iFi AUDIO Pro iCAN - Studio-Grade Headphone Amplifier and Audiophile Line-Stage

iFi AUDIO Pro iCAN - Studio-Grade Headphone Amplifier and Audiophile Line-Stage

iFi AUDIO Pro iCAN - Studio-Grade Headphone Amplifier and Audiophile Line-Stage

B&H # IFPROICAN MFR # 301002
iFi AUDIO Pro iCAN - Studio-Grade Headphone Amplifier and Audiophile Line-Stage

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Product Highlights

  • Solid-State Amplification Section
  • Tube Amplification Section
  • Single-Ended and Balanced Modes
  • Unbalanced and Balanced Headphones
  • 3D Holographic for Headphones & Speakers
  • XBass Correction System
  • Audiophile-Quality Components
  • Alps Motorized Rotary Volume Pot
  • RCA and XLR Inputs
  • Quad-Damped Isolation Base Mount
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iFi AUDIO Pro - iCan overview

  • 1Description

The iFi Audio Pro iCAN is the "flagship" studio-grade headphone amplifier and audiophile line-stage processor with individual solid-state and tube amplification sections. The unit utilizes an Alps motorized rotary volume potentiometer, which features "6-tracks" for true balanced volume control regardless of balanced or single-ended connections. The unit features a variety of line-level inputs including two balanced XLRs and three stereo pairs of unbalanced RCAs, while line-level outputs include two balanced XLRs and a stereo pair of RCAs.

The Pro iCAN's front panel offers a selection of headphones, boasting the ability to drive anything from custom in-ear monitors to difficult-to-drive models, such as the AKG K-1000. For balanced headphones, there are no less than four sets including an 1/8" TRRS, two 1/4", two XLR (3-pin), and a single XLR (4-pin). For single-ended headphone outputs, a single 1/8" TRS and 1/4" TRS are provided.

The amplifier audio circuit is a development of iFi's proprietary 'Tube-State' design. It is fully discrete, fully balanced with either tube or J-FET inputs switchable, bipolar second stage and MOSFET-buffered bipolar class-A Power stage (with Class-AB for low-impedance headphones at very high levels). The resulting circuit may be best described as 'tri-brid' where each device is used to greatest sonic advantage while minimizing any drawbacks. Furthermore, the circuit is pure DC coupled to avoid using any conically degrading coupling capacitors.

The Pro iCAN is chocked full of premium components including TDK Japanese-made C0G-type capacitors and Vishay MELF-type thin film resistors. These are complimented by Panasonic Japanese-made ECPU film-capacitors explicitly designed for audio use with extremely low distortion (<0.00001% @ 1V/10 kHz). Additionally, iFi employed ELNA Japanese-made Silmic II capacitors for the power supplies. These use special silk-fiber paper for the isolating barrier resulting in decreased odd-order distortion and reduced microphonic/mechanical resonances.

