Nuforce Icon Mobile: Early impressions
Nov 30, 2008 at 3:52 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 130

jwbrent

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Surprisingly, I received my Icon Mobile today after ordering it yesterday since it was shipped FedEx Saturday delivery. Nicely done. The IM itself is made from plastic with the top silver side in a satiny brushed aluminum. The bottom and sides are flat black and have a rubberish texture. The volume control seems sturdy with no wiggle and a smooth acting feel. There are 2 cables included which both have a clear PVC outer covering. A silver colored metal braid is visible underneath giving the appearance of a much thicker cable than what normally is included. All in all, the whole package has a well finished, understated look to it, definitely to my liking.

Before I post any sonic attributes, I want to give it at least a day's run in. I'll be using an iPod touch 2G as my source loaded with iTunes Plus 256kbps AAC files. My earphones are the Denon AH-C700s. I listen primarily to rock music but have all genres of music on my iPod. The one early observation is there's a greater sense of dynamic impact. Since I'm relatively new to the concept of portable high end sound, this is the first portable headphone amp I've owned. Those more experienced will have to excuse my neophyte observations.

More to come...
 
Dec 1, 2008 at 6:20 AM Post #4 of 130

jwbrent

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I've put almost 30 hours on the IM, so I think I have a handle on how it sounds compared to running my C700s straight out of my touch. The first thing I noticed was I had to turn the volume down a bit to adjust for the wider dynamic range when using the IM. Complex passages come through with greater macro dynamics and clarity whereas out of the touch the soundstage collapses and the mids get a bit gritty. The bass sounds bigger straight out but that's only because there is less texture and more overhang. Out of the IM, the attack on bass notes is sharper and there is better decay giving the sound a punchier, more organic quality. Very nice improvement.

Using the IM, the mids seem emphasized just a tad but not to the point where they are aggressive sounding. Female vocals have a more pristine quality to them with better rendering of the inflection in their voice. The highs are silky smooth with lots of decay giving the overall sound a bigness that is very compelling. Greater resolution without fatigue, nice!

I should add all my listening was with the gain switch set to high and using the included mini to mini cable. I can't wait to try the line out from my touch and hear how much better that sounds. ALO is building me a custom cable but I'm also interested in hearing the new line out adapter that Nuforce is releasing which allows the use of a mini to mini cable, bypassing the iPod's volume control.

I haven't tried the internal DAC yet but will. I'll post my thoughts afterwards...

I recommend the Nuforce Icon Mobile strongly for those looking for an entry level point into higher definition portable sound.
 
Dec 1, 2008 at 6:25 AM Post #5 of 130

jwbrent

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Oh, I forgot to mention...the battery life is much longer than advertised, about double.
 
Dec 3, 2008 at 5:28 AM Post #7 of 130

jwbrent

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I have some more time on the IM and wanted to say the midrange prominence I spoke of earlier has subsided somewhat.
 
Dec 6, 2008 at 2:34 AM Post #11 of 130

jwbrent

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Hooran /img/forum/go_quote.gif
jwbrent, how would you compare the Icon Mobile with other amps (if) you have owned in the past?


Sorry to say I can't help you with your question since this is the first amp I've owned.
 
Dec 6, 2008 at 3:04 AM Post #12 of 130

HeadphoneAddict

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Nice feedback! I'm still burning mine in since Monday and will be adding it to my big "10 USB DAC amp review" by the end of next week, I hope (see link to review in my public profile). I agree with the things the OP is hearing, as the Nuforce is able to better grab and control the headphone drivers than the Touch headphone out. And it WILL sound even better from the line out dock of the touch (or USB from computer). I am giving the amp at least 300 hours of running (burn-in) to let it settle in before my review.

It is a decent amp, and because it is a little more forward sounding in the mids than my iBasso D2 Boa it reminds me of the Meier Headsix. It is not up to the level of my Predator and Pico or iBasso D3, but I think I might like it more than the D2 Boa so far. It is more cheaply made than most of the amps I am comparing it to, but that also gets the price down well below the competition.

I have been using it in low gain with ATH-ESW10, and Denon C700 which through an RSA tomahawk could sound harsh but they sound smoother with the Nuforce, as well as trying it with my Westone 3 and Nuforce NE-7M.

The only big problem I have run into is that "static discharge" makes the amp go nuts - so don't shuffle across the carpet and then touch the amp or headphones or laptop or all kinds of nasty noises will emanate from the headphones! Shrieking or clacking noises, take your pick. The second issue is more minor and that is just a little interference from the iPhone 3G; but the RFI is less than the RFI with the D2 Boa, and both of these are much more resistant than the D3 Python which is highly irritating when the iPhone is around.
 
Dec 6, 2008 at 3:58 AM Post #13 of 130

nocturnalsheet

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Quote:

Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Nice feedback! I'm still burning mine in since Monday and will be adding it to my big "10 USB DAC amp review" by the end of next week, I hope (see link to review in my public profile). I agree with the things the OP is hearing, as the Nuforce is able to better grab and control the headphone drivers than the Touch headphone out. And it WILL sound even better from the line out dock of the touch (or USB from computer). I am giving the amp at least 300 hours of running (burn-in) to let it settle in before my review.

It is a decent amp, and because it is a little more forward sounding in the mids than my iBasso D2 Boa it reminds me of the Meier Headsix. It is not up to the level of my Predator and Pico or iBasso D3, but I think I might like it more than the D2 Boa so far. It is more cheaply made than most of the amps I am comparing it to, but that also gets the price down well below the competition.

I have been using it in low gain with ATH-ESW10, and Denon C700 which through an RSA tomahawk could sound harsh but they sound smoother with the Nuforce, as well as trying it with my Westone 3 and Nuforce NE-7M.

The only big problem I have run into is that "static discharge" makes the amp go nuts - so don't shuffle across the carpet and then touch the amp or headphones or laptop or all kinds of nasty noises will emanate from the headphones! Shrieking or clacking noises, take your pick. The second issue is more minor and that is just a little interference from the iPhone 3G; but the RFI is less than the RFI with the D2 Boa, and both of these are much more resistant than the D3 Python which is highly irritating when the iPhone is around.



looking forward to your review once again, your thread is very useful in helping me make a choice.

i'm having a love hate relationship with my D3! the sound is great, love the battery life, love the line out function but i hate the iritating RFI! my phone is banned from my room when i'm using the D3
bigsmile_face.gif


i wonder how the Nuforce will stack up to the D3.
 
Dec 6, 2008 at 4:43 AM Post #14 of 130

HeadphoneAddict

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Quote:

Originally Posted by nocturnalsheet /img/forum/go_quote.gif
looking forward to your review once again, your thread is very useful in helping me make a choice.

i'm having a love hate relationship with my D3! the sound is great, love the battery life, love the line out function but i hate the iritating RFI! my phone is banned from my room when i'm using the D3
bigsmile_face.gif


i wonder how the Nuforce will stack up to the D3.



So, do you also find that the Nuforce is less prone to RFI from the iPhone than the D3, but that it still has minor RFI?
 
Dec 6, 2008 at 4:51 AM Post #15 of 130

nocturnalsheet

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Quote:

Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict /img/forum/go_quote.gif
So, do you also find that the Nuforce is less prone to RFI from the iPhone than the D3, but that it still has minor RFI?


sadly i do not have the Nuforce yet.
beyersmile.png


waiting for your review before making a decision on whether to get it or not.

if i'm getting it, my D3 is going to stay at home and i'll bring the Nuforce out instead.
 

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