iFi at Audio46
Your own personal Signature
Love your HIFIMAN headphones? Then the ZEN CAN Signature HFM analogue headphone amplifier with ActivEQ is for you.
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 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.
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.
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, 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 balanced 4.4mm Pentaconn 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 Pentaconn balanced output for headphones offering a 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 Pentaconn 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 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 Pentaconn 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.
- A fully-discrete and balanced amplifier audio circuit. The full symmetric dual-mono headphone amplifier with gold-plated 4.4mm balanced connection. Premium engineering is more expensive but lowers the noise floor to a whisper-quiet levels.
- As with many other iFi audio products, we’ve incorporated a custom OV Series operational-amplifier. This top-notch component contributes to the extremely low noise, low distortion (0.0001%) and wide bandwidth.
- Panasonic OS-CON caps totaling 5,410uF give very-low Equivalent Series Resistance (ESR), excellent noise reduction capability and frequency response characteristics. In addition, OS-CONs have a long-life span and its ESR changes little even at low temperatures since the electrolyte is solid.
They are not often found in products costing <US$1000.
- A Tokyo Cosmos Electric Co. (TOCOS) multi-track potentiometer is used. This has close channel matching tolerance for optimal performance (always use above 11 o’ clock).
- Switching between settings has been engineered to ensure sonic transparency with advanced trench technology MOSFET is used as a muting switch.
This FET-based switching is handled by a micro-controller, which only ‘wakes up’ when the user changes a setting, thus eradicating any sonically deleterious interference.
- TDK C0G (Class 1 ceramic) capacitors offer high stability and low losses for resonant circuit applications.
Getting ever closer to the theoretical ideal of pure, frequency-constant capacitance, these capacitors reduce capacitor-induced distortion to vanishingly low levels.
They are pricey but are a perfect addition to our products.
- We use ELNA Japan Silmic II capacitors for the power supplies.
The primary constituent of the developed dielectric is silk fibre. This material was believed as unfathomable as an aluminium electrolytic capacitor. The material beats silk fibre and mixes it with Manila hemp fibre to provide the dielectric to an aluminium electrolytic capacitor used for high-grade music. The result is second-to-none superior acoustic properties and excellent linearity.
|3.5 (SE), 4.4mm (BAL))
6.35 mm, 4.4 mm
0 dB, 6 dB,12 dB,18 dB adjust
0.0066% (BAL), 0.0058% (SE)
|Output Impedance (HP)||BAL
|ZOUT||Balanced line out
|SNR||122 dB (BAL)|
|Dynamic range||-122 dB (BAL)|
|Frequency response||(-3dB): 10 Hz – 200 kHz|
|Function Button||HFM adaption and/or XSpace; Bypass|
|Power||Maximum output power (16 ohms)
Maximum output power (300 ohms)
Maximum output power (600 ohms)
Maximum power consumption
|3.0 V / 600 mW (BAL), 4.0 V / 1000 mW (SE)
5.1 V / 756 mW (BAL), 7.6 V / 196 mW (SE)
15.2 V / 385 mW (BAL), 7.6 V / 98 mW (SE)
13 W / 2.6A
|Dimensions||160(w) x 117(d) x 35(h) mm
6.3" x 4.6" x 1.4"
|Weight||1.87 Ibs (0.85 kg)|