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Designed in the
1 Year of
4.4mm, RCA & 3.5mm
Upto 1890mW @ 64 Ohm
RAGHAV SOMANIHeadphone Guru
Laptops tend to have low power output and even if you pair it with really good headphones, the headphones won't be able to reach their complete potential. Therefore to achieve headphone's total capacity, you should connect your headphones and laptop/mobile phone with iFi Audio ZEN CAN. This DAC delivers 52x more power so that you do not miss on the quality of your music.
The ZEN CAN receive its Class A discrete balanced circuitry from iFi audio’s US$1,699 flagship Pro iCAN. It comes with 15.1v @300 Ohms on tap, which is more than enough power to drive even difficult-to-drive headphones to perform better. The FET input reduces noise and other kinds of distortions while SE inputs ensure source loading to deliver Class A operation. ZEN CAN also has an output gain of four steps in +6dB which is ideal for headphone matching.
Audio recordings were always designed to be heard in speakers and when they are played back on headphones the sound does not reach its actual potential. To address this issue, the iFi Audio ZEN CAN feature 3D special sound circuit, which helps you listen to your sound with better stereo image, depth and width. It also ensures that there is no colourization or resolution loss in the process. The all analogue circuitry does not require expensive or complex signal manipulation to deliver high-end audio that satisfies all kinds of listeners.
Most of the open-back headphones tend to leak the sound out freely and this affects the bass-performance. To solve this, ZEN CAN comes with XBass equalisation that offers best-in-class bass correction. The combination of active and passive components and the frequency response curve ensures that the low-end frequencies are delivered with precision. The TDK C0G (Class 1 ceramic) capacitors of ZEN CAN provide high-end stability and reduce losses for resonant circuit applications.
iFi Audio features balanced and active circuitry which consists of Panasonic ECPU capacitors, TDK C0G ceramic capacitors, iFi/AMR ‘OV’ ‘Operationsverstärker’ series op-amps, MELF resistors, Texas Instruments low-noise ICs, muRata capacitors and Tokyo Cosmos Electric Co. (TOCOS) multi-track potentiometer.
|INPUT VOLTAGE||4.4mm Pentacon BAL: 4.0V nominal @ 0dBFS, 24 kOhm Zin
RCA L/R Socket SE: 2.0V nominal @ 0dBFS, 1 MegOhm Zin
3.5mm Jack SE: 1.0V nominal @ 0dBFS, 1 MegOhm Zin
|MAX OUTPUT||Balanced : >15.1V/385 mW (@ 600 Ohm)
>11.0V/1890 mW (@ 64 Ohm)
S-E : >7.6V/196 mW (@ 300 Ohm)
>7.2V/1600 mW (@ 32 Ohm)
|OUTPUT IMPEDANCE (HP)||BAL: <2 Ohms
SE: <1 Ohm
|ZOUT||Line out: <200 Ohms|
|THD+N||Balanced : < 0.0007% (4V out, 600 Ohm, 1kHz)
S-E : <0.006% (@ 100 mW/1.27V 16 Ohm)
|SNR||Balanced : >120dBA (@ 15.2V)
S-E : >118dBA (@ 7.6V)
|MAX INPUT||Balanced : 7.4V RMS
RCA : 3.8V RMS
3.5mm : 1.92V RMS
|GAIN||0dB, 6dB, 12dB and 18dB|
|FREQUENCY RESPONSE||20Hz - 20kHz (+0dB / -0.03dB)|
|POWER CONSUMPTION||No Signal : ~5W
Max Signal : ~13W
|INPUT VOLTAGE||DC 5V/2.5A
AC 100 -240V
|DIMENSIONS||160(w) x 117(d) x 35(h) mm
6.3" x 4.6" x 1.4"
|NET WEIGHT||515g (1.14 Ibs)|
|BOX CONTENTS||1. iFi Audio ZEN CAN|
|2. Standard Power adapter with 5V 2.4A|
|3. Dual RCA|
|4. Quarter-Inch Headphone Jack|
|5. Warranty Card|
Don't sweat it, this iFi Audio ZEN CAN comes with a 1 year warranty from iFi Audio that covers manufacturing defects. All products featured on Headphone Zone are backed by an original manufacturer's warranty.
Read more about iFi Audio's warranty in India.
BEST Dekstop Amplifier
"The Zen Can looks smartly finished with a neatly-sized, sturdy aluminium enclosure. In the centre of the front panel is a rotary volume control, flanked by a range of sockets and buttons."Read More
"Its ability to drive power-hungry planar-magnetic headphones is the key selling point, it’s able to deliver live concert dynamics, yet is also dead-quiet."Read More
Watch the most popular YouTube reviews for the iFi Audio - ZEN CAN
This is a very good looking and well constructed device. The whole thing is made up of metal and has a bit of weight to it. The volume pot is smooth and I did not detect any channel imbalance. My only complain are the buttons, they feel really cheap and rattle a lot.
