Musical Fidelity X-CANS Headphone Amplifiers

X-CANS

Headphone Amplifier

User Reviews (22)

Showing 1-10 of 22  
steven tom   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 16, 2009]
Strength:

Rolling 6DJ8 tubes in sockets.
Power supply can be upgraded via bigger AC transformer.
Simple circuit mods and a pair of good Euro tubes will transform the sound.
Circuit design nearly same as X3 version.
Very low B+ voltage will be easy on tubes - I expect a LONG life on my old stock tubes.

Weakness:

Volume knob is tiny and cheap, only a single source input. Smallish chassis making with somewhat tight spaces inside for upgrading. Must disassemble chassis to replace/ roll tubes.



This review if for the X-CANS v2. I've used this on and off since I bought it used, and I am always amazed how good it sounds. I was disappointed at first with the forward and brighter treble, but after some simple bypass caps on the input / output electrolytic(!!) coupling caps, power supply caps bypassed with film caps, extra uF on the supply stage, and replacing the OEM tubes, this unit equaled the sound of a good tube preamp. It sounded good enough that I haven't even used "quality" upgrade parts or FRED diodes. Mods were done with mylar bypass caps and used electrolytic caps.

I used it as a line stage or buffer stage sometimes, and it gives a dynamic, crisp, clear, and with proper tubes, a warm presentation with great imaging, space and dimension. It's not quite as warm and rhythmic as the Audible Illusions 2 preamp in direct comparison, but I can easily live with the sound for a long time. The volume pot is tiny and gain is pretty high, so fine control is mediocre.

Sonically, I cannot fault this after the mod. I've seen the schematics, it's almost exactly like the X3 version. I found a generic AC supply with higher amperage output, and it makes a moderate improvement in sound with a quieter background, more dynamics, and a little more groove. Looking at the parts inside, they've gone with cheap parts, and if you some simple work, you'll be rewarded with great sound. Kills any headphone jack I've ever used on a "preamp" or receiver. My tube preamp (SS headphone amp into a tube stage) beat out the budget Headroom preamp I had, and this X-CANS V2 was superior in all aspects to my preamp. Overall, I'd give it a solid 9/10 with sonics at 9.5, use and flexibility at 8, functionality and operation at 9, and upgradability at 8.
If only it had multiple inputs and a remote volume control....

Customer Service

not used.

Similar Products Used: Headroom Little Preamp
AMC 1030as tube preamp with headphone jack.
Sennheisser HD540, HD600, PX100, CX300
Etymotic ER-6i
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Tysdad   Audio Enthusiast [Jul 19, 2003]
Strength:

Soundstage, warmth and impact.

Weakness:

Stock tubes... replace them NOW!

Recommended for anyone curious about "tube sound" without paying for it. I replaced the stock tubes with JJ electronics. Definite improvement. Replaced the JJ's with Mullard NOS in July '03. I recommend giving these valves a listen. Paid $34.00 US (pr). Well worth the minimal investment.

Similar Products Used: none
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
John Davis   Casual Listener [Jun 07, 2002]
Strength:

Powerful, clean, detailed sound. Beautiful build quality.

Weakness:

WHY didn't Musical Fidelity fit better valves!? PSU runs hotter than I'd like.

Can't add much new to the other reviews here. The X-Cans V2 are excellent with my Sennheiser HD600s and Linn Mimik, BUT PLEASE do yourself a favour and replace the stock valves with JJ Electronic E88CCs - they're inexpensive (£18 for 2) and the improvement in sound quality is remarkable. They also cure the problem with leaking noise on the right channel!

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
3
Nick Dangerous   AudioPhile [May 17, 2002]
Strength:

Inexpensive. Round metal chassis is indestructible and looks great. Female vocals are beautifully rendered. Provides plenty of power.

Weakness:

Works best with high impedance headphones. Volume pot is cheap and too sensitive. Can be finicky. May provide little benefit when coupled with high-end sources.

The X-Can headphone amp was one of my first amps to experiment with. Initially, the sound was uncomfortably bright but otherwise excellent with my Sennheiser 580 headphones. I decided to take matters into my own hands and change the tubes. I documented the procedure in an easy format here: http://www.nickdangerous.com/misc/xcans/index.htm The X-Can vastly improves the sound of audio coming from the PC and various other budget sources. I don''''t consider it a high-end headphone amp, but for the money its a good way to get a taste of smooth sounding tube audio.

Similar Products Used: Creek OBH-11 MG Head OTL Corda HA-1 Mapletree Ear 4 Melos SHA-1 Headroom Cosmic Headroom MAX Headroom Little McCormack Integrated Drive
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
hellskitchens   Audio Enthusiast [Mar 07, 2002]
Strength:

Great Depth.

Weakness:

LED stopped working.

