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iCAN Amp Review: A New Amp that Gives You More: More Bass, More Soundstage and More Detail - Page 3

post #31 of 380

If you're asking me, I wouldn't know.

post #32 of 380
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bbophead View Post
I'm not a writer (no sh*t) and this is my first (kind of) review.  Nirmalanow is a very good writer, organizes his thought well and covers a lot of ground.  I just wanted to give a little less of a fan-boy look at and listen to, this good and interesting headphone amp.  I think it's certainly worth the money (I bought it before I heard it) and I'll probably be keeping it.  Folks with cans that are less bright than mine, and that would be many, will benefit from this amp even more than I have.  As the reviewer points out, most cans do lack that bottom octave of bass that gives us so much satisfaction when we hear it on loudspeakers and/or subs.  I also think that, in general, closed cans can benefit from the 3D effect by widening the soundstage not to mention those open cans that can(!) seem a little closed in.  I think the iCAN is a winner and I hope this gives prospective buyers an even better idea of what they might be purchasing.

 

Chow.   

I really appreciate your take on this amp. It fits in a lot with what I hear, and yet it offers a different perspective and some info that I did not include. Also great to hear about its matchup with other headphones. So thanks for commenting.

 

I agree that the amp is great (with the 3d effect engaged) for headphones that need some more brightness, which is why I sold my Beyers which did not need any brightening and kept the HD650s. I also would love to see frequency graphs of the effect.

 

And I also think it is great to be able to vary the sound a bit with the switches, just for variety's sake. As you mentioned, sometimes it is just plain fun to go a little overboard with the bass! I also find that I like the bass boost in the higher setting on music that has little or no low bass. It seems to accentuate that effect I quoted Srajan about where the lowest frequencies add a sense of space and a larger scale to the music. Everything seems more life-sized with the bass boosted.

 

I go back and forth with what I think of the one dot setting on the 3D which is like a typical crossfeed. Sometimes it does seem too lifeless and dull, but sometimes it just suits me in the moment, and then I kind of like the simplicity of the sound. I would say that with the HD650s I use the three dot setting 90-95% of the time and only switch to the one-dot very occasionally, most often on a song that was recorded with a lot of brightness or that already has a lot of live room ambience, and that is more complex music.


Edited by Nirmalanow - 3/10/13 at 8:38pm
post #33 of 380
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ixion View Post

How do you think the ican will pair up with some M-Audio Q40's, these being a very bass heavy can, would the bass boost be overkill with them?

 

All ready an iusbpower owner and over the moon with the quality of this unit..

 

Great review Nirmalanow btw..


I can't say for sure as I have not used it with any other headphones than those mentioned, but as also mentioned, on a couple of my headphones I did not use the bass boost much. However, if the Q40s could use a bit more detail and energy in the higher frequencies, then it might be a great amp to balance out their sound with the 3D engaged, and just leave the bass boost off most of the time.


Edited by Nirmalanow - 3/10/13 at 4:36pm
post #34 of 380

Nirmalanow, I think I saw in another thread that you mentioned this amp puts out plenty of power into the HD650?  Do you happen to know how much wattage or volts it does put into 300 Ohms?  But even without exact specs, do you feel it fully powers them so that you aren't missing out compared to one of those high-voltage tube amps?

- Thanks in advance.
 

post #35 of 380
Thread Starter 

I am not the best source for the technical info, but of course the specs in my review do list the output at 32 ohms, and I believe you can extrapolate from there the ouptut at 300 ohms. Maybe someone else who knows the formula could do the math, given that the output at 32 ohms is 400 mw.

 

And I have not used a high voltage tube amp with the HD650s so I cannot compare with one of those. I do find the iCAN has power to spare, and even when I turn the volume up for just a moment beyond where I could stand to listen for long, I do not hear any distortion or breaking up of the sound.

post #36 of 380

Hi,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ixion View Post

How do you think the ican will pair up with some M-Audio Q40's, these being a very bass heavy can, would the bass boost be overkill with them?


