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iFi Audio ZEN CAN Signature MZ99

Desktop headphone amp (with custom tuning for Meze 99 Classic headphones)

Item # 246ZCSMZ99

This compact amp can drive headphones of all shapes and sizes, but plays to the sonic strengths of the 99 Classics.

This compact amp can drive headphones of all shapes and sizes, but plays to the sonic strengths of the 99 Classics.

Maddie
Need help?
Contact our Virginia-based experts.

Item # 246ZCSMZ99

In stock
$299.00
Maddie
Need help?
Contact our Virginia-based experts.

About the iFi Audio ZEN CAN Signature MZ99

Even better sound from our most comfortable headphones

Here's a collaboration that's designed to enhance two of our favorite products. iFi Audio's ZEN CAN Signature MZ99 is an upgrade to their standard-edition ZEN CAN, which I named our "best desktop headphone amp for a small workspace." The design framework, functions, and connections are similar, but this special version is made of higher-grade parts for better resolution and overall performance. It also offers customized tuning for the Meze Audio 99 Classics — voted Crutchfield's most comfortable over-ear headphones.  
with ZEN DAC and Meze 99 Classic

Complements the iFi ZEN DAC Signature and tuned to optimize the performance of the Meze 99 Classics headphones (both sold separately).

Even better sound from our most comfortable headphones

Here's a collaboration that's designed to enhance two of our favorite products. iFi Audio's ZEN CAN Signature MZ99 is an upgrade to their standard-edition ZEN CAN, which I named our "best desktop headphone amp for a small workspace." The design framework, functions, and connections are similar, but this special version is made of higher-grade parts for better resolution and overall performance. It also offers customized tuning for the Meze Audio 99 Classics — voted Crutchfield's most comfortable over-ear headphones.  

Of course, this compact yet heavy-duty amp can drive headphones of all shapes and sizes, with impedance from 16 ohms up to 600 ohms. In unbalanced mode, it can deliver up to 1,600mW of power — enough for the most power-hungry headphones. But there's an "ActiveEQ" setting that plays directly to the 99 Classics' sonic strengths. 

About the Meze 99 Classics

Before the pandemic, our staff tested over 50 headphones for comfort, and the Meze 99 Classics headphones ranked #1 by a long shot. They scored big for their lightweight build, relaxed fit, and butter-soft leather earpads. And when you sink into these headphones, you'll enjoy a lively, musical sound with quick, muscular bass.

I've seen countless headphone models come and go since company founder/lead designer Antonio Meze and crew introduced the 99 Classics in 2015. That staying power is a testament to their build quality and crowd-pleasing sound. The word of mouth is so strong among high-end headphone enthusiasts, that iFi took up the challenge of maximizing their performance.

The "ActiveEQ" uses the ZEN CAN Signature's power and damping ability to accentuate certain frequencies and harness others. It mellows out some of the tonal characteristics of the real-walnut earcups, while optimizing the active, immediate mids and articulate highs. And this amp adds a refined might to Meze's deep low-end punch.  

Part of iFi's popular ZEN series

Like the original, the ZEN CAN Signature is unapologetically ONLY a headphone amp. There is no DAC inside and there are no digital audio connections at all. It receives the analog audio signal from a separate DAC and has one job — powering your headphones.

It's built to complement the ZEN DAC V2 or Signature edition in sound and design. They stack neatly together and connect via included RCA cables (or a balanced 4.4mm-to-4.4mm cable that's not included). The whole setup takes up very little space on a desk, but each piece looks and feels like a premium audio component. 

Front panel

The button on the far right toggles between sound settings, including the "ActiveEQ" custom-tuned for the 99 Classics.

Works with all types of headphones

On the front panel, there is a 1/4" stereo headphone jack along with a balanced 4.4mm headphone output. The latter is the new industry standard balanced connection that helps cuts down on signal noise and distortion. A growing list of headphones from multiple brands use it.

