General Information

upload_2018-10-28_17-12-34.jpeg



Inputs
Wireless ESS Sabre 44.1/48k 16-Bit (AAC and aptX)
Wired 3.5mm and 2.5mm
No USB audio input

Max Output S-Balanced > 3.8V / 45 mW (@ 300 Ohm)
> 3.5V / 380 mW (@ 32 Ohm)
> 3.1V / 600 mW (@ 16 Ohm

Balanced > 7.6V / 90 mW (@ 600 Ohm)
> 7.2V / 800 mW (@ 64 Ohm)
> 5.7V / 1,000 mW (@ 32 Ohm)

THD & N S-Balanced < 0.005% (@ 100 mW/1.26V 16 Ohm)
Balanced < 0.006% (@ 360 mW/2.4V 16 Ohm)

SNR S-Balanced > 121dBA (@ 3.8V)
Balanced >120dBA (@ 7.6V)

Recommended HP Impedance 16~600 Ohm

Max. Input S-Balanced 3V RMS
Balanced 6V RMS

Gain -95dB to +18dB adjustable in 114 1dB steps (using volume control)

Frequency Response < 2Hz – > 200kHz (-3dB)

Playback Time > 8 hours (charging via USB port)
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Latest reviews

joaojp1

New Head-Fier
iFi Audio xCAN
Pros: Great Sound Quality
Bluetooth in a portable amp sign me in!
1000mW of power per channel in a small portable chasis
Cons: The same horrible surface finish as the xDSD
Disclaimer: This unit as send to me by iFi UK however, all the thoughts shared in this review are my own and reflect my honest opinion about this product.


A special thanks to Karina and Alberto from Smart Audio (Lisbon, Portugal) for this review sample.

I am new to the head-fi world and I have only recently started to appreciate the intricacies of the high-resolution audio, so don’t expected this to be a technical review It will be a review that will address the major features of the product from the consumer point of view specifying its usefulness or not.

I already reviewed two iFi products before this review, which are the the Nano iDSD Black Label and the xDSD.





While remarkably similar in design the use case scenarios behind the xDSD and the xCAN are different. The xDSD is supposed to work as an DAC/Amp solution fo people on the go or as a standalone dac/amp. Connecting to your devices wired or wireless with the same amazing sound quality.

The iFi xCAN on the other hand is simply a portable headphone amplifier. If you have a DAP with a good chip but you need more juice to drive your headphone, the iFi xCAN was made for you.

Packaging and accessories
xCan-Lifestyle-4.jpg


The product once again comes well packaged in his traditional white box enclosed in a cardboard sheath, the device rests in a cut out and in front of it is a little white box containing the included accessories (iFi bag to carry the device, a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable for SE, and a 2.5mm to 2.5mm cable for balanced connection and an usb c cable for charging). Thank god usb c it’s starting to appear in everything it’s so much better than micro b. This unit still doesn’t have any buttons, like next track or pause to use while connected to your phone or smart tv over Bluetooth.

Build Quality

The device as the same build quality as the xDSD so it feels as robust, unfortunately the surface finish is the same also, so it still smudges very easily and 5 minutes after you take it out of the box its already full of fingerprints and looking like you didn’t clean it for an entire year.

In the bottom it was the same four silicone feet that prevent it from sliding or scratching your smartphone.

Features

xCan-header-818.jpg


On the volume wheel the functions remain unchanged, it changes colors while you rise the volume, acts as the power on/off switch and is responsible for selecting the input type. The wheel still does not sit flush with the chassis, but this time i was prepared and I managed to not scratch any device of mine 😊. On the right side of the volume wheel, you have your settings/Bluetooth button which configures the Bluetooth functionality now with aptx low latency (AAC and aptx, still lacking LDAC support) (Pairs up to 8 devices), and changes between the 3d or xbass filters when pressed. On the left you have your 2.5mm for balanced and 3.5mm for single ended connections, it can deliver a maximum of 1000mW of power per channel, which is no joke.

On the back side from left to right you have your 5v power input via usb c, the XBass II switch with 3 mods, Bass, Presence and Bass+Presence and the two inputs 3.5mm SE and 2.5mm BAL respectively.
xcan-back-1024x521.jpg


When working wireless, the xCAN uses its own Bluetooth dac (not available to wired connections) not the devices signal which is especially important in order to maintain its sound quality.

