My name is Bob and I'm the Support Manager & Lead Technical Support for NuForce. Normally, we would like to be able to say "thanks for writing," but in this case it would have been nice if you had written us first before going to such lengths publicly. I'm sure we could have found a way to resolve your situation/experience with the Icon HDP. Unfortunately, our hand has now been forced to defend our product and consequently my response is likely to be less than complimentary with regards to your sense of judgment, and ultimately… your future credibility hear on Head-Fi – especially if the unit happens to be defective and we don't get the issue fixed for you. I apologize in advance, as certainly nothing personal is intended in the following.
The following paragraph regarding my prior work experience in audio is only being offered as a personal perspective for the express purpose of establishing the possibility that the unit the reviewer has commented on may be defective. In other words, to offer another valid point of view from someone that has not only had direct experience with the product in question, but extensive experience in all things audio. In this, I am not intending to speak so much as a representative of NuForce per se, but more as a private individual.
To be sure, the following comments are not intended as any form of exercise in "one-upmanship," nor is there any intent to elevate my opinion as being superior to, or more valid than, that of the reviewer's whatsoever. In essence, both the reviewer's AND my observations can be equally correct, assuming that the unit in question happens to be defective – which is what I believe to be the case. Please understand that establishing that possibility is the only purpose for any of the following commentary.
First, I think it would be best if I give you a little background about myself so that everyone reading this can weigh my comments accordingly. To start, I've been a high-end audiophile for over 30 years and have had extensive audio engineering experience in both live sound and studio recording. I built and operated my own 2K sq. ft. recording studio and have invented a number of audio devices including: a special stereo microphone system, numerous loudspeaker designs using proprietary waveguide and transmission-line technology, proprietary signal processing devices, etc. In particular, For several years I owned (joint venture with an EU entity) and operated my own high-end loudspeaker manufacturing company that ultimately shipped product worldwide, with several cases of individual systems costing well over $20K. Our first year exhibiting at RMAF our designs were later heralded as one of the "best of show" on the audio Internet forums.
In addition, I worked for the better part of 9 years as Lead Engineering Technician at Crown International/Techron Division, directly under Crown's world-renown R&D engineer Gerald Stanley. At Crown, we developed the world's largest audio amplifiers (in excess of 40KW) that employed our own proprietary SOTA switching technology, with our primary contractor being GE Medical Systems for use in their globally distributed MRI systems. I have also worked as one of the staff Engineers In Charge (EIC) for our local WSBT-TV station. I could go on, but it would be superfluous as I think everyone gets the point by now. For the last several years I have worked for NuForce as their Support Manager, Lead Technical Support, Technical Writer, Engineering Consultant and all around "tech guy."
The above stated, my home system is comprised of loudspeakers of my own design, NuForce Ref-9 mono-block amplifiers and… an Icon HDP as my simple little DAC/preamp (less is more). So maybe at the end of the day the Icon HDP IS a piece of "crap," but it sounds great to me. Then again, what would I know about good sound?
I know one thing. Human hearing is very subjective but accurate measurements and testing are not, and if the results thereof are properly interpreted, such test results correlate quite well with the perceptions of the average listener.
I've had the HDP for a few days now, got it used for about 250$ and feel I've been ripped off like never before. What the hell is wrong with people recommending this device and claiming its great value for 450$ new? No offense, but its crap even at 250, let alone 450.
…seems like your observations may be just a tad bit myopic. Your own further comments might have given you pause to reflect on the possibility that something just might be amiss with the product:
but as a device that EVERYONE seems to like, and doesn't have a single negative review about it that I've found....
Also, volume knob is funny, since at low volumes it take a lot of turning to get a volume change, but at high levels you just touch it and it changes volume like crazy.
Hmm… could it be that maybe the frick'n thing is BUSTED?!!!
Oh its definitely not faulty, its only like a month old, that's why I got it, since it was a good price, and its not like something is wrong with it or it doesn't perform properly…
Just so you know, I can build 10 versions of the same product wherein each one exhibits a different response, with some versions exhibiting only slight differences from what would otherwise be considered an "ideal" response while other versions are considerably off the mark to such an extent that they would/should be considered essentially broken. Yet, each will seem to work fine from a cursory review of its basic operation. Various listeners will agree and disagree with each others' observations regarding the performance of individual units, but most will agree that those units exhibiting a greater degree of divergence from the ideal response as being inferior to the others. Nevertheless, few (if any) will suspect that the lesser performing units are actually defective.
Now, if I put a fancy front panel and a different logo on each of the above units such that the listeners believe each is manufactured by a different company, unit X (with the defective response) will be considered "junk" with respect to the other units and the "virtual" company that manufactured it will have its reputation suffer accordingly. The above would be all the more true if none of the test listeners had any prior experience with different versions of unit X. That product and the company that manufactures it will be "branded" without the reviewers having any idea that the unit is actually defective. Pretty obvious, eh?
From his experience, Armaegis suspected that it might be defective…
I'm not even taking into account your consideration of the dac and sound quality, but your description of the volume pot and power delivery really sounds like something is dreadfully broken with the unit. I've owned the HDP on two separate occasions now, both purchased used, and the behaviour is nothing like you're describing.
… but then again, he had something vital that you don't – EXPERIENCE with the product.
So is the Icon HDP a piece of crap, or has your personal experience possibly tainted your objectivity?
By your own words:
got it used for about 250$…
You should know that due to the issues surrounding the mass production of consumer electronics, sometimes products are "bad out of the box." That's just the way it is and why we all offer warranties. Is it possible that the original seller made the same mistake and simply assumed the unit was inferior, so rather than return it to the factory for replacement… he just sold it to you? We don't know, and unless some qualified electronics person runs the device through a series of appropriate tests to determine proper functionality, NOBODY KNOWS. Our experience though does give us serious cause for concern that the your Icon HDP is defective. Therefore, we highly suggest that the unit be returned to our facility for testing so that you can be sure that you have been given a fair opportunity to evaluate the product.
Now that we've sufficiently made our case, let's not cry over spilled milk. Even though you may have gotten the short end of the stick on this deal, there are no hard feelings on our part and we want to do what we can to help you out. I'd suggest that you contact us so we can see what we can do. Just write to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell the staff guy there "Bob sent you." As far as warranty issues go and determining how we deal with individual requests, "I'm the man" and what I say goes. Contact us at the above e-mail and you have my word that one way or the other we'll see to it that you end up with a GOOD working Icon HDP… especially if you promise to come back here to Head-Fi and are willing to share your new experience if it turns out I'm right and that the Icon HDP really DOES kick butt - when it's working correctly. Deal?
I'll be standing by. Thanks for your time and…
NuForce Support Manager
Edited by nuforce-bob - 5/15/13 at 12:00pm