I just bouht this last week and was very dissapointed with the sound , it distorted at anything more than 8o"clock. So I thought i would change the Valves or tubes as their known. I phoned many places for advice and was really impressed by Watford Valves.com. This guy new his stuff and tested every valve he sold! He recomended Harma Diamonds. And WOW what a difference and they are not even run in yet! Amazing with Sennhiesser HD600"s.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Sibbe   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 15, 2000]
Strength:

It's very silent, sound is avesome, looks good, "it feels good" etc..

Weakness:

That tiny volume knob looks stupid but feels good.

I just got X-cans headphone amplifier. Before X-cans I used my old Luxman amp when I want to listen with my Sennheiser HD-580 headphones. Luxman went broke, and my main amplifier Cyrus two has no hole for headphones, so I had to find new "main"amplifier or separate headphone amplifier. I choose headphone amplifier, because it was much more cheaper than totally new integrated amplifier.

My ears are not "golden" and I dont hear differencies between cables and amplifiers, but when I started to listen my Sennheiser with X-cans I really hear (or I belive that I hear) BIG difference in sound between Luxman and X-cans. With X-cans there was much more bass and bass was also deeper. One thing that I liked with X-cans was "warm sound" And after looooong listening session with Sennheiser and x-cans I was not tired at all. Maybe that difference in quality of sound was psycological illusion, but There was one major difference between these amplifiers, and that difference was real and clear: X-cans is very silent. No noise or unpleasant sssshhhhhh sound. My friend owns a Creek solid state headphone amplifier and I think there is much more noise in the creek. X-cans is much more silent. And the look of X-cans is cool, Creek look too cheap and normal :)

Overall Sennheiser 580 and X-cans are very good and "cheap" combination. I rather listen with my system than high-end STAX system. Stax makes my head start to sweat and that is very unpleasant. If you have good amplifier without that headphone plug hole and you want to listen with headphones, x-cans is very good and cheap solution. X-cans 2 is coming and hifi stores are selling those old x-cans out cheap. Or you can always try to find used x-cans. I found that used X-cans are VERY cheap. I got one used allmost free.


Similar Products Used: That little headphone hole in the integrated amp...
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Dennis   Audiophile [Mar 03, 2000]
Strength:

Effortless, dymanic presentation

Weakness:

none

I am currently using the X-cans with the optional X-PSU power supply. This thing has TONS of gain! Watch that volume knob!

Sound has all the positive attributes of a "class A" tube amp. Liquid, effortless presentation, lots of air, timbre, and ambience. Makes you wonder if you even need big expensive speakers and ancillaries...

Some of the best sound I've heard--ANYWHERE. A "must buy' for any serious audiophile, if there ever was one.

System:
*Sennheiser HD600
*B.A.T. VK-D5 (running "direct" out of single ended outputs to X-Cans).
*Reference Line DSL Silver interconnect.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Eddie K.   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 12, 1999]
Strength:

Excellent sound.

Weakness:

A little dull.

A little on the warm side. But a perfect match with Sennheiser HD-580. Not as powerful as Creek OBH-11, which is better with Grado headphones. Nice look!

Similar Products Used: Creek OBH-11
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Brian   Audiophile [Oct 10, 2000]
Strength:

Natural, clear, full sounding

Weakness:

I wish it would make the bass a little stronger

I just purchased a used music fidelity x-cans v.1 for my Grado SR-325's. There is a very nice improvement over any headphone jack I've used thus far (portable cd, receiver, dat deck, minidisc, etc.) The best way to describe the overall effect like is going from a cheesy 10W receiver to a solid 100W receiver in a conventional stereo system.

The bass is of better quality and just a bit louder. The sound is just a hair on the warm side (sweetens up the music just a tad, but not so much that it sounds artificial). It makes the sound fuller and makes it slightly smoother (takes just a little of the edge off). The sound is very dynamic and has much more power behind it than before. The detail is just a bit better but not overwhelmingly so. I'm not sure if the amp is coloring the sound just a bit, or if it making it more natural. I guess it doesn't really matter, because the result is beautiful music.

I'm using it mostly with my portable cd player I'm using at work. Unfortunately I can now hear some defects in my cd player. There is no line out so I have to use the headphone out jack. If I max out the volume I hear a bit of distortion. So I back off the volume to about 8.5/10
and it sound pretty good. Someday I'll get the panasonic that the guys at headroom recommend.

Similar Products Used: portable headphone jack ;)
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Michael Heine   Audiophile [Sep 30, 2000]
Strength:

go loud, not agressive

Weakness:

a bit dull, weak bass

I am not as thrilled as many others here. After listening to the "Cans" for at least two years with a Sennheiser HD 600, I can say that the headphone amp in my 20 years old Revox B-77 is definitely better, as is the amp in my Sony CD-player. I am using a M.F. PSU, but it did not improve the sound. The Creek headphone- amplifier is a better buy.

Similar Products Used: Revox B-77, Sony XA 7 ES
OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
3
Showing 1-10 of 22  

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