Sound

iFi usually does not disappoint in the sound department and this product was no exception.

The sound prowess is remarkably similar to that of the xDSD, the sound quality is amazing, and the sound is not colored in any way.

Thanks to the amazing Bluetooth chip included the sound quality over Bluetooth is as good as that achieved via wire.

Unfortunately, I do not possess the headphones/equipment to put this amplifier to its limits or to test its balanced circuit, but the listening that I realized with my Mr. Speakers AEON was pretty pleasant and the xbass filter still provides excellent results in order to get that extra punch in the bass.

Conclusion

Completely feature packed and portable, the iFi xCAN is a fantastic addition to your kit either by its amazing Bluetooth functionalities or by its amazing 1000mW of power per channel.
iFi once again repeated the same recipe for success and created a very flexible device with an amazing price to quality ratio.
Last edited:
aptquark
aptquark
Nice review. I can tell you that the 2.5 balanced connection is incredible. I find that my HD650 and T50RP's need that to get the most power to them as possible. I use it with my Cayin N5II DAP and it sounds awesome.

Dobrescu George

Reviewer: AudiophileHeaven
Pros: + Constreuction quality is top notch
+ Newer xBass II even better than older xBass
+ Excellent overall detail, dynamics and punch
+ Has Bluetooth
+ Good overall value
Cons: - Battery Life not that great if you're using hard to drive headphones / IEMs
- Smudge / fingerprints prone
- Not practical for portability if not using Bluetooth

More Powah - iFi xCan Amplifier Review



All jokes connected to the xCan name were made already, so I went with something more organic this time around... iFi xCan is an Amplifier designed by iFi, which also features a Bluetooth Module, but which requires to be fed signal from an external DAC (basically receives a Line Out Signal from another device). With a Price Point of about 300 USD, the main competitors I will be comparing it to are iFi xDSD which is priced at 400 USD, FiiO M11, which is priced at 450 USD, and xDuoo XD-10, which is priced at 250 USD.




Introduction


iFi is a well known name with the music loving crowds, be it for their creativity, friendly image, or for their sometimes crazy products, like their power strips and signal cleaners. This being said, they are known to be reliable, they fix their products, even their older ones, and they are one of the companies you should never be afraid to purchase from, and instead, one of the companies I recommend the most if you need good support.

It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with iFi, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. This review is not sponsored nor has been paid for by iFi or anyone else. I'd like to thank iFi for providing the sample for the review. This review reflects my personal experience with iFi xCan. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in iFi xCan find their next music companion.



About me


https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/p/about.html



Packaging


First things first, let's get the packaging out of the way:





I don't even know why I still write something here, since pics are usually self-explanatory, and unless the product is a flagship, I think I'll just reduce the length of the parts of the review that really aren't necessary. Well, now to judge xCan, iFi was pretty forward-thinking and included a few things with it, things which I forgot to take a photo of actually, making me a bit of a klutz.

The package includes


A carrying pouch
Velcro attachment strips
3.5 mm male-to-male AUX cable
2.5 mm male-to-male balanced AUX cable
1 Usb-C charging cable


The package is complete enough for any needs, and I don't think there's anything I could say is missing and which I would require.



What to look in when purchasing a high-end DAC/AMP


https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/p/what-to-lookl.html



Technical Specifications






Build Quality/Aesthetics/UI/Firmware


At first glance, the build quality and design, Aesthetics and everything makes it really hard to tell the new xCan apart from the xDSD, and well, that is true. They have pretty much the same chassis, and I would expect both to be plagued by the same issues, like some people reporting that xDSD is prone to fingerprints.



The new parts and the improvements over xDSD can be found in the amplification stage of the xCan, where it has quite a different approach than the bigger brother.

Now, if I was to call the issues here, the xCan actually has a DAC chip inside, but it is meant to decode only the signal from the Bluetooth receiver, basically meaning that you can't feed it digital signal, even though in theory it has the necessary parts for it. While I like the addition of bluetooth to what would otherwise be a very traditional Analogue Amplifier, I do think that adding a digital input would have been a good idea, even though it would have crossed the road into xDSD's design.

Where xDSD could deliver a 500 mW into a 16 OHM load, xCan can deliver a 600mW into a 32 OHM load, in unbalanced mode. If you dare to use the balanced output, you'll even see a full watt into a 32 OHM load, making xCan one of the strongest portables, and considerably stronger than most DAPs available today, especially those in the 300 USD - 500 USD price range.


