1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

    Dismiss Notice

iFi audio Pro iCAN

Rating:
4.4375/5,
Tags:
  1. Army-Firedawg
    A true end game amp.
    Written by Army-Firedawg
    Published Jan 15, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Both SS & Tube amp., beautifully well built, plethora of input/output options, truly superb sound, plays and powers ANYTHING
    Cons - I hate it when I can't find any, but I honestly couldn't think of any negatives present with this product
       20170108_122353_HDR.jpg
     
     
     
      I was introduced to the iFi brand  during the Carolina CanFest 5 head-fi meet back around March of 2016 and was seriously impressed with how powerful and clean their products performed. It didn’t matter if I used my personal hyper sensitive ciems (Empire Ears Hermes VI), mildly power hungry Sennheiser HD650, high demanding headphones such as the Hifiman HE1000v1 or any of the Audeze line. iFi met every challenge with a smile and delivered one just as big to the listener. The product I’m most specifically referencing was their iFi Pro iCAN. The ability to cover the vast array of products and functionality blew me away then, so when I was finally able to review it almost a year later my fingers couldn’t begin to type my application fast enough.
        It goes without saying but I will make it a point to regardless; thank you iFi for allowing me to be a part of trying out your flagship product. My time spent with it was thorough and very well enjoyed. Now, with all that said and the pleasantries aside, allow to me explain my thoughts on what is the flagship of the iFi brand.

     
        I would like to say that first and foremost I am NOT an “audiophile” but rather an audio enthusiast. I listen to music to enjoy it. Do I prefer a lossless source? Yes, of course. But I can still be very happy streaming from Pandora or even my YouTube “My Mix” playlist. I also prefer equipment that sounds the best to me personally regardless of what frequency response it has or rather or not it's “sonically accurate” and I always have and shall continue to encourage others to do the same.
        I'm a 25 year old firefighter, for the City of Concord North Carolina as well as the U.S. Army North Carolina National Guard. The cliché of wanting to do this since I was born couldn't be more present with me. I've worked hard over the last several years to earn this position and now it's time for me to work even harder to keep it.
        My interests/hobbies are power lifting, fishing and relaxing to audio products and reviewing them to help other decide on what products would work for them. Few things make me as an audio enthusiast/review feel more accomplished than when someone tells me that I helped them find the type of sound they've always been looking for.
        Now, the sound signature I personally favor is a relaxing, warm and sensual sound that just drifts me away in the emotional experience of the music being performed. Yes, accuracy is still important but I will happily sacrifice some of that if I'm presented with a clean, warm sound that can wisp me away into an experience that makes me yearn for more.
        My ideal signature are that of respectably forward mids and upper bass range with the bass being controlled but with some slight decay. I like my treble to have nice extension and detail reveal with a smooth roll off up top as to not become harsh in the least. Examples of products that have given me chills and keep giving me the yearning for more feels are the (in no particular order) Bowers & Wilkins P7, Oppo PM-1/2, Empire Ears Hermes VI & Zeus XIV, Audeze LCD-XC, Meze Headphones 99 Classics.
    -Headphone
        -Audio-Technica
            -ATH-W5000
            -ATH-W1000X
        -Sennheiser HD650
        -Empire Ears Hermes VI
        -Meze 99 Classics
     
    -D.A.C.
        -Schiit Bifrost 4490
    -Source
        -LG V20
        -HP 15634 Laptop
        -Sony Playstation 4
    -Misc. Equipment
        -Source cleaner
            -iFi Nano iUSB3.0
        -Video Game
            -Destiny
            -Final Fantasy XV
     
        I am by no means sponsored by this company or any of its affiliates. They were kind enough to send me a product for an arranged amount of time in exchange for my honest opinion. I am making no monetary compensation for this review.
        The following is my take on the product being reviewed. It is to be taken “with a grain of salt” per say and as I always tell people, it is YOUR opinion that matters. So regardless of my take or view on said product, I highly recommend you listen to it yourself and gauge your own opinion.

     
    The Opening Experience
     Please allow me to explain why I feel so strongly about the initial unboxing experience with a product. Maybe it’s due to my southern roots in the hills of eastern Kentucky, but I’ve always been raised under the pretense of when you introduce yourself to someone for the first time you present yourself with confidence, class, character, pride, and competence. You greet the other person with a true warm smile, eye contact and a firm handshake. Anything less or short implies to other person that you either don’t care about them, are too full of yourself, too busy to be bothered by the likes of them, or worse, just generally disrespectful.
        As a consumer, I take this same belief to when I open a new product. Why? Because think about it this way. How else can a company introduce themselves to their customers? How do they present their products? Are they packaged with pride and presented in such a way that makes the listener eager to listen to them? Or maybe they’re just wrapped up and placed in an available space. How about the box itself? Is it bogged down with jargon that says look at this, look what I can do. I’m better than anything on the market and here’s why read this and check out that. Or, is the package clean, simplistic and classy? As if saying to the customer ‘Good day, pleasure to meet your acquaintance. Please give me a listen and allow me to show you what I can do and allow my actions to speak louder than my words.’
        This is why I feel so strongly about the initial presentation of a product, and I feel it’s truly a shame more people don’t. But with all that aside, let’s discuss how this products introduced itself shall we?
     
    20170108_142105_HDR.jpg     20170108_142138_HDR.jpg
    20170108_142824_HDR.jpg     20170108_142802_HDR.jpg
     
    20170108_142723_HDR.jpg
     
     
     
        Like the previous iFi iUSB3.0 the Pro iCAN is packaged in a wonderfully simplistic and straightforward way. The front has only a picture of the product, the brand name, and what the product is. The back has a few show points about the product but doesn’t bog down the entire thing (my personal preference is for it to be in the intro guide because people who are shopping for products in this price point have likely done a fair bit of research into what the product can do).     
    The product itself is inside the box that is inside the wrapping (where all the pictures and words are, the only thing written on the box box is iFi. Upon opening the box you’re immediately greeted with the iFi Pro iCAN right up front and centered, though it’s a little bit smaller than what the size of the box made me think to believe. Under the main showpiece you’ve a the traditional instructions and warranty information as well as the power cable and iFi branded dual coaxial cable.
    Quite a short section but really there wasn’t much to the unboxing of the iFi, it was rather straightforward. I don’t feel like I was shafted a great experience nor was I given a breathtaking memorable experience either. I do believe it was a good one however and the pride of the iFi brand still made itself known; and with that I am happy with how the unboxing is.

     
    Construction
    20170108_122850_HDR.jpg     20170108_122733_HDR.jpg
    20170108_123004_HDR.jpg     20170108_123035_HDR.jpg
    20170108_123130_HDR.jpg     20170108_122910_HDR.jpg
     
     
        The total build quality to the iFi Pro iCAN it freaking top notch in every single aspect I can even start to critique it on. This beautiful piece (both metaphorically and literally) is completely aluminum build and competently put together at that. I personally really enjoy the functional aspect to the artistic design of the wavy pattern to the  top plate. In addition to looking really nice it also disperses heat more effectively than a flat panel, and I like that nudge to look and functionality so very well done iFi. While I’m talking about the top plate it also has a single glass bulb that allows you to somewhat look through and view the 2 General Electric 5670 tubes. Oh yeah, in case you already didn’t know, the iFi Pro iCAN is a hybrid solid state (which may also be listed as SS as well from this point forward) & tube amplifier, but I digress. Circling the bulb is a circular vent pattern that allows the pretty high heat this can make to vent easier. The sides, just to knock these out right quick, follow the wavy/circular pattern with its vent ports to further allow the iCAN to breath. The bottom of this device has a nice rubber padding that now only helps prevent scratches but also reduces noise from whatever it may be resting on, another functionally applicable piece iFi added.
        The back of this monster has an absolute smorgasbord of input and output options for the user. From left to right (from looking at the back of the iCAN) you’ve a balanced L&R input and not 1 or even 2 but 3 unbalanced coaxial inputs. This is an awesome feature for I can use this one endgame amp. for so many of my setups (PS4, DAC, etc…) without having to unplug anything. Continuing onwards, you’ve a L&R balanced output as well as an unbalanced coaxial output; oh, wait, in addition to being a hybrid solid state and tube amp. this beast is also a preamp; I did mention the endgame potential of this right? And finally you’ve the power, DC loop-out and DSL Link ports (I was unable to try either of the later two).
        Now onto the business end of the Pro iCAN, the front. And my goodness, you thought the back had option. From left to right (again facing the device), you’ve the power button,  input selection knob which allows you to choose which of the 4 input option you want to use instantaneously, a bass booster knob (which I will discuss in the features section), SS/Tube/Tube + selector switch (also to be discussed in the features section), your first 6.5mm(¼”)/3 pin XLR input port, unbalanced 3.5mm (⅛”) port, the 4 pin XLR port, your second 6.5mm(¼”)/3 pin XLR port, and finally your balanced 3.5mm (⅛”) port. My goodness that’s 5 individual ports that allows for up to 5 different headphones to be played and the exact same time, and with 14amps of power the Pro iCAN can most certainly handle it. But continuing on because we’re not quite finished yet. You’ve the 3D holographic headphone selector knob (to be discussed further in the features section), the gain switch (to choose between a 0, 9, or 18db gain), the silky smooth volume knob, and finally, bringing in the very rear is something I’ve personally never even thought about to have on a headphone amp., and that’s a IR (infrared)  sensor for the supplied remote control.
        I didn’t mention while listing the grand menu this product offers its users but all the knobs and switches are made of premium aluminum while the ports are made of a premium plastic that looks and feels super durable. I really don’t have a single thing to complain about in the construction of the Pro iCAN. I really tried thinking of one but iFi really did a splendid job in how they crafted this device. Everything they did had a function to it and everything was built super well. I feel that all I can do is babble about how good this thing looks and is built so I’ll just end this section here.
     
    Features
     
        The Pro iCAN is practically bursting at the seams with all the things it can do. Starting with, in my opinion, the coolest feature, and that’s the 3D dual holographic processor for headphones and speakers. This knob, located directly left of the volume knob, has 4 selections to choose from; off, 30 degrees (+ for speakers [which essentially just activated the processor]), 60 degrees (30 for speakers), and 90 degrees (60 for speakers). I REALLY loved this, for everything from music to media and even gaming (dear goodness what it does for gaming). The aspect of imaging and spacial awareness is often used to place the listener inside the performance and make you really feel apart of whatever you’re listening to, but with the iFi 3D dual holographic you might as well be in the game you’re playing, performance you’re listening to, or movie you’re watching. I personally prefer the 90 degree setting when I’m playing games or watching movies because, to me, it adds the most sense of realism and a many of times has made me take my headphones off to see if Christina (my wife) is talking to me across the room it’s that spot on. When I’m listening to music I prefer either the 90 degree or 60 degree if I want a more intimate experience with my performance. I will say that going from this back to my Schiit Lyr 2 was immediately noticeable on just this aspect alone (for now anyways). So be warned those who wish to try the Pro iCAN, once you’ve experienced the clarity of surround sound from headphones, it’s never the same going back.
    A feature that I believe a lot of people will really enjoy, that I even used a few times myself, is the Xbass (bass booster) setting. This allows the user to add 10, 20, or 40hz to the bass (more specifically the mid bass) to give it a harder punch to whatever you’re listening to and through. I say I myself earlier because I’m not a big bass nut and have purchased headphones that have the response that I enjoy the most. But, with that said, when I’m in a fun kind of mood and wanna get my club/dance/dub/EDM on I’ll certainly crank that up to 40hz and ravel in the extra hit given. Also, I like using these for action movies; they make for some really fun booms.
    Finally, the last feature of the Pro iCAN that is worth showing extra spotlight is the SS/Tube/Tube + selector switch. Without discussing the overall sound of the iCAN (for it’ll of course be discussed in the Sound section) this allows the user to choose between the accuracy and quickness of a solid state amplifier or the relaxing and musical aspect of a tube amp.There’s also a feature that’s called the Tube amp + that
     
    Specifications (copied straight from the iFi website)
      
    Gain:
    0dB, 9dB and 18dB user-selectable
    Frequency Response:
    0.5Hz to 500kHz(-3dB)
    Total Harmonic Distortion (THD, Balanced/Single-Ended):
     
     
    Bal.
    SE
    SS
    ≤0.0015%
    ≤0.005%
    Tube:
    ≤0.002%
    ≤0.005%
    Tube+:
    ≤0.012%
    ≤0.2%


    Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR, Balanced/Single-Ended):
    >147dB(A) / > 137dB(A)
    Output Power (16Ω, Balanced/Single-Ended):
    >14,000mW / >4,800mW
    Output Voltage (600Ω, Balanced/Single-Ended):
    >23V / >11.5V
    Input Voltage (Pro iCAN):
    DC 9V/6.7A – 18V/3.35A
    Input Voltage (iPower Plus):
    AC 85 – 265V, 50/60Hz
    Power Consumption:
    ≤ 22W idle, 50W max.
    Dimensions:
    213(l) x 192.5(w) x 63.3(h) mm
    Weight:
    1.93kg (4.3lbs)
    Test conditions:
    Gain = 0dB, 0.775V(0dBu) with 300 Ohm load unless stated otherwise
    SNR Balanced re 23V, SNR SE re. 11.5V
     
     


     
    Sound
     
                                                                                                  20170108_122534_HDR.jpg
     
     
        My goodness, I’ve yet to come up with a single complaint to the iFi. How about the sound? They’ve put all their resources into its functionality and features that surely they’ve sacrificed the sound right? Nope, not in the very least. The Pro iCAN delivers audio swiftly, accurately, and transparently. It didn’t matter if I was powering the respectably hungry ATH-W5000 (like planars they’re lower impedance but they need some juice to really sound their full potential) or my hyper sensitive ciems. Everything was incredibly detailed and revealing with a pitch black background that, especially when paired with the 3D feature, does a job of putting you at the performance or inside the movie or video game that I’ve never experienced before.
        For the gamers out there, I’ve also an Astro MixAmp Pro 2011 edition that I use for gaming (my thoughts on that shall be reserved) and the positional abilities that are present within the Pro iCAN just destroy every single thing about the Astro. In fact if I had a viable method to use an external mix with this device I would have likely left it unplugged throughout my entire time with this unit. So just in terms of its gaming capabilities, consumers should really take note of this unit (if of course their wallet can handle it, this booger isn’t cheap). I’ll use this one example so that this paragraph doesn’t go too long, when playing Final Fantasy XV there was a mission where I had to find some frogs. Well these stupid things are pretty well hidden and took me long enough to where I had an idea to try out the iCAN to try and find them that way (was using the Astro before). And when I switched over it was like switching from 360i to 1080p difference. I was able to EASILY and accurately find where each frog was just by listening to their croaks (which I heard with the Astro but wasn’t able to identify where).
        Getting back on track with the musical abilities. As of this very second while writing this I’m listening to one of my favorite tracks of all time (that unfortunately is ONLY on YouTube because they’ve never [to my knowledge] released a track so I can only imagine how it COULD sound) Pirates of the Caribbean by the Rhapsody Philharmonic, and the separation present is just incredible. I can easily identify where exactly what instrument is playing where, in addition to that I can actually hear the reverberation of certain instrument strings (in this case the double bass and occasionally a violin) when they’re closer to the recording microphones. This type of detail retrieval was consistent throughout my time with the Pro iCAN and made me close my eyes in enjoyment each and every time.
        To finish, this may be a good or a bad thing depending on how you look at it but the Pro iCAN didn’t really favor any headphone sound signature. It remained unbiased and played anything the same as everything else. For example, my Sennheiser HD650 pairs very well with my Schiit Lyr 2 (with NOS tubes I purchased) but not as sublimely with the Audio-Technicas. They don’t sound bad by any means but it just doesn’t mate as well as with headphones that are more relaxed and laid back (such as the HD650, 99 Classics, P7’s etc…).
     
    Conclusion
     
                                                          20170108_122336_HDR.jpg
     
     
        To sum up my thoughts on the iFi Pro iCAN, is that this is truly an outstanding unit in every single aspect I could think to test it out on. It had enough power to easily and effortlessly power anything I had at my disposal to try with it all while being finess enough to silently power my hyper sensitive ciems. The build quality is not just artistic but functional and extremely durable. The iCAN is finally a device that ends my thoughts of wanting to have both a tube amp. for personal enjoyment and relaxation as well as a solid state for accurate interpretation of the equipment I’m to be reviewing. The sound, to me, was ghostly transparent while giving me full confidence that it was revealing all the detail the DAC was giving to it. I greatly enjoyed my very quick two weeks with it and absolutely recommend this amp for honestly anyone who’s in the market for an endgame amp. I’m also confident enough to say it’ll satisfy basically any needs you’d think of. Very, very well done iFi; you’ve yet again created a product that others should certainly make note of and respect.



