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Need Help: Nuforce Icon HDP vs. Maverick D1

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Looking to buy one of the above.  All seem to have good reviews but I am unsure which one would be best as a first purchase.  In the future I plan to use one of these as a DAC which will feed into a headphone amp.  I currently have denon d5000s.  Thanks alot for the help!

post #2 of 13

This is actually my first post, I've been lurking quietly learning on here for almost 2 years. I am going nuts trying to decide what DAC to get!  I figured I'd post on here since I'm looking at basically these same DACs also considering the mini-i and HRT MusicStreamer II.


I currently have a pair of Grado SR60i's and Audio Technica ATH-M50's.  I currently have my PC sound card driving a Marantz PM7000 Integrated Amplifier, which I use as my headphone amp and to drive my desktop speakers.  I do have the option of removing jumpers and using the Marantz as a standalone power amp for the speakers, which is what I was considering with the Maverick D1.  Another alternative would be to use the Icon HD, and just hook it up as a source to the Marantz.  Another option I was considering is getting a cheaper DAC like the HOTUSB1 and the Schiit Asgard (because they look cool and sound like Schiit - hehe).  The truth is all of these DACs have received relatively good ratings, and it's hard to rank them when I haven't heard any DAC/Headphone Amp aside from my current setup (PC Soundcard/Marantz Amp).  I'm also not sure how my Marantz will compare to these other headphone amps.  Any advice is much appreciated!

post #3 of 13

Also, I've read that the Maverick can't do 96/24, does that give the NuForce a significant advantage?


I like the idea of the Maverick's flexibility, and the ability to tinker with the tubes/opamps.  Also I was planning on hooking it up to 2 inputs on my Marantz so I could switch back and forth between tube and SS easily.  Others have used the SS output to drive a sub which seams like a nice option as well, I'd imagine the SS pre-outs would sound better than speaker-level inputs.



Ushman, did you ever pull the trigger on either of these?


Any advice would be much appreciated! Thanks!

post #4 of 13

Anybody out there?

post #5 of 13
Originally Posted by AlwaysOn View Post

Anybody out there?


Yeah, but these newly started "what should I buy, DAC x or DAC z?" threads kind of get lost in obscurity with all of the thousands of posts made to Head-Fi forums each day.  I have a Maverick D1, and a Nuforce uDAC-2.  Rather than re-hash their relative merits and weaknesses, I'd encourage you to use the "search" function to find a high-traffic (number of replies) existing thread to ask these sorts of basic questions in.  The Maverick cannot "do" 24/96 through its USB input, because of a limitation in the USB receiver chip; if you feed it 24/96 high-res files (presuming you have a significant number of them; they are usually fairly expensive downloads) through the optical or co-ax inputs, the DAC can process them in their original glory.  The Nuforce products don't have the USB bottleneck, but the overall sound of any budget DAC processing the vast majority of your music, which will be Redbook 44.1-16 CD rips, is more important, IMHO, than whether it will "do" 24/96.


Anyway, congrats on your first post.  I "lurked" for about two months in "read-only" mode before doing the same thing.

post #6 of 13

Thanks, I appreciate your response.  The first post is a bit nerve-wracking!


I have read tons about each option, my big issue is that I'll read 20 or so pages about the D1 and get excited about it, then read 20 pages or so about the uDAC and get excited about that, and so on.  I guess I was looking for someone wiser than me to say just buy this!


It's true the vast majority of my tunes are 256-320kbps mp3s with some Apple Lossless and FLAC thrown in, and the majority of the lossless are rips anyway.  I thought it would be nice though just to see how good it can sound with the best possible source material.


Of the two that you have, which do you prefer?  Do you have any similar phones to the Grado SR60 or the ATH-M50?

post #7 of 13

I have ATH-M50S that I bought at the same time as the uDAC-2, after my initial research here on Head-Fi.   I needed a closed-back headphone for public listening, and a small, USB-powered DAC that I could throw into a notebook or netbook bag.  The combination sounded so good, I decided to go higher-end for a home-only set-up, and bought Sennheiser 650s at the same time as the Maverick D1, and then the A1 came close behind.  Then a ton of lesser tweaks, like tubes, op-amps, USB isolators, etc., etc.


So the D1 is a very different animal than the uDAC-2; the former is not really portable and needs to be plugged into a wall outlet.  I don't want to further confuse your buying options, but Audio-gd has a new unit called the NFB-12 on special promotion for $200 that merits your consideration.  Use the search function here on Head-Fi for a TON of posts about it, or here is a link to the rather cryptic Chinese-English page about it from Audio-gd's own website:




... and then, Maverick Audio will probably be introducing a new DAC of their own, tentatively referred to as the "D2" (subject to change) in the next several months.  Personally, I am very happy with my Maverick D1 and Nuforce uDAC-2, which fill very different needs for me.  The Audio-gd gear is really top-notch, though.  The problem to a digital audio newbie like me is that it is a very Chinese company, whereas Ryan Ping's Maverick Audio has a website that doesn't scare Americans like me into culture shock that they are instantly into something over their heads.  Plus, there is a waiting period between payment and shipment with a lot of Audio-gd products, whereas Maverick and Nuforce fulfill orders instantly.


So, have fun deciding.  Lots of good products out there, and you don't hear outright junk get talked about here on Head-Fi, which protects you from mass merchandise advertising from companies that don't offer good musical value for your dollar.  And there is a thriving trade/re-sale equipment market here on the website for ongoing cyclical upgrades and hand-me-downs, so nothing is forever, except of course, death and taxes.

post #8 of 13

You're right, the Audio-GD site is scary!  Thank you so much for taking the time to respond, I really appreciate it.

post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hi AlwaysOn,

I eventually ended up purchasing the nuforce icon hdp.  It seemed like a reputable company also it was based in the US which might come in handy if something goes wrong with the unit.  Another reason for this purchase was that the DAC in the hdp has gotten very good reviews, allowing for expansion (an addition of a dedicated headphone amp).  Hope this helps with your decision.  If you have any more questions feel free to PM me.

post #10 of 13

First-rate choice.  The Nuforce Icon HDP is actually the top-rated DAC/HP-amp on Head-Fi:





I was suggesting lower priced equipment because I got the impression that the other poster had a lower budget than $450.  Incidentally, if he reads this thread, a less "scary" introduction to Audio-gd gear can be found on the website of their U.S. distributor:




post #11 of 13
How is the NuForce Icon HDP working out for you?
I am looking for a headphone amp to drive my Sennheiser HD650 headphones.
I come down to the 2 amps that you liked. The Maverick D1 and the NuForce Icon HDP.
The Nuforce seems to be unanimously liked. However, is it worth twice the money.
I saw a used one on eBay. I don't know if this is the kind of gear that one should buy on Ebay.
post #12 of 13



 However, is it worth twice the money.


I use it at work with d7000 and it's great, and worth it in my opinion. Much better in term of instrument separation, detail, and clarity, in my opinion.   I don't care for the D1 as an all in one at all, I find it "muddy" sounding.  However, my secondary set up at home, also with d7000, is the D1 as a pre-amp for Asgard.  And I really like that combination, not quite as good as the HDP, but close enough and an excellent value at ~ $350.  


For the most part I listen to classical (late romantic & 20th century) and opera, so what I listen for and want to hear may be quite different from what you're looking for.  

post #13 of 13

I use the NuForce Icon HDP with my Senn. HD650s and love the sound signature.

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