There's also gain button, so you can properly match up the power with your headphone impedance. And you have to love that old-school volume dial sitting right in the center of the front panel — it's the first thing you see! I always find it more satisfying to adjust the volume that way. 

READ LESS

Product highlights:

  • desktop high-performance headphone amp with balanced and unbalanced connections
  • better headphone sound from your PC, DAC, digital music player, iPhone®, and/or Android® phone
  • features customized tuning for the Meze Audio 99 Classics headphones
  • power output up to 1,600mW
  • compact design with sturdy metal chassis
  • four rubber feet with no-slip grip
  • same Class A discrete balanced circuitry as iFi's flagship Pro iCAN headphone amp
Balanced headphone amplifier:
  • two front-panel headphone outputs:
    • one unbalanced 1/4" headphone output (3.5mm mini to 1/4" adapter included)
    • one balanced 4.4mm output
  • iFi's dual-mono circuitry helps reduce crosstalk between the left and right audio channels
  • Panasonic OSCON, ECPU, and TDK C0G (Class 1 ceramic) capacitors offer high-stability signal
  • low noise floor for clear audio reproduction
  • output impedance: 16-600 ohms (balanced); 16-300 ohms (unbalanced)
  • output power (balanced):
    • >1890mW @ 64 ohm
    • >385mW @ 600 ohm
  • output power (unbalanced):
    • > 1600mW @ 32 ohm
    • > 196mW @ 300 ohm
Front-panel controls:
  • four-position gain switch to match impedance (0dB, 6dB, 12dB, or 18dB)
  • sound control processing:
    • XMZ99® for Meze 99 Classics "ActiveEQ" tuning
    • XSpace® for expanding the soundfield
  • power button and input selection button
  • high-precision volume control dial
Back-panel analog connections:
  • stereo unbalanced RCA inputs
  • one unbalanced 1/4" stereo input
  • one balanced 4.4mm input
  • one balanced 4.4mm output for connecting a powered speaker or amp
    • Note: do NOT connect balanced headphones to this output — the full signal could damage your headphones and/or hearing.
  • 5-Volt DC power input
General info and specs:
  • iFi iPower2 5V adapter included
    • uses active noise canceling circuitry to lower noise floor up to 40dB
  • frequency response: 20-20,000 Hz
  • 6-1/8"W x 1-1/2"H x 4-5/8"D
  • weight: 19.3 ounces
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee
  • MFR # 0311012

What's in the box:

  • Headphone amplifier
  • iPower2 AC adapter with attached 79" DC output cord (DC output: 5V 2.5A)
  • U.S. 2-prong AC plug adapter
  • 20" Stereo RCA cable
  • 3.5mm-to-6.3mm (1/4") Adapter
  • User Manual
  • Warranty card

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More details on the iFi Audio ZEN CAN Signature MZ99

Research Team

Product Research

Features

Overview: The iFi Audio ZEN CAN Signature MZ99 is a fully analog desktop headphone amplifier designed to drive your headphones to higher levels than most of your music sources alone. It features balanced and unbalanced headphone outputs, with 4.4mm and 6.3mm (1/4") jacks, respectively, with an adapter for your 3.5mm connected headphones. This "MZ99" version has a selectable ActivEQ setting that is specifically designed for the Meze Audio 99 Classic and 99 Neo headphones.

MZ99: iFi-Audio engineers recognize the sonic qualities of the Meze 99 Classic headphones. When updating the original ZEN CAN, they set out to create a specific EQ curve for a particular set of headphones. The MZ99 setting of the ActivEQ is designed to adjust the treble and enhance the mid-low bass to match the dynamic expression of the 99 Classic and 99 Neo headphones.

Inputs: The ZEN CAN Signature MZ99 features three total inputs, including balanced and unbalanced (single-ended) inputs. The balanced input has a 4.4mm Pentacon connector. Two single-ended inputs are provided, with 3.5mm and stereo RCA jacks. On the front panel, you can select the input by cycling through the RCA, 3.5mm, and 4.4mm inputs, numbered 1, 2, 3, respectively.

