iFi audio - Next ZEN CAN Signature edition! Which headphone's EQ Curve? You decide

iFi’s new ZEN CAN Signature isn’t just a fantastic headphone amp, it also sports a unique feature called ActivEQ which, when engaged, tailors the amp’s performance to suit a specific headphone like a made-to-measure suit.

We’ve already made the ZEN CAN Signature 6XX, with ActivEQ that perfectly matches the frequency response characteristics of both the Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 6XX headphones, and the Sennheiser HD 650 headphones on which they’re based.

Now, we want to make another version of the ZEN CAN Signature, with ActivEQ tailored towards a different popular headphone model. And we want YOU to decide which one!

Below you’ll see five headphones from five different manufacturers. Decide which one you think we should use for the next version of the ZEN CAN Signature and simply cast your vote by clicking here.

Once the vote has closed, we’ll randomly select five people who entered the competition who will each receive the new version of the ZEN CAN Signature, complete with ActivEQ tailored towards the winning headphone of the crowd design!

So, what are you waiting for? Get voting!


I see that all the headphones are Drop versions, is this going to be a Drop amp?

Not really excited about any of the options =/


The 99 Classics aren’t Drop, just regular Mezes. Would definitely be nice to have some non-drop cans in there though! The Hifiman or the Beyers probably have the most popularity right now based on volume sold though.


If you are going to do one for Drop, like the one you did for the 6XX, do it for the Elex. If not the Elex, then the new 5XX instead of the 4XX. Cheers

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Rather than do that wouldn’t it be better to design a powerful headphone amp that’s competitive with the magnius or A90, to cover a larger spectrum.

I see that your portable equipment had some decent power, but your mid range like neo iDSD is lacking half the power of some of your extremely popular portable devices at equivalent 32 ohms

Which is why I was, and I had discussed with you @SebastienChiu, hesitant on purchasing the neo at the end.

I know you guys love combo units, and that’s fine. But maybe ifi should invest in a strictly good amp or neo iDSD black label version with more power.

And put those gain switches


& more Power

& X Bass Switch

& 3D Switch

& Gain Switch

(all in proven ifi audio quality)

& A remote control – with on / off function – and a few more setting functions.

-At a price around or (If possible) under $1000-
:100: :+1: :+1:

You would have my pre-order for it immediately, here and now :bangbang: :bangbang:

@SebastienChiu -

I know this is a go click the link and vote kind of thing, but…

If we’re talking about what your potential customers want to see in your products, then I’d like to see a dedicated headphone amp. Something that sets the foundation for an improved iFi house sound.

Something anyone in the hobby could point to and say “that is a unique sound”. All of the products I’ve heard from iFi have been good, but nothing has stood out enough for me to think “holy cow, that’s great and would synergize well with X,Y,Z headphones/DACs”. I’ve owned 3 of your amp/DACs. They have all seemed like jack-of-all-trades kind of products, and have taken a middle of the road approach to how it sounds.

Basically, it just doesn’t stand out. It doesn’t sound bad either, mind you. It’s kind of like the RME stuff, eg. the ADI-2 fs - great dac, but just a kind of a average amp. The Pro line w/ tube stuff is the closest you’ve come to breaking out of that kind of sound, and you should go farther with that. Improve it, refine it. Hopefully you get the idea I’m trying to convey.

I also think it would be excellent to have potentiometer control over your x-bass / crossfeed features, as frankly, you guys tend to overdo it for my tastes, and a simple on-off gives me no functional control over how much of it I get.

I’d like to see it hit a target of 3Wpc or more.

No opamps. Go discreet or go home.

I hope that helps.

Thanks for reading this.


Very good idea for higher priced solutions


Since this is a crowd design effort, I’d think it would make sense to include more options in regards to the functions and specs of the amp in question.

Considering all the headphones cited are somewhat in the entry to mid level, I’d recon this would be an increment in the ZEN line of amps? At any rate, should this be a portable unit, iFi should make sure they include bluetooth and LDAC/AptXHD functionalities, in this day and age, a portable unit that doesn’t support any form of wireless connectivity is basically a paper weight.

That’s basically what the neo is, and portable but not without a wall jack is the only restraint.

I also wasn’t enthralled with the headphone choices. No vote cast.

Same here unfortunately. Honest question though (for anyone), what exactly does a specialty headphone amp do for headphones with no special requirements?

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Thank you guys for your feedback and discussion! I’ll provide more information as I have it - keeping an eye on everything though!

if this is more crowd design, can we skip the “Make this product specifically for a particular headphone product” approach and go with a “limited run, special product for the iFi fans”

Features I’d like to see in a special iFi product:

  1. Streamer player (cheaper than the pro-iDSD and better functioning); definitely Roon compatible, definitely with wifi
  2. Use of the old BB PCM1704 (maybe there’s some still floating around :slight_smile: ) or the 1794 if not.
  3. Hybrid tube amp stage with removable/swappable tubes.

Original post updated with a little more info for you all :slight_smile:

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Drop doesn’t sell the Fostex TR X00 any more, does it? Seems like that’s one headphone that could be eliminated from the list.

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They still have B-Stock units available, I believe. It’s a popular enough headphone that warranted it on the list!


Yes, they did sell thousands of them (including an Ebony one to me!)

Would there need to be some fine-tuning to the different sounds of the Mahogany, Purpleheart, or Ebony? I’ve not heard the others so I don’t know how much they vary between one another.

A couple things worth clarifying, apologies from our end for not being clear re: the point of this thread! We’re making not of your ideas and what you would like to see from us, however so don’t fret about that not going anywhere! Some of this info may have already been mentioned beforehand ~

In simplest terms, we are asking y’all to choose which EQ Curve you’d like us to build into the next edition of the ZEN CAN Signature. For example, the ZEN CAN Signature 6XX is specially tuned to work with the Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 6XX headphones. Check out the graph below: Insert graph image.

The HD6XX have a spectacularly balanced mid-range BUT it’s commonly thought that the bass under 100Hz is rolled off, the upper treble is a little attenuated and the upper presence region has a significant ‘hole’ in frequency response.

Our ActivEQ tailors the curve to address the above. It contains active and passive components, it’s all performed in the analogue domain with no alteration to the midrange, no worsening of SNR and distortion is not increased.

So, for the next edition of the ZEN CAN Signature, we’re asking you to chose from 5 headphones - HIFIMAN HE4XX, Fostex TR-X00, Meze 99 Classics, Beyerdynamic DT177XX and AKG K7XX.

Which headphone’s EQ Curve should we tailor the next edition of the ZEN CAN Signature to?

You can vote here if you haven’t yet.