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Musical Fidelity V-CAN review

The V-CAN is cheap for a good headphone amp. Too cheap?

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Our Verdict

Excellent value, with detail and tonal discrimination only just short of the best. Sound really comes to life with lively, big-scale tracks

For

  • Lively style
  • Great price
  • Good detail

Against

  • Not as good with subtle sounds
  • Not really up there with the best of them

A ton isn't a lot to ask for a headphone amp and one might expect a few corners to have been cut internally.

The circuit board material is not the fanciest, but in fact the circuit mounted on it is not a million miles short of that used for other amps, featuring as it does a pair of medium-power transistors per channel in classic power amp configuration, driven by decent-grade op-amps. The rest of the components are nothing fancy, but are perfectly respectable.

There are no additional features or options, but you do still get a line output connected directly to the input. V-Series distributor Armour was keen for us to try the V-Can with the optional V-PSU (an additional £152), which is basically a large mains transformer and some rectifiers in a box, intended to replace the simple wall-wart supplied as standard with the V-Can: the V-PSU can power three V Series units at once.

With either power supply there's plenty of output drive and head-rattling levels can be achieved with low-impedance headphones: high-impedance ones are driven to about the same maximum as many other amps.

And one can easily be tempted to play this amp pretty loud, because it has a lively get-up-and-go to it that just encourages unrestrained rock'n'roll listening. It's good at other musical styles too, but less convincing with really subtle stuff than with big musical landscapes.

Detail is good, maybe not quite up to the standards of the Lehmann Audio Rhineland, say, but certainly enjoyable. The V-PSU adds some finesse, though unless you own at least a couple of V-Series units it is, perhaps, hard to justify in value terms.

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