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iFi Audio ZEN CAN (Standard Edition)

Desktop headphone amplifier

Item # 246ZENCAN

This solidly built amp fits into small places and feeds clean, robust power to your high-performance headphones.

This solidly built amp fits into small places and feeds clean, robust power to your high-performance headphones.

Item # 246ZENCAN

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About the iFi Audio ZEN CAN (Standard Edition)

Jeff Miller

Space-saving desktop amp that provides substantial power

I named the iFi Audio ZEN CAN standard edition the best desktop headphone amp for a small workspace. And it happens to be the one sitting on my home office desk, stacked on top of the iFi ZEN DAC V2. This solidly built amp fits into small places and feeds clean, robust power to your high-performance headphones.
ZEN CAN standard edition in my home office setup

The iFi ZEN CAN fits neatly into my home office setup with the ZEN DAC and Sennheiser HD560 S headphones (both sold separately)

Space-saving desktop amp that provides substantial power

I named the iFi Audio ZEN CAN standard edition the best desktop headphone amp for a small workspace. And it happens to be the one sitting on my home office desk, stacked on top of the iFi ZEN DAC V2. This solidly built amp fits into small places and feeds clean, robust power to your high-performance headphones.

It can drive headphones of all shapes and sizes, with impedance from 16 ohms up to 600 ohms. In unbalanced mode, this amp can deliver up to 1,600mW of power — a ridiculous amount of power for its compact size. I barely have to budge the center knob to get enough volume for most headphones.

Part of iFi's popular ZEN series

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.

iFi ZEN CAN front panel

Controls and headphone outputs on the front panel.

It's built to complement the ZEN DAC V2 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. 

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. But my favorite feature is their "sound control processing" button that adds extra bass or expands the soundfield (or both). Most headphones have benefitted from the extra low-end punch, and it's as tight and controlled as it is strong.

Suggested headphone pairings

While the ZEN products hold their own with many of the highest-end headphones, I found they really hit the sweet spot with a couple of Sennheiser models and one from Audeze.

Sennheiser HD 660 S: The HD 660 S has a more of a forward sound presentation than a lot of audiophile-grade headphones. And the sound REALLY leaps out at you when connected to the ZEN DAC/CAN stack. Still, within that immediate soundstage, you get layer upon rich layer of depth and detail.

Sennheiser HD 560S: This younger sibling of the 660 S is one of my favorite recent wired headphone releases. No balanced cable, but still feels like a natural combo with the ZEN gear. The extra power and bass boost helps them a lot. These 'phones are little more laid back than the HD 660 S. But they're still very well balanced with spot-on imaging — and just super-fun to listen to.

Audeze LCD-1 planar-magnetic headphones: Headphones with planar drivers are notoriously hard to drive, but the ZEN CAN signature handles the LCD-1 well. And the extra oomph from the "Xbass" button is a welcome addition to Audeze's already stellar sound. 


Product highlights:

  • Featured in our article: Best headphone amps for 2023
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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: XBass® for boosting bass and 3D Holographic® 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:
  • 5V adapter included
  • frequency response: 20-20,000 Hz
  • 6-1/8"W x 1-3/86"H x 4-5/8"D
  • weight: 18 ounces
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee
  • MFR # 311004-2

What's in the box:

  • Headphone amplifier
  • 3.5mm-to-1/4" Adapter
  • AC adapter with attached 48" DC output cord (DC output: 5V 2.4A)
  • 20" RCA patch cable (stereo RCA plugs on each end)
  • User Manual
  • Warranty / Terms & Conditions

Customer reviews

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iFi Audio ZEN CAN (Standard Edition) reviews

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More details on the iFi Audio ZEN CAN (Standard Edition)

