Icon Audio Amplifiers experience?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Minty_fresh, Feb 13, 2018.

  1. Minty_fresh

    Minty_fresh Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Dirty Town
    As I continue to look at different options for amplification I came across the Icon Stereo 20 or Stereo 25.

    As far as I can tell it’s a British company manufactured in China and sold (possibly exclusively) by MusicDirect. Personally I don’t care where it’s made (USA is nice but not required)so long as service is there if I have a question/problem.

    I found one thread and studied it thoroughly but thought I’d cast a net to see if there’s more experience with them and how you liked the sound.
     
  2. G B Kuipers

    G B Kuipers New Member

    Location:
    Netherlands
    Some years ago I had the pleasure of hearing the Stereo25, the Stereo40, and their pre with 300B mono blocks in a hifi store, driving Audio Physic speakers. That was my first audition of tube amps.

    I was auditioning several other amps at the time. I finally made the choice to stay with solid state and go for a speaker upgrade, but after a while I gave in and made my move to tube amplification (not Icon). The memory of hearing those Icon amps was probably an important factor. Guess that's a recommendation to audition them if you can.
     
  3. John Moschella

    John Moschella Forum Resident

    Location:
    Christiansburg, VA
    They make an interesting phono pre that actually has a mono switch.
     
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  4. G B Kuipers

    G B Kuipers New Member

    Location:
    Netherlands
    Just note that the specs say the Stereo20 is less than 20 Wpc, which makes sense as it is based on the classic low power Leak amps. For many speakers that's rather low power...
     
  5. Minty_fresh

    Minty_fresh Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Dirty Town
    I’m running Focal 807’s (92db) from a 45wpc class d amp. It feels underpowered to me.

    Since the Icons are British would they necesssrily be voiced darker in tone overall?
     
  6. Not sure where this stuff about "British" voicing comes from...I've had and heard various British amps over the years and they don't have a unifying sound. For the record, I'm now running a Merkinanian amp into British speakers that were designed and tested using Naim electronics and it all sounds fine to me.

    Re Icon: they are based in Leicester, where their design is carried out, made in China, and they sell direct over here. They've been pretty well reviewed by the likes of Hi-Fi World.

    Icon Audio
     
  7. G B Kuipers

    G B Kuipers New Member

    Location:
    Netherlands
    From memory I'd say the tone wasn't particularly dark on the Audio Physic speakers I heard them on. I do remember that the Stereo25 sounded underpowered on those speakers. The other amps I tried were fine.

    I don't have experience with class D amps, but if 45 Wpc feels underpowered, I think you should look into higher power amps. I think Icon has a Stereo60 as well as the 40. Perhaps look into the Audio Research range for instance? In any case, try before you buy is my advice.
     
  8. Jellis77

    Jellis77 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brighton
    I haven't heard the specific amplifiers that you mention, but I have owned the MB845 Mark 2 Monoblocks and PS3 phonostage from Icon Audio for around 5 years now. Apart from replacing valves they have been faultless and a pleasure to own and use.

    Starting with the PS3 - this is the best phonostage either valve or solid state at the price I have heard (and I checked out a lot before I bought it) - you can get better but you are looking at around 3000 to 5000 dollars.

    The MB845s are a genuine wonder! The are like an amazingly powerful car that you only need to cruise around in -but the power is there when needed. I have never kept an amplifier for 5 years before and I see no reason to change them any time soon.

    The service / aftercare provided by Icon Audio is excellent and if you are able I would recommend you check out their products.
     
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  9. Thorensman

    Thorensman Forum Resident

    Forget power output.
    My Leak Stereo 20
    Drives most speakers to high
    Levels.
     
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  10. Shoalcove

    Shoalcove Well-Known Member

    I’ve not heard the Icon Integrated amps but have listened to one of their preamps quite a bit. I think it’s excellent. I would like to try some of their stuff one day. The preamp looks very nice and appears well made imo.
     
  11. G B Kuipers

    G B Kuipers New Member

    Location:
    Netherlands
    High levels are never a problem. However, control can be difficult. I have heard too many underpowered amps to believe that power is not important. For instance, the Leben CS300 is a wonderful amp but on my speakers it sounded small and congested, even though the high end resolution was fabulous.
     
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  12. Minty_fresh

    Minty_fresh Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Dirty Town
    To be clear, they get loud but don’t have that grip on the mid bass until I start adding volume.

    The 807’s are nominal 8ohm load but around 120 hz it drops to just under 5 ohm. I think this was s where it’s coming apart.

