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Tag Archives: iFi Audio iCAN Phantom

A brand new reference: introducing the iFi Audio iCAN Phantom

From the iFi Audio press launch:

iFi’s new flagship analogue headphone amplifier delivers reference-quality sound with all the things from hyper-sensitive in-ear screens to probably the most power-hungry electrostatic headphones 

Southport, England – Since its formation in 2012, iFi has persistently delivered headphone amplifiers which can be rated on the high of their class, from small and reasonably priced transportable gadgets to high-performance amps to make use of at dwelling. 

For the previous seven years, the Pro iCAN and subsequent Pro iCAN Signature have represented the head of iFi’s vary, extensively recognised to be among the many best headphone amps on the planet owing to their mixture of helpful versatility, wonderful circuit design and supremely participating efficiency. But summer time 2023 sees the Pro’s crown usurped by a fair mightier headphone amp champ – the brand new iCAN Phantom. 

iFi’s new reference-class analogue headphone amp takes the Pro iCAN, refines and enhances each aspect of its circuitry to additional elevate its efficiency, incorporates expertise from the Pro iESL – beforehand a separate part – for electrostatic headphones, and provides a brand new, superior person interface and network-connected management system.  

The result’s a headphone amp really worthy of its flagship standing, with exemplary construct high quality, subtle expertise, an unrivalled specification and memorable versatility, expertly engineered to drive each headphone sort to its full sonic potential. From ultra-sensitive IEMs, to the best dynamic driver and planar magnetic headphones, to probably the most power-hungry electrostatic designs, the iCAN Phantom delivers a really distinctive headphone expertise – exquisitely tailor-made to the necessities of the listener. 

Another string to the iCAN Phantom’s bow is its capacity to carry out as a high-end hi-fi preamplifier, enabling headphones and audio system to be mixed in a single high-performance audio system. Whether you utilize your favorite headphones to plug your self into an intoxicating non-public musical universe or interact your audio system to fill the room with wonderful sound, the iCAN Phantom is brilliantly engineered to put on the coronary heart of a house audio system for probably the most discerning of music lovers. 

What’s in a reputation? 

Ever for the reason that press dubbed a newly developed Rolls-Royce “Silver Ghost” within the early twentieth century, the well-known car marque has given its fashions ghostly names, evoking qualities which can be so extraordinary as to appear supernatural. There has been a “Phantom” within the Rolls-Royce vary since 1925, all the time revered for the exceptional high quality of its engineering, its distinguished look and eerily easy, quiet journey. 

These are qualities that iFi sought to mirror in its new flagship headphone amp, which is why the corporate named it the iCAN Phantom – the Rolls-Royce of headphone amplifiers. It exemplifies engineering excellence to ship distinctive, ultra-low-noise audio efficiency, coupled with a particular exterior design and dual-level black and silver end that echoes the two-tone color schemes adorning many Rolls-Royce automobiles for many years. 

 

iFi Audio iCAN Phantom
Supremely constructed with a dual-level black and silver end, the iCAN Phantom is the Rolls-Royce of headphone amps.

Building a flagship 

A flagship audio part ought to be constructed and completed to an distinctive commonplace and the iCAN Phantom actually matches the invoice. It appears to be like in contrast to some other headphone amp; its design provides the looks of two items, however it’s in reality a single, dual-level system, the total peak of which is totally utilised by its multi-layer circuit design. Its enclosure measures 256x120x185mm (WxHxD) and is sturdily constructed from aluminium, with the underside layer sporting cable connections back and front, and the highest layer providing tactile controls and a vibrant OLED show. 

The high of the iCAN Phantom incorporates a flush-fitting smoked glass panel, via which the amp’s circuitry – together with its glowing audio valves – may be glimpsed. Circular aluminium vents protrude from the glass, guaranteeing the circuitry inside doesn’t overheat. Clever design touches abound; for instance, when not in use the sockets on the entrance or again may be hidden by a neat aluminium panel that attaches magnetically. (This panel additionally holds the info playing cards for the electrostatic bias voltage settings – these are described later within the press launch.) The iCAN Phantom additionally comes with a beautiful, straightforward to make use of aluminium distant management that places the handsets equipped with many audio parts to disgrace. 

