Musical Fidelity X-CANV8P

General Information

The X-CANV8P is an advance on the outgoing X-CANv3. The difference is similar to comparing an Audi A4 compared to an Audi RS4. They both look similar but the performance is light years apart. The X-CANV8P will drive any headphone easily (including the wicked AKG1000) and deliver sweet neutral dynamic sound with a colossal sound stage and effortless dynamic range. You simply don’t know what your headphones are capable of until they’re driven by an X-CANV8P, it’s that good. Listen and you’ll have your ears and eyes opened to a new world.

Latest reviews

Pros: Lush and musical sound, you don't pay for what you don't need, sturdy construction, good volume knob, pairs well with variety of headphones
Cons: High Output Impedance
The other day I found out I've been using this amp as my main set for over 2 years now. Suffice it to say that it has earned it's right for a small review.
 
Like with cars, I find that one can often get a hint of the country a piece of musical equipment was made in and the V8P is no exception in that regard. I find it fits in with brand names like Cambridge Audio, Meridian and NAD among others. Not that I'm an expert on the matter but this piece of equipment gives me that bonafide Hi-Fi feeling; from the first moment I hear it I know it will never let me down. And it hasn't! I still find the V8P pleases me the same way it did the first time I heard it, and that's quite something with all the gear I've seen appearing in the head-fi world lately. So what is it that makes it so good? Oh well...
 
First thing I noticed when I first saw it was it's sturdy looking build: simple black and silver metal enclosure (my guess is aluminium), with nothing more on it's front than a pair of 6,3 mm headphone jacks, an input switch (internal USB dac / Line in) and this HUGE volume dial. Oh maaannn, how I love to operate that thing; it is by far my most favorite of all control buttons I own, with it's sturdyness, smooth sliding, size and the fact it has this big milled out pointer. All these things make it very easy to operate; I listen a lot while lying in bed with the V8P next to me and no matter my position I always have complete control and understanding of it's stance and because it is so big I can finetune the volume just by gently raking the outer parameter. Anyway, on the back it features a power input, USB input for the internal Dac, Pre-Out, Line-in and Line-out. I haven't tried out the Pre- and Line-out much since I only use it with my headphones, but when I did, I didn't notice anything wrong with them and they worked pretty much in the way they are supposed too in my opinion.
 
So I've used the V8P mostly in conjunction with my Beyerdynamic DT990 250Ω, which was pretty much the headphone I bought this unit for in the first place. It matches it's needs in the mid and bass departments very well. The amp has a dark background for as far as I can tell, and delivers a smooth and lush sound while retaining detail and dynamics. It manages to pump up the somewhat immature mids and gives them a nice splash of depth along with it. The bass is also deep and warm, but quite tight and controlled as well. The highs tend to be a bit hot sometimes on the DT990 but the V8P reigns them in slightly along with the heavy bass. So it manages to calm down the DT990, making it a more refined and forgiving headphone, while still maintaining it's character overal! Pair this combo with the HRT Microstreamer and mentioned improvement continues along the same line. I've used this amp with a variety of headphones and none ever seem to disagree with it; the Sennheiser HD580 becomes a tad too lush for me and I much prefer them with a solid state amp like the ifI Micro iDSD. I've also auditioned the MF M1 Headphone Amplifier, but found it a bit dryer and less musical than this one, even though I didn't have a lot of experience with head-gear back then... As for the Internal DAC, all I can say is it isn't a foul sounding piece of electronic circuitry, but it's low resolution and less than remarkable performance make for the fact that I rarely use it. 
 
Another thing I really like about the X-Can V8P is the fact that I get the sense I haven't paid a lot of money for stuff I don't really need or want. Yes there is a DAC on board which isn't special and without it they might have saved something on the switch up front, DAC inside and USB connection. But I don't feel that these things will have driven the price up that high, moreover, like I said, it's not a bad sounding unit and it's definitely a step up from most internal sound cards. Also nice is the fact the amplifier doesn't run hot over time, despite having tubes in it.
 
My only beef with this unit is the fact the output impedance is a bit on the high side: I tried listening to my DT770 AE and Fidelio L2 over it, but there is some hiss which is mainly noticeable when not playing any music. It's manageable but you can still hear it from time to time.
 
