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iFi iCAN Phantom

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NEW reference-class analogue headphone amp with incorporated electrostatic energiser with advanced user interface and network-connected control system.

The iCAN Phantom’s design gives the appearance of two units but in fact, it is a single, dual-level device, the full depth of which is fully utilised by its multi-layer circuit design. Its enclosure is sturdily constructed from aluminium, with the bottom layer sporting cable connections front and back, and the top layer offering tactile controls and a colourful OLED display.

The top of the iCAN Phantom incorporates a flush-fitting smoked glass panel enabling you to see the amp’s circuitry and its glowing audio valves. Circular aluminium vents ensure the circuitry within does not overheat.

When not in use the sockets at the front or back can be hidden by a neat aluminium panel that attaches magnetically. This panel also holds the data cards for the electrostatic bias voltage settings. The iCAN Phantom also comes with an attractive, easy-to-use aluminium, high-quality, remote control.

Most headphones create sound by using dynamic (or moving coil) drivers to move air. A smaller number use planar magnetic diaphragms, which are different in form and operation but still use magnetic fields to cause motion. At the high end of the headphone scene, there is another, rare but fabulous-sounding driver type – electrostatic headphones.

Electrostatic drivers need a separate energiser. The iCAN Phantom incorporates our original standalone iESL energiser technology with regular amplifier technology to make a single amplifier that can handle every headphone type with aplomb.

And all users benefit as the component quality and clever circuit design required to deliver such a high level of performance with electrostatic headphones elevates the amp’s performance with other headphone types too.

Electrostatic headphones incorporate an electrically charged diaphragm placed between two conductive plates or electrodes; whilst dynamic and planar headphones tend to deliver stronger bass response, nothing can beat the open sound-staging and magical high frequencies of a top-quality electrostatic design.

For many headphone users, there is a significant drawback – electrostatic drivers have extremely high impedance, which means they need specialised amplifiers to boost the voltage of the audio signal far, far higher than that required by other headphone types whilst also dropping the current of the signal to safe levels. One way of doing this is to add a separate unit called an electrostatic ‘energiser’ to a ‘regular’ amplifier; this is the approach we took with its previous-generation Pro Series but this time we’ve decided to make a single amplifier that can handle every headphone type with aplomb.

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