Valve or strong state – a story of two enter levels

Like the Pro iCAN earlier than it, the iCAN Phantom sports activities a number of distinctive options that set it aside from different headphone amps. One such facility is the incorporation of two enter levels – one valve/tube-based, the opposite strong state – enabling the person to modify between the 2 in actual time. These enter levels are totally separate, which implies they are often stored quick and direct for optimum purity slightly than complicating the sign path (for instance, by switching tubes out and in of a single circuit). 

The totally discrete Class A solid-state enter stage makes use of J-FETs, whereas the all-valve Class A circuit includes a hand-selected, computer-matched pair of General Electric 5670 tubes (a premium variant of the 6922). This stage has two selectable modes – Tube and Tube+. The latter minimises general loop-gain and thus destructive suggestions, giving a distinct trade-off between the tube’s pure harmonics and the transient efficiency. The impact is like three amplifiers in a single, every with a distinct sonic presentation. 

iFi Audio iCAN Phantom
The swap to the left of the OLED show is used to pick out between Solid State, Tube and Tube+

While it’s actually enjoyable to have the ability to examine the variations between vacuum tube and solid-state sound in actual time, the inclusion of those two separate enter levels is far more than a gimmick. With completely different supply gadgets, various music kinds and an abundance of headphone and speaker varieties accessible to listeners, every of those circuits come into their very own and could also be most popular at completely different occasions. For instance, the solid-state stage presents tempo and immediacy; the Tube mode provides fluidity and a free-breathing dynamic high quality; and Tube+ accentuates the sonic affect of the valves, delivering a spellbinding romantic heat which will go well with, for instance, acoustic and vocal musical kinds.

The equipped GE 5670 tubes have an anticipated lifespan of round 100,000 hours. When ultimately the time comes to exchange them, the iCAN Phantom’s glass high is definitely eliminated to offer entry. The amp can also be appropriate with 6922 tubes (an adapter for the 6922’s pinout is included). 

PureWavePRO – reference-class totally balanced circuit design for the purest sound 

Balanced circuit design has lengthy been thought of a righteous path to audio excellence in high-end amp design, however the time period ‘balanced’ is utilized in other ways and doesn’t all the time imply the identical factor. The iCAN Phantom takes balanced circuit design to the acute – totally differential from enter to output, minimising noise and crosstalk within the sign path for final sonic purity. 

Essentially, ‘totally differential’ circuit design – or True Differential Balanced, as iFi calls it – signifies that every channel (left and proper) is totally separated within the circuit design, and every of those channels has two separate indicators of equal degree however reverse polarity (optimistic and destructive). This requires 4 separate amp circuits, two for the left channel and two for the fitting channel – far more pricey and complicated to implement than single-ended circuit designs, however the sonic dividends are vastly worthwhile. 

 

iFi Audio iCAN Phantom
The iCAN Phantom’s meticulous, multi-level circuit board structure options True Differential Balanced design

 

The iCAN Phantom’s True Differential Balanced circuitry is coupled to a quantity management with six decks – two decks for every channel (optimistic and destructive) with the ultimate two decks used for monitoring the amount management operation. The motorised quantity management potentiometer is custom-made by ALPS in Japan and is of outstanding high quality. 

Because the 2 halves of the amount management and the 2 halves of the amplification function differentially, they successfully develop into a single stage. So, though the circuitry is elaborately carried out, it boils right down to the best design attainable for a headphone amplifier – a quantity management, a achieve stage and a present buffer. 

iFi has championed balanced circuit design for years and lots of of its present amp gadgets in any respect method of costs incorporate balanced circuit ideas. Since 2020, iFi’s most superior balanced circuit ideas have been collectively dubbed PureWave, referring to the sonic purity they obtain due to distinctive linearity and infinitesimally low ranges of noise and distortion. The iCAN Phantom’s True Differential Balanced circuit design, utilising the very best high quality circuit parts, is the last word expression of those ideas – that’s why iFi calls it PureWavePRO.

iESL expertise – for electrostatic headphones and extra

Most headphones create sound through the use of dynamic (or transferring coil) drivers to maneuver air. A smaller quantity use planar magnetic diaphragms, that are completely different in kind and operation, however nonetheless use magnetic fields to trigger movement. At the excessive finish of the headphone scene there may be one other, uncommon however fabulous sounding driver sort – electrostatic headphones. These incorporate an electrically charged diaphragm positioned between two conductive plates or electrodes; while dynamic and planar headphones are inclined to ship stronger bass response, nothing can beat the open soundstaging and magical excessive frequencies of a top-quality electrostatic design. 