So there you have it. I love this unit very much, and will continue to use it for quite some time. What really interests me though, is the possible upgrade of the X-Psu V8 and maybe some tube-rolling. I will update if/when these come to pass.
 
Cheers!
bracko
bracko
Isn't the output impedance 2 Ohm on this amp?
Pros: Still powerful and can used as preamp, tube-rolling
Cons: Bad dac, can be beaten with a lot cheaper DAC/amps today

[size=small]I just saw that the X-Can is still get a raving review, but a lot has happened the last year on both the dac and amp front. It´s still powerful and can be used as a preamp. I own it myself, but I find it misleading today to  give top rating all over the line. I just made a test two weeks ago with the 3 times less expensive Calyx Kong. You get much better DAC performance and better soundstage with must headphones on the Kong. The X-Can is out of production, but you can still getting it used on ebay. So if you consider to buy the X-Can, keep in mind that the marked is moving fast 2011 and the value of all older DAC/amps is changing fast also. You still have the joy of shifting tubes in it, but the question is, if that is worth the money people asking. Don´t pay more than 250$ for it. Just my 5 cent.         [/size]
Bosstooned
Bosstooned
I've got the V8P too and it was never meant to be a Dac/Amp combo. It's a hybrid amplifier first and foremost, the dac is just a little add-on. I don't use the dac in my V8P anymore because I've got a better one connected to the line-in, but when I did use it I found it to be much preferable to my MacBook's dac and headphone out. Amplifier in this is still very good in my opinion.
Pros: Powerful, detailed, musical, includes pre-amp and a USB DAC
Cons: You may not need a pre-amp and the USB DAC is not highly rated
This is Musical Fidelity's top of the range headphone amp. It includes a pre-amp and a USB DAC. The two headphone outputs do not have individual volume controls. So there are a lot of features, but it would be rare to actually need them all.
 
Antony Michaelson, the owner of MF and a classically trained musician himself, describes the amp as powerful enough to drive any headphone, including the AKG K1000 ear speakers. But that power belies its detail and ability to control the dynamics of music. At first, he says, the amp will sound as if it lacks dynamic. That is because of the desire to replicate the true fidelity of an original recording. 
 
In effect, what that means is the the V8P will do bass with tons of detail, but it will not do BASS, unless the original recording has it. Bass is to provide rhythm and not to overwhelm the midrange. Fans of dance music or metal may miss the oomph of BASS, but could come to appreciate the sound of true bass when they can pick out individual strikes of a kick drum, or plucks of the bass guitar.
 
The emphasis on detail does not mean that poorly recorded music is rendered unlistenable. The hybrid design of solid state and two ECC88 valves means that it should retain its musicality.
 
The USB DAC uses the same DAC chip as in the V-DAC but it is not that well regarded. I think that it sounds absolutely fine, keeping the detail and midrange emphasis that is the MF house sound. It loads a proprietary driver on connecting it to a PC and needs a USB type A to type B cable.
 
Audio and build quality are superb. The design and price less so as you are can pay a lot for functions you will not need.
 
Larryonfire
Larryonfire
I think it´ s time that the X-Can V8p is being downgraded. I have it myself and is generally still happy with it, but a lot has happened since 2008. A huge numbers of DAC´s and amps has surfaces just the last year. I made a test 2 weeks ago between the X-Can and the 3 times less expensive Calyx Kong, beat the X-Can in some aspects. X-Can is still powerful and can be used as preamp, but a raving review like this is misleading fall 2011. Just my opinion.
JamesHuntington
JamesHuntington
Larryonfire, your review and comments are hardly a reason to not buy the X-can, in fact they're barely legible. Even though theCalyx looks like a fine product, there are now even better products than that like Wyred 4 Sound uDAC HD http://www.wyred4sound.com/webapps/p/74030/117839/803633
It's made in the USA, has RCA outputs and will smoke Calyx. Though Ive never used the Calyx, I have a Musical Fidelity V-Can and am very happy with what it does. It's build quality too, is amazing. Yes, some stuff like clean wattage never goes out of style. I also have a W4S uDAC hooked to that V-Can which is a very nice combo that I'd put against anything in the $600-$1000 range.

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