I nearly picked up an 0404 early on in my headfi days, but shortly after I got a Focusrite Saffire 6 USB which I still use in my desktop rig.
I was really surprised when I plugged in the Echo2. I was fully expecting the Wadia121 to be the better sounding dac, but wow the Echo2 caught me off guard. Ok I shouldn't say "better", but I like it more. The Wadia+HA200 felt too much like the Schiit M&G stack to me ("heavy pressure" midrange). With the Echo2 it almost felt like a veil lifting. I thought it was a volume difference at first, but I nope it was just a better clarity that made it feel louder without pushing into my head. If you look closely at the pic I do actually have the Echo2 plugged into a tiny wallwart. It's not necessary since it can run entirely off usb (unless you need phantom power for mics), but plugging it in takes the usb power out of the equation. I haven't tested it extensively so I can't pick out the differences there yet, if any.
Do I think the monoblocks is better than the diminuitive Icon2? That's hard to say yet. The ministack of LPS/HDP/Icon2/adapterbox isn't too far off from the Echo2/HA-200x2 in terms of size, and pricewise they're in the same rough ballpark.
Just listened to some Daft Punk (Tron Legacy and Random Access Memories). Really digging the groove and thump tonight.
I think it's the same guy who has the mother of tone website... take that for what it's worth...
Echo 2 was fairly cheap wasn't it? I heard they sold out.
Re Altman. Hostile dependent goes into business who'd have thought. I always found it somewhat telling that the ultimate audio player in the entire uberverse is recommended by it's kreator as best served by the Koss Porta Pro. While I love the Koss PP SP 75 series, given unlimited budget they would not be my first choice for ultimate phones.