     
    Also, make sure to check out my unboxing and review videos. They’re pretty awesome AND you getta put a face to the Army-Firedawg name. If this review helped you out at all please hit that thumbs up button for it really helps me out a lot. Till next time my friends, stay safe.
  2. grizzlybeast
    The little amp that Can
    Written by grizzlybeast
    Published Nov 12, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Tons of power, very clean and deep. Black background, analog sound with good body.
    Cons - May not be best for very dark headphones.

     ​

     ​
    Sih5ZzJ.png

    iFi audio Pro iCan Review


     
     
    Intro
     I am part of a loaner tour that iCan has put together and am thankful to finally get to hear it. 
    This is a very good piece of gear. I am impressed. 
     
     
    DSC_0812-.jpg
     
     
    Set up:
    Imac>Focusrite Rednet3 via AES>Metrum Pavane balanced>iFi iCan Pro

     

    Specs

    1. 0dB, 9dB and 18dB user-selectable
    2. Frequency Response:    0.5Hz to 500kHz(-3dB)
    3. Total Harmonic Distortion (THD, Balanced/Single-Ended):    
    4.               Balanced          SE
    *Solid-State:     ≤0.0015%      ≤0.005%
    Tube:                ≤0.002%        ≤0.005%
    Tube+:              ≤0.012%        ≤0.2%
    1. Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR, Balanced/Single-Ended):    >147dB(A) / > 137dB(A)
    2. Output Power (16Ω, Balanced/Single-Ended):    >14,000mW / >4,800mW
    3. Output Voltage (600Ω, Balanced/Single-Ended):    >23V / >11.5V
    4. Input Voltage (Pro iCAN):    DC 9V/6.7A – 18V/3.35A
    5. Input Voltage (iPower Plus):    AC 85 – 265V, 50/60Hz
    6. Power Consumption:    ≤ 22W idle, 50W max.
    7. Dimensions:    213(l) x 192.5(w) x 63.3(h) mm
    8. Weight:    1.93kg (4.3lbs)
    9. Test conditions:
    10. Gain = 0dB, 0.775V(0dBu) with 300 Ohm load unless stated otherwise
    11. SNR Balanced re 23V, SNR SE re. 11.5V    

    Build

    DSC_0050.jpg DSC_0239.jpg
     
    This little beast is quite small but is thoroughly and  thoughtfully designed with tons of little details. Something this expensive shouldn’t be showing bolts all over the place if its going for a modern look and the iCan is a clean and smooth piece of equipment that a beauty to behold.
     
     
    The dial is smooth with with it’s resistance to ease of turn ratios nicely balanced.  No matter the gain settings I faced no issues trying to dial in my ideal volume. I must confess an epic fail. I did not try the remote. I had opened the Pro iCan and left the remote inside of the box thinking I would try it later and totally forgot it. 
     
     
    DSC_0144_Fotor.jpg
    Quad-Damped Isolation Base Mount
    Underneath the amplifier is a rubber or silicone pad that is used instead of traditional feet. What a welcomed change of practice since I imagine it to not only provide isolation but also prevents scraping or rub marks on surfaces.  Ingenious really! I will mention that since the amp is small it will slide a little when trying to plug a headphone in. You have to use two hands. 
     
     
    DSC_0143_.jpg
     
    If someone were to want to compare DAC's at the twist of a knob you could easily do so. With the iCan you have three different single ended inputs as well as balanced inputs, balanced and single ended outputs and more. I don't think they can fit one more input or output on this amp. If they could have I am sure it would be there. It even has out put for an electrostatic amp to hook up to it. 
     
     

    Functions
     
     
     

    Single ended

    Still more than enough power to drive my HE-6 to normal listening levels and the tonal aspects of the amp work very well with it but the sound quality takes a hit. If you try to go too loud the protection circuitry will kick in. The hit in sound quality is evident with the 650 and my Pioneer HRM-7 as well. 

     

    Balanced

    Do trust the specs with this amplifier. It sounds cleaner, deeper, and more dynamic from the balanced jack.
     
     
     
     
    DSC_0243.jpg
    XBass 
    This amplifier has a lot of features and not all of them work when trying to drive the HE-6 at moderate levels. When attempting to bass boost the HE-6 while on the third level of gain the amplifier turned red and then shut off. 
     
    Yes… I did attempt to bass boost the HE-6 while it was at a moderate listening level on high gain. I emailed the ifi rep and his response was as follows.  
     
    “The iCAN Pro is best considered like a racing car. It does not have most fluffy consumer system safeties. So it will allow you to combine settings (e.g. high gain, high volume setting, high bass boost added to a high 3D setting) that will cause a crash. Except in the iCAN Pro the protection circuitry will shut it off at the edge of crashing to avoid damage to either the Amp or Headphone. So take the foot of the gas and it will start up again.”
     
    Turning the HE-6 to medium gain and the bass boost to 40hz and the amp turned off after half way through a song. But turning the amp to high gain with the bass boost at an average listening level had no issues. The bass boost sounds really good. Nice and solid with a bit of bloom added like you would expect but distortion seems minimal. 
     
    The tube function must be used responsibly with the HE-6 as well as the added level of harmonic distortion can make the amp clip a little earlier. Now I will let you know that I listen fairly loud for my first few songs usually and then later settle in for the rest of the session at a lower volume. I am the guy at the meets that turns it up from the previous person usually listening before me but then I turn the pot down for the rest of my listening. At my normal listening levels I can engage the tube function, 40hz bass boost, and high gain with no issues at all. 
     
    Other headphones had no hiccups and proved to be one of the best bass boost implementations I have heard. Nope no digital signal processing here... this is how it should be done! 
     
     
     

    Tubes

    Since the amp itself doesn’t have the tonality to pierce through the 650 veil in solid state mode I didn’t enjoy it with the Senn. With the HE-6 it was a help in the needing to remedy the bright treble of the HiFiman but it makes the wonderful clarity of the 6 take a hit as is expected since tubes simply add 'useful' distortion. I became addicted to the super clear sound of the combination without tubes but and in this case though it dropped the level of transparency a bit with 'Tube+' , 'tube' mode made a slight difference but maintained most of the transparency while still providing a noticeably rounder treble. It doesn't change the overall nature of the amplifier but is a welcomed option. For the best results it is recommended to use the lowest gain setting. Unfortunately I can't use the lowest gain setting with my HD6XX to sound right, nor my HE-6 and my  modded Pioneer does not benefit from tubes except to help smooth out some of its graininess. 
     
     
    DSC_0242.jpg
    3D
    It doesn't sound like the soundstage is actually wider when you listen for width but the center image seems pushed back and more speaker like. When engaged dynamics seem to take a hit as well as bass quantity (not quality). Vocals sound a little more hollow but overall still have a really good timbre with the exception of the upper midrange sounding a bit tingy or sharp. If you turn the knob all the way these negative aspects worsen.  Hi hats become a bit more tizzy and sibilants/ consonants  sound more stressed while the body of the voice takes a hit. The plus is that there is no extra reverb or lingering sound waves that make the music more cavernous. All of the technical aspects of clarity, resolution, detail and speed remain intact. So though it loses a bit of punchiness, overall fidelity is maintained. If you find the negative effects mentioned above to be bothersome you can select a lower setting. 
     
    It did help make the 650 sound less congested and made it a little more competitive with my Trafomatic head 2. The He-6 got a bit too sharp for easy listening. With the HE-6 I used the 30/+(the first setting) with good results but overall found it unnecessary. I wish I would have had the Kennerton Vali on hand because that headphone would have actually benefitted from this option. 
     

     

    Sound

    DSC_000vff.jpg
    Bass
     
    The bass is solid with a balanced amount of presence. It has a very very slight bloom with good texture. Bass slam is satisfactory and macro dynamics are easy to perceive in the low band.  It has grip and control with good depth and detail. I personally won’t call it elevated or boosted but it does seem to have a very little bit more presence than those here present I have compared it to.  Bass quantity is very reminiscent of the Nuprime HPA-9. There is no extra mid-upper bass warmth but it is linear and uniform. Those seeking an amp that provide adequate slam will find the Pro sufficient especially with the bass boost engaged. It is acceptably tight but is more natural than clinical.  My initial impressions on the bass with the 650 in SE left somethings wanting. When used in balanced the bass is much better on my modded 6XX but still not as tight as I have heard it. 
     

    Midrange

    The midrange is simply analog. I really like the bass of the iCan pro because its detailed and present with good punch but the midrange is what seems to draw the most attention to itself. It has what sounds to my ears as a warmth from the lower midrange to midrange proper without ever sounding muddy. The upper midrange is not withdrawn per se but it doesn’t sound accentuated. Tones resonate with a realistic strength and purity that justify its asking price. While this may not lift the breathe of the vocals high enough to make them sound like they project as convincingly as my TH2 which provides better harmonics, it does capture realism of tone and fullness of body exceptionally well. Body this amp has to spare without ever sounding too slow or syrupy. Textures are not smoothed over and instruments are a little sweet in timbre. I would be lying if I said that the iFi Pro doesn’t have a bit of sweetness to it and a welcomed dose of flattery. It is not flat or sterile by any means and is very tactful at displaying its musicality because this complimentary midrange fullness is not with the addition of any extra decay or soft tubey attacks. The sound is musical but accurate and insightful. Pianos, xylophones, strings, guitars, cellos sound as real as ever.  In fact even if I don’t end up buying this amp I have a new standard now as to how much realism I should be expecting at this level. If I had to make a gripe about the midrange it would be that I would like a little more upper midrange presence and harmonics to balance out the lower to midrange section for better linearity but as is the midrange is charming. 
     

    Treble

    The textures in the treble are crisp and solid without ever sounding splashy and the resolution throughout the whole frequency range is excellent. The details are all there but I would venture to say that this amp is a little more serene in the treble. It is non fatiguing and relatively insightful at the same time. It takes on a more ‘down-to-earth’ than aerial ambience.   The tuning seems deliberate as to show the audio world that you do not need to artificially boost the treble for high quality sound. While I appreciate this, it may be a departure from the screeching, lit up tunings of more sparkly gear. You would think that the tube engaged would be dark and the amp would be bright but its not so.
     
    Compared to the Airist heron this amp will sound similarly balanced in the treble but less airy and extended and a whole lot more grounded in foundation. I often find my memory recalling the Heron because it has the best tonality of just about any amp I have heard to date but its lack of depth, dynamics, and bass slam held it back. The pro is sharper, more resolute, better separated and has much better density of tone than most amps so though the treble is not accentuated it always sounds organic, and realistic without any of that digital hash. Actually, in overall balance, this amp reminds me most of the Nuprime HPA-9 but in a whole other league of technical ability and realism. 
     

    Performance

    The Pro is a very clean sounding amp with good transients and realistic decay. Its depths are utterly aphotic and sounds emerge from below with clarity, body, and individuality. Separation is excellent but could stand to be assisted by a wider soundstage. Layering (which is  a consequence of body, separation, and depth) is very good. Textures are there as well. The tuning can make certain recordings sound a little more weighed down and saturated but the precision and holography keeps things from sounding (sorry to repeat myself) cluttered and thick. While not super fast, the Pro has some zip to it as well. 
     

    Comparisons 

    I am tempted to make a reference to the Nuprime HPA-9. The pro is better by all accounts but the the Pro is pretty much like a Numprime HPA-9 on steroids. They both have much in common. Punchy bass, full mids, smooth treble, good body. Only the Nuprime is not as powerful, is slower, not as clean, nor as clear or as articulate but within its price tier holds its own. 
     
     
    zCxzxv.jpg
     
    Vs Trafomatic Head 2 w/ 75 HG Reflektors NOS 6922 tubes.
     
    1. Instruments sound more free flowing and eloquent on the Trafomatic Head 2.
    2. Instruments seem to rise and decay with more intensity on the TH2
    3. Details are close but resolution seems negligibly better on the iCan Pro
    4. The vocals sometimes sound a bit too weighed down on the pro in comparison; just a little too heavy in the lower to middle midrange and they place the vocalist closer to you than the TH2 does. 
    5. Tones have more density  and body on the iCan and that is saying a lot because in my home the TH2 usually has more body compared to other amps and is far from thin. It is here that the ifi amp gains back grounds in realism. 
    6. Soundstage is very easily wider on the TH2. This is regardless of headphone and even with the HE-6. Its not even close... even with the 3D engaged. When the 3D is engaged the pro can come closer but the center image sounds more hollow than the TH2 and more peaky in the upper midrange. 
    7. Soundstage depth seems tied but the fact that the Pro is deep and has a much blacker background makes it seem better layered. 
    8. Even with higher impedance headphones the Pro has a heavier bass but the TH2 makes those headphones sound more dynamic and natural.
    9. Treble presence goes to the TH2 as well as airiness. I have never appreciated the TH2 in this aspect and really thought it to be only average but it handily bests the Pro. 
    10. Clarity barely goes to the ifi amp and it took a few days to come to this conclusion. I feel the Pro makes instruments resonate more strongly and even though the TH2 is very clear its sounds aren’t nearly as clean as the Pro overall. The trafomatic is a tube amp and when the "tube+' option is engaged on the Pro the TH2 takes the win but in solid state mode the Pro is ever so modestly clearer.  
     
     
    Vs Schiit Jotunheim
    So why compare a 399 amp to a 1699 one? Because the Schiit Jotunheim disrupts  all expectations of price to performance. However, in almost literally every area the Jotunheim shows a weakness the Ican Pro shines. 
     
    1. Soundstage depth goes to the Pro without dispute.
    2. Microdynamics go to the Pro.
    3. Nuance goes to the Pro. 
    4. Refinement goes to the Pro.
    5. Blackness of background goes to the Pro over any amp I have heard bottom line. However that instant perception of clarity we listen for in the first few moments of plugging our headphones into an amp is actually more instantly apparent on the Jotunheim because of the treble presence and its clean nature.  After a few songs it becomes apparent that the Pro is more refined, cleaner, and clearer. The Jotunheim has very low distortion, even lower than much more expensive amps but not the iCan.
    6. The lower midrange sounds more rich and wholesome on the Pro while the upper midrange to lower treble is more pronounced on the Jotunheim for better vocal harmonics.
    7. The bass is cleaner and a little tighter on the Jotunheim regardless of headphone.  
    8. Stage width may even go to the Jotunheim as the Pro lacks a bit of width but its barely discernible when comparing and could sound that way because the Jotunheim has very little depth. If it were not for my bias towards black backgrounds and depth of soundstage the Jotunheim would be my pick for the 650. However, to those less biased I would actually say the Jotunheim is the better pairing because it lifts the veil better and controls the bass a tad better. 
    9. The Jotuheim cannot properly handle the 6. It can get it loud but its a splashy, trebly mess of uncomfortable listening. The Pro is much better at taking on such a beast.
    10. Bass slam is stronger on the Pro as well as macro dynamics but only by a hair. 
     
     
     
     
     
    DSC_0190.jpg
    Vs Cayin iHA6
     As far as balance goes the Cayin is very similar to the Jotunheim.
    1. Bass quantity goes to the Ican pro
    2. Bass control is mostly equal but slightly less boomy on the cayin. 
    3. The pro is a much cleaner sounding amp but is a lot darker in comparison. The iHA-6 has enough power to drive the 6 well but like the Jotunheim the treble is a bit too much and the pairing is not ideal for my tastes. 
    4. The iHA-6 sounds thinner than the Pro but is more airy and has better sparkle and overall would sound more linear apart from being more bright than I personally consider truly neutral. My idea of neutral treble lies somewhere in between the two. 
    5. Layering and depth is much better on the Pro and it sounds more holographic overall while the iHA-6 sounds more flat.
    6. I felt that when I compared the iHA-6 directly to the Airist Heron 5 that the iHA-6 when used balanced was more dynamic than the Heron but had a relatively small soundstage in comparison. Also that the Heron had better tonality but worse technicalities besides soundstage. The pro would sound stronger in the midrange than the Heron and less open but a lot better layered and realistic. 
    7. The Pro has a more realistic and full midrange than the iHA-6 and is more musical all while being a little better overall in performance. 
     ​

    Pairings 

     
    DSC_0232.jpg
    Pro and the HD6XX (modded)
    Ifi's flagship amp controls the 6XX bass decently when used balanced. The 650 suffers no harm from the midrange warmth of the Pro but the veil is not lifted. The holography and soundstage depth is easily perceivable with the 650 as is the low distortion. Bass boosts, 3d, are fun with the Senn but the tube option is a little less desirable since it increases the ‘veil’ effect of the 650. The Sennheiser doesn’t sound slow but becomes richly musical; just less open than with my tube amp and the Jotuhheim. 
     