There is a Balanced input, in case you have a source with a Balanced Line Out, so you have full Balanced Amplification stage. This being said, the availability of anything with a Balanced Line Out is really scarce at this moment.

The 3D+ and the x-Bass features from the other iFi products are also implemented in the xCan, and since I tend to use both usually, I am happy iFi still includes those, each works really well with certain headphones or IEMs. For example, with Sundara, I engage the x-Bass almost always, while with Verum One I engage the 3D+ often.

The x-Bass II thingy offers three settings, one for Bass, one for Presence and one for Bass + Presence. What those are, is basically, one gives you real bass, 80 Hz and lower, and that is the bass. The presence gives you a thicker sound, and generally enhances the 80 Hz - 250 Hz area, making the sound warmer and thicker. The Bass + Presence increases both.




The addition of a Type-C charging port is pretty nice, and the battery life of the xCan is about 18 hours on wired mode and 12 on wireless, as quoted by iFi. Those are for when using the unit at about 50% volume and with pretty power-efficient IEMs, as I would say that the 12 Hours on wireless is okay for IEMs, but when using it wired with something like Sundara, and at high volumes, you would get closer to 10 hours of battery life. I used the xCan considerably more in wired mode than in bluetooth mode, because the sound quality is considerably better with metal music, and bluetooth, although it offers APT-X, you can still hear the bluetooth compression if you know where to look, meaning that unless you need to go bluetooth, going wired will sound better.

Fun thing about its battery though, is that you can leave it always on, as a desktop AMP, and it won't degrade the battery life quite that fast because iFi imbues their products with a battery protection feature that prolongs the battery life regardless of the usage scenario.

All in all, the xCan is a feature-rich unit with tons of bells and whistles, and not exactly a typical Analogue Amplifier, but instead something a bit more interesting.



Sound Quality

The sound quality of the xCan is very similar to the xDSD, although superior and an improvement in most ways. The first thing you notice is that it is more quiet with hissy and very sensitive IEMs, and that you can describe the xCan as a pretty neutral-ish sounding AMP, with a pretty tight and punchy bottom end, a clear top end with better extension than all of the BL line DAC/AMPs, with a rich and organic midrange, and with a good amount of dynamics. For this review, I have used iBasso DX220 and X7mkii as DACs, si their Line Outs, and I have used Single Ended modes only to be able to make fair comparisons and assessments against other products that do not have a balanced mode (most of the direct competitors not having a Balanced Output).



The bass is considerably more tight and punchy than iFi Nano Black Label, for example, and although the iNano BL is more warm, the definition and punch itself, as well as the general low reach is better on the xCan. Engaging the xBass feature will slow down the bass a bit, but provides larger body and a warmer sound, meaning that you can use more bright and sparkly sounding headphones / IEMs without having to worry about a dry or too flat sound.

In the midrange you can hear an organic tilt, as the voices are slightly forward, and engaging the xBass feature only may be a poor idea, as it may dull and thicken the sound a bit much, compared to engaging both the xbass and the 3D features at the same time, which although will push the midrange in the background a bit, will contrast everything better. If you like a more mid-focused approach, engaging neither of the 3D or the xBass features is your best bet.

The treble tends to be pretty sparkly already, but if that wasn't enough, you can always engage the 3D sound thingy and you'll get a wider soundstage with a more forward treble, so a more sparkly overall sound. This is a pleasing addition to my ears, and I almost always keep both the 3D sound thingy and the XBass turned on, as a more V-shaped sound has better contrast and is more impressive, which works quite well with metal and rock music, but also with Vocaloid and J-Rock / J-Pop.

Overall, another impressive feature of xCan was that it was able to drive the HIFIMAN Arya, which is a fairly strong headphone, and did so pretty effortlessly. The dynamics were top notch, and so is the overall definition and details, making xCan a pretty strong portable, and desktop AMP.



Potable Usage


Now, here's a place where I don't think xCan is quite excellent. Most DAC/AMP units have an explanation why you'd want to take them portably, but with xCan, you need to have a pretty potent DAP to have a good DAC signal to feed it, and want to use it portably, and using an all-iFi setup portably is a pretty poor idea, since you really don't want to stack xDSD and xCan and a transport, portably.