  • The Pro iCAN circuit is fully balanced with completely equal circuit sections for positive (hot) and negative (cold) signal phase of each channel. The volume control is a 6-way motorized ALPS type; four tracks are used to adjust the volume for the balanced signal, and the other two are used for monitoring the volume control operation
  • Maximum output is >20V in balanced mode and >10V in single ended mode. Maximum peak current is 1.4A for single-ended headphone connections and 0.7A for balanced headphone connections. The continuous output current is limited by a protection circuitry that only engages in case of sustained overload. A short-term sustained output of around 14,000mW (14VA) is possible in balanced operation
  • The amplifer's audio circuit is a development of iFi’s revolutionary ‘TubeState’ design. It is fully discrete, fully balanced with either tube or J-FET input switchable, bipolar second stage and MOSFET-buffered bipolar Class-A power stage (with Class-AB for low-impedance headphones at very high levels). The resulting circuit may be best described as ‘tri-brid’ where each device is used to greatest sonic advantage while minimizing any drawbacks. Furthermore, the circuit is pure DC coupled to avoid using any sonically degrading coupling capacitors
  • Frequency response (0.5 Hz - 500 kHz @ 0 dB), noise (-142 dB @ 0 dB) and distortion (0.0008% @ 0 dB) depend on gain and on which input device is selected. However, the levels of noise and distortion, especially in balanced operation challenge the limits of the audio precision test system
  • The XLR and RCA outputs on the back offer full preamplifier function, but are not switched off if headphones are connected. Nonetheless, the Pro iCAN should be used either as preamplifier or headphone amplifier, as generally a mixed use setup is not recommended
  • The Holographic matrices are tightly integrated into the signal circuit. Not only there is no use of DSP and the linked AD/DA conversion, but there are also no additional active elements
    • If disabled, the passive elements (resistors, capacitors and inductors) that form the analog matrix are completely removed from the circuit, so the fidelity of the signal in ‘off’ remains unaffected
    • If enabled, the Holographic matrix fundamentally re-shapes the transfer function of the actual amplifying circuit to do its job. So again, the fidelity of the signal is as if the Holographic matrix was designed integral to the circuit. This is a highly unusual design, as normally signal processing functions add extra circuits to the main amplification circuit. Such additional circuitry cannot but negatively impact sound quality when in use and often even when disabled
  • Quad-Damped Isolation Base Mount: Specially designed to provide vibration damping control and electromagnetic shielding. It consists of a custom quad-layer sandwich; dual-layer elastomers (silicone layer and copolymer ethylene and vinyl acetate layer), and a dual-layer metal alloy (aluminum alloy layer and ferrous alloy layer finished with special
    honeycomb coating)
  • NOS GE5670 Tubes: Two "New Old Stock" General Electric 5670. Each GE5670 tube has undergone a special rejuvenation process and the tube circuit is specially designed for long life. Combined, the tubes should offer many years of enjoyment
  • Operation Modes (Solid-State / Tube / Tube+)
    • Solid-State Mode: A pure, solid-state circuit and uses J-FETs and is fully discrete Class-A
    • Tube Mode: 2 x NOS GE5670s are engaged with the J-FET circuitry switched out for an all-valve Class-A operation
    • Tube+ Mode: Reduces negative feedback to a minimum. As a result, a greater amount of the tubes’ natural harmonics are produced (even-order harmonics dominate)
  • 3D Holographic for Headphones & Loudspeakers: There are two separate Analog Signal Processing (ASP) matrix circuits that switch automatically between headphone and loudspeaker use
    • For Headphones: (Headphone Outputs) Holographic for Headphones is an analog matrix to ‘undo’ the negative sonic impact of headphone listening with recordings that were originally made for loudspeakers (as is the case for >95% of recordings). When listening with headphones this "In-Head Localization" (sound is ‘located’ in the center of one’s head) can often lead to listening fatigue and even possibly, a little nausea
      • Off: Holographic is disabled (this allows the ‘direct’ sound to be enjoyed)
      • 30° Loudspeaker Angle: This matrix simulates a narrow loudspeaker placement (e.g. loudspeakers either side of a large computer monitor or in a car) and can also be used for recordings that have been artificially enhanced for spaciousness or early ‘Ping-Pong-type' stereo recordings
      • 60° Loudspeaker Angle: This matrix simulates traditional ‘textbook’ loudspeaker placement in an equilateral triangle
      • 90° Loudspeaker Angle: This matrix simulates a wide loudspeaker placement favored by some audiophiles. It may also be used to enhance recordings that lack spaciousness (some minimalist ‘single point’ recordings fall into this group)
    • For Loudspeakers: (Line Outputs) The Holographic for loudspeakers is an analog matrix circuit that has two distinct functions:
      • Corrects the fundamental spatial distortion in stereo recordings
      • Increase the width of the apparent soundstage beyond the width dictated by the loudspeaker placement
        • Off: Holographic is disabled (this allows the ‘direct’ sound to be judged)
        • +: This matrix corrects (’+’) the spatial distortion caused by the recording/mixing/mastering process and restores the original width of the soundstage. This is the recommended default setting if the loudspeakers are already ideally placed for imaging
        • 30°+: This matrix corrects (’+’) the spatial distortion caused by the recording/mixing/mastering process and adds an approximate 30° to the apparent width of the soundstage. Thus, loudspeakers with narrow placement (e.g. loudspeakers closely located either side of a TV set) can offer a soundstage that extends beyond the left and right past the loudspeakers and is close to the ideal placement
        • 60°+: This matrix corrects (’+’) the spatial distortion caused by the recording/mixing/mastering process and adds an approximate 60° to the apparent width of the soundstage. This is close to the ‘wide’ placement preferred by some audiophiles
  • XBass—Bass Correction System: Different recordings and different headphones exhibit different frequency responses. XBass is an analog signal processing (ASP) circuitry. It is sonically superior to Digital Signal Processing (DSP) systems. XBass is tailored to correct the bass deficiency in the headphone/loudspeaker and achieve the desired level. It is not a traditional tone or loudness control. The maximum boost is 12 dB and the frequency at which this maximum boost it achieved is as follows:
    • Off: XBass is disabled (this allows the ‘direct’ sound to be enjoyed)
    • 10 Hz: For headphones/loudspeakers missing only the very lowest bass (below 40 Hz)
    • 20 Hz: For headphones/loudspeakers missing some bass (below 80 Hz)
    • 40 Hz: For headphones/loudspeakers missing substantial bass including some mid-bass (below 160 Hz)


