🔷 iFi Pro iCAN

This is the official thread for the iFi Pro iCAN

This thread is for discussion and reviews.

  • BAL & RCA input, BAL & RCA pre output, ESL output, 4 pin, dual 3 pin, and 3.5mm s-bal balanced headphone out, 1/4 inch and 3.5mm se out
  • [email protected] ohm bal, [email protected] ohm se
  • Xbass bass boost, 3D crossfeed, solid state/tube/tube+ switchable modes, 3 gain settings

:red_circle: Hifiguides Amazon Link

[Reviews]

Z Reviews

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Thanks for creating one for this bad boy too!

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Well, I finally got my new-to-me iCAN Pro.
I used it yesterday for an hour or two with my LCD-2 Classic’s they sounded very nice.

Today, I decided to dig out my two favourite headphones, the Grado GH2’s and Focal Elex’s. These two will likely be on for the whole week.

First up was the Grado’s. I am running in Solid State mode and set the bass boost on 20hz. No 3D sound and only on low gain @ 9:30-10:00 on the volume dial.
Holy shit do they sound good on the amp! Full and bassy. Just a ton of fun. Of course I love these on my V220 and LD MKIII too. :grin:

I tried the soundstage trick (3D) off and on but didn’t really notice anything. I think I will be changing the set-up for every different headphone. This will take a few weeks.

I am curious about how tube mode will treat the Grado’s. Time will tell.

What a great combo!

Next up was the Elex’s. First thing I notice is that X-Bass doesn’t really do anything. I am guessing that is because they already have pretty good bass. I leave it on 10hz. The sound is great, but on a few songs the higher frequencies seems kind of brightish. Never noticed this at all with the Grado’s. Is the amp neutral/bright or neutral/warm? I have read both.

I Love these headphones on my LP, so I can’t help but wonder if tube mode will increase the pleasure.

Overall, a great first day! Only downside is that the 1/4" connector seems a bit loose. Not sure if that is related to the fact that the connector is located within a 3-pin XLR socket?

Last thought: In SS mode it barely gets warm, much like the Violectric V220. I know it does get good and hot in tube mode though.

More testing tomorrow and I will include my current testing playlist:

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Glad you decided to pick one up and are loving it. Let me know if there’s anything I can answer for you.

Great playlist!

Thank you. Are you an iFi employee?

Yes, I’m with iFi and support all community relations throughout various forums!

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Cool. Can the remote be bought separately for this product? If so, any idea how much?
I emailed [email protected] and never heard back.

I was out most of the day, but I am back and headphones are singing. I DO like this amp! Of course I am still in the “shiny new toy phase.”

I love almost everything for the first few weeks. :grin:

Shoot me a PM and I’ll see what I can do for you when we’re back in office next week!

Another update with my new toy. My Grado GH2’s sound good in every mode and with X-bass. 3D is not doing much with them.

With the Elex’s I wasn’t overly impressed with SS mode, but tube was better. X-bass didn’t mean much, nor 3D.

Today and previous has been the Senn showcase. With all of the amps, the HD660’s seem smoother than the HD6XX’s. Similar sounds, but I prefer the HD660’s. The HD6XX’s do require a jump to mid gain. This amp has TONS of power and I am not going much past 10:00. In this mode the HD660’s go to 12:00 - 1:00, depending on the music. X-bass is nice with both and I haven’t played much with 3D.

My biggest observation is that nice amps are nice, regardless. In the last two and a half years, I have burned through about ten amps. When you are starting at $99.00/$199.00/$299.00/etc., large upgrades just don’t happen, in that category.
In the under $500.00 range (Canuck Bucks), they are all similar, but different. Each new amp may sound different, but is never a huge improvement, IME.

But when you move up a whole category, the difference is shocking. Three of my four current amps, in the main system are the following (pricing is full retail, landed cost in Canada):

  1. Monoprice Liquid Platinum - $1,050.00
  2. Violectric V220 - $2,175.00 (bought used)
  3. iFi Pro iCAN - $2,900.00 (bought used)

The difference between these amps and everything that came before them is HUGE! But the difference between these three amps is remarkably subtle to me. They all have clarity that cheap amps couldn’t hope to reach, but you certainly pay for that.
I thought that the Pro would replace at least one and probably two amps, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.
I like the smoothness of tube mode, but I don’t think that it can dislodge the LP.
I really like SS mode with certain 'phones, but it can’t match that something extra that the Violectric has.
And tube+ can’t come close to the “tubiness” of the LD MKIII, nor match it’s lack of clarity. :grin:

This purchase reminds me of another recent purchase, the BF2. That, to me, was a large purchase with minimal gain in quality.
This one was even more expensive, and while I do enjoy the crazy power (that I will never use) and cool features, it does not blow away any current toys. In some ways, if you listen carefully and analytically, it improves the sound of certain music with certain 'phones, much like the BF2. Neither is bad, nor do I feel that I have been ripped off or wasted money. Live and learn. :money_mouth_face:
It seems like anything over $1K really starts to enforce the rule of diminishing returns.