For many headphone customers there’s a important disadvantage – electrostatic drivers have extraordinarily excessive impedance, which implies they want specialised amplifiers to spice up the voltage of the audio sign far, far larger than that required by different headphone varieties while additionally dropping the present of the sign to protected ranges. One manner of doing that is so as to add a separate unit known as an electrostatic ‘energiser’ to a daily amplifier; that is the method iFi took with its previous-generation Pro Series, which gave the choice of including the Pro iESL energiser to the Pro iCAN headphone amp. 

iFi has chosen to include its iESL energiser expertise throughout the iCAN Phantom, thereby making a single amplifier that may deal with each headphone sort with aplomb. But it’s not solely homeowners of electrostatic headphones who profit from this endeavour – the part high quality and intelligent circuit design required to ship such a excessive degree of efficiency with electrostatic headphones elevates the amp’s efficiency with different headphone varieties too. 

 

iFi Audio iCAN Phantom
The backside degree of the multi-layer PCB structure accommodates the PPCTs – seen right here on the left of their shielded enclosures

Transformer high quality is important to sound high quality, which is why the iCAN Phantom incorporates custom-made PPCTs (Pinstripe Permalloy Core Transformer). These incorporate a GOSS/Mu-Metal hybrid core and sophisticated multi-section winding with each vertical and horizontal sectioning, utilizing extraordinarily skinny wire that’s hand-wound with nice precision. This transformer is able to exceptionally large bandwidth, ultra-low distortion and excellent linearity. 

The consideration to each circuit element is excessive, from enter to output. For instance, gold-plated silver contact relays, stuffed with an inert gasoline, guarantee good efficiency over a protracted lifespan, and meticulously engineered semiconductors, shielded from noise in gold-plated copper circumstances, ship constant, distortion-free sound. 

Powerful amplification delivers musical gratification 

The iCAN Phantom is a very highly effective headphone amplifier, able to delivering greater than 15,000mW from its balanced outputs and greater than 5,760mW from its single-ended outputs into 16 ohms. In phrases of voltage, it might provide greater than 27V right into a 600-ohm load; with regards to electrostatic headphones, it delivers as much as 640V. 

The iCAN Phantom’s capacitive battery energy provide, initially developed for the Pro iESL and additional enhanced right here, is intrinsic to its excessive degree of efficiency. Rather than counting on a mains-powered switched-mode step-up circuit, a big battery of custom-made movie capacitors rated at 1,000V DC is charged and sometimes topped up utilizing mains energy. This ‘digital battery pack’ delivers pure DC, fully freed from AC and switching noise – the best high-voltage provide for electrostatic headphones. 

Two unbiased circuits ship the electrostatic bias voltage – one for 230V ‘regular’ bias and the opposite adjustable between 500V and 640V to ship an ideal match for each electrostatic headphone on the planet. (There’s extra details about choosing ‘{custom}’ bias voltages beneath.) 

 

iFi Audio iCAN Phantom
A neat choice of switches, buttons and dials permit the person to custom-tune the amp’s efficiency

Sonic tailoring for an immaculate match 

The alternative between solid-state and valve-based enter levels isn’t the one manner to make sure the iCAN Phantom’s efficiency completely matches your headphone choice and the music you play. A variety of adjustable settings allow you to dial within the good efficiency – right here’s a abstract: 

For dynamic and planar magnetic headphones and IEMs: 

  • Adjustable achieve Three settings – 0dB, 9dB and 18dB – allow the amp to exactly match the related headphones. Unity achieve (0dB) is beneficial to make sure low noise with extra delicate headphones and IEMs, whereas the upper achieve settings take advantage of harder headphone masses, delivering wonderful dynamic headroom. 7 
  •  IEMatch This proprietary iFi circuit attenuates the output to higher go well with high-sensitivity IEMs (in-ear screens), eradicating potential background noise and rising the usable quantity vary. This may be optionally utilized to the three.5mm and balanced 4.4mm outputs. 
  • XBass analogue processing This proprietary circuit may be engaged to boost low frequencies, its sophistication enabling it to take action while sustaining bass definition and with out muddying the midrange. This is beneficial with, for instance, some open-back headphones that sound bass-light; it ‘corrects’ the bass in order that the listener hears low frequencies because the artist supposed. The iCAN Phantom presents three XBass steps – 10Hz, 20Hz and 40Hz – or it may be switched out of the sign path altogether. 
  • XSpace analogue processing Another proprietary analogue processing mode, XSpace is designed to boost soundstage width and depth. The iCAN Phantom contains two XSpace matrices, one for headphones and the opposite for audio system, with computerized switching between the 2. XSpace for Headphones compensates for the ‘in-head localisation’ impact that may happen when listening to music that was combined utilizing audio system, widening the headphone soundstage to ship a extra spacious and speaker-like expertise. XSpace for Speakers will increase the width of the obvious soundstage past the width dictated by speaker placement. Both types of XSpace characteristic a number of ranges which may be chosen in line with choice or switched out of the sign path fully. 

