not exactly what i wanted, but i can see why folks like it

A Review On: NuForce Icon HDP (High-end Headphone Amp, USB DAC, Preamp)

NuForce Icon HDP (High-end Headphone Amp, USB DAC, Preamp)

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Price paid: $449.00
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Pros: compact and affordable all-in-one DAC/amp and preamp

Cons: bright, analytical sound signature

After reading some glowing reviews, I decided to give the HDP a go.  I needed a compact and hassle-free solution for my work rig, and one that could drive any headphones I decided to bring to work with me (including the difficult-to-dive 600 ohm beyerdynamic cans).


After receiving the HDP, I was impressed with its looks and build quality.  Even the packaging and branding were pretty sleek.


However, it was upon powering up the device when my impressions started to turn for the worse.  The HDP is, to my ears, a pretty nice source paired with a somewhat bright and not exceptionally powerful headphone amp.


The DAC section of the HDP is nice, but perhaps a bit on the analytical side.  It is detailed and wide open sounding.  The headphone amp section of the HDP, however, I found a bit bright for my tastes.


I found that using EQ to roll off the treble gave me the sound I was looking for, but the nagging feeling remained that I could find another amp to more suit my needs...


If I were using the HDP as a DAC only, I perhaps would have kept the unit, as it was a nice sounding source.  However, i bought it to perform both DAC and amp duties, and as such it was a slight disappointment for me. 


All this is not to say that different folks may not like the product.  But I, for one, found its sound signature was not exactly to my liking.  Functionally, and otherwise, it was more than fine.


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