    I’m not looking for loud, I’m looking for grip, especially in that range.
     
  13. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    Many speakers are simply incapable of tight, solid bass at low volumes. High efficiency speakers and/or acoustic suspension cabinets tend to perform better in this regard.

    If you can find an old pair of Advents like these for a good price, I really think they might give you what you're seeking.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018 at 9:15 AM
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  14. Minty_fresh

    Minty_fresh Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Dirty Town
    Thanks. Not in the market for speakers. At least not yet. But I’ll keep those in mind
     
  15. HankM

    HankM Active Member

    Location:
    Upstate NY
    I became interested in Icon as well and never heard about them before. Music Direct does have a 60 day return policy.
     
  16. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    I don't mean to be a nag, but I've been following your posts and really think you'll be chasing your tail with amps. I've been down this road before. Amps can give marginal improvements but much of what's out there won't perform any better than your Marantz. The issue is that many speakers need substantial volume of power to get their bass cones really moving. Not maximum power in terms of the amp's specs, but a certain level of voltage that is needed before the cones really move enough that the sensitivity of our non-flat hearing can pick up the bass notes at a level comparable to the midrange.

    Focals are relatively high sensitivity (not to be confused with efficiency) on paper but they're not unlike MA or B&W and numerous other ported speakers that need ample voltage to wake up the bass. It's fine for those who always listen at 70 db+ averages, but if listening to low volume, say, 65db averages, the low octaves are MIA. If I want tight, impactful bass for late night sessions, I listen to Heresys. It doesn't take much volume to get their woofers kicking. That's largely because the surface area of their woofers, the lightweight of the surrounds, and the air resistance in the cabinets.

    A smooth roll off of bass frequencies is where speakers like the Advents have a further advantage. They don't drop off like a cliff below 50Hz. Some of those vintage speakers can perform just as well, or better than new models. A buddy of mine has those same Advents. He did replace their caps and wiring, but otherwise, they're original and can show the door to some $5K speakers. Their bass at low volumes is hard to beat. Just my $.02.
     
  17. Minty_fresh

    Minty_fresh Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Dirty Town
    Not at all I appreciate your perspective. :)
     
  18. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    I Just remembered an amp that excels for low volume listening: the Sony TA-A1ES. It's void of features but does have excellent sound and low volume bass. It's quasi-class A, so it does run hot. In terms of overall sound quality, I found it was on par with the Parasound Halo Integrated with a smooth and full sound. It doesn't have the power one might want for concert volumes, but for a typical domestic environment, with your speakers, it'd be plenty. They can be found used for anywhere between $1K and $1500. It might not completely satisfy your needs but I think it's better in that regard than any other amp I've heard.
     
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  19. Minty_fresh

    Minty_fresh Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Dirty Town
    Thank you, I will look into that.
     
  20. Thorensman

    Thorensman Forum Resident

    Yes, I agree, i believe the damping factor plays a part here.
    Others have explained it better than i
     
  21. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Forum Resident

    Location:
    Mid Atlantic
    92db is not particularly sensitive for a speaker and stereophile only got 90db with them. Remember the impedance curve of the speakers varies by frequency. The link is to stereophiles measurement page: Focal Chorus 807V loudspeaker Measurements . Some issue with impedance angle at lower midrange and upper bass was mentioned. The reviewer used 100W tube amps with them. I would suggest either some SS amp biased into class A or a more powerful tube amp somewhere around 75W based on that review.
     
  22. HankM

    HankM Active Member

    Location:
    Upstate NY
    My local dealer for Hegel explained dampening factor and how it performs in regards to moving the actual drivers on a loudspeaker. Hegel amps have a very high dampening factor, more than 1,000 for main power output stage
     
  23. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    Damping factor is about the accuracy of woofer control, the "grip" so to speak, it has nothing to do with cone excursion or bass output which is what the OP is needing. Rogue's hybrid amps have a very high damping factor but they produce little bass output at low volumes. It's like a handshake. People can have a firm hand shake and barely move their arms (the woofer cone) or the opposite, or any ratio thereof, but one doesn't equate to the other.
     
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  24. G B Kuipers

    G B Kuipers New Member

    Location:
    Netherlands
    I like the handshake analogy. It makes me think that EL34 tubes are like a handshake that is not very firm, but very heartfelt. Like from a person who is truly excited to meet you, ha ha. Arm shaking all over the place.
     
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  25. Minty_fresh

    Minty_fresh Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Dirty Town
    I couldn’t figure out how to read that graph. So much going on. Based on that should I be looking at using 4 ohm taps vs the 8?
     

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