Research Team

Features & specs

Type Desktop/Component
Built-in Rechargable Battery No
Built-in DAC No
Amplifier Output Specs
Output Power 1890mW / 1600mW
Output Impedance (Unbalanced) 32-300 ohms
Output Impedance (Balanced) 64-600 ohms
Audio Specs
Bit Depth (USB) 0
Max Sampling Rate (USB) N/A
Bit Depth (S/PDIF) 0
Max Sampling Rate S/PDIF N/A
S/N Ratio (Unbalanced, in dB) 118
S/N Ratio (Balanced, in dB) ---
THD (Unbalanced) 0.006%%
THD (Balanced) 0.0007%%
Supported File Types
Total Inputs 3
Optical Digital None
Coaxial Digital None
3.5mm Digital None
Stereo RCA Analog 1
Stereo 3.5mm Analog 1
Stereo XLR Analog None
Headphone Outputs
3.5mm Unbalanced None
1/4-inch Unbalanced 1
4.4mm Balanced 1
XLR4 Balanced None
Other Headphone Outs None
Line Level & Digital Outs
RCA Line Out None
3.5mm Line Out None
XLR Line Out None
Subwoofer Out None
Optical Digital Out None
Coaxial Digital Out None
Wireless Connectivity
Bluetooth No
Wi-Fi No
Apple-compatible No
Android-compatible No
General Info
Width (inches) 6-1/4
Height (inches) 1-3/8
Depth (inches) 4-11/16
Weight 1.14 lbs.
Parts Warranty 1 Year
Labor Warranty 1 Year
The iFi Audio ZEN CAN (Standard Edition) replaces these items:

Product Research


Overview: The iFi Audio ZEN Can is a fully-analog desktop headphone amplifier from the ZEN series that drives headphones far better than your smartphone, tablet, digital audio player, or laptop/desktop computer. It features both single-ended (unbalanced) and balanced inputs, plus 1/4" and 4.4mm headphone jacks. ZEN Can features the same Class A Discrete balanced circuitry that is found in iFi Audio's flagship Pro iCAN to deliver serious power to your headphones. The headphone amp comes with a 3.5mm-to-1/4" headphone plug adapter, a DC 5V power supply, and an RCA patch cable.

Inputs: The ZEN Can 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.

Outputs: The ZEN Can 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 interconnects.

Gain Selection Switch: The headphone amplifier 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.

Sound Controls: The ZEN Can features two of iFi Audio's proprietary sound controls. A single button on the front panel lets you choose one or both settings. The sound controls include:

  • XBass®: XBass adds a measure of low-frequency correction to make the headphones sound more natural. No DSP, with its loss of resolution, is used for XBass, so the adjustment stays in the analog domain, retaining the clarity and resolution of the original music. XBass is particularly effective with open-back headphones that suffer from a loss of deep bass response.
  • 3D Matrix®: 3D Matrix recreates a holographic soundfield that simulates listening to a pair of speakers. It produces a deep soundstage with a more immersive sensation than typical headphone listening. 3D, like XBass, uses no digital processing.


  • Frequency Response:
    • 20 Hz - 20kHz (+0dB / -0.03dB)
    • < 10 Hz - 200 kHz (-3dB)
  • Gain: 0dB, 6dB (2x), 12dB (4x), 18dB (8x) (S-E out)
  • Inputs:
    • 4.4mm Pentacon (balanced): 4.0V nominal @ 0dBFS, 24 kOhm Zin
    • RCA L/R socket SE: 2.0V nominal @ 0dBFS, 1 MegOhm Zin
    • 3.5mm jack SE: 1.0V nominal @ 0dBFS, 1 MegOhm Zin
  • Max. Input:
    • Balanced: 7.4V RMS
    • RCA: 3.8V RMS
    • 3.5mm: 1.92V RMS
  • Max Output:
    • Balanced:
      • > 15.1V / 385mW (@ 600 Ohm)
      • > 11.0V / 1890mW (@ 64 Ohm)
      • > 6.0V / 1150mW (@ 32 Ohm)
    • S-E:
      • > 7.6V / 196mW (@ 300 Ohm)
      • > 7.2V / 1600mW (@ 32 Ohm)
  • THD+N:
    • Balanced: < 0.0007% (@ 4V out, 600 Ohm, 1kHz)
    • S-E: < 0.006% (@ 100mW/1.27V 16 Ohm)
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio:
    • Balanced: >120 dBA (@ 15.2V)
    • S-E: > 118 dBA (@ 7.6V)
  • Power Input: DC 5V/2.5A from included AC adapter (100-240V 50/60Hz )
  • Power Consumption: ~13 watts (max signal); ~5 watts (no signal)
  • Dimensions: Width 6.215", Height 1.373", Depth 4.63"
  • Weight: 18.1 ounces