 

iFi Audio iCAN Phantom
Six information playing cards permit bias voltage to be set exactly for each pair of electrostatic headphones

For electrostatic headphones: 

  • Custom bias voltage playing cards Electrostatic headphones have various requirement with regards to bias voltage. The iCAN Phantom has two outputs for electrostatics – one set on the ‘regular’ bias voltage of 230V, the opposite providing variable bias voltage between 500V and 640V, chosen by the person. It is feasible to wreck the headphones if the fallacious voltage is chosen; to make this far much less seemingly, iFi has created a collection of knowledge playing cards that specify completely different bias voltages (these are equipped with the amp). Simply choose the cardboard that matches the headphone’s specification and pop it within the card slot – there are playing cards for 500V, 540V, 580V, 600V, 620V and 640V, every with a useful information on the again exhibiting which headphone model is appropriate with that voltage.
  • Load impedance The impedance response may be adjusted from 16 ohms to 96 ohms. Lower impedance settings create a better step-up and can produce a louder sound degree on the similar quantity setting. 
  • AC termination This low- and high-impedance setting for the shared node between the channels for bias impacts a posh set of parameters, however most noticeably the width and depth of the soundstage. 

iFi Nexus – network-connected management 

The iCAN Phantom is the primary product to include iFi’s Nexus module, which mixes with an app to offer a complete, scalable network-connected management system. The options that Nexus presents will develop over time; at launch, the Nexus app permits your Android or iOS system to behave as a ‘tremendous distant management’ for the iCAN Phantom, offering entry to further options not accessible by way of the amp’s fascia or commonplace distant management. 

The app can show diagnostic data and permit the person to watch the iCAN Phantom’s operational situation in actual time – for instance, voltages, the situation and projected life span of the vacuum tubes and so forth. It will also be used to use over-the-air updates to the iCAN Phantom’s firmware, downloading and putting in replace recordsdata by way of your own home Wi-Fi community. 

Nexus can be integrated into extra iFi gadgets over time – for instance, a number of new mid- and top-tier DAC/amps set to reach later this yr will assist it. As the variety of Nexus-compatible iFi gadgets grows and the app’s performance expands, a network-connected iFi ‘ecosystem’ will develop – one app for all of your necessities, like a concierge service for iFi prospects. It will allow further software-driven performance to be delivered and shared throughout current iFi gadgets, in addition to offering a direct technical assist service and even doubtlessly a web-based retailer throughout the app. 

 

iFi Audio iCAN Phantom
The iCAN Phantom’s black decrease part presents a plethora of connection choices back and front

 

Every connection – iFi’s obtained it coated 

The iCAN Phantom provides an array of balanced and single-ended connection choices. The headphone outputs are on the entrance, with the supply inputs and preamp outputs on the rear. Here’s a abstract:

Headphone outputs (dynamic/planar)  Source inputs 
1x 3-pin balanced XLR (L/R)  1x balanced XLR (L/R) 
1x 4-pin balanced XLR  3x RCA (L/R) 
1x 4.4mm balanced  Preamp outputs 
1x 6.3mm (optimistic section)  1x balanced XLR (L/R) 
1x 6.3mm (inverted section)  1x RCA (L/R) 
1x 3.5mm (S-Balanced) 
Headphone outputs (electrostatic) 
1x 5-pin regular bias 
1x 5-pin {custom} bias 

Price and availability 

The iCAN Phantom is obtainable from chosen retailers at an RRP of £3,749. Pre-orders are actually open, with retail inventory anticipated to reach on the finish of June. 

www.ifi-audio.com

Armour Home: +44(0)1279 501111

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The put up A brand new reference: introducing the iFi Audio iCAN Phantom appeared first on Hi-Fi+.

