iFi audio ZEN CAN Signature Meze 99 - The Official Thread

AMR / iFi audio

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Here we come with good news.
The ZEN CAN Signature MZ99 with its tailored ActivEQ is precision tuned to extract the last drop of sonic goodness from Meze 99 headphones.

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The majestic Mezes​

The original ZEN CAN, our all-analogue headphone amplifier, had the ability to drive tough headphone loads with a balanced circuit design, vanishingly low levels of distortion and exceptional sonics. The specially tuned ZEN CAN Signature 6XX and ZEN CAN Signature HFM swiftly followed.
However, there was one more headphone we thought deserved the ActiveEQ treatment – the Meze 99 Classics.
We love this headphone and know it works well with our gear but we just wanted to push its performance as far as we could.


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The Zen CAN Signature MZ99 is a part of a family of highly adaptable headphone amplifiers. Their filters help user to extract the best possible quality out of dedicated headphones, but it's not all that those amplifiers are. At the core, they use a class A output stage trickled down from the PRO range, making them an excellent choice for any headphones on the market, even without the filters. Thanks to balanced circuitry, Zen CAN Signature MZ99 will drive even power-demanding planar headphones. Low noise opamps guarantee dark background even with sensitive IEMs. A true jack of all trades and an excellent partner for Meze.
 

Gregadd

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I have heard these separately. If the whole equals the sum of the parts, it is a great match.
A Tidal hi fi plus subscription will put this over the top.
Aptly named the Audiophile Starter Set at $499.
 
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AMR / iFi audio

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I have heard these separately. If the whole equals the sum of the parts, it is a great match.
A Tidal hi fi plus subscription will put this over the top.
Aptly named the Audiophile Starter Set at $499.
Thank you. Personally, I really think the Meze 99 Classic is one of THE HEADPHONES to start (and not only that). It has an amazing combination of gentle warmth, detail and slight business which allows every type of music to sound great.
 
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Gregadd

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Mine should arrive soon...
 
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Gregadd

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It's here!
Normally I don't do unboxing. I am making this exception because of a surprise. This is not a case of just pooling some components and throwing them together. This is truly a system. The only thing missing is the award-winning streamer. Sold separately if you are so inclined.
Pictures to follow.
 
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AMR / iFi audio

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It's here!
Normally I don't do unboxing. I am making this exception because of a surprise. This is not a case of just pooling some components and throwing them together. This is truly a system. The only thing missing is the award-winning streamer. Sold separately if you are so inclined.
Pictures to follow.
What we love about this setup, is that you get a set of balanced cables tailored to this gear. I'm a big advocate of balanced connections. Can't wait for your photos!
 

Gregadd

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20221123_123505.jpg 20221123_124533.jpg
 

Gregadd

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20221123_122241.jpg
 

Gregadd

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So far, I am running the Meze in separately. I will set the electronics up this weekend. Break-in should not take more than two weeks.
 

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So far, I am running the Meze in separately. I will set the electronics up this weekend. Break-in should not take more than two weeks.
Hi @Gregadd,
We are happy to see it has arrived safely! You'll be happy for sure!
The Meze 99 is an excellent headphone, and the Signature kit drives it effortlessly. We hope to hear about your experience soon :)
 

Gregadd

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Most manufacturers are inundated by uestions about ideal matches for their products. It is easy recognize or anticipate. It's never a good idea to put your eggs in somepne elses basket.
There is an upside. Price is one. In this case you don't have to pay retail for the companion products.
Indeed they have gone that extra mile and added a dedicated eq curve.
 