Furthermore, the input is on the back, while the output is on the front, meaning that you need to clear both sides of the unit to pocket it. This makes xCan more transportable than a true portable AMP unit.

The bright side though, is that if you're content with the sonic quality of the Bluetooth connection, you won't have issues using xCan portably, and you can even hide it in a pocket or backpack, the bluetooth connection is rock solid, and you don't have to worry about dropped signal and such. Plus, the battery life is quite long like this as well, unless you're driving hard-to-drive headphones, which I assume most people won't do portably.



Comparisons

There are lots of products that should be compared to xDSD in terms of ability, but for today, iFi xDSD (400 USD), xDuuo XD10 Poke (250 USD), and FiiO M9 (450 USD) will be today's enemies for iFi xCan




iFi xCan vs FiiO M9 - FiiO M9 is a magical device because it has pretty much everything, including the price point to be a sweet deal. This being said, I think that compared to xCan, the xCan has WAY more driving power, more control and more punch / impact sonically. This is great actually,because you can use M9 as the DAC and strap on xCAN to it, and have a stack there, and take advantage of the best of both worlds.

iFi xCan vs iFi xDSD - I feel like this entire review has been a full on comparison between the xDSD and the xCan, but let's go over a few things again. The most important differences are that xDSD has a DAC inside and you can feed it a digital signal, the xCAN has both a balanced and unbalanced out, xCAN has way more driving power, and has the newer xBass implementation, where you can choose where the bass adds to. The xDSD is the simpler device to use, with a less intricate transport, but if you have a DAP that already has a good line-out and want just an Amplifier, or if you don't mind using bluetooth, the xCan is the better choice.

iFi xCan vs xDuoo XD10 Poke - Okay, so DX10 poke is quite a bit less expensive than xCan, but has both a DAC and an AMP in that price, and also a Bass Boost function. So why would you go with xCan? Well, one reason would be power, another reason would be bluetooth, then there's the fact that XD10 Poke can sound a bit digital-ish, where xCan will be more organic in the midrange and less bright without the bass turned on. There's also the lower noise floor which is attractive, but if you're low on cash, I can surely recommend XD10 Poke as easily now as when I initially reviewed it.



Pairing


For the pairing part of this review, I chose Campfire Atlas, Verum One, and Final Audio E5000. Makes me wonder if iFi will be planning on making IEMs or Headphones later on to be honest, but I have not written this in this review, nor do I possess knowledge about such a plan.



iFi xCan + Campfire Atlas - I can say from the start that all of the pairings are with smooth and dark-ish sounding IEMs / headphones, because I really like that xCan has that 3D feature that can bump some sparkle and life in the top end, and the fun part is that this is not even its forte, but rather the xBass is really well implemented. Even so, I spent a lot more time looking into how to make my darker and smoother stuff sound more lively. With Atlas, this isn't the case actually, and I like the xCan best at its default state without either the xBass or the 3D features turned on, just its main sound works really well with Atlas, that black background and everything making Atlas sound quite nicely.

iFi xCan + Verum One - With Verum One, I always liked how easy it was to drive, yet how well it scaled with good amplifiers and sources. xCan is no exception, and I feel that they make a great pair together, especially if you want to engage the 3D soundstage feature and give Verum One a bump to sound wider, more open and more sparkly in the top end, where it is quite smooth by default.

iFi xCan + Final E5000 - With E5000, the fact that you have enough power sure is welcome, because the E5000 eats so much power, it is crazy. Furthermore, with E5000, you have the possibility of either giving it even more bass, although I highly doubt you'd want that, but instead you can make it sound more sparkly and even wider and even more open, by engaging the 3D feature.



Value and Conclusion


It has been a lot of fun reviewing the xCan, but what about its value and price? Well, priced at 300 USD, and having a similar performance to xDSD, or rather even better on the amplifier part, and having a Bluetooth module, the xCan surely is a good purchase, good value and overall can't complain one bit about its value.



The build quality is pretty great, as long as you don't mind a few smudges and fingerprints. Furthermore, there is a new x-Bass which is even more customizable than the first, making the xCan even more versatile than the xDSD, sonically, and the 3D soundstage feature is as helpful as always. The only thing that's missing is a DAC and a digital input, but you have Bluetooth if you want to go that way, and the xCan has balanced inputs and balanced outputs, making it pretty darn great.