Looking at the specs I was a bit skeptical if the Zen CAN would drive my Sundara well because Amps like the Schiit Magni 3+/Heresy and L30 had more power atleast on paper. Fortunately this thing had no problem driving the Sundara.
I did ~74 Hrs of Burn-In and then listened to some of my music (mostly lossless songs from Tidal and some CD Rips). The first thing that stood out to me was that the overall sound signature is not a reference or flat sounding one, it sounds slightly warm and laid back while still providing a good Balance. The Zen CAN is capable of providing all the resolution and detail in the sound (as much as the DAC is capable of providing it with) but I had to concentrate a bit to hear them. For me I really enjoyed this type of sound signature as my previous Amp was a Flat and Analytical one which tended to tire me after an hour of continuous listening.
Using the CAN with sundara (hardest to drive in my collection) I have the gain set at 6db and volume pot at 12 for most music, this provides me with enough volume for comfortable listening and also shows that I have a lot of headroom for EQing. I also Tried other headphones (Meze 99 C, SHP9500, M50x) and IEMs (Blon BL-03, Tin T2) and noticed that with something like the Meze 99 (high sensitivity) the sound is good but even at 0 Gain the usable volume range is low. I have the volume pot at ~9 at 0 gain and Meze already sound loud. The good thing is the Amp pairs well with all of the Headphones I own and there are no tonality issues.
I've tried the 3D+ and XBass functions on a few songs and Headphones. In general I really like the XBass option as it improves the Bass that's missing the impact in Open Back Headphones. The 3D+ was a bit hit and miss, in music I almost always preferred the sound with it off, but in games I really liked what it did to the sound, it seemed to push the soundstage a bit further and provide a less fatiguing listening in long gaming sections. I'm no expert in EQing but I've tried a bunch of EQ presets that I found online and those almost always effected unintended parts of the frequencies. For example I ones tried to EQ the Meze 99 to decrease and clean up the Lower frequencies which somehow changed the way the Vocals sounded. With the XBass or 3D+ I didn't have any such issues, it really does not cause any sort of noticeable clipping or distortion when using them which is great.
I purchased a 4.4mm male to 2.5mm female adapter to try the Balanced output. I used the Meze 2.5mm Balanced Cable with Meze 99 C & Sundara, after listening to a few tracks I cannot reliably differentiate any sound quality difference between Single Ended and Balanced apart from higher volume level in Balanced at the same Volume Knob position. I was using the E30 as source which isn't capable of Balanced signal so using a Balanced DAC like iFi Zen DAC (via 4.4 Penta Out) or Schiit Modius might yield better results. Regardless of having a Single Ended or Balanced DAC, due to the Amp's S-Balanced design, if you have a harder to drive Headphone which dosen't sound like it's being driven well through the Single Ended Out, using the Balanced might provide enough power to drive them better.
At this price range if you are someone who prefers an organic and natural sound signature get the iFi Stack. If you need something that is very revealing and clear/detailed sounding, get the Topping stack (E30/L30).
I bought the zencan basically for my akg 712 pro which guzzles power like a dictator of a small nation. Previously, I was using the xd05 plus as a dac amp for the 712 and it was pretty good. But somehow ,I felt the 712 needed a bit more to get the best out of it ,like all parents do, and so I decided to shift to a desktop amp. I then got a Cavalli hybrid amp and paired with the 712, it produced a smooth ,groovy sound. Again , I felt that the 712 could do even better, like all parents do, and then set my sights on the zencan. It arrived around 3 days back and I am pretty impressed as of now. The sounstage has definitely widened a bit and though I am yet to try the balanced out port, i have heard it is excellent. Plus the zencan comes with the ifi power adaptor, as of now, which is a steal at this price. The xbass button adds a subtle touch of bass which helps the 712 sound in my extremely humble opinion. All in all, a great purchase amd the hpz delivery speeds are legendary. Go for it!
This is my first headphone amp, so take my views from that perspective. I have been using this amp for around 2 weeks now and I have to say the build is very good. The volume knob is smooth, and though some people dislike the rattling buttons, I like it and somehow feel it complements the aesthetics of the product. I do want to point out that they do not feel cheap or like they would fall apart. build is a solid 10 out of 10.
For people wondering, it does come with the power adapter from iFi.
I feel it has a good variety of inputs that one could as for from an amp. I have used them only over the RCA inputs for now.
Now coming to the amplification part, this has a good spread of gain selection. You could easily use them all the way from very sensitive to hard to drive headphones. I have used it with Hifiman Deva and though it has a low impedance(18 Ohm), it has a relatively low sensitivity(93.5 dB per mW). If you know how the sound pressure scales over wattage you will understand this needs a good amount of juice to power them. I usually have Zen CAN set at 6dB gain at 12-1 o'clock and sometimes at 12dB gain if I feel like it. I usually never had a necessity to push it till the 18dB gain setting. Bottom line - it is a powerful enough amp for most of the headphones out there.