     
     
    DSC_0216.jpg
    Pro and the HE-6 (modded)
    This is a match made in heaven…well almost. The 6 largely benefits from how the iCan is tuned. Also, the 6 doesn’t suffer in the ways that it usually does when being under amped (treble sharpness, lack of dynamics, weak bass). The he-6 has been better served in the bass department by some speaker amps I have heard and I have heard the 6 slam harder but I still find the 6 to have body and decent dynamics through the ifi iCan Pro. The treble is still bright, after all its an HE-6, but the sharpness gives way to better articulation and a more controlled and enjoyable treble. On high gain the the HE-6 has more than enough power and I can’t go past 12 o’clock before cringing. The Pro does better with lower impedance headphones and the 6 is a testament to that as it sounds adequately fast, very clear, controlled, and holographic.  Were I to choose a desktop headphone amplifier for the sole purpose of driving the 6 I would most likely pick the Pro over the vast majority of dedicated solid state headphone amps. Compared to my Trafomatic the Pro still sells the 6 a little short on soundstage width but I find my modded HE-6 to have more than enough soundstage on the Pro. The low distortion of the 6 as well as the clean black background of the iCan Pro make an excellent way of hearing music as clean and as clear as the high standards of most audiophiles can demand. This pairing will be rewarded by a clean and balanced DAC.
     
     
     
     
    DSC_0226.jpg
     
    Pro and my modded Pioneer HRM-7
    It may not hurt to mention that my Pioneer HRM-7 has gone through several modifications, has been tested with many different amps, and has been in my stable for quite some time. When I got my Pavane DAC it was all I had and I easily noticed the difference of the Metrum in my system.  It has been the reason for me not missing much when I sell a headphone because it can suffice(for short a short time). Well with the  Pro the bass can be tight and punchy and the lower impedance of my HRM-7 worked much better with the pro than even the 50 ohm setting of my TH2 when it came to dynamics and speed.  On a few rare songs I still prefer the TH2 pairing  because of the tonality and spaciousness that seems to help headphones of this type sound more open. More often I prefer how the Pro grips the HRM-7 and drives it with better authority for more potency and articulation. The midrange warmth of the Pro helps with the HRM-7's  deficiency in the midband. I listen to a lot of old school hip hop and some of those recordings were… well downright low quality. The bass boost on the Pro and muscular sound of my bass modded 7 makes for the most fun I have had in a while, a little over the top but hey whatever…thats what I like sometimes. 

     

    CONCLUSION

    DSC_0001_Fotor.jpg
     ​
     
    This little thing is a BEAST. Its got a lot of muscle, a lot of articulation and definition with a clarity and black background that few amps pull off. I have read previous reviews  of this amp and some of the negative reviewers must be tricked by the ‘more treble=more-fi’ foolishness. There is nothing wrong with bright equipment and it has its purpose but it doesn't equal high quality. Developers are pulling away from that ideology now and ifi is ahead of the curve in regards to the need of a turn around. More and more people are coming to expect balanced treble and natural mids as well as inner detail.
     
    Initially I was very apprehensive about a small amp like this packed full of features being able to deliver true sound quality. My gimmick flag went up. But since I heard the ifi Micro SE I knew they could deliver sound quality. I wasn’t expecting this much inner clarity but am pleasantly surprised. This sets a new standard for me in a few ways. 
     
    Will I purchase one… I don’t know but its now on my shortlist between only two other amps. I have scratched quite a few off and this is now number 2 on that list.  The Pro is an end game amplifier with its own flavor. Just don’t look at the features as its main attraction or detraction from what it is at it's core. An excellent solid state amp. The rest are bonus features and cherries on top. If you audition gear before you buy it… do yourself a favor and give this one a listen. 
     

     ​

     ​
     ​
    1. View previous replies...
    2. reddog
      One great information review. I really enjoyed reading the review and think the amp sounds like a great find.
      reddog, Nov 16, 2016
    3. drwlf
      Lovely review, thanks for your work!
      drwlf, Nov 22, 2016
    4. Mojo777
      Very nice review. Anyone compare it tot the OPPO HA-1?
      Mojo777, Jan 7, 2017
  3. ostewart
    Master of all, from IEM's to HE-6 it does them all brilliantly
    Written by ostewart
    Published Oct 26, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Sound, Features, Build Quality
    Cons - It slides around on your desk
    Firstly I would like to thank iFi Audio for the loan unit for review, I have been using it for about 3 weeks and as always I will try to write an honest review.
     
    Gear Used:
    Dell XPS 15 / Marantz CD5400 / Audio Opus #2 > Matrix Quattro II DAC > XLR Out > Pro iCan
    Headphones: Hifiman HE-500 (4-Pin XLR Balanced) / AAW Nebula 2 IEM’s / Fostex TH-500rp
     
    [​IMG]
     
     
    Tech Specs:
    Very comprehensive list on their website: http://ifi-audio.com/portfolio-view/pro-ican/
    MSRP: £1495
     

    Packaging, Accessories and Build quality:
    The packaging is similar to other iFi offerings just bigger, it is white, with actual size pictures on the side, and product info and specs on the back. Once you remove the outer sleeve you are greeted by a thick car box, which holds the amp in place well during transit, and underneath you will find the accessories. I really like the simple yet effective packaging, it doesn’t look cheap or cluttered. iFi is embossed in silver on the ends of the box, a classy touch in my opinion.
     
    Accessory wise you get a pair of RCA interconnects and a remote control which controls the volume only, you also get a very good user manual. Nothing else is needed to complete the package.
     
    Build quality is on par with other offerings, an impeccable finish on the amp itself all laid out in a very symmetrical manner. It is not the best looking amp, but what it lacks in looks it makes up for in features, I like the more understated look. All inputs and outputs are built to a very good standard, the volume knob is very smooth to operate and the switches are tight so you won’t accidentally increase the gain for example. On the top of the amp there are holes which help keep it cool and lets you see a little of what is inside, there is also a small window through which you can see the GE valves. The only thing I would like improved would be the bottom, it has a big rubberised patch, but I find the amp is a little light and still moves quite easily on a desk, so you have to hold it tight when plugging anything in. I think soft rubber feet on each corner may have been better.
     
    [​IMG]
     
    Features:
    This amp is packed full of features, and I don’t quite know where to start.
    Input wise you get 3 sets of unbalanced RCA inputs, and a set of balanced XLR inputs, the input is selected with the big knob on the left hand side of the amp.
     
    You also get a set of XLR outputs and a pair of RCA outputs, so you can use this as a pre-amp.
     
    On the front you have the source select knob, next to this there is a smaller knob which controls the Xbass boost, then you have a jack/XLR combi socket for normal stereo 6.3mm unbalanced output or as the L balanced channel (jack or 3-pin XLR). 
     
    In the middle you have a balanced 4 pin XLR socket, and next to this you have another jack/XLR combi socket for normal stereo unbalanced 6.3mm jack or as the R balanced channel (jack or 3-pin XLR). The next small knob is the 3D sound switch, then the volume knob.
     
    Underneath these there is another layer, with the mode select (solid state, tube, tube+), normal unbalanced 3.5mm output, a balanced 4-pole 3.5mm output and then the gain switch (0dB, 9dB, 18dB).
     
    [​IMG]
     
    As you can see it is packed full of features but they are easy to find and get used to their placement on the amp.
     
    So more about the Xbass, it is not a traditional bass boost, all analogue circuitry and it provides a minimum of 12dB boost at 10/20/40Hz (selectable). It works well in combination with the 3D sound and also for leaner headphones. It is not a big increase, and doesn’t muddy the sound, and obviously will affect different headphones differently. I personally didn’t find myself using it when using Tube or Tube+ with the HE-500, but if I engage the 3D sound at 60 (solid state) I used the 20Hz boost to fill the sound out a little.
     
    The 3D sound settings are also an interesting feature, I can’t really explain it so read on their website: http://ifi-audio.com/portfolio-view/pro-ican/
     
    What I can say is that it is subtle but makes a difference, it takes a while for your ears to get used to the sound but is does become a little more like speakers, the centre image is more focused. Using the more extreme settings on headphones does make them sound a little leaner which is where the Xbass comes in handy. The main difference is when you switch the 3D settings off and the sound just sounds a little odd and panned right and left in comparison, also the sound is slightly less fatiguing with the 3D engaged.
     
    [​IMG]
     
    Now on to the main part, unfortunately I don’t have any other high end amps to compare this to, but I will try to describe this amp as best as possible.
     
    Lets start off with running it in SS mode, this is a very reference amp with no added flavour. This does mean it will show up any flaws in your music and also source, so I recommend pairing it with a good DAC. I am running it balanced from my Matrix Quattro II DAC, and I have not needed to increase the gain at all with the HE-500’s, and the volume knob is sat around the 9o’clock position.
     
    This amp handles everything with ease, never a hint of strain or harshness, it really brings out the best in the HE-500, you get the deep controlled bass that lesser amps cannot provide, but also the soundstage improves. Not artificially but one things the HE-500 lacked a little is width, which this adds, the layering is also superb. On some brighter headphones some people may find this a little fatiguing as it doesn’t take anything away from the highs, so be careful with bad recordings. But when paired with good headphones and good recordings it will let you hear every nuance and bring you sonic satisfaction.
     
    [​IMG]
     
    Now lets change it to the Tube mode, like this you get a richer sound, more body and it just sounds fuller. This works wonders on the slightly brighter headphones out there, or just those who want that smoothness of tubes but without sacrificing fine detail. I find the tube mode better for just sitting back and enjoying my music, the good thing about the tubes in this is that they don’t alter the overall clear sound of the amp, they just add a touch of warmth and body.
     
    So what about the Tube+ mode? Well with this sounds a little grainier than the Tube mode, and fuller too, but it sounds ever so slightly closer in presentation (the soundstage isn’t quite as wide) the differences are not huge between Tube and Tube+, and it will depend largely on the headphones you have and on your preferences. I find Tube+ to be a little richer in tone, and a little grainier, whereas the normal Tube mode offers the added richness I like with the HE-500.
     
    [​IMG]
     
    Conclusion: I don’t even know where to start, this is a feature packed amp that has an understated look but does not disappoint on the sound front. A few people have thought this amp is jack of all trades, master of none, but in my opinion iFi have made the perfect all in one amp for all headphones and have not failed in any area. Whether you want reference sound from the SS mode, or a richer sound from the Tube mode you have it all in one neat package. Add to that the possibility of using it as a pre-amp, and being fully balanced throughout and you have a very impressive array of features for the money.
     
    The price looks high, but if you factor in buying a good solid state amp, and a good valve amp, you are looking at the same price if not more, and most likely they won’t be able to drive pretty much every headphone on the market.
    I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Pro iCan, and I wish it could stay in my permanent collection, it just works so well with anything you throw at it and has the perfect form factor too.
     
    Sound Perfection Rating: 10/10 (You won’t find this amount of power and features on another amp in this, or any other price range, and sonically this amp exceeds all expectations)
  4. Koolpep
    One amp to rule them all - 14,000mW dual mode amp
    Written by Koolpep
    Published May 31, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Drives EVERYthing, from HE-6 to IEMs, plenty of connections, customizable sound, fully balanced, incredible sound quality
    Cons - slides around flat surfaces
    REVIEW: ifi Pro iCAN
     
    Equipment used:
    Headphones: Sennheiser HD800S, Hifiman Edition X, Hifiman HE-560, AKG K7XX, Audeze LCD-2f, Sennheiser Momentum, HD-650, Oppo PM-2, PM-3, Aurisonics ASG 2.5, Noble K10U, LZ-A3, plenty of other IEMs.
     
    All images are full-size and can be clicked and seen full screen.
     
    DSC01537.jpg  
     
     
    The HD800S leans heavily on the Pro iCAN below:
      DSC01541.jpg
     
     
     
     
    Music used:
    From Röyksopp to Amber Rubarth, Diana Krall to Apoptygma Berzerk, Tom Jones to Sphongle, Yello to Camouflage, mostly FLACs 24/96 or 16/44.1 - some mp3 320kbps, some AAC 256kbps
    Depending on headphone high or low gain - no EQ
     
    Disclaimer: samma3a.com and @Mazen4samma3a provided me with a demo unit of the ifi Pro iCAN. I am not affiliated with ifi or Samma3a.com Though I really highly appreciate what samma3a is doing for the audiophiles in the region!! Thank you so much for letting me test and review this amazing amp. I do own the iUSB2, iDSD nano and iDSD micro from ifi. 
     
    TL;DR
     
    Conclusion: I called the ifi iDSD micro the Swiss Army Knife of portable/desktop DAC/amps. The Pro iCan is that times 1,000 in the desktop amp range. Versatile, tube-sound, solid state sound, tube+ sound, power to drive an HE-6 and highly sensitive 8 Ohm IEMs, fully balanced mode, connectors for ANYthing. And a sound quality that you usually have to pay at least double the amount for. I so want this amp. This amp is pure endgame material. There is no reason to own anything else. If you can afford this beauty.
     
     
    Now, the longer version:
     
    Packaging & Accessories
     
    As usual - clever packed by ifi with all essentials in the box. Power supply (iPower Plus) the amp it self, a remote, manual, warrantee card and a set of cable (RCA cable).
     
     
     
    Technical Highlights
     
    Balanced headphone amplifier. Two system amplification stage, one tubes, one pure class A solid state. 2 GE 5670 new old stock tubes are the heart of the tube stage, ultra low noise, J-Fets are the core of the solid state stage.
     
    Ouput: 
    14,000mW @16Ω (peak, constant 4,800mW) 
    240mW @600Ω
    Dynamic Range: > 117 dB
    THD: <0.003%
    Analogue processing: X-Bass in 3 levels, 3D Sound in 3 levels
    Gain: 0dB, 9dB, 18dB
     
    Headphone outputs:
    3.5mm single ended
    3.5mm balanced
    6.35mm single ended
    3 pin XLR balanced (left and right) right connector works as well as single ended 6.35mm)
    4 pin XLR balanced
     
    DSC01506.jpg
     
     
    Outputs:
    balanced 3pin XLR (left /right)
    RCA output - single ended
     
    Inputs:
    3 x RCA single ended in
    3 pin XLR balanced input
     
    DSC01535.jpg       DSC01536.jpg
     
     
    Sound effects:
    X-Bass in 3 levels (OFF, 10Hz, 20Hz, 40Hz)
    3D Sound in 3 levels (OFF, 30, 60, 90 headphones)
     
    DSC01531.jpg   DSC01529.jpg
     
     
     
    Usability and Build Quality
     
    Build quality is great. every knob feels solid and every dial is weighty and smooth. The volume knob is motorized and can be operated via remote (I didn’t have the remote for the test though).
     
    The iCan has a special power supply unit that is of the ultra low noise variant. You can’t fault ifi on their power supplies, they are always amazingly clean. Another add-on part for this amplifier will be the Electrostatic Headphone Energizer. A separate box that can be connected to the Pro iCan that delivers up to 1,700V Peak - with Bias selectable for Stax, HiFi/Pro, Sennheiser and other manufacturers. It’s not yet clear when it’s coming.
     
    The switches and knobs from left to right:
     
    • Power button:
      Press it and the iCan starts the boot up procedure. Relays click, laser needle stitched logos light up and change color, once in operating temperature, depending on mode (solid state or tube) the light changes and let’s you know it’s ready.
    • Input selector:
      Large dial on the left. The same size as the volume knob on the opposite side. Choose between 3 analogue inputs and balanced input.
    • Bass selector:
      Switches the XBass from OFF to 10Hz,20HZ,40Hz - increases the bass response of headphones or speakers to your liking purely in the analogue domain.
    • Amp mode switch:
      3 mode switch that selects solid state operating mode of the amp, tube mode or a tube+ mode.
    • Headphone outputs:
      3.5mm single ended, balanced, 6.35mm single ended, 3pin XLR and 4pin XLR
    • 3D selector knob:
      Selects the analog 3D/soundstage enhancement effect in 3 levels plus OFF
    • Gain stage selector switch:
      0dB, 9dB and 18dB selector.
    • Volume knob:
      motorized knob turn it to change the volume.
     