Outputs: The ZEN CAN Signature MZ99 has two headphone outputs on the front panel, with a 1/4" (6.3mm) single-ended jack, and a 4.4mm balanced jack. A 3.5mm-to-6.3mm adapter is included for connecting headphones with a 3.5mm plug. In addition, a 4.4mm balanced output on the rear panel lets you connect an active speaker with a 4.4mm-to-XLR or other balanced interconnect.

PowerMatch Switch: The headphone amplifier's PowerMatch switch lets you adjust the gain in four steps of +6dB to match your headphones. Starting with the switch at 0dB, you should increase the gain level until the volume level is comfortable and enjoyable. The 0dB setting is desirable for sensitive in-ear monitors, while the higher gain settings are recommended for higher impedance headphones where you can expand the dynamic headroom. The push-button switch cycles through the gain settings: 0dB, +6dB, +12dB, and +18dB.

ActivEQ: The ActivEQ "MZ99" setting is specifically designed for use with Meze Audio's 99 Classic headphones. When the setting is selected, the ZEN CAN Signature MZ99 calibrates its signal to complement the headphone's response characteristics throughout the frequency range, then makes a couple of adjustments to enhance the 99 Classic's performance. The ideal curve was derived by measurements, as well as feedback from listener tests. Since the Meze 99s are a little light in the mid-low bass, ActivEQ raises the bass level between 20Hz and 200Hz. The MZ99 setting also adds a little "sparkle" in the 5kHz-10kHz band. The adjustments are made completely in the analog domain, using both active and passive components, without adding noise or distortion. Even with ActivEQ turned off, the ZEN CAN Signature MZ99 can bring out the best in all other headphones and IEMs.

XSpace Matrix: The XSpace Matrix setting uses a purely analog signal processing circuit to recreate a holographic soundfield that simulates listening to a pair of speakers. It compensates for the "music inside the head" sensation that occurs when listening to music that was mixed using a pair of speakers, which can sometimes be unsettling to the listener. XSpace Matrix widens the headphone soundstage, making the sound more spacious as if listening to a pair of speakers.

Power Supply: The ZEN CAN Signature MZ99 comes with iFi-Audio's ultra-quiet iPower2 DC power supply. With Active Noise Cancellation II, iPower2 eliminates all incoming EMI (electromagnetic interference) and RFI (radio-frequency interference) noise, making it 10 times quieter than power supplies that are typically included with high-end audio components. The iPower2 has a 2-meter (79") DC output cable, and has the following ratings:

  • Input: AC 100-240VAC 50/60Hz
  • Output: DC 5V / 2.5A

Specifications:

  • Input Voltage: DC 5V/2.5A (from included iPower2 power supply)
  • Max Output:
    • Balanced:
      • > 15.1V / 385mW (@ 600 Ohm)
      • > 11.0V / 1890mW (@ 64 Ohm)
      • > 6.2V / 1200mW (@ 32 Ohm)
    • S-E:
      • > 7.6V / 98mW (@ 600 Ohm)
      • > 7.4V / 870mW (@64 Ohm)
      • > 7.2V / 1600mW (@ 32 Ohm)
  • THD+N:
    • Balanced: < 0.006% (@ 360mW/2.4V 16 Ohm)
    • S-E: < 0.005% (@ 100mW/1.27V 16 Ohm)
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio:
    • Balanced: >121 dBA (@ 15.2V)
    • S-E: > 120 dBA (@ 7.6V)
  • Max. Input:
    • Balanced: 7.4V RMS
    • RCA: 3.8V RMS
    • 3.5mm: 1.92V RMS
  • Gain: 0dB, 6dB, 12dB, 18dB
  • Frequency Response: 10 Hz - 200 kHz (-3dB)
  • Power Consumption: ~12 watts (max signal); ~5 watts (no signal)
  • Dimensions: Width 6.217", Height 1.37", Depth 4.632"
  • Weight: 19.36 ounces

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