The original ZEN CAN, our all-analogue headphone amplifier, had the ability to drive tough headphone loads with a balanced circuit design, vanishingly low levels of distortion and exceptional sonics. The ZEN CAN Signature 6XX pushed this design even further with sonic tailoring specific to the ‘MassDrop x Sennheiser HD 6XX headphone’.
Now, we’ve finely tuned a brand new ZEN CAN Signature to work with HIFIMAN headphones – the ZEN CAN Signature HFM.
This custom ActivEQ setting is expertly tuned across the entire frequency response curve to bring out the best in these already remarkable headphones.
Take a look at what’s in the box.
Our ActivEQ feature combines active and passive components to create a specific EQ curve to suit a particular pair of headphones. This is performed in the analogue domain without adding any additional noise or distortion.
The ZEN CAN Signature HFM features an ActivEQ finely tuned towards HIFIMAN’s planar headphones.
HIFIMAN headphones offer remarkable transparency and present wide-open sound staging. The ZEN CAN Signature HFM enhances the texture of the deep bass and injects more immediacy into the upper mid-range.
One EQ. Many models.
Pressing the HFM button on the ZEN CAN Signature HFM calibrates its signal to complement the headphone’s response characteristics right across the frequency range. This then tunes its performance to work with HIFIMAN headphones.
Excellent results are found with the Sundara, HE-4XX, HE-400S, Edition X, HE-5 headphones to name but a few. Take a look at our HIFIMAN Curve and Compatibility chart.
As with our previous ZEN CAN Signature model, this feature can be switched on or off. Without ActivEQ engaged, the ZEN CAN Signature HFM’s performance is cleverly balanced to bring out the best in all other headphones and in-ear monitors.
Gain, gain and more gain.
The ZEN CAN Signature HFM has four gain settings in six dB steps – 0dB, 6dB, 12dB and 18db. We’ve called this PowerMatch.
This enables the amp to precisely suit the connected headphones. Unity gain (0dB) is useful to ensure low noise with sensitive in-ear monitors, while the higher gain settings make the most of tougher headphone loads, delivering excellent dynamic headroom.
This analogue processing mode compensates for the ‘in-head localisation’ effect that can occur when using headphones to listen to music that was mixed using a pair of speakers.
It widens the headphone soundstage to deliver a more spacious and speaker-like experience.
Nothing beats Balanced
The ZEN CAN Signature HFM’s circuitry is a balanced, symmetrical dual-mono design – a topology usually reserved for high-end headphone amps – with a number of key elements trickled down from the discrete Class A circuitry developed for iFi’s flagship headphone amplifier, the Pro iCAN.
Key components have been upgraded to enhance performance in line with the improvements made to the ZEN CAN Signature HFM, including the use of Panasonic OS-CON and Elna Silmic II capacitors.
Force of nature
The amp provides superb drive capability, delivering 1600mW (7.2V) into 32 ohms from the single-ended output, with 15V+ available to loads of 600 ohms or more through the balanced output.
The ZEN CAN Signature HFM continues the reputation of its predecessors and delivers ultra-low distortion, rich sonic detail, and engaging dynamics and the ability to drive all manner of headphones with ease. It’s a force of nature.
The ZEN CAN Signature HFM offers stereo RCA and 3.5mm single-ended inputs, plus a 4.4mm Balanced input. There is also a 4.4mm balanced output so you can connect to power amps equipped with a balanced input.
It features a pair of headphone outputs – a 6.3mm output for headphones that have a standard single-ended connector (compatible with all headphones) and a 4.4mm Balanced output for headphones offering balanced connection.
An increasing number of high-quality headphones and in-ear monitors either come so equipped or give the option of detaching the cable and upgrading to a 4.4mm Balanced connector, and this output makes the most of them (it is particularly recommended for high-impedance headphones).
The ZEN CAN Signature HFM can be combined with the new ZEN DAC Signature V2.
You can buy each unit separately and a ‘ZEN Signature HFM Set’ is also available. This includes both ZEN Signature units plus a high-performance 4.4mm Balanced cable (worth £69 when purchased separately) to connect them together.
When used together, the two ZEN Signatures make an unbeatable, desktop-sized headphone system for both digital and analogue listening.
more headphone power
Most modern systems use Digital Signal Processing. DSP samples analogue sound waves into a limited set of numbers and records them. The overuse of DSP can result in an over compressed unnatural sound and the translation and reassembly of data make digital devices prone to loss of quality.
All iFi products use Analogue Signal Processing as we believe it is better suited to audio. ASP does not cause signal quality to be lost as it records waveforms as they are and produces a more natural sound.
Gain is the amount of increase in audio signal strength. Gain is often expressed in decibels (dB).
So, what is a soundstage? Imagine yourself in a small theatre, 10 rows from the front, dead centre, watching an orchestra perform on stage. Now close your eyes. This is the ‘sound stage.’
In audio speak, it is an imaginary 3D space created by the high-quality reproduction of sound in a stereo speaker system. In other words, the soundstage allows the listener to hear the placement of the orchestra vis-a-vis instruments when listening to a given piece of music.
An unbalanced headphone cable has a left + and right + wire, for each respective side. The other, the third – wire is shared by both left and right channels. As this is shared, this gives rise to undesired coupling noise which is commonly referred to as ‘crosstalk.’
A balanced cable has the same left + and right +. But it has a separate left – and right -. With totally separate wiring ‘crosstalk’ is negligible. Therefore, a balanced connection is the superior headphone wiring configuration.