      DSC01527.jpg     DSC01497.jpg
     
     
     
     
    Build Quality
     
    The enclosure is aluminum - it feels great to the touch - Interesting cutouts that let the lights of the LEDs and tubes shine through the housing as well as ensure the device has enough heat escape ports. It does get quite hot in operation.
     
    Everything feels solid and nice - however my only real negative with this amp is: it’s too light. Yes, I really mean it. You cannot plug in a XLR or even a normal headphone without making sure you hold the amp with your other hand. It has a large antiskit rubber pad on the bottom of it but thanks to it’s really low weight it happily moves around very easily. A small pull from a headphone cable and it moves. I believe this amp should be at least 1kg heavier. It’s meant for desktop use, so really shouldn’t slither along like a snake. But that is it. That’s all of my criticism. 
     
    DSC01547.jpg
    Bottom anti-skid rubber could be stickier....
     
    Sound Quality Comparisons & Usage
     
    General
     
    Using the Pro iCan
     
    For an amp that is as powerful as the iCan Pro - it’s important that it’s save. You can switch everything while the amp in in operation without causing anything to break. Changing the gain, makes some relays tick and before the new gain engages you have a few seconds to react to your input before your ears might get blasted with too much power :wink: 
     
    Switching from solid state to tube mode, creates a small break of 20-30 seconds until the tubes have reached operating temperature. When switching from tube mode to solid state mode the tubes don’t immediately switch off - they stay on for some time longer, to not expose the tubes to many on/off cycles. Only when not used in a longer period do the tubes switch off. Every other command is done immediate and you hear the result.
     
    DSC01538.jpg    
     
     
    Sound quality
     
    Overall: how did they mix detail, smoothness, rich and satisfying sound, with precise imaging and soundstage?
     
    Solid state mode:
    Detailed, neutral and balanced solid state mode. Plenty of power to even drive the most demanding headphones. I was quite impressed that this little thing can drive the HE-6 well and loud. In general Hifimans seems to sound better to me in this mode while Sennheiser and Audezes sounded better in tube mode. 
     
    Tube mode:
    In tube mode you get that addictive bottom end. Just recently I declared that the WA8 from Woo audio drove my T90 best ever. Now I have to announce that my LCD-2 never sounded better than on this ifi amp in tube mode. Brilliant mids, lovely bass, the way Audezes should sound. Confirmed on LCD-3 - just magical. slightly warmer sound in general with a tad treble (but not detail) roll-off. Silky smooth, sound. Like velvet. 
     
    DSC01500.jpg
     
     
    Hybrid mode:
    Sort of best of both worlds. You have the highs form solid state with the bottom end of the tubes - a slightly silkier version of solid-state alone - a wining combo.
     
    In all modes the iCan Pro drives IEMs as well when connected via 3.5mm plug. I also connected plenty of headphones at the same time - the iCAN didn't break a sweat.
     
    EDIT: I previously called this mode: hybrid mode. That was wrong. It's tube+ mode - not a hybrid mode. ifi describes this like that:
    We are tube lovers and we appreciate sometimes there is a need for even more tube-like sound, there are two tube settings – Tube and Tube+. The Tube+ position reduces overall loop-gain and thus negative feedback to the minimum. This gives a different trade-off between the tube’s natural harmonics and the transient performance.
     
    DSC01546.jpg   
     
     
    Conclusion & Issues
     
    DSC01542.jpg
     
     
    Having just reviewed the WA-8 and found it to be one of the best sounding amps, I have yet another absolute hit product to report on. The crazy thing is that this time we have an amp that costs about the same - offers crazy amounts of peak power (up to 14,000mW peak and more than 4,800mW constant) - so it can drive even the most demanding planar magnetic headphones with ease. It also offers 3.5mm outputs with IEM match technology so you can run sensitive IEMs from it without hiss. This amp is a technological marvel. It’s well put together and sounds just brilliant. 
     
    It also saves you a lot of money as you have a tube amp, a class A solid state amp and a hybrid amp in one. you can drive everything from IEMs to Planars (and with an add-on in the future even electrostatic headphones).
     
    Here is a tear down video I found: https://youtu.be/qla2KXNXfdw
     
    Take a look at the design and how well the PCBs are designed. The lovely tubes in it….it’s a joy to look at such a well put together amplifier in such a small housing.
     
    ifi came out to assault the “state of the art” and to my ears - they fully succeeded. It’s an amp that can seriously push any kind of headphones to its limits. 
     
    One very welcomed consequence from using this amp: Having heard my headphones with this amp: PM-2, HE-560, LCD-2f etc. made me appreciate them even more. I thought I am ready to move to TOTL (top of the line) headphones, like the Edition X or HD800S. Now I know there is still so much life in my current headphones and so many areas I haven't yet explored - I should rather keep them and listen a few months or years longer with an endgame amp like this one. And an endgame amp this amp is (of course, my humble opinion for my humble setup and budget) . I am pretty sure there is not much in the same price range (and probably double the price) that comes close. And if it comes close sound quality wise, it won’t offer the versatility. 
     
    As an alternative and if you don’t have really hard to drive headphones, or you don't need balanced outputs, the WA-8 is in the same price range and also sounds sublime, has a smaller footprint but lacks the versatility and future proofing to a certain extent.
     
    Rating: Full 5 stars (would give it 7 if possible).
     
    THANKS to www.samma3a.com and @Mazen4samma3a for the review loaner! So sad to see it go back :frowning2: This is my new dream amp (again).
    1. View previous replies...
    2. punit
      As usual great job Koolpep.I have spent quality time with this amp (had a loaner for a few days) & I agree fully with this review. It really surprised me with HE 6. This is a TOTL amp.
      punit, Jun 7, 2016
    3. obsidyen
      Great review as always, German precision. :) I really want to try this amp.
      obsidyen, Jun 15, 2016
    4. cjs001
      Damn, wish it had come with speaker level output for passive speakers.
      cjs001, Jul 2, 2016
  5. ufospls2
    iFi Pro iCAN Full Review
    Written by ufospls2
    Published Sep 29, 2019
    4.5/5,
    [​IMG]
    Relaxing with Milo

    Hey Guys,

    Today we are talking about an absolute Swiss army knife of an amplifier, the iFi Audio Pro iCAN. Not only does this amp sound great, it can do pretty much….everything!

    iFi Audio is a British company that was founded in 2012. It is a subsidiary of AMR Audio, which has a long history of making stereo equipment. iFi has always struck me as a company that focuses more on headphone and personal audio, but that does seem to be changing lately, and they are branching out into other areas (see the iFi “Aurora” all in one for an example of this.) Their products are innovative, and seem to prioritise functionality as well as sonic performance.

    The “Pro” line up launched with Pro iCAN that we are talking about today, but has since seen the introduction of the iESL (for electrostatic headphones) and the Pro iDSD DAC (which I will be talking about in a new review in a few days, another great bit of gear.)

    The Pro iCAN, which I will just refer to as the iCAN from here on out, is a small desktop sized amplifier. It features, not one, but two true tube modes, as well as a fully solid state mode. Talk about flexibility! You can switch between these modes on the fly with a flip of the switch, and it takes about 5 seconds for each mode to engage. The iCAN also features the best implementation I have heard of iFi’s “XBass” feature, as well as their take on crossfeed, the “3D” feature. I didn’t use the “3D” feature too often, but it does work well on some tracks, and the “XBass” feature is a tasteful boost at three different levels. I think it really depends on the headphones you are using when it comes to determining which of these levels and features you will want to use, and of course, your personal preference will play a role as well.

    [​IMG]
    Almost every connection you can think of!
    The iCAN is a bit of a mini powerhouse, it doesn’t take up much space, but it puts out 14,000mw at peak output levels, and with its 3 gain settings, can run everything from sensitive IEMs, to the Hifiman Susvara and HE6. Not many amps can boast such flexibility. Now, if you try to listen at enthusiastic levels, with both the “XBass” and “3D” features on with the Susvara or HE6, the amp will likely go into protection mode as it is starting to struggle, but apart from that it will have no troubles driving them.

    I think the iCAN has a similar sound signature across its three output modes, SS, Tube, and Tube +. The two tube modes are noticeably different from the SS mode, but they seem to maintain a similar sound signature and are not warm and gooey as some people expect tubes to be. The two tube modes seem to round off the edges of notes and make things a bit easier to listen to, but it will really depend on your headphones and preferences as to which mode you will prefer. I ended up using Tube mode with my Abyss, but SS mode with the Susvara. With something like the Focal Utopia, I could see Tube mode being used, and with the ZMF Eikon, maybe SS mode. The flexibility the iCAN offers, again, is tremendous.

    [​IMG]
    I would describe the Pro iCAN as a fairly neutral sounding amp, perhaps leaning to colder and clinical at times, but not in a bad way, its just not a warm, fuzzy, and thick sounding amp.

    The iCANs technical performance was quite impressive, from dynamic swings to detail rendering. It perhaps doesn’t make the Susvara and hard to drive headphones slam as hard as a speaker amp, but it has no troubles powering them, and does more than an acceptable job at bringing out the positive qualities of said headphones.

    I tried comparing the iCAN to my iDSD Black Label, which is also made by iFi. The Micro iDSD BL is a fantastic transportable all in one unit, I really love it. However, perhaps it is not fair to compare it to a standalone desktop amp, but as both units are made by iFi I gave it a shot. As an amp only, the Pro iCAN, apart from being what seemed like infinitely more powerful, was more detailed and neutral sounding. The Micro iDSD seemed to have a tiny bit bloom that the Pro iCAN did not, as well as less detail. I still hold the Micro iDSD BL in very high regard as a transportable all in one, but its amp section was indeed beaten quite handily by its big brother. No surprises there I suppose.

    iFi Audio has come up true Swiss army knife of an amp with the Pro iCAN, and it really doesn’t do anything wrong! It can power sensitive IEMs without hiss, it can power most of the hardest to drive headphones on the market, it has bass enhancement and crossed implementations, and is both a SS *and* tube amp. I think it sounds fantastic, especially for the sale prices I have seen it available at on occasion (about $1299USD, and about $1000USD used.) I have even seen one unit sell for $850USD! At these prices, this amp is not only an excellent recommendation, but is a very solid value compared to some of the other options on the market.

    [​IMG]
    With a tower of planar goodness!
    The iFi Pro iCAN gets a very thorough recommendation from me, especially if you are looking for “one amp to rule them all.” I could see this amp being a reviewers dream come true, as it is so truly flexible. Great job and congratulations to the team at iFi for creating such a stand out product. I really enjoyed my time with the Pro iCAN, and to this day, consider purchasing one on occasion, even though I don’t truly need it!

    Thanks for taking the time to read this review.
  6. B9Scrambler
    iFi Pro iCAN: Where Want and Need Meet
    Written by B9Scrambler
    Published Aug 15, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Lots of useful features - Clean sound and background - Very powerful - Tons of input and output options
    Cons - Difficult to read labels - Tiny switches may be tough for some to grip - Limited to ability to stack with non iFi Pro range products due to tube protruding from the top of unit - Gets quite warm (not so much a negative as a head-up)
    Greetings!

    Today we're checking out iFi's top tier hybrid amp extraordinaire, the Pro iCAN.

    Any time I'm in a thread or forum where someone is asking for a suggestion on which new amplifier to buy, inevitably someone will throw one of iFi's many options into the mix. With such a vast selection of products to choose from, and with a positive reputation to back it all up, it's not particularly surprising. Almost every review of a product of theirs is rife with praise and positivity, regardless of whether the review is coming from someone like myself who was loaned a unit to check out, or from a legitimate customer who simply wants to share their experiences with others who might be interested in buying the same thing.

    I really don't enjoy reviewing devices and prefer to stick to headphones and earphones, so when Lawrance at iFi reached out to see if I would be interested in reviewing a product of theirs, their reputation in the community was more-or-less the deciding factor. I wanted to see what makes the iFi brand so beloved in the audio community. The Pro iCAN was selected almost exclusively for the purposes of getting the most out of the HiFiMan Susvara.

    Before we get started, I want you to know that my experience with other iFi products is nil and other amplifiers limited at best, boiling down to my current headphone amp, the TEAC HA-501, a few old Kenwood's from the 90's, a classic Marantz Model 3800, and an NAD C 356BEE owned by my cousin. I've also messed around with countless other stereos belonging to others but not enough to know them inside and out. If you're expecting a technical, in-depth look at the Pro iCAN, you might want to check out some other reviews. Mine will be a subjective take on this compact powerhouse.

    I also come from a psychology background and as a result my writing can be quite sterile. I can't wax poetic like some other reviewers unless a product really grabs my attention in a particular way, something amps and players haven't really done for me yet. In my world, they're really just there to transmit music to the headphone with little need for in depth features or fancy gimmicks. All I want is for them to be intuitive to use and to stay out of the way of the music. The Pro iCAN does both of those things very well, while also containing a slew of features and things that could be considered gimmicks if they weren't implemented so well.

    DSC02792.JPG DSC02791.JPG DSC02790.JPG

    Disclaimer:

    The Pro iCAN was a loaner unit sent over by iFi for the purposes of review. Thanks to Lawrance for reaching out to see if I would be interested in checking out one of their products, and for suggesting the Pro iCAN. As this was a loaner, it was sent back to iFi.

    At the time of this review the Pro iCan retailed for 1,600 USD; https://ifi-audio.com/portfolio-view/pro-ican/

    Specifications:
    • Gain: 0dB, 9dB and 18dB user-selectable
    • Frequency Response: 0.5Hz to 500kHz(-3dB)
    • Total Harmonic Distortion (THD, Balanced/Single-Ended):
    • Balanced SE Solid-State: ≤0.0015% ≤0.005%
    • Tube: ≤0.002% ≤0.005%
    • Tube+: ≤0.012% ≤0.2%
    • Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR, Balanced/Single-Ended): >147dB(A) / > 137dB(A)
    • Output Power (16Ω, Balanced/Single-Ended): >14,000mW / >4,800mW
    • Output Voltage (600Ω, Balanced/Single-Ended): >23V / >11.5V
    • Input Voltage (Pro iCAN): DC 9V/6.7A – 18V/3.35A
    • Input Voltage (iPower Plus): AC 85 – 265V, 50/60Hz
    • Power Consumption: ≤ 22W idle, 50W max.
    • Dimensions: 213(l) x 192.5(w) x 63.3(h) mm
    • Weight: 1.93kg (4.3lbs)
    • Test conditions: Gain = 0dB, 0.775V(0dBu) with 300 Ohm load unless stated otherwise
    • SNR Balanced re 23V, SNR SE re. 11.5V
    DSC02795.JPG DSC02793.JPG DSC02794.JPG

    Packaging, Build, Features, Sound, and Other Stuff:

    I'm used to my stereo equipment arriving in a fairly basic cardboard box with some branding, model numbers, and some other random stuff plastered on the outside. Open it up and the device is usually wrapped in a sheet of plastic and tucked in some squeeky foam cutouts. There's usually a manual that could have been crafted from any standard printer, then folded and stapled. To say the unboxing experiences are unremarkable and completely forgettable would be an understatement. iFi's unboxing experience on the other hand is a little more modern and less sterile than that.

    The Pro iCAN's shock-white box and minimal branding, limited to iFi in silver letting on the top and two sides has an Apple-level of minimalism and style to it. The exterior sleeve, which shows images of the front, side, and rear of the iCAN along with a list of specs and features shakes things up a bit. Inside, you're immediately greeted by the iCAN nestled in a soft foam ring shaped perfectly to fit around the plethora of knobs, inputs, outputs, and other protrusions present on the device. Below in a few segmented compartments are the remote, power brick and cable, along with a short audio cable.

    The Pro iCAN itself is a solid and hefty device considering it's compact size. The all-metal shell is nicely constructed with clean cutouts in the rough shape of a rippling wave emitting from the tube. The rest of the shell has a broad corrugation to it which is subtle but looks pleasant. Its too bad that effect doesn't carry over to the faceplate which maintains a simple rectangular shape, breaking design cohesion. On the bottom isn't the usual rubber pad per corner, but one large silicone pad with an indent for stacking the iCAN with their other flagship device, the iESL. As others have mentioned, this large silicone pad lets the iCAN pivot or slide around more than it should. A mild annoyance at worst for me. What annoyed me more was the labeling of the various dials and knobs. The matte silver writing on the silver faceplate meant they were washed out in certain lighting conditions or at specific angles. Not an issue after a couple days with the device as it is fairly intuitive to use. All the iCAN's functions fell to hand without much thought after getting used to the layout.