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AMR / iFi audio

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Most manufacturers are inundated by uestions about ideal matches for their products. It is easy recognize or anticipate. It's never a good idea to put your eggs in somepne elses basket.
There is an upside. Price is one. In this case you don't have to pay retail for the companion products.
Indeed they have gone that extra mile and added a dedicated eq curve.
Working with Meze was amazing. They are great guys, and they make some of the best products on the market. Why wouldn't we want to cooperate with them? :)
 

Gregadd

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I have been at this hobby for a while. I still don't quite get it. This is Thursday almost two weeks ago exactly that I placed my order. I was just about to give up when it snapped into the sound I had expected.
Go figure.o_O
 
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Gregadd

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I guess this is a review

Hitching your star to someone else wagon is always a risky proposition. This marriage appears to be a success.
The most important thing is that not only is it plug and play it is complete. It has a premium pigtail to connect the dac and amplification. It comes with a selectable eq curve and a premium cord for the Meze headphones. thankfully setup is easy, and the unit is truly plug and play. You will however need an adapter/converter if you choose to utilize your smartphone as a "streamer. Because the cables are 4.4 meter you will need 1/4" adapter. i am yet to find one. Iam currently using the stock 3.5 mm cord and quarter inch adapter. Luckily, I already owned these and was spared additional expense. Not to worry they are not expensive.
Fit and finish
Excellent on all the units. I am having a problem with the premium headphone cord. IFiAudio has agreed to replace it, but I have not received it yet.
Low price and small size are no excuse for poor quality. Quality parts are used throughout. that goes right down to cosmetics. They will fit in nicely with your decor on your desk or bedroom nightstand. they have a quality feel to the knobs and switches. One thing is the power cords are a bit unwieldy. I am told this is duo to the insulation. You can smooth it out just by placing it between thumb and forefinger and pulling it through.
Zen dac signature is a standalone unit. That means you can insert it in stream path without amplification. That is connected directly to your phone or computer. It has choice of variable or fixed level. It appears to be always live
The Zenn can signature is essentially an integrated amp. with choice of inputs and level, volume control eq and X-Space(TM). It has two balanced headphones jacks.4.4.mm and quarter inch. on the rear is output for active speakers. I did not have any active speakers on hand.
I used Tidal. If Qobuz is better, it must be damn good. Congratulations for those who use it. Personally, I don't like it. I talked to the rep at this year's CAF. I told him I did not like it. And that it would not let me join. He got a big laugh we he responded that the reason I did not like is because I could not join. I can't get any help form customer service. Oh well.
Run in is crucial, as it sounded awful out of the block.

Sound
Soundstage and imaging
Of course, this is a headphone. The soundstage is 3d and can be slightly enhanced by X-Space button. Lateral staging is wide and deep. It follows what you expect depending on the recording. Imaging is very good. vocals are embodying with realistic scale. Instruments are similar. they can be localized and give the illusion of presence.\dynamics
The system has low level resolution everything remains stable as the volume. dynamic contrasts are very good and not exaggerated. You don't find yourself grabbing the volume control. No breakup occurs as the volume increases. You will need to experiment to find the correct level for the dac. Nor you can just go fixed.
Noise is not an issue.
The system has no problem keeping pace when the music speeds up and gets louder.
Overall presence is a little laid back. I found that opinion a little ironic given my reference is tubes.
Even during the run in I wanted to listen for prolonged presence.
you can listen to the headphones or da separately, or you can switch the headphones out. I tried it with the Sennheiser HD 800S. It worked just fine.
Yes, you can get by with just the dac/amp. I highly recommend the full stack which can be added later. It is a just a better bargain purchased all at once.
Believe me iFi audio has many upgrade paths.
Highly recommended if you are in the market. I do not know how long the price discount last.
Discography
I listened to allot of music from Tidal, my primary source.
TOk TOK TOK I Wish
The Look of Love
Day Tripper
Tidal
 
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Gregadd

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Update: The problem I was having with the premium cable has been rectified. Mea culpa. Make sure you grasp the ZenCan Signature by the rear and give the jack a little extra shove. It's working fine now. Well worth it to say the least.
 

AMR / iFi audio

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Hi @Gregadd
Happy to see your review! We are pleased to know that you like it. What is nice about this stack is that you can still use the RCA outputs of the Zen DAC Signature to your main stereo system and use it as a DAC for both!
Break-in is a natural thing for Hi-Fi, and there is not much we can do to avoid it.
About the 4.4mm connectors, they are usually very stiff. It gets easier with time. It's quite a large, complex connector.
 

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