uDAC's big brother but has pathetic gain

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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Review Details:
Audio Quality
Design
Quality
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Price paid: $500.00
colgatetotal
Posted · Updated · 422 Views · 4 Comments

Pros: Dynamic, aggressive sound

Cons: 24/96 optical input only, poor with IEMs, overheats when horizontal, newer model has poor gain

Having owned the $100 NuForce uDAC1 for over two years, I felt it was about time to upgrade. It had been acceptable, but I could still notice a bit of a veil in the midrange. The itch was also caused by going to a Head-Fi meet. When I plugged the uDAC1 into some high-end amplifiers, I realized how limiting it actually was. What does the HDP get you? Not much.

 

I had a good review on the HDP before, but I can no longer recommend it. The HDP, being a $500 product, has worse gain than their $100 uDAC1. It can barely amplify a Grado. I have posted on Head-Fi about this and NuForce has assured me that this is normal. That is complete bee-ess. My first unit had hissing when turned on. This second unit, sent directly from NuForce after I paid an extra $100 service fee, still has hissing beyond 3 o-clock, and the gain is worse than the first unit!

 

Please see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMkj-5L0w74 for video proof.

 

 

4 Comments:

is it ok for Hifiman HE-400 cans ?? i mean, what do you think about drive orthos with IconHDP ?
Wouldn't recommend it. Volume pot already goes up to about 40% on a Grado, so it wouldn't have the power to effectively amp orthos.
@manzana: yes, it's functions perfectly well with ortho's. Drives my Mad Dog's, HE-4, HE-500, and HE-5LE with ample headroom.
You must have had a bad unit. I ran PS 500's as loud as I could possibly stand at about the 1 o'clock position. I don't care what Nuforce said, that was not normal for this DAC/Amp. As you can see from the above comments, Night Crawler more than sufficiently ran orthos with the HDP