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ifi Zen CAN Review (Headphone Amp)

Nango

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Again, disappointing. Would be interesting if Amir could source some gear from ifi's pro parent company Abbingdon Music Research (AMR).
 

Francis Vaughan

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Most uncomfortable I have ever been has been Tokyo in July while wearing suits to go to executive meetings!
In a previous life I was in Japan giving a course to a group of IC design engineers at Sony. It was not that long after the Fukushima incident. So there were widespread power shortages. Aircon took a big hit, and even many office elevators were shut down. Everywhere you went there were signs for “cool biz”. Which was a dispensation from wearing a business suit in the now much warmer offices. It was quite interesting, with the mix of the younger engineers that embraced it, and the older who were clearly not so comfortable with the lax clothing regime.
 

Haze

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Thanks for testing the crosstalk! The distortion is forgivable I can't blame ifi for chasing their house sound when so many people love it but the crosstalk is just bizarre. They had a spec sheet before the Zen Can released stating a crossstalk of -90db but that was the last ifi themselves ever gave gave a figure . The Zen Can Signature on Drop stated a more accurate -50db. That's the only two times its mentioned. When I contacted ifi technical support about it I was told they did it deliberately to expand soundstage. Odd stuff.
 

SRKRAM

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Great review (as always). hope to see a review of the Signature as it is supposed to have some noticeable improvements.
I don't usually notice any big difference in sound between different DACs and amps but I own an iDSD Signature and it sounds less clear/transparent than anything else, as if the treble is rolled off and the bass is boosted.
Would be interested in seeing a review.
 

3125b

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Would be interesting if Amir could source some gear from ifi's pro parent company Abbingdon Music Research (AMR).
This AMR?
Listening to your favourite tunes or watching a TV show you love is part of your everyday life.
And you deserve to enjoy them without disruption. However, if you’re experiencing them with a generic plug fuse, chances are your enjoyment is being degraded.
With AMR Gold Fuses, your enjoyment will rise to another level!
Yeah, I wouldn't hold any hopes for that ...
 
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I don't usually notice any big difference in sound between different DACs and amps but I own an iDSD Signature and it sounds less clear/transparent than anything else, as if the treble is rolled off and the bass is boosted.
Would be interested in seeing a review.
It will still have poor performance as long as it still uses old DSD1793. Ifi is a big fan of Texas Instrument DAC. I think ifi should move on newer models like PCM1792A or use new solutions from ESS, AKM, Cirrus Logic.
 

Jimbob54

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Wonder if that why Reviewers will call headphones with <0,4% THD under 300Hz "Dry, clincal, no impact" since I've seen that a lot with ER4XR, LCD 2?.
Who knows? Frequency response is far more important
 

Veri

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It will still have poor performance as long as it still uses old DSD1793. Ifi is a big fan of Texas Instrument DAC. I think ifi should move on newer models like PCM1792A or use new solutions from ESS, AKM, Cirrus Logic.
100% agree. I notice their new Diablo has a lower distortion implementation though, for the first time. 0.0006% is more than "good enough". But their lower offerings perform hardly as good as this one. https://reference-audio-analyzer.pro/en/report/dac/ifi-idsd-diablo.php#gsc.tab=0
 
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Veri

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I think it's the result of using XMOS XU216 chip compared to old XMOS U8 and more quality of resistor and capacitors, the path of shorter sound.
False, the Zen DAC V2 was upgraded because XU208 is no longer being manufactured, and had zero effect on distortion; why should it? It's just processing power.
They use a different output topology which they dubbed "PureWave". Maybe spurred on by sites like ASR. At least it does what they claim, output is more "Pure".
 
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False, the Zen DAC V2 was upgraded because XU208 is no longer being manufactured, and had zero effect on distortion; why should it? It's just processing power.
They use a different output topology which they dubbed "PureWave". Maybe spurred on by sites like ASR. At least it does what they claim, output is more "Pure".
No, the Xu208 is still produced, if you like you can still buy it in bulk. It's still available in cheap dacs.
idsd Black Label, Zen dac v1, Hip dac and Xdsd all use Xmos U8 which is much older than Xu208. Both Xmos U8 and DSD1793 are old chips, which explains why the measurement performance is not good. In my opinion, the usb chip is also one of the most important components that determine the performance of the system. When ifi jump from Xmos U8 to XU216 can be considered a very worthwhile upgrade.
 

Veri

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In my opinion, the usb chip is also one of the most important components that determine the performance of the system. When ifi jump from Xmos U8 to XU216 can be considered a very worthwhile upgrade.

Your opinion? How about you substantiate your thinking a bit, there is absolutely zero reason why the USB microcontroller would have such a "worthwhile" impact. It's not like iFi's new devices come with some sophisticated DSP. I would like to to show some proof for your statements, I can also make claims out of thin air with the only thing to back it up is "my opinion".
 
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Your opinion? How about you substantiate your thinking a bit, there is absolutely zero reason why the USB microcontroller would have such a "worthwhile" impact. It's not like iFi's new devices come with some sophisticated DSP. I would like to to show some proof for your statements, I can also make claims out of thin air with the only thing to back it up is "my opinion".
Yes, it is my personal opinion. Xmos chip is the first chip in the signal processing chain, it does the conversion of pcm to iis, uses the oscillator to reconstruct the clock,... how can it be said that it is not important?
 

Veri

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Yes, it is my personal opinion. Xmos chip is the first chip in the signal processing chain, it does the conversion of pcm to iis, uses the oscillator to reconstruct the clock,... how can it be said that it is not important?
The same way that USB3 makes no sense for audio compared to USB2. If all of what you mention is perfectly possible with the computing power of XU208, XU216 will not for whatever reason sound better. There is no logical explanation for it. These things don't run on faith!
 
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The same way that USB3 makes no sense for audio compared to USB2. If all of what you mention is perfectly possible with the computing power of XU208, XU216 will not for whatever reason sound better. There is no logical explanation for it. These things don't run on faith!
Yes, Xu216 does not improve much in terms of performance compared to Xu208 but unfortunately, on Zen dac v1 it is a very old Xmos U8, not the Xu208. All that Xu216 does compared to Xu208 is full MQA support because it doubles the processing power. Anyway, that's just a personal opinion. Any upgrades are welcome.
 

Jens

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How about the DC mV out? I got one that has 8 mV DC out. I would like to see 0 +- 0.2 mV out for headphone amps.
 

bigjacko

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Judging purely from the 300 ohm THD+N vs power graph, this amp is not bad specially it is comparing to Drop THX789. Of course now there is L30, this one becomes not good compare to it.
 

welsh

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Typical quirky iFi product, intriguing in one sense, then broken in another (the crosstalk issue is bizarre).

I know the design is supposed to differentiate the amp in a crowded market, but boy is it ugly. It reminds me of the dashboard of my parents’ 1960 Plymouth we had when I was a kid.

View attachment 143331
My God! What did the rest of the car look like?
 

acbarn

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My God! What did the rest of the car look like?
A374FD07-EAE7-41B4-834B-72254424457F.jpeg
 
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