Is there any chance at all that you could test the V280/Pro iCAN? There is no substitute for actually hearing something in person. I would drive a few hours in both directions if the seller was willing to let me test on his sheltered porch for an hour or two.
$1,000 landed for an LP is list price. I think the regular price is $779.00, plus tax and shipping. Of course, most people in the US land it for $500.00 to $700.00 and many have gotten crazy sale prices.
They also have open box specials. I bought a Liquid Spark for a great price.
As far as the iCAN goes, there are not a lot of tube rolling options. The big one is WE396A’s. Hard to get and pricey. But I will be trying them.
I tried the SS mode and liked it. However I always keep it in tube mode. The difference is very small, but I think it softens it just a bit. Tube+ is a little messy, but fun now and then.
I have never tried the 789, but read/heard that it was similar to the SP200. I am not a huge fan of neutral, transparent gear, but am determined to try everything. (I have and like the HD660’s, but I can’t wear them for more than day or two.)
Anyway I bought the SP200 and combined it with the SMSL SU-8 DAC. Within a couple of months I could take no more. It was an unbearable system for Beyer or Grado headphones. Anything brightish became sharp very quickly. Didn’t work at all for me.
The SS mode in the Pro iCAN is Nothing like that. I wouldn’t call it warm, but it is nice and smooth.
IMO, the Pro iCAN is in a whole different league from anything under $1K. Of course it was priced accordingly.
To sum up:
Pro iCAN. Jack of all trades (master of none?). VERY expensive. The most adjustable tool I have ever seen for music. Love it! It does some very special things with about three of my headphones.
LP. I love the sound of this amp and you can Really tube roll with this puppy. Like deep into the rabbit hole. However very high gain and subpar SE output mean it is not great with low impedance headphones. I LOVE it with Focal Elexes, Senn HD660’s, HiFiman Sundara’s, etc.
Violectric anything. I love the house sound for this series. But I do like warm amps and warm headphones. Another amp that will likely never move.
Great with Grado’s, really fills them out. Also love them with Cascades and most/all low impedance 1/4" headphones (V220 is only SE). Would loved to have a V280/V281 for the balanced option.
Well, that is probably way more info than you wanted, but that is my thoughts on those items.