to the sound. I liked the openness and airiness of the Vali. Like sound existed in an infinite space, while on iCan the space is "limited", although still huge. Weird thing is, I never heard any hiss on the Vali, while on the iCan there is some hiss sometimes at certain recordings... Without the 3D and XBass functions on, iCan is not that impressive after Vali. But with these functions on, the difference is inevitable. I feel, finally I got what I wanted. A great, big, full sound with a lot of bass if needed, and for all of this you do not have to make any compromise to have worse mids or highs, or less detailed lows... All the details and the refinement of the sound stays the same, just the bass frequencies have more (quality) juice...
Highly recommended for any kind of electronic music. But even with other genres it is amazing. So lively, so full, almost touchable sound. Worth every penny.