    When it comes it inputs, outputs, and options, the iCAN should have most users more than covered. This is a very flexible device, much more so than my equivalently priced TEAC HA-501 which is simple and barren in comparison. On the front of the iCAN, starting from the left, you find the power button and LED indicator, input knob, XBass selector, switch for moving between solid state/mixed/tube-only functions, left balanced input, standard 3.5mm input, 4-pin balanced XLR input, right balanced input which doubles as a 1/4” input, 3.5mm balanced input, 3D effect selector, gain selector, volume knob, and the IR receiver for the remote. And that's just on the front. Flip to the back and you've got another set of balanced XLR inputs, three RCA inputs, balanced XLR outputs, an unbalanced RCA output, a DC loop-out, ESL-link, and the 15V/4A DC input for the power brick. That's a lot of holes in a reasonably small device. The most amazing part is that it's all laid out in a very neat and uniform manner where everything is easy to access, though the two toggle switches on the front for the state selection and gain are quite small.

    DSC02066.JPG DSC02805.JPG DSC02806.JPG

    While I appreciate the inclusion of the remote, it found little use while this unit was in my possession. One reason being the iCAN was almost always within reach, usually sitting a couple feet from me on my desk so there was zero need for the remote. The other being the remote adjusts volume only, and each adjustment required an individual press of the button. Maybe the battery was low, I didn't have another to test it with, but you couldn't simply hold the button down to adjust volume. Being the impatient person that I am, I'm much more likely to get up and walk across the room to adjust volume rather than chill in my chair and press a button countless times. Sure, I'd rather have the remote than not, but overall it wasn't particularly useful.

    What was useful was just how wonderful this unit sounded and paired with nearly everything I threw it's way. One thing users won't be wanting is extra power, that's for sure. As mentioned earlier, the primary reason for selecting this amp was to get the most out of the Susvara from HiFiMan, a top of the line, full-sized planar magnetic headphone. It doesn't take much to get it up to volume, but to get the most out of it's dynamic performance it does take some proper driving power. My TEAC HA-501 just barely does the job. The iCAN did not disappoint.

    With the Susvara plugged into the balanced 4-pin Neutrik XLR input, hybrid state selected for a touch of warmth, XBass off and 3D Enhancement off, gain set to +18, I sat down and leaned back in my leather Lazyboy recliner with the lights off and a HiFi E.T. MA8 sourcing Supertramp's “Crime of the Century”. The next 44 minutes were utter bliss. Rick Davies' harmonica solo leading off the album on the track “School” sounded beyond crisp. The following build up to the piano solo and eventual battle between Davies' chunky guitar work and Hodgson's unique vocals egging Davies on set the stage for the rest of the listening session. “Asylum” ended up the next highlight with the iCAN sketching out and defining the soft piano work, swells of emotion from the eventual strings and guitars filtering in as the track progressed. And of course, Hodgson's wailing vocals begging not to be admitted, pleading his case for sanity. On my favorite track, “Rudy”, the iCAN's outstanding separation paired with the Susvara's technical excellence surrounded you in the mellow, weightless piano work dancing in the background. At around 1:20, the pulsing swells of strings were perfectly captured by the iCAN as it worked in conjunction with the Susvara. Around 4:00 things get 70's with a wakka wakka guitar groove kicking in. Hodgson's vocals shift stage from back and to the left with a subtle filter placed overtop, to dead centre and clear as day. The iCAN's outstanding sound stage and layered presentation really aided in giving this track depth and urgency, especially in the closing moments where strings appear again, pulsing louder and louder only to fade into “If Everyone Was Listening”. Closing out the album is another excellent entry in the Supertramp portfolio, the title track “Crime of the Century”. Paired with the iCAN, the dark, heavy tones and pained guitar solo oozed emotion and feeling, even more so when swapping away from the iCAN's hybrid setup to tube only where the presentation takes on a slightly softer, warmer tone. I've listened to this album countless times over the years, front to back. Never was I pulled in quite to the same extent as I was when experiencing it again through the Susvara and iCAN. It was something truly special.

    That feeling carried over into every subsequent listening session as I experienced my favorite albums for the first time all over again. It wasn't just good for music either. Wipeout 2048 on the PS Vita is one of my favorite games and can be an intense experience with headphones, even through that tiny screen. It's fast paced with some pretty outstanding sound design. Filtering it through the iCAN and Susvara was such a hilariously overkill experience to have with a mobile video game, and I loved every second of it.

    20171123_153706.jpg DSC02796.JPG DSC02815.JPG

    Additional Notes:

    Since reviewing devices isn't my forte, here are some additional observations about the device gathered through use during the couple months the Pro iCAN was in my possession. I was having trouble working it naturally into the review. Instead of forcing it, you can read these details in a more easily digested form.

    Solid State (Blue light): In this state, I found the iCAN to present with a very precise, detailed sound with very little coloration. It was nearly analytic in it's presentation giving the Susvara additional definition to it's note presentation. I really enjoyed pairing the iCAN on this setting with warmer headphones like the thinksound On2, A-Audio Legacy, and Polk Audio Buckle.

    Hybrid (Yellow): Here the iCAN sounded quite similar to running in solid state mode, but with some added warmth and a softer note presentation. I found running it in this mode extremely flexible, pairing well with everything. The Susvara especially sounded lovely during hybrid playback, maintaining it's natural warmth but gaining a bit of additional precision.

    Tube (Green): If set to tube more, turning on the iCAN cold would net a relaxed 25 second boot time as the tubes warmed up. Switching from other states after the device was already one was much quicker, as would be expected. Also expected was the iCAN to show off a warmer, softer tone than running in the other modes, though it still wasn't quite a lush sounding in this setting as my solid state TEAC, something that took me by surprise. Vocals in this mode were smoother and slightly less detailed, but damn if you couldn't listen for hours on end without experiencing fatigue. I really like pairing brighter headphones like the HiFiMan HE-350, Philips SHP-9500S, or AKG K553 Pro with the iCAN on this setting. The Susvara sounded best here with classic rock and metal.

    Xbass: Unlike more traditional bass enhancement features, it doesn't simply increase bass across the board but focuses on specific frequencies, namely 10Hz, 20Hz, and 40Hz. This will come in handy for addressing limitations in your headphones. It came into play for watching movies and with the K553 Pro which made use of the 10Hz boost, giving it some extra grunt in the lower bass where I find it lacking.

    3D Sound Enhancement: Beyond the initial 30+ option, this feature didn't do much to the Susvara. Maxed out it also took away from the impact of bass and deeper tones. It's impact was much more noticeable with the ADVANCED Alpha, a more budget friendly planar, and didn't act as a negative towards the low end. It was also very helpful with some of my closed back headphones. The A-Audio Legacy has a reasonably intimate and compact stage, opening up considerably with the setting maxed out at 90+. The thinksound On2 also benefited, but not to the same extent. It already has a pretty good sound stage for a closed back on-ear and lost some imaging precision as 3D Enhancement was added in. For some, the trade off for a more spacious sound would certainly be worth it.

    Black Background: The iCAN was a very silent runner, showing off a colorless, black background with everything I tossed it's way. That included sensitive BA-only iems like the B100 to power hungry products like the HiFiMan Susvara.

    Toasty Taylor: The iCAN runs pretty warm, which is to be expected from a powerful, compact, Class A device with tube functions. It was never hot enough to cause worry, though I wouldn't be particularly keen on stacking it with other units that generate a similar amount of heat unless in a space with ample ventilation. Experience with my own equipment of an older vintage, composed of gear from the 70s and early 80s, shows that devices that pump out heat to the extent of the Pro iCAN really need that airflow. If you're coming from equipment that doesn't run quite as warm, this might throw you off.

    Stacking: Because of the tube poking up gingerly through the top of the unit, the iCAN will probably find itself at the top of your stack of devices. Stacking it with other products in iFi's Pro series would be ideal since they are designed to be used in conjunction, or stacked, with each other. Scroll back up to the picture of the silicone pad on the bottom of the unit and you can see where there is a clear indent to accommodate the tube. Handy little feature.

    vs. TEAC HA-501: To my surprise, regardless of the setting, the HA-501 was the warmer of the two devices. The various settings on the iCAN gave it a lot more flexibility and pushing power. Whereas my TEAC pushes the Susvara adequately, on particularly bass heavy tracks like The Prodigy's “Charly (Trip into Drum and Bass Version)” the TEAC will distort once the volume increases enough. The iCAN did not. Also, with the 3D Sound Enhancement featured dialed in, the iCAN was capable giving off a larger stage. The only area where I definitely preferred the TEAC was in the low end presentation. It seemed to have a little more depth and impact, though the advantage was whittled once you started taking advantage of the XBass enhancements of the iCAN.

    DSC02800.JPG DSC02802.JPG DSC02812.JPG

    Final Thoughts:

    I'm the type of audio enthusiast that finds a source and amp that I like, then builds the rest of my auditory experience around it, focusing on picking up a variety of headphones with various signatures. Others do the exact opposite by finding a single headphone that represents them and their preferences, then they hunt down the perfect amp and/or source so they can get the most out of it. The Pro iCAN is suited to both of these kinds of people. It can be that one reliable source for people like me to build their experience around, yet it has the flexibility and performance to be the one device thats let you get the most out of favorite set of headphones without the need to buy multiple amps for signature variety.

    Being able to run your gear in a solid state, tube, or hybrid setting gives the iCAN impressive flexibility and suitability with a number of different signatures. Further enhancement via the XBass and 3D Sound Enhancement features just adds to it's chameleon-like nature. It's three gain settings let you power pretty much anything at whatever volume you want, free of distortion. It has enough inputs, outputs, and variety within each to let you attach nearly anything, and source sound from pretty much anywhere. It... kinda just does everything. When you take into account the plethora of things it can do, the cost of entry is actually pretty darn reasonable. Would I trade my beloved TEAC HA-501 up for it? Yup. My TEAC looks and sounds gorgeous, but the iCAN is so much more capable and flexible in the long run.

    Thanks for reading, and thanks again to Lawrance and iFi for the opportunity to check out the iCAN.

    - B9Scrambler

    *If you enjoyed this review, head over to The Contraptionist for more just like it.*
      snellemin, DBaldock9, FLTWS and 7 others like this.
  7. ngoshawk
    iCAN, uCAN, we all CAN!
    Written by ngoshawk
    Published Dec 17, 2017
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Price compared to competitors, multi-function controls, multi-connective"ness." Tubey-goodness, ability to tailor to almost any capability. Sound is wonderful!
    Cons - I'm not sold on the isolation pad on the bottom...makes the critter slippery...Can't see the tubes enough!!! Not as well known as Chord products...XBass/3D buttons too small and close to larger knobs...
    iFi Pro iCAN-4.5 stars...


    [​IMG]


    Entrée:



    I had a dream sometime ago…I was walking down a road, not unlike an old London street, fresh from rain and cobbled, of bygone era. I caught a look into a shop with much dust on the shelves and wares stored on said shelves. I could almost make out that whatever was on the shelves, was quite intriguing, to the point that I changed my path to enter and inquire of the shopkeeper what type of shop it might be….it was at that point I woke up. I have imagined that it could be of almost anything, but after receiving an email from Lawrance, I understood…you see it was a scant two days later, that he contacted me… it was rather unsettling, but titillating at the same time…At current, I look down upon our Australian Shepherd puppy, and pen this intro, thinking of that dream. It all became clear tonight, and one hopes I can convey that in what follows. White Shadows guides me to the finishing of this diatribe, and I am glad.



    [​IMG]



    Listening to Radioactive from Lindsey Stirling and Pentatonix, through the UM Maestro V2, one simply sits drinking in that fine single-malt, and amazes at the wonderful cacophony of sounds and sensations wrought from such diverse vocals and music. While not something I listen to all that much, the combo certainly gains my respect for their sheer musical prowess, and an exceptional guise to decipher finer and faults of the critter(s) at hand. Love can indeed be built slowly, but explode exponentially when the paths converse in the universe of synergy. And that is what I can garner from the iFi Pro iCAN, adding a synergy of almost simplistic pleasure. Harkening back to an older day, when tubes were not only the best, but an exceptional tool for our indulgence, I find myself imagining that I am front and center in the finest McIntosh system, something I have stated before, and probably will again (possibly from that shoppe…). The combo of Maestro leading, and the tubey-support rendered by the Pro cannot be underestimated. Even through a “normal” MacBook Pro, one can certainly appreciate the qualities wrought from those fine wares. Exquisite mids, and vocals to make one simply exist. Treble, which while a bit hot for me in the Maestro, can certainly be tamed through the tubeyness of the iCAN. And for that I am grateful.

    [​IMG]

    To come off of the Chord Hugo2 tour, into this was a surprise I could not imagine. To say that I could go from one $2400 DAC/amp (much, MUCH more…) to a $1700 hybrid amp is more than could be asked. But, that does allow one a certain look into how those who relish or fret over a choice such as that think…we as audiophiles are blessed with choice such as that. And I for one am honored to be included with the ability and the want to audition such worthy “problems.” A problem, I hope can be helped by the wretched writings I put forth here. Words cannot really allay the emotives of which I feel. Moving into Kitchen by twentyonepilots, I “suffer” that consequence of trying to garner diminutive differences or similarities, which would allow those in the position to purchase that little extra motivation. That over the edge push I give them in order to nudge them in their chosen path, knowing full well that they probably chose before…but needed that verification I provide.

    I wholeheartedly thank Lawrance and iFi for the continued support. To have such an opportunity come up out of the blue such as this is indeed humbling. My hope is that my feeble words can lend some guidance for those looking. I do not take that responsibility lightly. In return for the loan, they only asked two things, an honest opinion, and the ability to use whatever they see fit from said review in their advertisements (one hopes that part comes true!!).

    About me: *I am older. I am happy that I have rediscovered the joy of music, through personal listening devices. Through this opportunity, I have become exposed to some wonderful kit. Much I now own, much I covet. Much I would never purchase, for various reasons.

    My listening style has changed somewhat over the years…from old time Rock-n-Roll to the Blues to Reggae, to Bluegrass. I cut my teeth on Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Outlaws, The Who, Santana, Bob Marley, Eric Clapton, David Bowie, Bob Marley, and Pink Floyd. But the music I hold dearest and nearest my soul, is Stevie Ray Vaughan. I was lucky enough to see him perform four times…twice in open air venues, followed by (that evening each time!!!) smoky blues bars, where intimate would be an understatement. Each holds a very special place in my psyche, and I can almost remember the whole of each concert in their entirety…

    I enjoy a warmer signature in my equipment, and listening, with a good bass line (but not basshead), complimented by outstanding vocals. Combine the sweetness of SRV’s guitar and Billy Holiday’s voice, and you get my musical grove.*


    [​IMG]


    Entrée part deux:

    I am lucky to have a stack of the iFi products, running together as my main testing equipment, with the ability to hook into any of my players. Purchasing the excellent iFi iDSD Micro Black Label first, I added the iFi iTubes2 after the audition tour (a victory tour of the BL), and finally an iDAC2, with which to tame the whole system. Spending roughly half of what I would have on the Pro iCAN, this was a natural test of “would it be better,” or “could double the price give THAT much better.” I did compare the two set ups, but mainly used and experienced the Pro iCAN (with and without the iFi iDAC2), since I had fresh knowledge of the stack. A stack, I will add in which I am extremely pleased and feel no need to upgrade.


    The iCAN is a device, which can take the place of my whole iFi stack, but at what cost? As mentioned, costing roughly double what I spent, for the trio, is it worth it? Well…I do think I am the wrong person to ask. But through my words, I hope that a semi-informed decision can be fashioned. I will state, that since my loan of the Pro, I have not even turned on the iFi stack, except to draw a quick comparison (until tonight and a final comparison). Is it better? I would respectfully state, “yes.” Is it worth double the cost I spent? The Luddite in me says NO WAY! But, the practical, long-term answer is I do believe yes. Why? Well, for that price, you do get an all in one, which can do everything my stack can, and does it better. It is more dynamic in sound, takes up less space, and can attach many MANY more device set ups than the stack. One could easily throw this into a small home system, and not miss a beat. I do also believe it has enough power to sufficiently drive all but the hardest speakers or headphones. Using Pinky’s HD600’s, I did have to run the 18dB push. But that was the only set up in which I did. And it sufficiently drove the legendary hard-to-drive headphones. It would be quite adequate for all but the hardest songs. That alone, says quite a bit.

