Thoughts on Icon PS1 MK2 tube phono stage

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Jerry James, Jan 3, 2018.

  1. Jerry James

    Jerry James Rorum Fesident Thread Starter

    Anyone have any experience with this phono stage? I have an opportunity to purchase one at a very decent price. I'm currently using a Moon LP110 into a VPI 299d tube amp. I'm curious what may be the benefit/downfall of using this tube phono stage instead. The Moon sounds good, but I wonder what may be gained by adding a tube phono stage into the mix, instead of the current solid state one. I've been told that this particular piece won't make it sound overwhelmingly lush by the addition of another tube piece in the chain, and that it is pretty open and transparent. Thoughts?
  2. Shoalcove

    Shoalcove Forum Resident

    I’ve not heard the Ikon phonostage but a friend has an Ikon preamp and it is a very nice preamp. It is not overly lush at all. Open and extended for sure. Hopefully their phonostage is similar. I’m familiar with your Simaudio phono and think it is pretty good value fwiw but you have a very nice system and I can understand wanting to get the most out of it. It would be ideal if you could try it out first. Good luck!
  3. DigMyGroove

    DigMyGroove Forum Resident

    I bought an Icon Audio PS2 here on the Forum last summer and greatly enjoy how it sounds. I'd been using the well regarded Lounge Audio LCR mkIII and also a Vincent Pho-8, and while both are very, very good units, especially at their $300 price point, the all tube Icon Audio PS2 was at a whole other level, especially as I paid $400 for this $1,100 when new item.

    I had only been using solid state gear until earlier in 2017 I bought an all tube CD player by Lector, the CDP 0.6t. That item was such a stunner I became hooked on the idea of adding tubes in the phono chain, so when the PS2 showed up at such a great price I decided to go for it. I bought a very reasonable pair of vintage RCA grey plates to go along with one Mullard I also bought from the Seller and the combo sounded better than with a pair of new Gold Lions, not that the pair sounded bad at all, just different.

    I did run into a problem soon after using it when I began to lose the right channel. It took a couple attempts by a local tech, but in the end he re-soldered all of the connections, he thought the quality of the factory soldering was just poor, and that shipping the unit hadn't done anything. The good news is it's fixed with no problems now, and the very gracious Seller contributed about 70% of the cost of the repair!
    bluemooze likes this.
  4. Jerry James

    Jerry James Rorum Fesident Thread Starter

    Thanks for your input, guys. The Icon arrived just moments ago, and I'll hook it up soon and report back. I do have a good window of "demo" time with it, so that helped make my decision easier.
    Shoalcove and bluemooze like this.
  5. Slimwhit33

    Slimwhit33 Well-Known Member

    Orange County NY
    And your thoughts Jerry?
  6. Jerry James

    Jerry James Rorum Fesident Thread Starter

    So; the amp I spoke of above I quickly found out was the "older" edition. I still hooked it up and listened with it for a week or so. I immediately noticed a huge improvement - massive bass, and greater detail throughout (ex: I was hearing strings deep in the mix of Radiohead songs I know well that I had never noticed before...). I was concerned, though, as I had read a few reviews that all echoed a concern for the build and circuitry of this earlier model, and it was noted by other reviewers (and info attached/hyped with the new model) that many revisions/updates/improvements had been made to the newer/current model. I decided I would just feel better spending a little more money to get a new/improved unit. I sent that one back and paid the difference for the new model and have been enjoying that one ever since.

    I will say, however, that I do feel the bass is more tame with this new one. Not sure why that would be (I'm new to this gear, so perhaps there's a simple answer someone versed in electronics/tube gear would understand). It still is a big jump over my former Moon unit (no Zappa reference intended :laugh:). I think it's maybe just a little more tonally balanced than the sound I was hearing from the older unit. I still hear good, solid bass on some recordings; but it seems to be record specific now, where I felt it was more powerful on nearly all recordings before. The best masterings when played through the old unit would make the back of my spine vibrate when listening - it was almost scary at first. Sometimes I kinda miss that, and wonder if this new unit is shortchanging me sonically somehow, when I'm listening to something and speculating if it would be more robust with the former. But mostly I feel that it's a good, even presentation. Overall I'm very happy with it, and it's a pretty slick looking component (actually there's 2 pieces to it...), too, compared to the old one which was much more boxy and utilitarian in appearance.
    Slimwhit33 likes this.
  7. Slimwhit33

    Slimwhit33 Well-Known Member

    Orange County NY
    Thanks for the update Jerry! Very helpful!

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