Great headphone amp/DAC - from a newbie point of view

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: Great sound, high res DAC, analog volume control

Cons: Price?

I'd like to knock the price, since $450 seems like a lot for a little headphone amp/DAC, but you get what you pay for, especially in the high-end audio world.  And, in my opinion, this is a great product.


I am just getting back into high-end audio, building a new kit.  The first things I wanted to do were to digitize my CD collection in lossless, build a media server with direct digital out, get a really good headphone amp/DAC and good headphones.


After a long search, reading several forums, I bought the following:


Sennheiser HD650

Icon HDP

Nuforce E7


I'm mroe than happy with all 3.  


For the E7, I use that as a headphone amp between my laptop or my iPod and my Grado 60's.  Great portable setup.  The E7 will drive my HD650's, but I prefer to keep that setup separate from my portable kit.


The Icon is my home headphone amp/DAC.  I can use the digital in from my laptop to the HD650's, which sounds amazing.  I can also use the analog out to connect to a small amp/speakers for a 2nd location.


Overall, I think having a separate portable and home setup is nice to have, since I don't have to move things around, and I really do prefer having the Icon wired up at home to my system.  It would work fine connected to an iPod, if needed.


As far as the high-end audio stuff like "extreme cross-over, wide dispersion, ample headroom, vast soundstage", I don't feel qualified to comment.  This is my first dive into this world, and I bought this setup without listening to it first, just based on the reviews I read on-line.  For the sound quality, it's amazingly higher quality than headphones plugged into a laptop or A/V receiver or iPod.  The difference is striking.  To be honest, I wasn't planned on re-ripping all my music, but once I heard the difference with the new hardware, I had to re-do my collection in lossless.  You CAN tell the difference, even with 320K MP3 files. 


Again, overall, a great setup.  Thanks to everyone on the forums who helped me with the decisions and spent their time posting very extensive reviews of the equipment.

1 Comment:

Hello Stekos!
I wish to ask, I currently use the Fiio e11 (That is truly very good amp) do you think there will be difference between the nuforce Icon and the e11?
I own the B&W P7 as my main headphone set with Asus laptop and S4 as my portable to go
Thank U