iFi is proud to present its flagship Professional ‘Pro’ series. The first product in the range is the Pro iCAN – a studio-grade headphone amplifier AND audiophile line-stage. Inside beats ‘two hearts’ as there is are two individual Solid-State and Tube amplification sections – selectable on the go. There is nothing quite like the Pro iCAN; literally.
Flagship, studio-grade headphone amplifier…
The Pro iCAN will for many, be used as a top-of-the-line, headphone amplifier that drives anything and everything – from CIEMs through to the most difficult to drive headphone ever made, the AKG K-1000.
Further, Gain is adjustable from 0dB/9dB/18dB. The Pro iCAN can output >10V in Single-Ended mode and 20V in Balanced-mode. The 20V mode is equivalent 100W into a 4 Ohm speaker. So the Pro iCAN can drive almost any headphone into very hard-clipping (protection circuitry typically kicks in under such circumstances).
…and audiophile line-stage.
The Pro iCAN has at the core, a Japan Alps motorised rotary volume potentiometer. This is the ‘6-Track’ version with 4 tracks used for a true balanced volume control. This is the litmus test for any amplifier to see if it is truly balanced, or operates internally in single-ended mode. Those using ‘2-Track’ volume controls may offer balanced in and out, but are not true balanced designs. The Pro iCAN however is fully-balanced from beginning to end.
Tube/ Solid-State Real-time Switching
Compared to high-end headphone amplifiers, the tube stage of the Pro iCAN is different in two-ways. First, we don’t use good-quality 6922s or similar. Instead we use the very best; General Electric 5670 which is the premium variant with a different pinout.
Second and just as important is the circuit design. Unlike other headphone amplifiers that have the same circuit and just switch in/out the tube section, the Pro iCAN is the very first of its kind that has two individual input circuits – one tube and one Solid-State. This results in the best sonics of both worlds because the signal path is the shortest and there is no compromise to ‘shoe horn’ the tubes into an already existing solid-state circuit.
For the first time, one can enjoy both the sound of Solid-State and Tubes in a single package (rather than as an ‘Effect Type’ add-on within an otherwise conventional solid-state design) and be able to switch in real-time. For some recordings and headphones/loudspeakers, Solid-State may sound ‘more lively.’. For others, Tube and Tube+ (especially Tube+) will sound more ‘luxurious.’ Select the one that sounds best for that particular moment, be it the recording, the mood or even the weather. After all, enjoying music is an experience to be savoured and not a scientific research exercise.
We haven’t stopped there. We are tube lovers and we appreciate sometimes there is a need for even more tube-like sound, there are two tube settings – Tube and Tube+. The Tube+ position reduces overall loop-gain and thus negative feedback to the minimum. This gives a different trade-off between the tube’s natural harmonics and the transient performance.
Class A Solid-State, J-FETs and Fully-Discrete
The Solid-State amplification section of the Pro iCAN is just as seriously executed as the Tube amplification section.
The amplifer 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 minimising any drawbacks. Furthermore, the circuit is pure DC coupled to avoid using any sonically-degrading coupling capacitors.
3D Holographic® not one but two circuits
There are two 3D Holographic SoundSystems:
For Headphones: (Headphone Outputs)
The 3D Holographic for Headphones is not based on a standard cross-feed system, as found in some High-End headphone amplifiers. Many so called ‘3D systems’ are usually DSP based that artificially effect the sound and add unwanted reverb in order to simulate a ‘spacious‘ type of sound.
It’s true that traditional cross-feed tends to produce an ‘out of head’ sound, but with much diminished spatial components and a narrower soundstage, sometimes almost approaching mono. Most DSP based 3D designs produce an unnatural, echo-like sound, which may initially be impressive, but soon becomes tiring.
By contrast, 3D Holographic for Headphones, provides not only ‘out of head’ placement of the sound sources, but renders the whole sound field in a manner that strongly parallels listening to loudspeakers in a normal room, all achieved without the added reverb. This is the first system in commercial production to achieve this.
30° Loudspeaker Angle
60° Loudspeaker Angle
90° Loudspeaker Angle
3D Holographic Sound for Headphones
As stereophonic recording and reproduction became widespread in the 1950’s, a glaring problem was noticed when replaying such recordings through headphones.
First formally described by Benjamin B. Bauer of CBS and previously Shure Brothers, in his 1960 patent filing for the US Patent # 3088997A as a “gross distortion in space perspective” and later gained the name “in-head localisation”. BB Bauer proposed a correction circuit, quite similar in nature in fact to the EMI Stereosonic Circuit originated by Blumlein, but with a near opposite transfer function.
Reference class parts quality
ProiCAN_tu7 The Pro iCAN employed TDK Japan-made C0G type capacitors and Vishay MELF type thin film resistors. These are complimented by Panasonic Japan-made ECPU Film Capacitors explicitly designed for audio use with extremely low distortion (<0.00001% @ 1V/10kHz).
SILMICCAPACITORS We employed ELNA Japan-made Silmic II capacitors for the power supplies. These use special silk fibre paper for the isolating barrier resulting in decreased odd-order distortion and reduced microphonics/mechanical resonances.
As one can see, the Pro iCAN despits its ‘desktop’ footprint is absolutely chocked full of premium components yet with a 4-layer pcb, has the ultimate topology in signal path layout/grounding.
There is just no more ‘real estate’ left to develop. It truly is deserving of the iFi flagship mantle.
|Gain:||0dB, 9dB and 18dB user-selectable|
|Frequency Response:||0.5Hz to 500kHz(-3dB)|
|Total Harmonic Distortion (THD, Balanced/Single-Ended):||
|Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR, Balanced/Single-Ended):||>147dB(A) / > 137dB(A)|
|Output Power (16Ω, Balanced/Single-Ended):||>14,000mW / >4,800mW|
|Output Voltage (600Ω, Balanced/Single-Ended):||>23V / >11.5V|
|Input Voltage (Pro iCAN):||DC 9V/6.7A – 18V/3.35A|
|Input Voltage (iPower Plus):||AC 85 – 265V, 50/60Hz|
|Power Consumption:||≤ 22W idle, 50W max.|
|Dimensions:||213(l) x 192.5(w) x 63.3(h) mm|
Gain = 0dB, 0.775V(0dBu) with 300 Ohm load unless stated otherwise
SNR Balanced re 23V, SNR SE re. 11.5V