The sound is iFi's magical touch, with a pretty neutral-ish approach, an organic midrange, clear and punchy bass, sparkly top end, and with the x-Bass 2 and the 3D+ features, you can customise it to your liking as much as you want.



At the end of this review, if you're looking for a pretty versatile amplifier, that you can use as a desktop unit, and as a portable one as well, one that has Bluetooth and well-implemented analogue effects, like the x-Bass II and the 3D soundstage feature, and which has a fairly good battery life, good driving power, and both a Single Ended input and output, you should totally check out iFi's xCan Amplifier!



Product Link (no affiliate links)


https://ifi-audio.com/products/xcan/



Full Playlist used for this review

While we listened to considerably more songs than those named in this playlist, those are excellent for identifying certain aspects of the sound, like PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you're searching for new most, most of them being rather catchy.



Youtube Playlist


https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL_cjBXGmwSHSdGcwuc_bKbBDGHL4QvYBu



Tidal Playlist


https://listen.tidal.com/playlist/64555551-ec3c-4279-ae44-248fdfcf6c4b



Song List

Bats - Gamma Ray Burst: Second Date

Eskimo Callboy - Frances
Incubus - Summer Romance
Electric Six - Dager! High Voltage
Kishida Cult - High School Of The Dead
Dimmu Borgir - Dimmu Borgir
Breaking Benjamin - I Will Not Bow
Thousand Foot Krutch - The Flame In All Of Us
Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc.
Infected Mushroom - Song Pong
Attack Attack - Kissed A Girl
Doctor P - Bulletproof
Maximum The Hormone - Rock n Roll Chainsaw
Rob Zombie - Werewolf, Baby!
Escape The Fate - Gorgeous Nightmare
SOAD - Chop Suey
Ken Ashcorp - Absolute Territory
Machinae Supremacy - Need For Steve
Ozzy Osbourne - I Don't Wanna Stop
Crow'sclaw - Loudness War
Eminem - Rap God
Stromae - Humain À L'eau
Sonata Arctica - My Selene
Justin Timberlake - Sexy Back
Metallica - Fuel
Veil Of Maya - Unbreakable
Masa Works - Golden Japang
REOL - Luvoratorrrrry
Dope - Addiction
Korn - Word Up!
Papa Roach - ... To be Loved
Fever The Ghost - Source
Fall Out Boy - Immortals
Green Day - Know The Enemy
Mindless Self Indulgence - London Bridge
A static Lullaby - Toxic
Royal Republic - Addictive
Astronautalis - The River, The Woods
We Came As Romans - My Love
Skillet - What I Believe
Man With A Mission - Smells Like Teen Spirit
Yasuda Rei - Mirror
Mojo Juju - Must Be Desire
Falling Up - Falling In Love
Manafest - Retro Love
Rodrigo Y Grabriela - Paris
Zomboy - Lights Out
Muse - Resistance
T.A.T.U &amp; Rammstein - Mosaku
Grey Daze - Anything, Anything
Katy Perry - Who Am I Living For
Maroon 5 - Lucky Strike
Machinae Supremacy - Killer Instinct
Pendulum - Propane Nightmares
Sirenia - Lithium And A Lover
Saving Abel - Addicted
Hollywood Undead - Levitate
The Offspring - Special Delivery
Escape The Fate - Smooth
Samsara Blues Experiment - One With The Universe
Dope - Rebel Yell
Crazy Town - Butterfly
Silverstein - My Heroine
Memphis May Fire - Not Over Yet


I hope my review is helpful to you!

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Contact me!











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jeffhawke
jeffhawke
Just got myself an ex-demo, at a fantastic low price. Waiting for it to arrive and be paired to my LG V30 as portable setup.
Dobrescu George
Dobrescu George

knorris908

500+ Head-Fier
Pros: Outstanding sound from Bluetooth
Good, clean audio from amp section
Able to drive almost any portable headphones
Cons: The finish shows fingerprints
No easy way to cycle back and forward through audio tracks without phone/source device
iFi Audio xCAN Portable Headphone Amplifier
DSC_5436 small.jpg
I’ve taken longer with this review than I’ve taken with any other to date, and it’s for good reasons. (Though I’ve enjoyed the extended listening time because of it.)