A brand new reference: introducing the iFi Audio iCAN Phantom

From the iFi Audio press launch:

iFi’s new flagship analogue headphone amplifier delivers reference-quality sound with every part from hyper-sensitive in-ear screens to probably the most power-hungry electrostatic headphones 

Southport, England – Since its formation in 2012, iFi has persistently delivered headphone amplifiers which are rated on the prime of their class, from small and inexpensive transportable gadgets to high-performance amps to make use of at residence. 

For the previous seven years, the Pro iCAN and subsequent Pro iCAN Signature have represented the head of iFi’s vary, extensively recognised to be among the many most interesting headphone amps on the planet owing to their mixture of helpful versatility, glorious circuit design and supremely participating efficiency. But summer time 2023 sees the Pro’s crown usurped by a fair mightier headphone amp champ – the brand new iCAN Phantom. 

iFi’s new reference-class analogue headphone amp takes the Pro iCAN, refines and enhances each component of its circuitry to additional elevate its efficiency, incorporates know-how from the Pro iESL – beforehand a separate part – for electrostatic headphones, and provides a brand new, superior consumer interface and network-connected management system.  

The result’s a headphone amp actually worthy of its flagship standing, with exemplary construct high quality, refined know-how, an unrivalled specification and memorable versatility, expertly engineered to drive each headphone kind to its full sonic potential. From ultra-sensitive IEMs, to the best dynamic driver and planar magnetic headphones, to probably the most power-hungry electrostatic designs, the iCAN Phantom delivers a very distinctive headphone expertise – exquisitely tailor-made to the necessities of the listener. 

Another string to the iCAN Phantom’s bow is its capability to carry out as a high-end hi-fi preamplifier, enabling headphones and audio system to be mixed in a single high-performance audio system. Whether you employ your favorite headphones to plug your self into an intoxicating non-public musical universe or interact your audio system to fill the room with superb sound, the iCAN Phantom is brilliantly engineered to put on the coronary heart of a house audio system for probably the most discerning of music lovers. 

What’s in a reputation? 

Ever for the reason that press dubbed a newly developed Rolls-Royce “Silver Ghost” within the early twentieth century, the well-known vehicle marque has given its fashions ghostly names, evoking qualities which are so extraordinary as to appear supernatural. There has been a “Phantom” within the Rolls-Royce vary since 1925, all the time revered for the exceptional high quality of its engineering, its distinguished look and eerily clean, quiet journey. 

These are qualities that iFi sought to mirror in its new flagship headphone amp, which is why the corporate named it the iCAN Phantom – the Rolls-Royce of headphone amplifiers. It exemplifies engineering excellence to ship distinctive, ultra-low-noise audio efficiency, coupled with a particular exterior design and dual-level black and silver end that echoes the two-tone color schemes adorning many Rolls-Royce automobiles for many years. 

 

iFi Audio iCAN Phantom
Supremely constructed with a dual-level black and silver end, the iCAN Phantom is the Rolls-Royce of headphone amps.

Building a flagship 

A flagship audio part needs to be constructed and completed to an distinctive normal and the iCAN Phantom definitely matches the invoice. It seems to be in contrast to every other headphone amp; its design provides the looks of two models, however it’s in reality a single, dual-level machine, the complete peak of which is absolutely utilised by its multi-layer circuit design. Its enclosure measures 256x120x185mm (WxHxD) and is sturdily constructed from aluminium, with the underside layer sporting cable connections back and front, and the highest layer providing tactile controls and a vibrant OLED show. 

The prime of the iCAN Phantom incorporates a flush-fitting smoked glass panel, via which the amp’s circuitry – together with its glowing audio valves – could be glimpsed. Circular aluminium vents protrude from the glass, making certain the circuitry inside doesn’t overheat. Clever design touches abound; for instance, when not in use the sockets on the entrance or again could be hidden by a neat aluminium panel that attaches magnetically. (This panel additionally holds the information playing cards for the electrostatic bias voltage settings – these are described later within the press launch.) The iCAN Phantom additionally comes with a gorgeous, straightforward to make use of aluminium distant management that places the handsets provided with many audio elements to disgrace. 

