Nuforce HDP Is Not A Giant Killer!

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: $450.00
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Pros: Versatile, Small Size, Acceptable Performance

Cons: Amplifier is not powerful enough, Poor design, DAC sound is treble accentuated

I owned the Nuforce HDP for two months, I tried it with several headphones ranging from the 600 Ohms DT880 to the 300 Ohms Senn HD600 and HD650 and 62 Ohms AKG K702. Actually I wasn't impressed that much. I didn't feel that the amp had enough juice to drive any of the headphones mentioned above, and the DAC had too much emphasis on treble which seemed too exaggerated and unnatural to my ears. When listening to several audio tracks and in comparison to Headroom's Ultra Micro DAC I heard distortions in the upper highs that never showed in the Ultra Micro. The imaging and accuracy of the UM DAC was far beyond the reach of the HDP, but on the other side, the HDP performed better than my Marantz CD5004 regarding clarity and detail. The best sound I got from the HDP was from the Marantz CD player connected by coaxial/ optical connection. But USB connection sound quality was thin, harsh and lean. 

The volume knob is made of cheap plastic and sometimes I heard static when moving the knob between 1 o'clock and 3 o'clock. On the other side, the HDP is very small size, very portable and it has many connections on the back which makes a great versatile unit for many purposes.

So all in all it is not a giant killer. It doesn't function as good as DACs or Amps double or triple the price, but you get what you pay for. A $200 DAC and a $200 Amp no more, no less.


Are you sure you are reviewing the Icon HDP? The volume knob is made of aluminum, not cheap plastic as you mentioned in the review. Perhaps there is a setup problem with your computer or source? Your review is quite different with majority of the users, and many of them use Sennheiser headphones. Anyway, I suggest using the 96kHz/24bit Audio Concept Demo tracks available on the Support section of our website for evaluation.
I quite agree jason, that homeros review was extremely unhelpful and somewhat confusing considering I have heard so many reports about how great the Icon is with HD650 and Denon 7000 phones. Also this must be the only page on the web where someone is making the absurd claim that the accuracy of the UM DAC was far beyond the reach of the HDP.
Perhaps homeros should 'review' the Icon again after using it for more than half an hour.
I used the HDP for 2 months as I stated in my review and not half an hour. I used it with HD600, HD650, K702, Denon D2000, K340 and ER4S in addition to the DT880 600 ohm. The amplifier didn't have the power to drive the HD600, K702, and HD650 to full potential as my Ultra Micro Amplifier does. I compared the UM DAC and HDP DAC on several tracks and the UM DAC was much much better. Smoother sounding, more tonally accurate and less fatiguing.
I'm sorry Jason, but yes it was the HDP. And I repeat there was static moving the Knob between 1 to 3 o'clock. To be honest my UM amplifier also has noise between 11 to 1 o'clock.
davoroups.. My advice is to compare the amp/DAC I reviewed yourself instead of making comments based on other reviewers.
homeros8000, What is clear to me is that you recieved a defective unit. I would have sent that one back and got a replacement. If that did not correct the situation, then your scathing comments are validated. EarHead1
I respect your opinion. We have practically free shipping ($3 fee) when people ordered online in the US, and we have sold thousands of HDPs. The return rate is extremely low and the 5 stars reviews are there online for anyone to judge. So I encourage readers to read the good and bad reviews, then give it a try.
jasonl, thank you for your response. i'm of a mind that one should not throw spears until you've done what you can to resolve the issue. ugly and rude comments don't satisfy or accomplish anything. EarHead1
as an HDP owner who would give it 5 out of 5 in a heartbeat, i have to say homeros review was honest and straightforward. it does not sound like his device was defective, or at least he wouldn't have reason to believe that it is. static happens on many amps, and the sound signature clearly didn't meet his preference - his review reflects his experience in a very clear and straightforward way. don't try to twist it into something evil just because he doesn't like the product as much as everyone else.
hunter9002, the sources of static can be as varied as the gear we choose. bad connections are a primary source of this. i would check the connections and work the interconnects to see if that were the cause. if not it is an internal issue and my aforementioned comments still apply. i can't see leaving that sleeping dog to lay around unfixed or replaced under warranty. Earhead1