I don't know the M-Audio's from Adam, but I tested a few 'cans with the iCAN, including some that got serious bass. The 'cans that alread had dogs bollocks bass did not need XBass and switching it on only really worked for dub reggae and rap.

You can read my experiences here:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/648968/a-headphone-shootout-from-a-speaker-listener-testing-eight-headphones-from-80-to-1-200

 

I do find the 3D sound a feature I can live without only grudgingly. 

I'm starting to wonder if i should do a Nirmalanow and get a battery pack so I can carry the iCAN on the train... Or maybe I am just turning as nutty as a big bag of squirrel fodder?

Cheerio Rich

 

post #37 of 380
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nirmalanow View Post

Maybe someone else who knows the formula could do the math, given that the output at 32 ohms is 400 mw.

 

By my reckoning, iCAN makes 260 mW into 300 Ω, same as Schiit's Magni and original Asgard. 

post #38 of 380
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bedlam inside View Post

Hi,


I don't know the M-Audio's from Adam, but I tested a few 'cans with the iCAN, including some that got serious bass. The 'cans that alread had dogs bollocks bass did not need XBass and switching it on only really worked for dub reggae and rap.

You can read my experiences here:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/648968/a-headphone-shootout-from-a-speaker-listener-testing-eight-headphones-from-80-to-1-200

 

I do find the 3D sound a feature I can live without only grudgingly. 

I'm starting to wonder if i should do a Nirmalanow and get a battery pack so I can carry the iCAN on the train... Or maybe I am just turning as nutty as a big bag of squirrel fodder?

Cheerio Rich

 


I was just thinking of a battery for going out in the yard, not for traveling on mass transit!

 

Check out the Altmann Tera player for some great portable sound....at a very steep price.

post #39 of 380

The opamp is TPA6120A2 so in theory it should be able to output some serious watt. It would have been even better if there is a gain selector.

post #40 of 380
Quote:
Originally Posted by runswithaliens View Post

I was a little disappointed to see that they didn't add a pair of preamp outputs to the back

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ClieOS View Post

It would have been even better if there is a gain selector.

 

Too bad it's not the Asgard 2! Actually, why not combine the A2's pre-outs and gain switch with the iCAN's bass boost and 3D enhancement into one desktop amp. I'd buy that all day long for $375.

post #41 of 380

Hi,

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nirmalanow View Post
 

I was just thinking of a battery for going out in the yard, not for traveling on mass transit!


Well, I'm on the 8:30 from Maidenhead (no jokes please, at least I don't live in Scun+horpe) to Paddington every morning weekdays and back in the evening whenever I get out of London. cool.gif

That is 90 minutes on the train each day, without the common delays, the extra on the tube and the other bollocks we get all the time. At least I can afford 1st class, so I get sit among the gentlemen, instead of impersonating a tinned sardine with the other losers.

I figure if swap my corporate (and heavy) Thinkpad for subnotebook (maybe I can get the appropriation for Zenbook through - I'm due a new machine) I will have enough space and weight to spare for an iCAN and iDAC and a modest size battery in me laptop bag...

 

I do fancy those magnesium case Toshiba's as well...

Shame I cannot run the iCAN on USB Power from the Laptop (I do with the iDAC), that would be perfect. deadhorse.gif
 

Maybe iFi can bring out a 3D Sound plugin for J-River? Add XBass in case I use my JVC's? Then I'd just need iDAC and Laptop.


That would be awesome. biggrin.gif

Cheers Rich

post #42 of 380

I just have the iDAC and iUSB, they are both excellent as well. I can say although iCAN has a better amp section than iDAC, but for me iDAC is good for the one that don't have good dac, idac is powerful enough to drive those below 100 ohm can with less than half of full volume.

 

iUSB also provide a cleaner and clearer sound, man believe me, way cleaner and better sound quality. Good work iFi!

post #43 of 380
Thread Starter 

Last night I plugged my DT770s into the iCAN now that they are more broken in, and I was pleasantly surprised at how clean and detailed they sound, without veering into the edginess that I heard with the Beyer T1s. Pretty good for a headphone that costs over $1000 less! They pair up well with the iCAN.