Valve or stable state – a story of two enter levels

Like the Pro iCAN earlier than it, the iCAN Phantom sports activities a number of distinctive options that set it other than different headphone amps. One such facility is the incorporation of two enter levels – one valve/tube-based, the opposite stable state – enabling the consumer to modify between the 2 in actual time. These enter levels are totally separate, which suggests they are often saved brief and direct for optimum purity somewhat than complicating the sign path (for instance, by switching tubes out and in of a single circuit). 

The absolutely discrete Class A solid-state enter stage makes use of J-FETs, whereas the all-valve Class A circuit contains a hand-selected, computer-matched pair of General Electric 5670 tubes (a premium variant of the 6922). This stage has two selectable modes – Tube and Tube+. The latter minimises general loop-gain and thus destructive suggestions, giving a distinct trade-off between the tube’s pure harmonics and the transient efficiency. The impact is like three amplifiers in a single, every with a distinct sonic presentation. 

iFi Audio iCAN Phantom
The swap to the left of the OLED show is used to pick between Solid State, Tube and Tube+

While it’s definitely enjoyable to have the ability to evaluate the variations between vacuum tube and solid-state sound in actual time, the inclusion of those two separate enter levels is rather more than a gimmick. With completely different supply gadgets, various music types and an abundance of headphone and speaker sorts accessible to listeners, every of those circuits come into their very own and could also be most well-liked at completely different occasions. For instance, the solid-state stage gives tempo and immediacy; the Tube mode provides fluidity and a free-breathing dynamic high quality; and Tube+ accentuates the sonic affect of the valves, delivering a spellbinding romantic heat that will swimsuit, for instance, acoustic and vocal musical types.

The provided GE 5670 tubes have an anticipated lifespan of round 100,000 hours. When ultimately the time comes to interchange them, the iCAN Phantom’s glass prime is definitely eliminated to supply entry. The amp can also be suitable with 6922 tubes (an adapter for the 6922’s pinout is included). 

PureWavePRO – reference-class absolutely balanced circuit design for the purest sound 

Balanced circuit design has lengthy been thought-about a righteous path to audio excellence in high-end amp design, however the time period ‘balanced’ is utilized in alternative ways and doesn’t all the time imply the identical factor. The iCAN Phantom takes balanced circuit design to the acute – absolutely differential from enter to output, minimising noise and crosstalk within the sign path for final sonic purity. 

Essentially, ‘absolutely differential’ circuit design – or True Differential Balanced, as iFi calls it – signifies that every channel (left and proper) is absolutely separated within the circuit design, and every of those channels has two separate indicators of equal degree however reverse polarity (optimistic and destructive). This requires 4 separate amp circuits, two for the left channel and two for the fitting channel – rather more pricey and sophisticated to implement than single-ended circuit designs, however the sonic dividends are massively worthwhile. 

 

iFi Audio iCAN Phantom
The iCAN Phantom’s meticulous, multi-level circuit board structure options True Differential Balanced design

 

The iCAN Phantom’s True Differential Balanced circuitry is coupled to a quantity management with six decks – two decks for every channel (optimistic and destructive) with the ultimate two decks used for monitoring the amount management operation. The motorised quantity management potentiometer is custom-made by ALPS in Japan and is of remarkable high quality. 

Because the 2 halves of the amount management and the 2 halves of the amplification function differentially, they successfully change into a single stage. So, though the circuitry is elaborately carried out, it boils right down to the only design attainable for a headphone amplifier – a quantity management, a acquire stage and a present buffer. 

iFi has championed balanced circuit design for years and plenty of of its present amp gadgets in any respect method of costs incorporate balanced circuit rules. Since 2020, iFi’s most superior balanced circuit ideas have been collectively dubbed PureWave, referring to the sonic purity they obtain due to distinctive linearity and infinitesimally low ranges of noise and distortion. The iCAN Phantom’s True Differential Balanced circuit design, utilising the best high quality circuit elements, is the last word expression of those rules – that’s why iFi calls it PureWavePRO.

iESL know-how – for electrostatic headphones and extra

Most headphones create sound through the use of dynamic (or shifting coil) drivers to maneuver air. A smaller quantity use planar magnetic diaphragms, that are completely different in type and operation, however nonetheless use magnetic fields to trigger movement. At the excessive finish of the headphone scene there’s one other, uncommon however fabulous sounding driver kind – electrostatic headphones. These incorporate an electrically charged diaphragm positioned between two conductive plates or electrodes; while dynamic and planar headphones are inclined to ship stronger bass response, nothing can beat the open soundstaging and magical excessive frequencies of a top-quality electrostatic design. 