I am enjoying the amp and still have six pairs of cans to run through it. Although it’s still kind of early, it seems the way forward is probably that I keep all the amps and thin out the headphone collection. Although, interesting trades could change that outcome.

My upgradeitis is certainly cooling off. I don’t see a new DAC coming my way at any time, nor any more amps for quite a while.

However, I am still curious about the Clears, Arya’s, T5p.3’, etc. :laughing:

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Thanks for the continued feedback mate!

I had grown tired of my DT880 (600Ohm) and was thinking about selling them. Nice sound, but nothing special and quite a power hog.

Then I plugged them into my Pro this morning. And it was a very different experience.
The Pro is using X-bass and 3-D sound affects. It is in high gain via the 1/4" Jack and the volume sits around 10:00. WOW! The best I have ever heard these 'phones sound. The bass rumbles like a subwoofer (in the right songs) with no undue brightness. The clarity of the vocals and the instruments are amazing. Yesterday I was feeling pretty underwhelmed with my Senn headphones on this but the Beyer’s are really bringing it home.
I don’t think I will be selling these puppies for a good long time.

It also does get me wondering how the Argons will pair with this unit.

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Big shout out to Sebastien for helping me source a remote control for this amp. I was having a tough time locating one.

Even though I did not buy the amp new from iFi, he was kind enough to help me! Thank you! :+1:

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Of course bud! Happy to be of assistance.

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Got my remote today! For some reason my wife and cat aren’t nearly as excited? Must be a female thing. :laughing:

Small and light. Even came with batteries installed. Works very well! The knob was very stiff to move manually, which makes sense since it is motorized. On this amp the volume knob is Very close to the 3D knob and so it was a little tricky to get a grip and change volume without affecting the 3D setting.

The volume knob has 100 segments and the remote will give you control of each segment. Or you can hold the button down and the volume knob will fly.

I think this remote will get a lot more use than the Violectric model. The Violectric remote is huge and the volume knob on the Vio amp is a pleasure to use manually.

Nice little pick-up. :+1:

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Awesome to hear you got it in safe buddy! Cute kitty!

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Thanks again!

Well, I have now run all my headphones through the iFi Pro iCAN. It is a very impressive amp with certain headphones. I owned an iFi amp several years ago and the most impressive features, to me, were X-Bass, 3D sound and lots of power. With this model, those things stay true, but everything gets ramped up.

The Grado’s eat up the bass boost and the Edition XX’s don’t like the 3D and actually reduce volume when you engage it. I didn’t notice that on other 'phones, but I wasn’t really looking for it. This amp makes the DT880 come alive in a serious way. I am taking a break right now, but I will put them back into rotation soon. If they hit me the same way, they could slide up into my top tier list, joining the Grado GH2’s, the Elex’s and the Cascades. That was a shocker to me as I was about to sell them.

I did some amp comparisons, when I was really in a groove with the music. I had hoped to maybe get rid of one or two amps when I bought this, but that really hasn’t turned out to be the case.

The Violectric just has it’s own sound. Sometimes I wavered, but I just can’t see moving the Violectric. However, when I turned off all the features and went to SS mode, I preferred the Violectric. But with all the iCAN gadgets engaged, with certain headphones…

This amp went head to head with the Liquid Platinum, both via XLR. My first reaction was that the Pro sounded bigger, bassier and more full. Of course I had forgotten about the gadgets I had engaged. But then as my playlist went on there were songs I enjoyed more on the LP. My hybrid tube amp sounded tubier than my new hybrid amp. Both amps did things well and I can’t see either one leaving. The Pro was better, but not by a lot.

Lastly I put it in tube+ mode and compared it to my cheapie, the Little Dot MK III with Voshkod tubes. If you are trying to get into Tubey/kind of distorted territory, the LD MKIII was king. By a Lot! The cheapie was a Great pick up.

Overall, I really like this amp, in spite of the fact that it really doesn’t outclass any of its cheaper competitors. I would be quite disappointed if I had paid full price though. I bought it used for about half of the full, landed price. Having said that, if it didn’t have all the gadgets, I likely wouldn’t be keeping it. The huge power is awesome, but I don’t really need it.
I would recommend this amp on two conditions:

  1. Get a good price, used
  2. You have a collection of different headphones. This amp will make some headphones really sing (DT880’s, Grado’s, Cascades, Elex’s) and some won’t care (HD6XX’s, HD660’s, Edition XX’s, ATH-WP900’s, LCD-2 Classic’s).

