The British firm iFi Audio is widely considered one of the premier purveyors of small-chassis, ultra-fidelity audio products. iFi’s new xCAN is a uniquely styled portable analogue headphone amplifier in its primary use, but also functions in a secondary use as a Bluetooth DAC for wireless streaming inputs. The xCAN is an inherently versatile product with the goal to allow users to confidently enhance sound quality of audio sources such as smartphones, tablets, TVs, or even high-end DAPs. When directly wired to external audio sources in its primary analogue use, the xCAN supports both 3.5mm TRS single-ended inputs and outputs as well as 2.5mm TRRS balanced inputs and outputs. In its secondary use as a Bluetooth DAC the xCAN sports a dedicated ESS Sabre DAC chip giving users 16-bit 44.1kHz CD-Quality Bluetooth via AAC, aptX, and aptX LL.
The user interface of the xCAN’s attractive, curvaceous chassis is relatively simple. At the front a user will find selection buttons for ifi’s 3D+Holographic and XBassII proprietary sound enhancement circuits and a stepped attenuator volume control surrounding an intuitive LED push button that changes colours to indicate operation modes. The back face of the xCAN provides a USB-C charging port and a three-position switch that enables the user to customise various parameters of the XBassII sound enhancement circuit.
Internally, the xCAN is built around iFi’s Cyberdrive circuit. Cyberdrive design creates a dual-mono headphone amplifier that provides a maximum of 1000mW of power per channel. This power should be sufficient to get the maximum performance out of any set of earphones, CIEMs, or full-size headphones you can throw at the device. iFi stresses that their Cyberdrive design embraces a 'best of both worlds' formula by offering digital control over an internally analogue amplification process. The signal attenuation conducted on the analogue side is digitally controlled in order to maximize a full dynamic range and preserve resolution even at very low playback levels. Cyberdrive also has the added benefit of being able to deliver incredible battery power control, with playing time said to last up to 18 hours per charge.