    [​IMG]



    To get the best out of the Pro iCAN, one should include a DAC of similar quality. Through conversations with Lawrance, I extended my time to test that aspect. And it was WELL worth it!!

    [​IMG]
    To say I was excited would be an understatement...



    Equipment used/compared:

    Macbook Pro
    Shanling M1/M5
    Fiio x5iii
    iFi combo of: iDAC2, iTube2, iDSD Black Label

    iFi iDAC2 used between MacBook Pro & Pro iCAN

    Unique Melody Maestro V2
    Unique Melody Martian
    Lendmeurears FLC8s
    Grado GH-2
    Audioquest Nightowl
    Sennheiser HD-600 (borrowed from @PinkyPowers)


    Music used:

    Adele- Hello
    Adele-Someone Like You
    Tom Petty-I Won’t Back Down
    Tom Petty-Learning to Fly
    Tom Petty-Free Fallin’
    Coldplay- Technicolor ii
    Coldplay- Sky Full of Stars
    Coldplay- White Shadows
    Coldplay- Paradise
    Coldplay- Lover’s in Japan
    Lindsey Stirling w/ Pentatonix- Rasioactive
    SRV- Mary Had A Little Lamb
    SRV- Look at Little Sister
    Twentyonepilots- Regional At Best album
    Ziggy Marley-I Am A Human
    Ziggy Marley-Dragonfly (Live & Studio)


    Specs (from the iFi site):

    Specifications:


    Gain:

    0dB, 9dB and 18dB user-selectable

    Frequency Response: 0.5Hz to 500kHz(-3dB)

    Total Harmonic Distortion (THD, Balanced/Single-Ended):

    Solid-State: ≤0.0015%/≤0.005%
    Tube: ≤0.002%/≤0.005%
    Tube+:≤0.012%/≤0.2%

    Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR, Balanced/Single-Ended): >147dB(A) / > 137dB(A)

    Output Power (16Ω, Balanced/Single-Ended): >14,000mW / >4,800mW

    Output Voltage (600Ω, Balanced/Single-Ended): >23V / >11.5V

    Input Voltage (Pro iCAN): DC 9V/6.7A – 18V/3.35A

    Input Voltage (iPower Plus): AC 85 – 265V, 50/60Hz

    Power Consumption: ≤ 22W idle, 50W max.

    Dimensions: 213(l) x 192.5(w) x 63.3(h) mm

    Weight: 1.93kg (4.3lbs)

    Test conditions: Gain = 0dB, 0.775V(0dBu) with 300 Ohm load unless stated otherwise, SNR Balanced re 23V, SNR SE re. 11.5V


    [​IMG]


    Sound:



    Compared to iFi stack, the Pro has better control of the bass. Not necessarily MORE (in fact less due to the ability to add “Bass Boost” from both the iTubes2 & BL…and a LOT, too!), but better controlled. Also, the sub bass is a bit forward, giving that more full sound to my ears. The iFi stack for whatever reason has a more forward mids sound, to me. Bass is more, but less controlled. I think this might be a result of the bass boost switch, as mentioned but with either 6dB (on the BL), or 6/12dB (@20Hz on the iTubes2). While I do enjoy that push on some songs, I like the Pro’s ability to add at more frequencies, tailoring to a possible lack in the headphones/IEM’s used…a nice touch, indeed.



    As mentioned above, the Pro iCAN, one can tailor the bass boost to different frequencies. I cannot really tell what the difference is at the 10 Hz setting, but can clearly hear the boost at 20 & 40Hz. The push of bass at 20Hz is quite pleasant, giving that somewhat audible rumble to me. At 40 Hz, the push forward is quite noticeable on songs such as Tom Petty’s (RIP, dear sir) Learning To Fly. An extremely energetic sound is the result. I left the bass switch at 40 Hz most of the time.



    On Ziggy Marley’s live version of Dragonfly, the sound is simply intoxicating. I can say with a decent authority that this is as close a sound as I have heard to the vaunted (to me) ampsandsounds Kenzie, with which I had the pleasure to audition some time ago. An incredible synergy focusing on that exuberant support guitar can be heard like it should be…an equal to Ziggy’s voice. Just incredible. And I would be hard pressed to decide between the Hugo2 and the iCAN based upon that song alone…It would be a long audition’s night for me to decide, and a good one…



    While I appreciate the ability to adjust either set up as needed when speaking of bass boost, 3D, gain, wash, rinse, spin, etc.…I have decided that I am simply a lazy slovenly sod, who would just as soon set something and leave it. There is a reason I like complicated things, but this isn’t one of them. Changing only as needed, I do find both aspects appealing, but…just a random thought, and to tie it to the gear at hand (if you are still with me…), my personal iFi stack needs adjusting more than the Pro iCAN, when it comes to the toggles, and buttons. I can get away with, errr tolerate less adjusting while listening to the Pro. On the stack, I seem to be constantly reaching for those little toggles, and I have a genuine fear of destroying my four hours of hard Lego work on the rack itself as a result…I do lose much sleep over this…no really…



    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]



    Coming back to the Pro (finally, you say…), I found it to be eminently competent. As Army Firedog mentioned, it does pretty much all well. This can be a fault, if you want, especially if you are anal about “compatibility.” THIS amp, MUST go with THIS headphone, and THIS DAP, etc…blah, blah, blah. I do not fault any of you that wish, desire and have that. In fact, I applaud and bow in your general direction. But something must be said for a device, which can simply work. I state this in several reviews, going all the way back to my Vibro Labs Aria IEM…it just works. Call it the Luddite in me (haha, I know especially with all this durn technology), but the Pro simply works. I say this as I now listen to twentyonepilots excellent Regional At Best album, with no added bass or 3D. I could go 40Hz on the Bass boost and 90/60+ (floor-standing speakers setting) 3D, and happily drink my Boulevard Nutcracker Ale, but going “naked” seems to be how this particular time in the space continuum was intended for me. And I am not disappointed in that.



    [​IMG]



    Cracking a smile out of the corner of my mouth, with the Traveling Wilburys song, End of the Line, I get it. I love my stack; don’t get me wrong…I will happily have that for a good long while (ssuuurrre I will…). But the Pro can do that and more. iFi set the bar again when it comes to compatibility and adjustability, but on that simple tubular-level. Desire Solid State? Turn the switch. Tubular? Cool bro, flip the switch one more notch. Totally tubular? Again, flip the switch. It is almost like each Wilbury taking turns singing a verse in that iconic song. And that is the way it should be. A Mega Group to end all Super Groups, much like the Wilburys, the Pro comes along for that ride letting you swing gently in your rocking chair. And I thoroughly appreciate that. And GOD, I miss the Wilbury’s.



    [​IMG]



    This is one critter you do not have to Handle With Care, for it can handle quiet as well as loud and boisterous. This little critter can rock. Much the way the remaining Wilburys carry on, the Pro just glows along in that sensuous orange, almost smiling through those ever increasing in size vent rings. Taking in more and more, the song envelops your senses, just the way the Pro looks. Small, with the ability to be a multitude of things, and powerful. Kind of like that ultimate Executive Assistant. The one who can anticipate your every move; and in many ways is MORE qualified than you for the job at hand. But one, that just as happily stays behind the scenes knowing their role perfectly. One in support of the overall program. That role, which is invaluable and perfect for most situations. Maybe perfect would be too much of an insult. It has been a good long while, since I have enjoyed an audition device at low volume as much as cranking it up. Quite often we are hell-bent on cranking things to 11, but here I am quite content to stay below the horizon.



    Listening to Adele’s Someone Like You, I think of a dear friend I lost recently. We traveled some of the same roads in life, but not often enough. I am sad I did not find out sooner after he died, but in his honor I analyze the iCAN like he loved analog albums. I so thoroughly enjoyed hearing about his latest find, or replay of an “old friend.” He was an exquisite writer of prose, published rightfully so, deep of thought. I drink a local Porter in his honor, and envelop myself in the sweet succulent virtue of Adele’s melodic interludes. Dear god, this is good. Saturated depth, which would make Rembrandt jealous, the Pro provides that velvet tubeness, which oozes through every tender note of her voice. Simple in support, the piano plants the foundation, and Adele flowers the song, as it should be. A thorough drowning of hue, note & tone; sweet & sorrow; rich and forlorn. Vibrant & colorful, I stop to take another sift of drink. I am thoroughly enthralled with how this song is presented.



    It is often said, that if a song can move our soul, move our desire to provide the best we can, then the song is perfect. I prefect that this song is indeed faultless for my needs as of this instant in the cosmos. Supple bass through her voice, fulfilled and complimented oh so well by the piano. A song, which needs no more, but makes you desire more. A song, which the iCAN presents respectfully, highlighting her sensuous voice of deep, rich and melodious tone. Thorough in presentation, and complimented by her “duet” part, the song indeed is perfect through this mix. I shed a tear, lift my Porter skyward for that dear friend, and do my best to emulate his wonderful prose of writing. I feel, that I fail in that regard, but must continue writing. It is to be, and I will.


    [​IMG]


    Sound deeper:



    A love affair can be sudden. It can also be long of build. It can blossom from the go, or be subtle of that build. I would say my affair with iFi was of the former. Fortunate I was to be on the iFi Micro iDSD Black Label tour; I was thrown over a cliff at what the BL could do (much the way those of Chord UK love are…). So much so, that my comparison stack consists of the BL, the iTube2 (after I started that tour, honored I was), and the excellent iDAC2. Roughly half the price of the Pro, this is now my basis of comparison for all. The stack held up well to the excellent Chord Hugo2, at roughly 1/3 the price. A comparison you will have to read, and view elsewhere. Needless to say (but I do anyway…), the trio will be used again for comparison, and I am glad.



    At roughly half the price of the Pro, the comparison may be more valid. Should one splurge double the cost for the excellent iCAN? Well, for that my hope is that I have outlaid a proper response. If one wants an all-in-one, then the iFi Pro iCAN should be on your short list. If you are frugal of means, or want of piecing together, you may have to go a different route and still be 85% satisfied.

    [​IMG]

    As with the latest iterations of iFi products, the Pro iCAN has both XBass and 3D technology. From my first interlude on the BL with both, I was impressed at how the tech could change the sound. Not an equalizer, but worthy of inclusion in that argument, XBass & 3D provide listener “tunable” aspects to aid an otherwise excellent sound. Crave more bass in a song? Move the toggle to the right. Prefer a more “expansive” floor standing speaker sound? Again move the 3D all the way to the right. There is a difference to all, and gives one the ability to tailor each song to your contentment.



    As stated above, I am more one to set the toggles and switches, and simply listen. That said, given the ability to fine tune, one would be silly not to try. Using the above Adele songs as the test bed, when moving the 3D to floor-standing speaker equivalent on the scale I was stunned. Stunned at how the already excellent depth of the song was given MORE. A most definitive width of stage was added, and it was good. Too often when the “bells and whistles” are added and played with, they are either gimmicky, or unfounded in their ability. Happily what iFi does with their two-standout technologies is not gimmick. It works to these tired old ears.



    The XBass does work a bit differently than other iFi products, though. Instead of a 9dB or 12/18dB (product dependent), the Pro uses different frequencies. Coming in at 10Hz, 20Hz & 40Hz, the “added bass” works differently than a simple loudness or the other iFi XBass switches mentioned. Targeting a specific frequency, the 10Hz gain is for headphones/loudspeakers missing only the very lowest bass (below 40Hz). The 20Hz is for bass missing below 80Hz, and the 40Hz is for those missing “substantial bass” & some mid-bass below 160Hz.



    To me, a “thinning” of sound ensued when the switch moved towards the lower frequency settings. When switched off completely, the mids moved forward almost overpowering the sound signature. Almost. Maybe “truer representation” would be a better response. Regardless, I found happiness in all of the settings, leaving the switch mostly at the 40Hz setting with my Martian’s, and off or 20Hz with my Grado GH-2’s. A maximum of 12dB was added, and I assume at the 40Hz level, as I could “feel” that the most. Unscientific, I know, but the added bass could be heard most at this level. Conversely, I kept the bass switched all the way to 40 Hz with the Maestro V2, and I liked it. An added boost of the bass pretty much made the already wonderful Maestro sound near perfect to me.



    As for the 3D, the settings are “similar” to the other iFi units, in that there is a definite widening of stage. Other than that, the settings are unique to the iFi iCAN lineup. With settings running from 30, 60 & 90 degree setups, one can mimic narrow placement of speakers such as outside a computer to a full-on room setup with floor standing speakers. This last set can also be used to enhance recordings, which lack “spaciousness.” The 60-degree setup would be similar to bookshelf speakers, which can sound quite good in and of themselves.

    [​IMG]

    I ran either 60-degree or 90-degree settings for all headphones involved.



    Comparing the Pro iCAN to the Hugo2 may not seem like a fair comparison, but since I was fresh off the H2 tour, valid in my mind. Garnering numerous design awards for 2017, the H2 is stunning. Getting the connections right, one could very easily be set for a long time in the “portable” audio world. With numerous filter settings, boosts and the ability for a multitude of hook ups, versatile would be an insult. With the sound to back it up, I rarely passed the mid-range on the volume “color wheel.” I did like how when one gets used to the colors, you could easily decipher what settings you were on, and it does make logical sense. If you are across the room, you only need look at the colors to know what adjustments you have made. A novel idea, and done mostly well. And logically laid out, too. Following the color spectrum from cold to hot, you only need know your colors (such as the rainbow…) to decode what levels you set. An interesting concept done well, once you understand.



    Here is where the Pro iCAN falls behind the H2…other than the volume pot and the input switch, you must be fairly close to understand the settings. Not a bad thing mind you, but just like those who want every conceivable option in their CUV, many here would want the ability to read all of the knobs/settings. The Luddite in me says who gives a crap, and leaves it alone. Also, the 3D knob is too close to the volume pot on the iCAN, even for these skinny digits on your humble narrator. But, I’m not sure what could be done to alleviate that…

    [​IMG]

    As I mention in my H2 review, the Hugo has superb detail retrieval. No muss, no fuss as to where and what the instruments are to sound like. Placed where they should be, the detail amazes me no matter the setting. The iCAN falls a bit behind here, but not enough to worry. I found that the Pro is more listening device of choice dependent than the H2. Moving from my Martians to the Maestro, opened up the iCAN the way it should. Wide sound stage, excellent depth, solid but not bloated bass, as well as detail of the same range as the H2. The GH-2’s were portrayed the same way, with excellent depth as well. Make the iFi more IEM/headphone dependent, and you can hopefully understand the differences. Not unpleasurable mind you, but not as forgiving as the H2. One would expect this most likely for a device costing roughly 50% more…



    That said, when you throw the iDAC2 into the mix, between source & the iCAN to take advantage of it’s excellent DAC capabilities, you end up with something very close to the Hugo2’s price; and a sound, which is quite close. In fact, when using the two together, I prefer the iFi set up. I just do. It’s hard to explain, but just the way I prefer the Shanling “house sound” to their DAP’s, I prefer the iFi sound to others. And as said above, for ½ the price I have a very good set up, in which I am happy. Choosing only one, between the H2 & Pro; I would lean towards the Hugo2. I like what iFi does to the sound very much. I respect what Chord has done for the sound. When it comes down to it, I prefer like to respect in what I listen to...



    Compared to the stack, the Pro wins all the way around. Better control, less fiddling to achieve that “perfect sound, “ in which you strive, the Pro just works. The stack is like that old steam machine you see in movies, where the Scientist is constantly fiddling with knobs, buttons and pull levers to achieve maximum “velocity.” The Luddite in me screams, ENOUGH! Just play! But the techno-Scientist in me cherishes the adjustability…a conundrum indeed. With the iDAC2 along supporting the Pro, it is a sound, which could satisfy for a good long while…



    [​IMG]



    Finale:



    [​IMG]



    From my first indoctrination with the iFi DSD Micro Black Label, I have been smitten. My first foray into the netherworlds of “mid-fi,” I have consequently pathed to high priced and “better” items. One need only look at my review of the wondrous ampsandsounds Kenzie or Focal Elear (luckily together) to understand how far I have journeyed. And the last two in my review stable, the Hugo2 and this one iCAN have allowed me to passion further up into the “high-fi” range. But I still harken back to the BL, thinking how it threw me over the cliff, and I protected it, lest we all lose the privilege of such fine wires and circuit boards. Much stays the same with the iCAN, and I am glad. Glad that Lawrance allowed me this extended visit with such a fine piece. One, which I do say can indeed go toe to toe with the vaunted Hugo2, in my humble opinion. The H2 certainly gets all of the accords, while the Pro simply sits by waiting for that next person who wants something a bit different. With a bit of a different approach, and does it well. A stop in that shop, which looks dusty and deserted if one simply walks by, but if one takes a closer look, you see history. You see the old dusty forgotten turntables on the shelves, or the vintage tube amps from days gone by. And you are piqued with interest. Interest you dare not ignore, such, as you would listen to your inner voice. Because to do so, would be what the mainstream does. And in that own right, if that is what makes them happy, that is all right, too. But you stop knowing there is something special in that “shop,” so you enter. An Australian Shepherd of unknown aged sleepily raises her head and looks up at you, smiles (which they indeed do, incredible dogs, they are…) and goes back to sleep, while her owner states, “You have come to the right place, please sit down and join me in a single-malt while we audition.” And you do, knowing you have made the right choice, with Duke Ellington sounding in the background.