In the Box
iFi AUDIO Pro iCAN - Studio-Grade Headphone Amplifier and Audiophile Line-Stage
  • iPower Plus Power Supply
  • RCA Cable
  • Limited 1-Year Warranty
  • Table of Contents
    • 1Description

    iFi AUDIO Pro - iCan specs

    Headphone Connectors Headphone Outputs

    2 x XLR 3-pin
    2 x 1/4" / 6.35 mm TRS (iFi SEC balanced system)
    1 x XLR 4-pin
    1 x 1/8" / 3.5 mm TRRS (with built-in iEMatch, output matched to high-sensitivity headphones)

    2 x 1/4" / 6.35 mm TRS (use right jack for unbalanced headphones, however it is possible to drive two separate headphones simultaneously)
    1 x 1/8" 3.5 mm TRS (with built-in iEMatch - output matched to high-sensitivity headphones)
    Line Inputs and Outputs Inputs
    2 x XLR 3-pin (L/R) balanced
    6 x RCA (3 stereo pairs) unbalanced

    2 x XLR 3-pin (L/R) balanced
    2 x RCA (L/R) unbalanced
    Additional Connections DC Loop-Out: For use with Pro iCAN add-ons (e.g. electrostatic module)
    iFi Electrostatic Add-On Module: Only for connection with the iFi Electrostatic module
    DC Power Supply Input: 15 VDC, 4 A
    Gain 0, 9, and 18 dB user selectable
    Frequency Response 0.5 Hz to 500 kHz (-3 dB)
    Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) Total Harmonic Distortion (THD, Balanced/Single-Ended):
    Solid-State Balanced: ≤0.0015%
    Solid-State Single-Ended: ≤0.005%
    Tube Balanced: ≤0.002%
    Tube Single-Ended: ≤0.005%
    Tube+ Balanced: ≤0.012%
    Tube+ Single-Ended: ≤0.2%
    Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR, Balanced/Single-Ended):
    Balanced: >147 dB(A)
    Single-Ended: >137 dB(A)
    Output Power Output Power (16 Ohms, Balanced/Single-Ended):
    Balanced: >14,000 mW
    Single-Ended: >4,800 mW
    Output Impedance <1 Ohm
    Output Voltage Output Voltage (600 Ohms, Balanced/Single-Ended): Balanced: >23 V Single-Ended: >11.5 V
    Input Voltage Pro iCAN: 9 VDC, 6.7 A (18 V/ 3.35 A)
    iPower Plus: 85 to 265 VAC, 50/60 Hz
    Power Consumption ≤22 W idle, 50 W max
    Dimensions (L x W x H) 8.4 x 7.6 x 2.5" / 213.0 x 192.5 x 63.3 mm
    Weight 4.3 lb / 1.9 kg
    Packaging Infowawqffxyeccvuduzeyxxwqcazczydaxf
    Package Weight 7.75 lb
    Box Dimensions (LxWxH) 10.7 x 9.5 x 4.8"