But first, for those of you who just want to know if I consider it a worthy buy without caring about the “why”, then, “Yes”. I consider the xCAN to be a very worthwhile travel companion for people both commuting/traveling and those who just need a solid mid-Fi portable audio solution with an extremely reasonable footprint for the performance and features offered.

That said; I will now go into the “why”.

A couple of years ago, I reviewed the iFi micro iDSD. And that portable DAC/Amp completely surpassed what I considered possible for a portable DAC and amplifier to be capable of near-desktop-class power output! The features offered (“3D”, “XBass”, “IEMatch”, “Polarity Match”, etc..) were completely beyond anything that I had ever auditioned. So needless to say, I ran right out and immediately bought one that day.

This winter, iFi approached me to review the xCAN, which I wasn’t expecting to be surprised by after using their new xDSD, which among other things, shrinks the size of the iDSD, and adds Bluetooth connectivity. So a new headphone amplifier with Bluetooth connectivity initially left me feeling a bit underwhelmed. However, once I started to put iFi’s xCAN amplifier through its paces, I realized that I had sold their new offering woefully-short.
Simply put, the xCAN not only enables you to listen to your music while untethered but augments the convenience by providing you with the ability to listen to your music via balanced audio as well. Yes, I have other balanced audio sources and even a tiny portable ES100 from Radsone that I use regularly. But none of them can power my more demanding headphones on the road/in the air like the xCAN is able to.

Truly “portable” at only 131 grams, the xCAN provides mobile audio with a 2200mAh battery which is rated up to eight hours, (I averaged a bit over six hours as I was regularly testing it with more demanding headphones.) But the best features to me personally, are the xCAN’s balanced (2.5mm TRRS) and single-ended (3.5mm TRS) inputs and outputs.
DSC_5451 small.jpg

Traveling with your phone is great and relatively “transparent” since most people now carry their phones with them 24/7. But if you want to step-up your audio experience beyond “low bit-rate” music streaming services and MP3, then getting more power into your hi-res capable headphones than the typical smartphone can muster is a great way to do so. Enter the xCAN.

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Now, while I still LOVE my micro iDSD, calling it “portable” is a bit of a stretch. (It's better described as "travel sized".) It DOES operate on battery power, but its long, metal chassis stays in my laptop bag on the plane as there usually isn’t room for it anywhere else, and it certainly doesn’t fit in a pocket unless I’m bundled up in a coat. However, the xCAN is about half the length of my micro iDSD, and noticeably thinner as well. And thanks to its Bluetooth connectivity, (Which remembers up to eight devices!) I don’t even need to have cables running into my laptop bag anymore. An added bonus is the xCAN’s support for AAC, aptX, and aptX Low Latency codecs, the latter of which is perfect for syncing audio to videos I often watch on my phone, laptop​
or tablets.
DSC_5437 small.jpg

MANY thanks to Lawrance and all the amazing people over at iFi for making this review unit available to me! I had the opportunity to evaluate "real life" usage of the xCAN on both short and long flights, (5 hours in the air as well as airport time.) cab rides, train trips, and shuttle commutes. In EVERY way, the xCAN performed like a champ. Plenty of power for iems and Bose Quiet Comfort 25 headphones (Wired connection), lots of battery longevity, and great ease of use without the need to have my phone attached! (A great convenience when a call comes in and you don't have to hold up a bunch of inter-connected devices just to hold a business conversation.)

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LOOKS

The xCAN sports a matte, anodized finish. The controls are also fairly straight-forward - A huge, rotating knob adjusts the volume and also doubles as the “POWER” and “mode” selector. A long-press of the button powers on the xCAN, initially lighting the button up in the color of the selected mode. The two modes being: (GREEN light) “Analog” mode, (You connect to your audio source via an included interconnect cable.) and (BLUE light) “Bluetooth” mode, which pairs with your phone or other Bluetooth-capable media device wirelessly. Short-pressing the button will toggle mute on and off while rotating the knob will change the knob’s color to indicate the color of volume level. (Approx. 100 volume steps, with colors ranging from blue to red to indicate volume of -101dB to +12dB).
DSC_5453.jpg

An XBass II 3-way selector switch on the rear of the unit allows you to toggle between “Bass”, “Presence”, and both “Bass” and “Presence” settings. Lastly, a “Settings/Bluetooth” multifunction button doubles as a Bluetooth pairing/phonecall HOLD control and a quick way to toggle between “3D+”, “XBass II+”, “Both enabled”, and “None enabled” settings.