Bottom Line:
X-Bass is awesome without being overwhelming. No distortion. 3D sound is really dependant on the headphone used. Three levels of gain is great and I used all three. The different sound modes (SS, tube and tube+ have very subtle differences. It is said that a tube change can really accentuate the differences and I will be doing that. And the remote is a must have. :grinning:

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I’ve finally got my hands on a iFi Pro iCan that I bought used from a local seller, I have not really had the opportunity to A/B with my previous amp (A90) just yet but initial impressions so far are pretty good with the Arya.

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Congrats! Curious to hear your thoughts! I just scrolled up the thread and realized that I have had mine for just about three months now.

It has become my go-to amp. Last couple of days I have been using it for Cascades and T60 Argons.

It took me one to two months to get the hang of all the different functions with different headphones.

Enjoy! :+1:

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A couple initial thoughts of the Pro iCan with the Arya (in SS mode)

Comparison setup:
Tidal + Audirvana upsample to max pcm sample rate
USB —> Soncoz SGD-1
RCA to ifi, balanced to A90 (I could not not any noticeable difference in SE vs Balanced on the ifi)
ifi on low gain ~9.30, A90 on med gain ~ 9.30
All devices warmed up for a couple hours for good measure and the Arya is burned in

Detail Retrieval:
The best I’ve ever heard so far, (previous amps I have tried are: Topping A90, Cavalli Liquid Carbon, Gustard H16, Bryston BHA-1) I am sure that there are better resolving amps out there than the Pro iCan but for my setup and the Arya, the Pro iCan has the most detail I’ve ever tried. I feel that a lot of this has to do with better instrument separation. Besides that, I believe it is indeed more resolving outright with better textural nuance as well.

Tonality:
Obviously in SS mode, the Pro iCan is pretty neutral with the ever so slight warm shift. Everything is smooth without being smoothed over. In fact this is by far the biggest upgrade for me over the A90. On the A90, there are some tracks where I would avoid completely because the setup was a bit too shouty for me and I really could not listen for a very long time at all (something I did not do with the Gustard)

On the setup before the A90 (Gustard H16), I felt that the treble on the Arya was not too bad and I could handle it with almost anything I threw at it. When I had to replace the Gustard with the A90 however, I felt that the A90 was driving the Arya a little better, especially in the low end. The Arya was a little more punchy and dynamic with the A90 than the Gustard. After a little while however, the setup was getting too shouty for me and as I mentioned before, I started to avoid some tracks altogether.

Now with the ifi, it provides an even greater sense of dynamic punch, greater detail retrieval to my ears and the slight added smoothness means the Arya is no longer as peaky and shouty as before. The ifi also fuller sounding, like there is more substance behind the music. I do not know if this is just differences in volume as I cannot objectively volume match but I have matched it as close as possible with my own ears.

Imaging and Soundstage:
The ifi in SS mode provides me with a clearer image of each instrument in the stage, the A90 I found occasionally on some busier tracks to blend the instruments slightly. The soundstage is also a little more holographic and everything is just a little more spaced out. Its not a huge difference, its like taking a couple rows back in a concert hall. Imaging is also more accurate where I am able to more distinctly place vocalists on a stage. Say a vocalist is about 45 degrees to the right from the microphone, the A90 would place is much further towards 90 degrees while with the ifi, you can clearly tell that its middle right and not hard right.

Tube modes:
Overall I see a lot of consensus that the stock tubes are actually fairly neutral and don’t actually make a huge difference and I find this to be true. The tubes only add a little more warmth to the sound. That said however, I would not call it a gimmick or anything like that. I find it really enjoyable to be able to switch from the clean SS mode to a slightly warm tube/tube hybrid all in one unit, being able to suit different tracks and different moods at a flick of a switch was a huge appeal to me.

Xbass & 3D modes:
I did not really play with these so much as I found that I preferred them off most of the time, the Xbass however like the first setting on some tracks and sometimes go with the 2nd setting when I want to feel the wubs (the Arya handles it like a champ).

The 3D sound I am not that convinced by, it just made everything sound hollower

TLDR: Overall a fairly substantial upgrade over my A90 by completely outclassing it in every aspect as one would expect for the price, ever so slightly warm tilted sound in SS mode, smoother while being more resolving, gobs of power, well built, potential to tube roll. Probably never going back to a chip based amp after this.

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