    [​IMG]



    As Tom Petty so fervently stated, I Won’t Back Down, and neither will the Pro iCAN. It takes your challenge and throws it into the wind, to watch the ensuing wonderful show of music on the wind, such as the flowing plastic bag scene in American Beauty. I don’t care if that was a scene, which was staged or made up for the film. To me, it was the most beautiful scene and dialogue of the entire movie (which was simply superb anyway). The artist would be the iFi Pro iCAN, and the bag being strewn about so eloquently the music thrown, and for that I am grateful for iFi and the passion in which they provide their wares. I am so very grateful, that I have found a company as passionate as I in what I listen to…and one, which would be humbled if you were to part with some of your daily wage to make your life better.



    As you Learn To Fly, one becomes enamored and respectful of all that the Pro can do…after all it IS the iCAN. And can do, might as well be the motto.

    [​IMG]
  8. Hisoundfi
    iCAN be one of the most versatile amplifiers on the planet! The iFi Pro iCAN amplifier
    Written by Hisoundfi
    Published Apr 25, 2017
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Drives every earphone under the sun (including electrostatics when the ESL adapter is launched), Options of Tubes or Solid State, Lots of extras
    Cons - Remote is cheap and functions poorly, Delays when switching from solid state to tube mode, High price tag & still needs a DAC to maximize performance
    20170424_222235.jpg
    At the time this review was written, the iFi Pro iCan was listed for sale on Amazon’s website. Here are some links for purchase and information:
     
    https://www.amazon.com/iCAN-Professional-Studio-Grade-Headphone-Amplifier/dp/B01GO98QSS/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1491958089&sr=8-4&keywords=ifi+ican
     
    Introduction
    Are you looking for the ideal headphone amplifier? What are your requirements?
     
    The answers to these two questions varies, sometimes significantly depending on the person asked. The simple fact that we as audio enthusiasts have to be specific in our answer tells me that there’s room for improvement in one particular area, VERSATILITY. That’s where the Pro iCan steps in.
     
    There are arguments about amps that carry on in audiophile circles…
     
    “Is balanced worth the leap in price?”
     
    “Solid state or Tubes?”
     
    “High impedance and power hungry cans or low impedance portable gear with sensitive in-ear monitors?”
     
    ...as well as many others.
     
    The truth is that there’s no wrong answer. As our gear and preferences evolve and change, so too does our demands and opinions of what’s ideal. What is agreed upon is the fact that we want to get the biggest return on the dollars we spend.
     
    What if I told you that the answers to just about every single listening preference were answered in one amplifier? The folks at iFi have been listening, and the result is the Pro iCan. I said iCAN, not iCAN’T!
     
    Let’s take a look at the amplifier that is versatile enough to eliminate specific preferences and go over it with a meat and potatoes review, shall we?
     
    Disclaimer
    The Pro iCan was borrowed from iFi in exchanged for a comprehensive review. I would like to thank my good friend Lawrence for the opportunity to spend some time with the unit and share my experience with the iFi community.
     
    Review
    20170425_010340.jpg
    The Pro iCan comes in a white sleeved box about the size of the average men's shoebox. A nice photo of the front of the unit is featured along with a brief description. The back of the box displays a photo of the rear portion of the device along with some key features.
     
    20170425_010358.jpg
    Removing the sleeve I’m greeted to a simple white box with the iFi logo.
     
    Specifications and Accessories
     
    Specifications    
    Gain: 0dB, 9dB and 18dB user-selectable
    Frequency Response: 0.5Hz to 500kHz(-3dB)
    Total Harmonic Distortion (by output setting):    
    Solid-State:    Balanced: ≤0.0015%        Single Ended: ≤0.005%
    Tube:        Balanced: ≤0.002%        Single Ended: ≤0.005%
    Tube+:        Balanced: ≤0.012%        Single Ended: ≤0.2%
    Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR, Balanced/Single-Ended): >147dB(A) / > 137dB(A)
    Output Power (16Ω, Balanced/Single-Ended): >14,000mW / >4,800mW
    Output Voltage (600Ω, Balanced/Single-Ended): >23V / >11.5V
    Input Voltage (Pro iCAN): DC 9V/6.7A – 18V/3.35A
    Input Voltage (iPower Plus):    AC 85 – 265V, 50/60Hz
    Power Consumption: ≤ 22W idle, 50W max.
    Dimensions: 213(l) x 192.5(w) x 63.3(h) mm
    Weight:1.93kg (4.3lbs)
     
    Accessories
    1X Pro iCan
    1X Power Supply (15 volt, 4 amp)
    1X Wireless Remote
    1X Pair RCA jacks
     
    Design, Build, Functionality
    20170424_221844.jpg
    The Pro iCan is an all metal chassis. For a desktop amplifier it’s on the smaller side. The size is comparable to the likes of the Schiit Jotunheim or Asgard. For its size, the iCan Pro is fairly heavy.
     
    20170424_222026.jpg
    I paired the Pro iCan with its older sibling, the micro iDSD. I ran line out in preamplification mode from the iDSD (used the iDSD as my DAC). Hooking the Pro iCan up was simple. Power adapter and two RCAs is all it took. As if I had to mention, the iDSD did a great job and paired well with the iCan Pro.
     
    20170424_222437.jpg
    Looking at the back of the unit, there’s multiple inputs and outputs. The Pro iCan has left and right three pin XLR balanced inputs and THREE sets of unbalanced RCA inputs. For preamp output purposes, the unit has left and right three pin XLR balanced outputs as well as a set of unbalanced RCAs. Also located on the back is the power adapter input, a DC loop output, and a ESL link (special connection for a special iFi electrostatic add-on, not yet released).
     
    20170424_222235.jpg
    Taking a look at the front, there’s a TON of stuff to go over (I will cover the front of the unit from left to right).
     
    20170424_221958.jpg
    Top left we have a iFi Pro indicator light. Depending on what internal amplifier you’re using, the light will change color. The unit’s power button is discretely located on the lower left part of the front. A large dial is also located on the left side. This dial allows users to choose between the three analog RCA inputs and the dual three pin XLR balanced input. To the right of the input selector dial, there is an XBass selector dial. XBass options range from off, to a 12dB boost at 10Hz, 20Hz, or 40Hz. The XBass is definitely a useful tool that adds depth and lower frequency to leaner headphones, or gets the bass bumping when called upon. The boost is powerful, controlled and tastefully done from what I’ve heard. To my ears, each setting adds a noticeable emphasis that can give even the leanest headphones a nice amount of added oomph. Underneath the XBAss dial, a small metal three way lever switch can be found. This is the amplifier selector switch. I can choose to go from solid state, to tubes (with class A amplification), to a tube+ setting (even more “tube-ish” sounding).
     
     
    20170424_222200.jpg
    The middle portion of the amplifier has several output jacks. Let's use the next to paragraphs to explain single ended and balanced modes. 
     
    Outputs- Single Ended
    In the middle of the device, there are up to FIVE OUTPUTS THAT CAN ALL BE USED SIMULTANEOUSLY (in single ended operation). With single ended operation there are two ¼ inch output options, a four pin XLR balanced output, and two single ended 3.5mm outputs that are wired with IEMatch technology. Simplified, the two 3.5mm outputs are ideal with more sensitive earphones (like IEMs, and sensitive low impedance headphones). I find this many output options to be a very useful tool for someone like myself who does multiple comparisons, writes reviews and goes to shows. The amount of outputs the Pro iCan has is fantastic, and what I consider to be one of the device’s biggest strengths.  
     
    Outputs- Balanced
    If you use the balanced input, the outputs change to balanced as well. Instead of having five different single ended stereo outputs (in unbalanced mode), the Pro iCan outputs change to three different balanced signals. Options are dual three-pin XLR (or dual ¼ inch outputs) which split the signal into left and right channels. The four pin XLR runs in balanced. The two 3.5mm outputs split the left and right signals as well. When using the Pro iCan in balanced mode, the output power is increased as well.
     
    20170424_221909.jpg
    On the far right a large dial is placed to control volume. The Pro iCan also comes with a small wireless battery operated remote that changes the unit’s volume. The remote is a simple two button remote to be used for volume only. There is no power or input buttons on the remote. To the right of the outputs another smaller dial can be found. This is the 3D switch. To my ears this is an “awesomifier” for warm headphones and headphones that seem to struggle in terms of soundstage and imaging. Here’s iFi’s definition of this technology:
     
    “The 3D Holographic for Headphones is not based on a standard cross-feed system, as found in some High-End headphone amplifiers. Many so called ‘3D systems’ are usually DSP based that artificially affect the sound and add unwanted reverb in order to simulate a ‘spacious‘ type of sound. It’s true that traditional cross-feed tends to produce an ‘out of head’ sound, but with much diminished spatial components and a narrower soundstage, sometimes almost approaching mono. Most DSP based 3D designs produce an unnatural, echo-like sound, which may initially be impressive, but soon becomes tiring. By contrast, 3D Holographic for Headphones, provides not only ‘out of head’ placement of the sound sources, but renders the whole 3D sound field in a manner that strongly parallels listening to loudspeakers in a normal room, all achieved without the added reverb. This is the first system in commercial production to achieve this.”
     
    Underneath the 3D dial is another three way lever switch. This controls the amplifiers gain. There are three gain settings (0, +9dB, +18dB). Just a heads up, the gain settings increase the sound output quite a bit, and the Pro iCan gets insanely LOUD. How loud you ask? It’s capable of putting out up to 14,000mW. This device is literally is capable of pushing any headphone on earth including Electrostatics (with the electrostat add-on component, not yet released). In the same breath it can drive the world’s most sensitive IEMs with minimal to no background hiss (via the 3.5mm outputs).
     
    Sound
    20170424_223504.jpg
    Do you want the lean and clinical sound of a TOTL solid state amplifier? CHECK (solid state amp setting)
     
    Do you want the best of both worlds with a class A tube amplifier? CHECK (Tube amp setting)
     
    Do you want a warm expansive sound of a creamy tube amp sound? CHECK (Tube+ setting)
     
    Do you want to use all three of these amp variations with anything from sensitive in-ear monitors to power hungry full sized headphones (and eventually electrostats)? No problem!
     
    This amp is absolutely fabulous. Don’t get me wrong, this thing isn’t going to slay every summit-fi full sized headphone amp that exists. In some cases there are going to be elite headphone amps that have higher quality internals and perform better with full sized (primarily power hungry) headphones. Just the same, I’ve heard some multi-thousand dollar tube amps that will outperform the Pro iCan’s tube amp setting as well (as well as provide a larger panel for tube rolling). HOWEVER, these higher priced models don’t come close to the Pro iCan in terms of VERSATILITY. It’s really hard to ask for more considering the fact that this thing is under two grand and can push every earphone on the planet.
     
    Because of the various settings and MULTIPLE amplifiers packed into the Pro iCan, I can’t give the unit a definitive sound signature. This device has multiple sounds once you factor in the various amplifiers and adjustable bass and 3D settings.
     
    There are some basic observations I made when using the device. I found that neutral and semi open headphones sounded better with the amp in the “Tube” or “Tube+” setting. I found myself using the “Tube+” setting in combination with the Xbass setting on headphones like the Sennheiser HD600 and Philips SHP9500. I was able to really dial it in for my preference using the amp with this setting and added luxury of the Xbass dial.
     
    Just the opposite, I enjoyed pairing the iCan Pro in solid state setting with warmer, bassier and closed full sized cans. Using the 3D dial seemed to add air and improve imaging with headphones like the ZMF Atticus, Meze 99 Neo and NAD Viso HP30.
     
    Using the iCan Pro with in-ear monitors was a great solution for desktop use. I had fun using all the settings the amplifier had when using it with IEMs. Truth be told, not many amps are made to work with IEMs and as a result there is a fairly large amount of background noise and hiss. Not only did the iCan Pro avoid this phenomenon, it also gave me the luxury of dabbling with amplifier and sound settings like no other amplifier can. The single ended 3.5mm jacks are equipped with iFi's IEMatch technology found in the micro iDSD, making these outputs ideal for sensitive earphones.
     
    Conclusion
    20170424_221848.jpg
    Factor in price and I can guarantee sound of the iCan in every amp setting will give everything in its range a run for its money. I still love my micro iDSD and think it’s one of the better devices out there, but the iCan Pro’s amplifier section destroys whatever amplifier is under the hood of the iDSD.
     
    The iCan’s biggest competition is the fact that there are amps in the five hundred to one thousand dollar range that will give it a run for it’s money if we’re talking about performance (based on preference) with one type of amp or the other (solid state or tube, but NOT both). The Brands and offerings that come to mind are Cavalli, Violectric, Woo Audio, Aune, and Schiit. At the same time, that’s the beauty of the iCan Pro. You don’t have to settle for one amp or have to buy multiple desktop amplifiers, you have them all in one!
     
    Each amplifier setting flirts with or achieves excellent to TOTL fidelity.  You want the clinical and balanced sound of a high end solid state amplifier? Flip a switch… You want the warm and expansive sound of a tube amplifier? Flip a switch…You want more bass? Turn a dial… You want a more spacious sound from your headphones? Turn a dial… You want to listen to your 400 ohm planars? There’s a jack for that… You want to listen to your highly sensitive multi driver in-ear monitors? There’s a jack for that… It goes on and on and on…
     
    While the Pro iCan doesn’t rule the headphone world at any one thing in particular, the amp's fantastic performance and versatility makes it an epic piece of gear. Ifi has pretty much “cracked the code” and made what I would consider the most versatile headphone amp on the market today. It has an output and setting ideal for any headphone you have. As long as you have a decent DAC to feed it music files (which is an added cost you must consider to maximize the Pro iCan performance), the Pro iCan has the amplifier part down to a sweet science. Much of the magic that was used in the micro IDSD has been utilized with the Pro iCan, and they've also added a phenomenal amplifier section with loads and loads of power.
     
    The iCan Pro is several amplifiers in one chasis. Owners can use the device with every pair of earphones they have. This provides tremendous value to those who want an all in one amplifier solution.
     
    20170424_222319.jpg
    Thanks for reading and happy listening!
      ngoshawk, hqssui and B9Scrambler like this.
  9. Trogdor
    One of the best headphone amps on the market today.
    Written by Trogdor
    Published Feb 9, 2017
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Reference clean sound, unbelievable I/O flexibility, unique and rewarding 3D holographic system, luscious tube mode
    Cons - XBass knob should be used with extreme caution, no tube rolling fun

    Introduction


    As I sure many of you are already acutely aware of, we're big fans of iFi Audio. You see unlike a lot of vendors who treat their circuit designs as if they were highly classified secrets, iFi is very open and honest about all of their products. In fact, iFi is one of the few companies I know of that even freely shares high-resolution pictures of every circuit board they fabricate. Couple that with the fact that these Brits are very community focused, vetting feature and collecting feedback constantly, makes iFi, at least to our ears, one of the defacto leaders in the low- to mid-tier marketplace.

    So when iFi announced their "Pro" line, aimed squarely at the high-end market, I was stoked. I already use their now well respected micro iDSD ($499) on a daily basis, which I still maintain is one of, if not the best sounding headphone amp/DAC combos you can buy at its price point. But despite my affinity for the micro iDSD, I'm quite aware of its limitations too.

    First off, the micro iDSD is without question a "jack of all trades" type of device than a truly dedicated component, and as such, comes with all the benefits and limitations that entails - no balanced outputs, only one input, solid-state only, etc. Secondly, I've always felt the micro iDSD is more DAC than amp, with the overwhelming majority of its feature set focused on accommodating headphones with a vast array of juicing requirements than outright performance. Finally, and most importantly, iFi can only squeeze so much performance out of a device that isn't exactly desktop sized and designed for portable use. Put simply, there is room for improvement (literally).