CONTENTS

The xCAN ships with both balanced and single-ended interconnect cables and a USB A-to-C charging cable. Also included is a simple, soft, velvet-like carry bag to help keep those darn fingerprints off your shiny-new amplifier.


POWER

iFi reports the xCAN’s power output to be up to 1W into 32 ohms in balanced mode, and 380 mW into the same load in S-Balanced (single-ended mode), with a THD+N measurement of .005% and .006% respectively and an SNR of about 120 dBA. Now even though these ratings show the xCAN to be clearly less powerful than my iDSD micro, I found it to be more than powerful enough for even my power-hungriest full-sized headphones.

The xCAN drove Sennheiser HD650s, & 800s, as well as my Beyerdynamic T1 ver. 2 cans well beyond “too loud” before hitting maximum volume. While at the other end of the spectrum, my most sensitive IEMs gifted me with nothing but inky-black silence when no signal was being transmitted.
DSC_5448 small.jpg


SOUND

Neutral - So far as I can tell, when all “effects” are disabled, the xCAN brings nothing to the sound. It just makes it louder. Odd as it sounds, I like this. When I’m comparing headphones, the last thing I want is to try and “compensate” for my source. Near as I can tell, the source is what you hear. Now when you want to have “fun”, then there’s the assortment of “Presence”, “3D+”, and “XBass II+” to play with in order to sculpt-in your preferences concerning soundstage, airiness, and “thump” so that you can just kick back and listen to your songs the way that you want to hear them. While I’d need truly claustrophobia-inducing small sound-stage headphones to convince me to use “3D+”, it’s nice that it’s there when needed. But the “XBass II+” feature gets used quite often with my leaner bass headphones when I want to balance them out a bit for relaxation rather than analysis. (I’m looking at you, you belovedly-clinical Etymotic ER4SRs!)


CONNECTIONS

I tested both the xCAN’s balanced and single-ended inputs and outputs, and I heard nothing but extremely clean sound. I was amazed to find that the xCAN sounds virtually as good in Bluetooth mode as it does when fed signal via cables! To be clear, I wasn’t 100% sure that I could reliably tell the difference between the two...

DSC_5446 small.jpg

CONFIGURATIONS
1) Bluetooth connection: Samsung Galaxy Note 8 - TIDAL streaming service (“MASTER” quality)

2) Unbalanced connection: iBasso DX90/OPUS #1s/Lenovo A12 Android Tablet/Dell Inspiron 5675 (Windows 10/Foobar 2000/Tidal (“MASTER” quality)/ JRiver Media Center 24) - FLAC 96kHz/24-bit, DSD 2.8MHz

3) Balanced connection: OPUS #1s - FLAC 96kHz/24-bit, DSD 2.8MHz

Headphones:
Inexpensive:
Sennheiser CX300 II, Koss Porta Pros, UE Super.Fi 3s, Tin Audio T3
Mid Range:
Sennheiser HD-650, JVC HA-SZ2000, AKG 545, AKG 550, Kanas Pro, BGVP DMGs, One More Quad drivers
Higher end:
Beyerdynamics T1 ver. 2, Sennheiser HD-650 & HD-800, and Etymotic ER4XRs/ER4SRs

PREFERED CONFIG
Opus #1s -> balanced-in to iFi xCAN -> balanced cable to Kanas Pros (for mobile/on the go) and balanced cable to Beyerdynamic T1 ver. 2 in a hotel room/office
Kanas Pros Rotated.jpg

Reward: Hotel Room Relaxation Time!!

Comments

raysclim1568

100+ Head-Fier
I have the Xdsd , do it make sense to get the xcan ? the xdsd have 3.5SE/BAL while Xcan have the 3.5SE and 2.5BAL. .
this what i can see the main differences are . what else?
 

jwbrent

Headphoneus Supremus
I have the Xdsd , do it make sense to get the xcan ? the xdsd have 3.5SE/BAL while Xcan have the 3.5SE and 2.5BAL. .
this what i can see the main differences are . what else?
According to iFi, the xCAN is a better sounding headphone amp than what is used in the xDSD. As to how much better, I haven’t read anything yet that quantifies the difference.
 
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