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Customer Q&A

8 questions already asked

Will this drive a pair of 4" speakers?
[ ROBERT  Aug 20, 2022 ]
1 answer
Greetings Robert, and thank you for your question. The ZEN CAN is a headphone amp, not a speaker amp. It have no powered speaker level output, or connections for passive speakers. You would need either amplified speakers that cam take a 4.4mm balanced input, or another amplifier for passive speakers. That amplifier would also need that 4.4mm balanced input.
[ THOMAS  Aug 20, 2022 ]  Staff
are there any issues with non ifi pentacon cables? read somewhere of a low hum when not using the ifi pentacon cable as opposed to a 3rd party pentacon cable with this unit?
[ bruno  Jun 26, 2022 ]
1 answer
Greetings Bruno, and thank you for your question. We have had no reported issues from our customers at this point.
[ THOMAS  Jun 26, 2022 ]  Staff
how are the rca unbalance input connections used?
[ bruno  Jun 14, 2022 ]
1 answer
Greetings Bruno, and thank you for your question. The RCA inputs can be used for multiple devices like a CD player, cassette player, radio tuner, anything that has a RCA output that you would prefer to have the better Ifi Audio Zen Can process the audio out to your headphones.
[ THOMAS  Jun 14, 2022 ]  Staff
What amp do you recommend for hifiman HE 6 se v2?Should stock cable be replaced? With what?
[ Larry  Dec 02, 2021 ]
1 answer
Thanks for your question. For information on selecting the best amp I would recommend reaching out to an Advisor by phone (1-800-324-9695) or online chat. They will be able to help determine the differences between the amp models and help you make the best choice for your system.
[ KRISTINA  Dec 02, 2021 ]  Staff
Will this amp work with a Klipsch Powergate amplifier to connect Sennheiser HD 660 S headphones?
[ WAYNE  May 14, 2021 ]
2 answers
Yes the ifi can will work nicely. If your looking to use the blanced output of the Ifi make sure you upgrade the HD 660s cables.
[ STEVEN  May 16, 2021 ]
Hello - I couldn't answer if it. would work with a Klipsch amplifier. I use it on an interface and a DAC. It is really a nice amplifier for headphones. maybe you could send a question to the makers. They got back to me right away on a question I asked them.
[ MELVIN  May 14, 2021 ]
Would this amp work with my android and Sony wh 1000 earphones?
[ Tony  Feb 21, 2021 ]
2 answers
The WH series have their own built-in amps. That's not a headphone you need to drive with something like the Zen Can. You're going to get limited benefit from using the WH1000s with a cable. If you plan on purchasing something like a Sennheiser or Focal, something that's more neutral and flat, the Zen Can is a nice pairing to add warmth, bass, and some staging to neutral, cooler sounding headphones.
[ JASON  Mar 04, 2021 ]
I don't know. I am on the road and it works with my laptop and 80 ohm DT 770 Pro headset. I plan to use it with my Motu M2 or Zen Dac when I get back home. Enter
[ MELVIN  Feb 21, 2021 ]
can this amp be used with the IFI ZEN phono preamp?
[ FRANK  Jan 28, 2021 ]
1 answer
Yeah absolutely. It looks like the Zen Phono has two outputs, RCA and balanced. iFi charges a lot for their Pentacon to Pentacon but I believe Hart audio makes the a similar interconnect for a lot less. But you should be good.
[ JASON  Jan 28, 2021 ]

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