We thoroughly tested out the iFi Micro iCan with our standard audio test suite. Seeing that the device is intended for use with desktops, we used our work computer as the source for the audio and used MP3, CD and DVD content to fully test the amplifier. In order to gauge the full potential of the iFi Micro iCan, we also paired it up with the iFi Micro iDAC. The iDAC's internal Digital-to-Analog Converter is an XMOS based USB Audio Class 2 Asynchronous solution and comprises of the ESS Sabre ES9023 DAC chip which fully supports up to 24-bit, 192kHz resolution. The iDAC also has a built-in amplifier which uses the MAX9722 opamp.
The headphones we used were the excellent Sennheiser HD700 which has an impedance of 150 Ohms as well as the new Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro which has an impedance of 16 Ohms. The former is an excellent high-end headphones which definitely requires an amplifier to help it realize its potential, while the latter with its 16 Ohm impedance is a good approximation of modern day headphones. The usage of two different headphones will give us an idea if the class of headphones used matter for the iFi Micro products to make a positive impact.
To assess the worthiness of the iFi Micro products, we will be using the Sennheiser HD700 and the Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro headphones and compare their audio performance when used with the iFi Micro iCan and iDAC combo against the Audinst HUD-mx1 USB audio DAC and amplifier (which is our reference in this review). Since the performance of these gadgets are related to what output devices are paired, we will assess how each headphone set fares in the individual tests on both the Audinst and the iFi Micro headphone amplifiers. We'll also relate how our audio experience has improved for better or worse with the iFi Micro between the two headphones used.