    iFi AUDIO Pro - iCan reviews

    Pro iCAN - Studio-Grade Headphone Amplifier and Audiophile Line-Stage is rated 5.0 out of 5 by 1.
    Rated 5 out of 5 by from Long wait, well worth it, bass boost is fun. I've been wanting this amp for a couple of years, since it's been so well reviewed. The flexibility in outputs for this amp is really amazing. Kind of blows me away that you get balanced 4 pin XLR, 3 pin XLR, 1/4 unbalanced, 3.5mm unbalanced, and 3.5mm balanced. �It's kind of crazy. The gain adjust is ideal for managing headphones that are low power to really high resistance 600 ohm headphones. � As someone who normally seeks headphones with a flat response which sometimes can translate to low bass response, this amp is pretty incredible in that it can take such headphones and you can use them with the crystal clarity that you'd want from acoustical music, but also turn up the bass boost when you want a little more oomph for electronic music. � The easiest examples are the HD800 and the Etymotic Er4p. �The HD800 sounds a little "thin" on the Chord Hugo 2 for electronic music or rock or dubstep, but sounds great on the iFi Audio pro iCan. �And so expansive! �Kind of hard to believe just how wide these headphones can sound on this amp (still sourced from the Chord Hugo 2 as the DAC). And even more dramatic is the Etymotic ER4p. �These headphones have, for over a decade, been my favorite IEMs, but for electronic music, they've always sounded a little thin, and these IEMs overall can sound a little artificial or synthetic is maybe the right word, on the H2. �It sound pretty good on the Mojo. �But on the iFi Audio pro iCan, suddenly the whole sound "grows" Though I can source from the Schiit Jot, H2, or Mojo, the H2 provides the Audio Pro iCan with the most natural sound, and the Schiit Jotunheim provides the AUdio Pro iCan with the widest and deepest sound. �The other surprise, though, is the Mojo. �It also sounds really good as a DAC for Audio Pro iCan. I could easily be pretty happy for a good majority of music off of any of these DACs. � It would be nice if I could have the option to cut just a teeny bit of treble for some songs. �And I think the Schiit Loki at just $149 might be the ideal "equalizer" to place between any of these dacs and the iFi Audio Pro iCan. Given how long this model has been out, it wouldn't surprise me if a new pure amp cam out from iFi, but since they just released the Audio Pro iDSD and also the xDSD, there may be some time before an updated amp emerges. At 14,000mW, the power output on this amp is also incredibly impressive. �There's really no headphone that this thing can't power except maybe electrostats. There's a switch to toggle between solid state amp, tube amp, and hybrid amp. �Frankly, I think they're all great with fairly light differences, but that could be a weakness in my ears. �Generally I use tube for acoustical, hybrid for classical orchestral, and ss for electronics or rock. �But in truth, during the hot summer months, I can just leave it in ss mode all the time for all my music since the tube runs a little hot. Holographic switching is not that big a difference, at least on the headphones I've tried. The only small wish I have on this amp is the ability to set different volumes for different output ports simultaneously, and be able to adjust them independently. �That's mostly so I could leave different headphones plugged in simultaneously. �But that's a small wish.
    Date published: 2018-04-30
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