Now coming to the special features - XBass and 3D
XBass is good, it gives a nice push to the bass especially sub-bass to enhance or at times bring out the rumble. It is a noticeable difference but not a huge one. And I feel it is not something easily achieved via EQ tuning. I could not. I had an EQ tuning for watching movies where I had elevated the bass to get the extra oomph. And I have to say I liked it better with the XBass turned on.
3D on the other hand though is not noticeable at all. Or at least I did not see any difference there. So I would not recommend buying the amp just for that feature.
All in all, I love the Zen CAN, it serves its purpose very well and looks great on my desk.
I paired this amplifier with the Chord Qutest DAC through the RCA input cables. The output is to my flagship Hifiman Ananda headphones through the balanced output. The price of this amp is almost 7 times lesser than the Chord Qutest DAC. However, I was pleasantly surprised not to see any degradation in the ultra clean sound of the Qutest through this amp. At 16k, this amp is really a steal.
The sound: The balanced output sounds amazing. The bass, mids and highs all sound clean and neutral. Some say this amp has a warm sound. I disagree and say it depends on the DAC you feed the amp with and also the headphones. The amp does not colour the sound in any way. It also has pretty good volume. With the Chord Qutest feeding 3 volts RCA signal to the amp, I keep the gain setting on the Zen can at 0 dB and volume control at most at 12 o'clock. So, this amp has plenty of volume. I also drive my Beyerdynamic DT770 pro (250 ohm) through this amp and get plenty volume at 6 dB setting. So pretty sure this should be able to handle headphones needing more power. There is slight hiss at very high volumes, but that isn't a concern cause anyone would become deaf listening at that volume. At low to medium volume, there is no hiss that can be heard.
Design: It has a sturdy metallic build and no ventilation holes. This is good cause dust cannot enter the unit. It looks classy with a satin finish. The unit can get warm. The volume pot is silky smooth (way better than the scratchy Schiit Magni 3 volume knob). The buttons are of good quality and looks like will last long. XBass is good to add some bass. But, I do not use it cause I prefer an unfiltered sound. Besides, my headphones have enough bass. 3D effect wasn't quite impressive. Though it gives the illusion of instruments moving further away from you, it brightens the hi-hat and crash sounds and other high frequency sounds a bit which I didn't like. Anyway this is a fancy feature which is of not much use to me. I prefer to keep all the effects (XBass and 3D) off. If IFi sold a version of the amp without the XBass and 3D options, I would buy that.
Conclusion: The Zen Can is an amazing amp for its price. To get the best from the amp and a good listening experience you should pair it with a good DAC and good headphones. Definitely recommended.
We thank you for this lovely review & we are glad you are enjoying it! Keep the music playing.
Metal build is very elegant and sturdy.......when paired with good DAC and Headphone, you can enjoy awesome sound quality and clarity.
Once reason gave 4 star is because i am using Beyerdynamic BT990 Pro-250 Ohm headphone through 6.6mm output and needs maximum gain setting at high volume to enjoy solid sound.
My suggestion is to use your headphone with 4.4mm balanced output as it delivers high Power comparatively with less distortion.
Being a class A Amp, heat dissipation is manageable.
Hi Vijay, We are grateful that you took the time out to leave us this note. We look forward to serving you again.
very clean, powerful amp
really opens the sound of headphones, drives even hard to drive headphone and more than just a regular amp, has a 2 sound alter options 3D and X-BASS
3D increases sound stage adequately really works with music (best with both open and closed back headphones)
X-BASS tights lower ends and also increases sub-bass (only if the headphones have better bass like DT-770 pros)
but using this special effects doesn't change the sound drastically it just adds some salt and pepper to ur liking
Yes i have paired it with IFI ZEN DAC which is also great and on the left is IBASSO D14 dac/amp using that as a line- out to my ZEN CAN
At the end its a great deal amp with not minimal performance but by the cost and hats off to headphone zone to bring like this brands to us
Drives even the Sundara with ease, which is a bit difficult to drive because the sensitivity is just 94dB. Sometimes, I use a lot of filters and EQs while listening to music and because of that I have to set negative gain offsets which impacts the final volume of the signal. Thankfully, the iFi Zen Can can amp it up to +18 dB, so I have a lot of headroom for filter processing.
I have been using the zen-dac for about a year now and i've been really happy with the upgrade compared to my mac output so was not really prepared for the sonic upgrade I would get with adding just an "amp" but I am blown away with th e details I now hear. I use a sundara as well as the senn 598 and both sound just brilliant with the amp on. Fantastic upgrade for music and work!
Hey Prashanth, we are so happy to hear that you are loving this product! Thanks for taking time and sharing this wonderful review. Happy listening! :)
Really feature rich at this price and no slouch on quality front either. XBass really adds to he body and 3D definitely separates out the instruments a bit more. Recommend keeping both on during listening. Need to pair with good DAC or similar source and probably test with DSD files to get best out of the Zen Can
So glad to know that you love them:) We look forward to serving you again. Happy listening!
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