 

But then when I went back to my HD650s there was still that nice warm tone, but now they seemed to lack that last little bit of detail, and I am kind of a detail junkie. I just love hearing every little texture and ambient sound. So I pulled my TDS202 (http://www.amazon.com/Acoustic-Research-TDS202-Enhancement-1-Speaker/dp/B00005QZ16) out of my living room system and added it to the chain. Boy does it bring out the details! It was too much with the DT770s, but with the thicker sound of the HD650s, it added a whole new level of sharpness and clarity, even above what the 3D effect does for them.

So if you have a set of headphones that you like, but that always feel like they lack some of that low-level detail retrieval, and some treble sparkle, then this little gadget can do wonders. It can do this with any amp, not just the iCAN. It also adds even more spaciousness to the soundstage when combined with the 3D effect on the iCAN,so should do the same on any amp.

It is probably not audiophile approved, but it is still fun, and it is only $30. I will have to see how it wears on me, as in other headphone systems, I found it got tiring after a while. But I think the sound coming out of the Tera Player is so much cleaner and smoother than anything I have ever used as a source in the past, that I might find I can use the TDS device without it wearing on me. It still sounds wonderfully clear but still warm and musical this morning. However, iIf there is any noise in the system, like hiss, that also gets boosted. Here is a review of an earlier discontinued device that used the same technology:http://www.stereotimes.com/acc110198.shtml

And here is the website of the developer of the technology: http://tdsaudio.net/testimonials/consumer.htm

Note: There is an error in the title on Amazon. There is no speaker in the unit, and you only need one for hooking up two channels via RCA inputs and outputs. It also comes with two pairs of AR RCA interconnects in the box.

 


Edited by Nirmalanow - 3/15/13 at 9:23am
post #44 of 380

Guys,

I just tried out the iCAN with a slightly modified battery box and ESL Headphones (MX-1) from Micro Seiki (these headphones are probably older than me!!!) that I picked up "sold as seen" for 20 squid!!!!

 

 

 


I wrote a little here:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/655335/incredibly-stupid-question#post_9262228

I could not believe the iCAN can drive them, as the box is meant to be plugged into a speaker amp. We originally tested with the Carot One Ernestolo Amp, which is 15 Watt per channel and went plenty plenty loud, but overall made the sound so-so and lacked of course XBass and 3D Sound...

Plugged into the iCAN I cannot go quite as loud as the Ernestolo, but almost as loud. Certainly nothing like the nearly 40 times the power ratings suggest. 

But going loud is just one thing. The iCAN is by far more resolved, clean and open than Ernestolo, BEFORE turning XBass and 3D Sound on. Once these kick in we are talking a different kettle of fish!

Others have called the Micro ESL Headphones bass shy:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/498095/review-refurbished-micro-seiki-mx-1-electrostatic-headphones-ms-2-headphones-mp-1-amplifier

With XBass at max setting they are not.

They don't quite match the AKG K701's or the HiFiman HE-500 in this department, but they outdo anything else I heard. Bass is tactile, taut and has a fair bit of "impact" for a headphone.

The midrange and treble are more open, clean and "flat" sounding than the HiFiman HE-500 and the 3D presentation is almost up with the Sennie HD-800.

To me the 20 Quid thriftshop find plus the iCAN equals the setters rude bits, dogs bollocks, bees knees, nay, the collected and assorted erotic zones of all major insects of the western hemisphere combined.

Honestly, I have not clapped me ears on anything in headphones that impressed me as much.

I guess the iCAN is like Ronseal (british paint brand), "It does exactly what it says on the tin":

"I CAN"...

Best thing, as far as I can tell, the old Stax Boxes seem similar to the Micro Seiki one (Stax made them after all) so this should work as well for Stax. I always liked Stax, but here is finally an easily "luggable" solution. If I get some battery pack, it will even be "portable" and smaller and lighter than the Boom Box I used to lug round as kid!

Shame they don't make headphones like this any more, I heard the current Stax more than a few times, they are very good, mind you, but they are not as much fun.

Cheerio Rich

post #45 of 380
Thread Starter 

Wow, what a great thrift shop find!

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