For many headphone customers there’s a important disadvantage – electrostatic drivers have extraordinarily excessive impedance, which suggests they want specialised amplifiers to spice up the voltage of the audio sign far, far greater than that required by different headphone sorts while additionally dropping the present of the sign to protected ranges. One approach of doing that is so as to add a separate unit known as an electrostatic ‘energiser’ to a daily amplifier; that is the strategy iFi took with its previous-generation Pro Series, which gave the choice of including the Pro iESL energiser to the Pro iCAN headphone amp. 

iFi has chosen to include its iESL energiser know-how throughout the iCAN Phantom, thereby making a single amplifier that may deal with each headphone kind with aplomb. But it’s not solely homeowners of electrostatic headphones who profit from this endeavour – the part high quality and intelligent circuit design required to ship such a excessive degree of efficiency with electrostatic headphones elevates the amp’s efficiency with different headphone sorts too. 

 

iFi Audio iCAN Phantom
The backside degree of the multi-layer PCB structure accommodates the PPCTs – seen right here on the left of their shielded enclosures

Transformer high quality is vital to sound high quality, which is why the iCAN Phantom incorporates custom-made PPCTs (Pinstripe Permalloy Core Transformer). These incorporate a GOSS/Mu-Metal hybrid core and sophisticated multi-section winding with each vertical and horizontal sectioning, utilizing extraordinarily skinny wire that’s hand-wound with nice precision. This transformer is able to exceptionally broad bandwidth, ultra-low distortion and excellent linearity. 

The consideration to each circuit element is excessive, from enter to output. For instance, gold-plated silver contact relays, full of an inert gasoline, guarantee excellent efficiency over an extended lifespan, and meticulously engineered semiconductors, shielded from noise in gold-plated copper instances, ship constant, distortion-free sound. 

Powerful amplification delivers musical gratification 

The iCAN Phantom is a very highly effective headphone amplifier, able to delivering greater than 15,000mW from its balanced outputs and greater than 5,760mW from its single-ended outputs into 16 ohms. In phrases of voltage, it could possibly provide greater than 27V right into a 600-ohm load; in the case of electrostatic headphones, it delivers as much as 640V. 

The iCAN Phantom’s capacitive battery energy provide, initially developed for the Pro iESL and additional enhanced right here, is intrinsic to its excessive degree of efficiency. Rather than counting on a mains-powered switched-mode step-up circuit, a big battery of custom-made movie capacitors rated at 1,000V DC is charged and infrequently topped up utilizing mains energy. This ‘digital battery pack’ delivers pure DC, fully freed from AC and switching noise – the best high-voltage provide for electrostatic headphones. 

Two unbiased circuits ship the electrostatic bias voltage – one for 230V ‘regular’ bias and the opposite adjustable between 500V and 640V to ship an ideal match for each electrostatic headphone on the planet. (There’s extra details about deciding on ‘{custom}’ bias voltages under.) 

 

iFi Audio iCAN Phantom
A neat number of switches, buttons and dials enable the consumer to custom-tune the amp’s efficiency

Sonic tailoring for an immaculate match 

The alternative between solid-state and valve-based enter levels isn’t the one approach to make sure the iCAN Phantom’s efficiency completely matches your headphone choice and the music you play. A spread of adjustable settings allow you to dial within the excellent efficiency – right here’s a abstract: 

For dynamic and planar magnetic headphones and IEMs: 

  • Adjustable acquire Three settings – 0dB, 9dB and 18dB – allow the amp to exactly match the related headphones. Unity acquire (0dB) is helpful to make sure low noise with extra delicate headphones and IEMs, whereas the upper acquire settings benefit from harder headphone masses, delivering glorious dynamic headroom. 7 
  •  IEMatch This proprietary iFi circuit attenuates the output to raised swimsuit high-sensitivity IEMs (in-ear screens), eradicating potential background noise and rising the usable quantity vary. This could be optionally utilized to the three.5mm and balanced 4.4mm outputs. 
  • XBass analogue processing This proprietary circuit could be engaged to reinforce low frequencies, its sophistication enabling it to take action while sustaining bass definition and with out muddying the midrange. This is helpful with, for instance, some open-back headphones that sound bass-light; it ‘corrects’ the bass in order that the listener hears low frequencies because the artist meant. The iCAN Phantom gives three XBass steps – 10Hz, 20Hz and 40Hz – or it may be switched out of the sign path altogether. 
  • XSpace analogue processing Another proprietary analogue processing mode, XSpace is designed to reinforce soundstage width and depth. The iCAN Phantom contains two XSpace matrices, one for headphones and the opposite for audio system, with automated switching between the 2. XSpace for Headphones compensates for the ‘in-head localisation’ impact that may happen when listening to music that was combined utilizing audio system, widening the headphone soundstage to ship a extra spacious and speaker-like expertise. XSpace for Speakers will increase the width of the obvious soundstage past the width dictated by speaker placement. Both types of XSpace function a number of ranges that could be chosen in line with desire or switched out of the sign path fully. 

