**Nuforce Icon hdp or Matrix M Stage USB 2012*
May 29, 2012 at 10:55 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 12

MattTCG

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I'm wanting to buy a desktop amp. Got it narrowed down to these two. They both look good. 
 
I have he400 and d5k's.  Disregarding the small price difference, buying used, which one should I get?
 
 
thanks...Matt
 
May 29, 2012 at 11:09 AM Post #2 of 12

wilky61

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Hi Matt,
 
I almost purchased the Matrix M-Stage USB model myself about two weeks ago, but the good people in the Matrix M-Stage thread dissuaded me from doing so on the basis of the $30 DAC inside the model not being able to bring out the full potential of the amp. They recommended coupling the M-Stage with an external DAC (e.g., the HRT Music Streamer II for $150).
 
Some food for thought for you to consider.
 
May 29, 2012 at 11:21 AM Post #3 of 12

MattTCG

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Yea, I'm not really wanting to drop another $150 on a dac and would prefer a combo unit. I understand that the Nuforce has a pretty good dac, true?
 
May 29, 2012 at 12:27 PM Post #4 of 12

MattTCG

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I could even stretch the budget and get the AGD nfb5.2. But it would be a stretch. Just want the best pairing with my he400 and d5k.
 
May 29, 2012 at 6:49 PM Post #5 of 12

MattTCG

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After reading many reviews this afternoon, I am somewhat concerned that the nuforce may be a bit bright for my hp's. 
 
Can someone help me out here? I tend to err towards warm rather than bright.
 
 
thanks...
 
May 30, 2012 at 12:24 AM Post #6 of 12

ProtegeManiac

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When I listened to the HDP with my HD600s, they were warm to me with a musical "bump" in the upper bass/lower mids. The reason why I wasn't totally sold on it however was that my normal listening level in that store's hi-fi room was still at around 12:00 to 1:00, and on some audiophile recordings with lower gain, would be around 2:00-3:00. Normally that's not a problem - when I listened to the Meier Cantate.2 before that my listening level on low-gain setting was at around 1:00-2:00 too. However, the problem with the HDP was that the bump in the frequency response caused distortion at my listening level. I don't even listen that loud compared to most other people I know, and yet I got the HDP to distort in those freqs; it's like pushing a car audio speaker (as opposed to a standmount at home in a sturdy, well-designed ported cabinet) without a sub and you hear, at some point, loss in the deeper bass notes replaced by a "thwack" at every excursion.

My earpads were new though, so the other people who liked the HDP with the HD600 might have had the drivers closer to their ears and didn't need to push it that far. Still, while I might caution about expectations for the HDP, if I didn't come across a Meier Cantate for sale here I would still have gotten it and saved up for the upgraded PSU (or I'd have gotten one with comparable current and voltage specs from Elpac if it saves me a lot of cash), as it was the obvious weakness in the entire package (it comes with a netbook PSU I think).
 
May 30, 2012 at 8:23 AM Post #7 of 12

MattTCG

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I don't mind warm. I prefer a warm amp to a bright one. So the ability to color or uncolor the sound would be a game saving option for me.
 
May 30, 2012 at 1:00 PM Post #8 of 12

ProtegeManiac

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Quote:
I don't mind warm. I prefer a warm amp to a bright one. So the ability to color or uncolor the sound would be a game saving option for me.

 
Actually it's not necessarily a warm "amp," but a warm DAC - used the preamp output and it pretty much sounded the same, despite the different components downstream, but one critical change: it didn't distort no matter how much I pushed it. That pretty much isolated the amp. Still, I'd say it's a good discrete amp in terms of transparency, and I'd bet on the stock PSU being the weak link. It's also likely that headphones with impedances far lower than 300ohms should work well with it.
 
May 30, 2012 at 3:44 PM Post #9 of 12

Mrtn77

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I've been using the HDP for a couple of days, with a 3 months old HD600 and hooked by RCA to a cheapish Onkyo minisystem, and, strangely, I've yet to find its DAC all that warm (it's still far from burned-in though). Depending on musical genres, the treble can sound downright shrill.
For what it's worth, my usual headphone volume tends to hover around 10:00, though I've had to push it far beyond on occasion (Boulez's Pelléas & Mélisande, for instance). No distortion on my unit.
 
May 30, 2012 at 4:42 PM Post #10 of 12

ProtegeManiac

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Quote:
For what it's worth, my usual headphone volume tends to hover around 10:00, though I've had to push it far beyond on occasion (Boulez's Pelléas & Mélisande, for instance). No distortion on my unit.

 
Wow, and normally I'm the one among most people I know who listen with the knob turned down the lowest, but with the HDP I'm at 1:00, while my PB1 was at 11:00 from a DIYMod; otherwise the performance doesn't feel "big" enough. The HDP was very musical though and certainly highlights that in some recordings (Focal 6 demo disc, B&W demo disc, etc) so on music with a good deal of "groove" to them it's perfect.
 
May 31, 2012 at 11:43 AM Post #11 of 12

Mrtn77

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Quote:
 
Wow, and normally I'm the one among most people I know who listen with the knob turned down the lowest, but with the HDP I'm at 1:00, while my PB1 was at 11:00 from a DIYMod; otherwise the performance doesn't feel "big" enough. The HDP was very musical though and certainly highlights that in some recordings (Focal 6 demo disc, B&W demo disc, etc) so on music with a good deal of "groove" to them it's perfect.

Given the volume and distortion you were getting, could it be the unit you listened to was damaged, or plagued by some other problem up the chain ? As mentionned, I also haven't found the DAC very warm at all.
 
May 31, 2012 at 1:06 PM Post #12 of 12

ProtegeManiac

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Quote:
Given the volume and distortion you were getting, could it be the unit you listened to was damaged, or plagued by some other problem up the chain ? As mentionned, I also haven't found the DAC very warm at all.

 
Yeah, really weird. Could be the PSU was crap enough that the tech's decision to plug it straight to the wall socket due to it being global voltage* ; I'm now thinking he just didn't want to mess around with the tight-as-hell power cables already hooked up. Ours isn't exactly the cleanest and most reliable power grid in the world, which is why anyone using any audio gear that aren't running on batteries are bound to have a 1000w voltage regulator or UPS for these. In any case, even if this was true, then at least maybe it's not as big a problem for those in areas with clean power - and either way there's always the PSU upgrade.
 
 
 
*as if they don't have the 220V, $$$$$$$$$$ HT equipment hooked up to power management systems
 

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