    But going "Pro" also means having a pro price tag as well, with iFi's first offering in this line, the Pro iCAN headphone amplifier, clocking in at a hair under $1700. Not outrageous in the high-end headphone amplifier market by any means, but certainly a price tag that puts it squarely in the prosumer market nevertheless. So with all of that in mind, is the new Pro iCAN all go or just for show? Read on and find out.

    Living A Truly Balanced Life


    I think given all the features the Pro has, the most important one bar none is that it is a fully balanced design. What that means in a nutshell is that from end-to-end this amplifier has two discrete channels, one for the left and the other for the right that the signal propagates through. Why is this so important? Because many manufactures claim that they have a balanced design when in reality it is "balanced" in name only, with just the output stage splitting the single-ended signal into two outputs. And thus won't reap the full rewards of a truly balanced design, which includes higher dynamic range and lower overall THD and cross talk.

    [​IMG]

    The Pro is what iFi likes to dub as "True Differential Balanced" which is a very fancy way of saying that both the left and right channels go through discrete circuit sections. That also means double the parts since each chain has to go through their own input and output stages during amplification while keeping both channels matched. To that end, iFi has designed their own special potentiometer that is built custom by ALPS Japan exclusively for the Pro. It features 6-tracks with two sets of two tracks each to control the left and right channels respectively, and the last two tracks used to monitor volume operation. In English, when you turn the volume knob on the Pro, you are changing the volume of both channels simultaneously while keeping each channel in sync so one side doesn't sound louder or softer than the other. Again, a mark of a truly balanced design. It's also motorized too so you can use it with the included IR based remote as well. Slick.

    The Eye of Sauron


    [​IMG]

    If you wanted to live the valve life and still stick with iFi, then your only option was the micro iTube. However, with the Pro, iFi gives you a choice, with the ability to in real-time switch back and forth between the valve and solid-state input stages. Historically, hybrid amplifier designs would usually tack on a tube output stage on top of a solid-state one as an added effect. With the Pro, both the solid-state and tube-side are completely separated from each other and once switched over, the signal path continues to maintain the shortest route to the output stage through each. Nice.

    The tube of choice as you can see is the venerable and well regarded General Electric NOS 5670, and the Pro ships with two of them (again, balanced). This is a premium version of the 6922 with a slightly different pin-out. With the Pro, you actually get two different tube playback modes, Tube and Tube+. The difference between the two is that in Tube+ mode the signal has less overall loop-gain because the J-FET circuitry is switched out for all-valve operation and thus sounds more "tubey" compared its non-plus counterpart, which tries to balance preserving the 5670's natural harmonics with transient response.

    On the solid-state side of things, the Pro offers a fully discrete MOSFET-buffered bipolar Class A output stage. The circuit is also purely DC coupled with no coupling capacitors insight. For very sensitive IEMs and low impedance headphones, the Pro operates in Class AB mode.

    Yes iCAN!


    [​IMG]

    Speaking of power, the Pro's output is insane. You have three gain stages, 0db, 9db, and 18db respectively. In 20V balanced-mode, it can output the equivalent of 100W into 4 ohm speakers! In fact, the Pro is so powerful that iFi had to put protection circuitry in it. Don't worry though, the added circuit is not in the audio path but rather implemented in the power supply. Basically, this circuitry allows short term, unrestricted peaks but will progressively limit the available current when the amp reaches a certain operating temperature or starts to clip. If the amp does find itself in this mode, it will continually step back the flow of electrons until it completely shuts off to avoid damage. With all that said, be very careful with this amplifier if you are using multiple headphones with vastly different amperage requirements, since very bad things can happen if you use the wrong gain stage or turn the dial too high, especially if you are in balanced mode.

    [​IMG]

    Again, sticking with the theme of choice, the Pro offers an insane level of I/O flexibility. You have have several balanced and single-ended inputs and outputs to choose from. The large left knob can select from three singled inputs and one balanced one on the back. You even have one 3.5mm TRRS jack if you happen to own an IEM and want to run them in balanced mode. The two 6.3mm jacks can also run in balanced mode too, which is why you see an "L" and "R" above them. The manual states for single-ended headphones you should use the "R" jack which is what I used when I wasn't in balanced mode.

    Finishing Touches


    In addition to supporting highly sensitive IEMs, the Pro also inherits iFi's XBass Bass Correction System and 3D Holographic technologies too. Both are implemented as purely analogy circuitry, with XBass boosting bass 12db at 10Hz, 20Hz, and 40Hz respectively. This is a great feature if you have very bass light cans or are a self-proclaimed bass head. Otherwise I'm going to be the first one to say to you to should never ever have to touch that dial. Never.

    On the other hand, the 3D Holographic system they've implemented in the Pro is fantastic and can single-handily make hypercompressed music sound a lot more alive. Take note, this isn't your typical Bauer crossfeed circuit which I find unbelievably annoying. Rather, iFi has developed their own proprietary matrix that can translate a spacious stereophonic recording with good imaging when replayed on speakers into its equivalent when listening to headphones. I'll have more to say about this knob below.

    The general fit and finish of the Pro just screams "pro" too, from the golden ratio variable thickness chassis to its nylon based quad damped isolation base mount. I also appreciate its overall size too, which can easily fit on any desktop. When its co-conspirator is released in the next couple of months, the Pro iDSD, iFi plans to make a rack that will accommodate both. Sweetness.

    The Miracle Knob


    [​IMG]

    I thought the best comparison would be to actually compare the micro iDSD with the Pro. That way both chains are using the same DAC and I can simply plug headphones in and out under the same approximate volume level to get a sense of what another $1100 buys you. I used a pair of Focal Utopia ($3999) and Audeze LCD-4 ($3999) for the overwhelming majority of this review.



    LORN's Arrayed Claws is just a phenomenal record and definitively an early contender for AOTY. What really sets this album apart from your prototypical black metal offering is this hypnotic, almost trance like quality to it. Couple all that with the fact that occasionally the album goes all Random Access Memories on you in a few spots, makes for a riveting yet unique listening experience to say the least.

    Right out the gate, the main sonic difference between the iDSD and Pro is refinement - bass sounds deeper and more controlled, the midrange blossoms with all of Claws' distortion and reverb on full display, and the treble is crip and clean. In fact, I've read a few impressions where the reviewer found the Pro somewhat clinical and I do hear that given the Pro's level of cleanliness. But I'd argue that at least in solid-state mode, neutral would be a better description as I found the amp just let the Utopia do its thing. I can't say the same thing with the iDSD, which compresses the Utopias' already middle-of-the-road soundstage.

    However, if the stock solid-state sound just isn't doing it for you, no problem. Flip the Pro into Tube+ mode, wait for the light to turn orange, and bathe in all that tube glory. I found Tube mode isn't really much to speak of, since the differences between it and solid-state is in the noise. But in Tube+, the Pro just sounds so luxurious, with a nice sheen of second harmonic goodness felt throughout that really livens things up considerably. In fact after deciding that the iDSD's amp stage was really no match for the Pro, I did most of my listening in Tube+ since I think it sounds a lot more musical with majority of my favorite metal recordings.

    One thing that I also took me by surprise was just how much more spacious everything sounded. Which brings me to that 3D holographic knob on the right. As I stated above, iFi's 3D system is not just a simple crossfeed circuit, but their own proprietary design. And after playing with it for several weeks it is now what I like to call the "miracle knob." Turning the "miracle knob" to the 90 degree mark, which simulates a wide loudspeaker placement, felt like it added back a few points of dynamic range to Claws instantly (and this isn't even that compressed by DR standards). In fact, I was so impressed on how it transformed the sound, I thought to myself, "What could it do for Ulcerate?"



    So if you're regular around these parts, then you already know how I feel about Ulcerate's latest, Shrines of Paralysis. This is an incredible record and easily could have made my year end list if it wasn't for its abysmal DR3 mastering job. I threw the 3D knob back to the zero mark and gave Paralysis another shot figuring the Pro could liven it up a bit. Yeah, still awful. But with that knob flipped to the 90 degree mark, not bad at all. The record suddenly felt like it had more sonic depth and sounded generally less crushed overall. In fact, for the first time ever, I was able to listen to Paralysis all the way through without suffering any ear fatigue. It's a miracle! If there is one aspect of the Pro you just have to try it is this one - flip that knob over to the 90 degree mark and prepared to be amazed!



    Is it me or has Canada become the place for high-quality technical death metal these days? Must be something in the maple syrup. Anyway, Gomorrah's The Hauspex was one of the unsung tech death metal heroes of 2016 and still manages to climb its way back into my rotation every so often. For this outing with the Pro, I went with the LCD-4 and listened to Hauspex in both balanced and unbalanced mode to compare the two. Unlike the Utopia, the LCD-4 requires a lot of juice given its 200 ohm impedance. Full disclosure: I don't think balanced mode makes that much of a difference with the overwhelming majority of headphones. With that said, I thought balanced mode did improve the LCD-4 slightly, mainly in the bass department. Bass was just outright thunderous on tracks like "Sitra Achra" and "Cerulean" in balanced mode to the point that I thought I had the XBass knob turned up. I didn't. The LCD-4's bass is just incredible when driven to the fullest. And that's what balanced mode gives you. Unfortunately, my custom Utopia balanced cable was not ready in time for this review so I can't comment if there are any improvements in running the Utopia in balanced mode or not. My guess is like the LCD-4, bass extension would improve substantially since as Tyll over at Inner Fidelity reported, there is a big jump to 300 ohms at 50Hz from its nominal 85 ohm impedance. In other words, even though the Utopias are very easy to drive, they do require a lot of on-demand juice to extract every drop of performance out of them and the Pro is more than up to the task.​


    Final Thoughts


    [​IMG]

    Is the Pro a reference level component? No question. I think $1700 is actually quite a fair asking price given its sheer sonic performance and flexibility. And it certainly sounds better than all of its cheaper siblings by a wide margin. Moreover, iFi's proprietary 3D holographic system is just a godsend for the audiophile headbanger at large. I must have listened to hundreds of metal records over the course of this review, most of which were all hypercompressed, but with a simple turn of the knob, all of these recordings sounded significantly more open and dynamic. That in itself might be worth the price of admission alone.

    If I had to nitpick though, I think some of its features could have been removed to save cost. For example, having a 3.5mm output is more or less superfluous on a system like this. If you bought the Pro for your expensive IEM or CIEM, you're audiophiling all wrong! And though I'm quite aware that bassheads will love cranking up that XBass knob, it is definitely not for me. Finally, even though I think serving the 5670 as the main course every night is fine and dandy, I still prefer a la cart. Especially since the 5670 won't last forever and eventually will need to be replaced.

    Still, it's hard to argue with the Pro since it is such a joy to listen to and use. That's why I have no qualms giving it our highest honor even with its lofty price tag. The new Pro iCAN is definitely all go and no show (well, maybe a little show).

    This review was originally featured on Metal-Fi.
      Zyklonius likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. drwlf
    3. loplop
      Interesting to read a metal-head's take, thanks for posting @trogdor.

      I use the XBass on occasion, usually the 10hz setting, to fill in recordings that are light in the bass. On some classical, for instance, the bass is quite light and without reinforcing you miss some of the hall ambiance. My LCD3 can be bass shy themselves at times, so 10hz is often on for them. LCDX not as often. I have also used it on 20 or even 40 with bass-light headphones, usually fairly cheap ones like B&W p5s2 or thinksound ON2. It's a very well done implementation, IMO!

      @jeffhawke I am waiting for the iDSD Pro, also, and currently using an iDAC2 > iCAN Pro. Before I got the iDAC2 I used my iDSD BL. It's a great pair with the iCAN Pro, definitely up to the task. Really, really enjoyable listen.
      loplop, Feb 11, 2017
    4. jeffhawke
      Thanks @loplop. Any noticeable differences in terms of SQ between using the iDSD BL and the iDAC2?
      jeffhawke, Feb 11, 2017
  10. ModMax
    This Beauty is a Beast - an iFi Pro iCAN USA Tour Review
    Written by ModMax
    Published Jan 3, 2017
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Build Quality, Aesthetics, Sound Quality, Versatility, Fully Balanced, Black Background
    Cons - Tends to slide easily on desktop (minor quibble)
    INTRODUCTION

    Disclaimer:  As part of the Pro iCAN USA Tour group, iFi provided me a demo unit for a brief time in exchange for my opinion.  My thanks to iFi Audio for this unique opportunity.
     
    BUILD & SPECS

    One word for the build:  Impeccable. 
     
    Like all of the other iFi Audio products I've come across, the Pro iCAN is built with longevity in mind.  It is definitely heavier than it looks.  Upon first glance at its front and back panels, it may also come across as overwhelmingly complicated.  However, after a quick review of the user manual, all of the connectors, knobs, and switches begin to make sense and operation is fairly simple and straightforward.  It also helps that I previously owned the iFi Micro iDSD.
     
    As far as the specs go, I am always amazed at how much tech iFi is able to thoughtfully fit within their products.  For detailed specs, I won't regurgitate that information here since it is readily, and more accurately available on iFi Audio's Pro iCAN web page.  Plus, the page is well designed and provides an excellent overview of the versatility of this all-in-one.
     
    Note:  This section is where I planned to post pictures I took of the amp and accessories, however, my camera's memory card has been "misplaced".  Until I find it, the reader can enjoy the fantastic pictures taken by other reviewers of the Pro iCAN.  Honestly, some of these Head-Fi reviewers take damn nice photos!
     
    SOUND

    Headphones used for this review included Focal Elear, Mr Speakers Ether C v1.1, Focal Sphear, and Noble Savant Universal IEM Wizard Edition.  Throughout my time with the Pro iCAN, I mostly reached for the Focal Elear headphones.  Maybe it was the intimate soundstage of the Elear's, but something just seemed to "click" between this pairing.  I was also able to more easily discern the sound quality differences between the various modes of the Pro iCAN using the Elear's. 
     
    Before going on, I do want to mention that I am highly impressed with the black background conveyed by this amp while auditioning with my Focal Sphear and Noble Savant IEMs.
     
    3D/XBASS
    I only used the 3D/XBass features when watching movies with the Pro iCAN.  For music, I kept these features OFF as my preference.  Your mileage may vary, especially dependent on your source material and equipment chain which may benefit from these enhancements.  I can say they are very beneficial when watching movies making the experience much more engaging.
     
    BALANCED VS SINGLE-ENDED
    Go balanced if you can.  Bass had more punch, Mids were richer, and Treble had more sparkle.  Single-ended is no slouch here, but the balanced output just seemed to make my music more enjoyable.  I tended to get "lost" more often when listening via balanced vs single-ended.
     
    SS/TUBE/TUBE+
    To me, the audible differences between the SS and TUBE modes were notable.  However, I could not hear any notable difference between TUBE and TUBE+.  I don't know, maybe my gear (or ear) limitations are to blame.  The SS mode was the fastest of the three, as to be expected.  Its tonality reminded me of my iFi Micro iDSD, though I felt the Pro iCAN had an edge in detail and dynamics.  If you like the sound of the iFi Micro iDSD, then you will love the sound of the Pro iCAN's SS mode.  Switching from SS to TUBE/TUBE+ modes, the overall soundstage and dynamics remained the same, however, the low-end and mid-range became fuller, rounder and richer in tonality with a longer decay.  The treble, to me, remained largely unchanged.  This was a very pleasant experience with the Focal Elear headphones, especially on tracks (and on days) when the Elear's hit a little too hard and fast.  Overall, the sound quality of this amp is superb and allowed me to more easily immerse myself in the music.
     
    FINAL WORDS

    Another great product from iFi Audio that I'm sure will be a hit, especially with current or previous iFi owner's looking for an upgrade.  Given its versatility and ample power, some may consider this amp overkill for their needs.  I consider the Pro iCAN a solid choice to future-proof one's audio needs, especially given the quality and robustness of the build.  I very much enjoyed my time with the Pro iCAN and I am sure those lucky enough to own one will too.
      Fastnbulbous, bimmer100 and BarDash like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. abvolt
      Excellent I've been looking at getting this amp, Thanks..
      abvolt, Jan 6, 2017
    3. TigzStudio
      1699.00 is the retail
      TigzStudio, Jan 7, 2017
    4. BarDash
      Thanks for the review, I've had this amp for over a month now and really love it! Although it does slide around a little on the desktop, Lol.
      BarDash, Jan 9, 2017