 

iFi Audio iCAN Phantom
Six knowledge playing cards enable bias voltage to be set exactly for each pair of electrostatic headphones

For electrostatic headphones: 

  • Custom bias voltage playing cards Electrostatic headphones have various requirement in the case of bias voltage. The iCAN Phantom has two outputs for electrostatics – one set on the ‘regular’ bias voltage of 230V, the opposite providing variable bias voltage between 500V and 640V, chosen by the consumer. It is feasible to wreck the headphones if the flawed voltage is chosen; to make this far much less seemingly, iFi has created a collection of information playing cards that specify completely different bias voltages (these are provided with the amp). Simply choose the cardboard that matches the headphone’s specification and pop it within the card slot – there are playing cards for 500V, 540V, 580V, 600V, 620V and 640V, every with a useful information on the again displaying which headphone model is suitable with that voltage.
  • Load impedance The impedance response could be adjusted from 16 ohms to 96 ohms. Lower impedance settings create a higher step-up and can produce a louder sound degree on the identical quantity setting. 
  • AC termination This low- and high-impedance setting for the shared node between the channels for bias impacts a posh set of parameters, however most noticeably the width and depth of the soundstage. 

iFi Nexus – network-connected management 

The iCAN Phantom is the primary product to include iFi’s Nexus module, which mixes with an app to supply a complete, scalable network-connected management system. The options that Nexus gives will develop over time; at launch, the Nexus app permits your Android or iOS machine to behave as a ‘tremendous distant management’ for the iCAN Phantom, offering entry to further options not accessible by way of the amp’s fascia or normal distant management. 

The app can show diagnostic data and permit the consumer to watch the iCAN Phantom’s operational situation in actual time – for instance, voltages, the situation and projected life span of the vacuum tubes and so forth. It may also be used to use over-the-air updates to the iCAN Phantom’s firmware, downloading and putting in replace information by way of your own home Wi-Fi community. 

Nexus might be integrated into extra iFi gadgets over time – for instance, a number of new mid- and top-tier DAC/amps set to reach later this yr will assist it. As the variety of Nexus-compatible iFi gadgets grows and the app’s performance expands, a network-connected iFi ‘ecosystem’ will develop – one app for all of your necessities, like a concierge service for iFi clients. It will allow further software-driven performance to be delivered and shared throughout present iFi gadgets, in addition to offering a direct technical assist service and even probably a web-based retailer throughout the app. 

 

iFi Audio iCAN Phantom
The iCAN Phantom’s black decrease part gives a plethora of connection choices back and front

 

Every connection – iFi’s received it coated 

The iCAN Phantom provides an array of balanced and single-ended connection choices. The headphone outputs are on the entrance, with the supply inputs and preamp outputs on the rear. Here’s a abstract:

Headphone outputs (dynamic/planar)  Source inputs 
1x 3-pin balanced XLR (L/R)  1x balanced XLR (L/R) 
1x 4-pin balanced XLR  3x RCA (L/R) 
1x 4.4mm balanced  Preamp outputs 
1x 6.3mm (optimistic part)  1x balanced XLR (L/R) 
1x 6.3mm (inverted part)  1x RCA (L/R) 
1x 3.5mm (S-Balanced) 
Headphone outputs (electrostatic) 
1x 5-pin regular bias 
1x 5-pin {custom} bias 

Price and availability 

The iCAN Phantom is out there from chosen retailers at an RRP of £3,749. Pre-orders are actually open, with retail inventory anticipated to reach on the finish of June. 

www.ifi-audio.com

Armour Home: +44(0)1279 501111

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The publish A brand new reference: introducing the iFi Audio iCAN Phantom appeared first on Hi-Fi+.

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