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NuForce Icon 2

Desktop stereo integrated amplifier with built-in USB DAC (Blue)

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Item #: 773ICON2L
 

Review Summary

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Our take on the NuForce Icon 2

by Jim Richardson
Nuforce

Everything you always wanted in a stereo receiver, except the radio

An integrated amplifier is essentially a receiver without a built-in AM/FM tuner. You get power to drive your speakers, audio controls, and inputs for music source components. Connect an iPod, a computer, a network music player, or any other device that can play Internet radio, and you may find you have no need for an AM/FM radio.

You can carry your entire music collection around on an iPod® or a laptop. That's cool. Too bad you can't carry a great stereo system along with you, too.

Oh, wait. Now you can.

About the size of a ham sandwich, the NuForce Icon 2 easily fits in your suitcase, backpack, or lunch pail. Add a set of small bookshelf speakers or a pair of high-grade headphones, and you have an affordable audiophile system that's perfect for a desktop, dorm room, or hotel suite. Going overseas for an extended stay? The included AC adapter handles worldwide voltages.

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You can connect up to three music sources to the Icon 2. Input #1 is a stereo minijack, which accepts the headphone output from your smartphone or MP3 player. Input #2 is a pair of RCA jacks, ready to take on a CD player or iPod® dock. Input #3 is a type B USB jack, which takes the output of your computer into the Icon 2's onboard 96kHz/24-bit digital-to-analog converter. If you've never heard digital music files played through a high-quality DAC, you're in for big surprise.

Good headphones are the most economical way to get a taste of high-end audio. But you won't get high-end sound out of your headphones if you plug them straight into your laptop. The headphone amp inside the Icon 2 will quickly spoil you. It reveals layers of musical detail that ordinary headphone jacks obscure and opens your ears to a sense of the performance space.

The Icon 2 couldn't be simpler to operate. The top knob turns the amp on and controls volume. The bottom knob is the music source selector. A sturdy base is included to keep your Icon 2 firmly planted on your desktop.

From the review NuForce Icon 2 makes a forceful case for a quality DAC
"If you have good quality or high-performance headphones or speakers, then the NuForce is decidedly worth the investment - especially if your audio files have a higher bit rate than 128 kbps. I'd recommend them to anyone (like myself) that saves files in some kind of lossless format - or anyone truly serious about music with a large digital collection.

— Ralph Graves, Crutchfield Blog Editor and A/V Writer

Highlights:

  • 18 watts x 2 channels into 8 ohms at 1% THD+N
  • 24 watts x 2 channels into 4 ohms at 1% THD+N
  • built-in 96kHz/24-bit USB DAC
  • high-performance headphone amplifier
  • 3.5mm stereo minijack audio input
  • 1 pair RCA analog audio inputs
  • stereo minijack audio output
  • silicone stand
  • RJ-45 speaker connectors (speaker wire included)
  • AC adapter handles worldwide voltages (60W, 100-240VAC)
  • 1-1/4"W x 6"H x 4-1/2"D
  • weight: 1 lb.
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

Hands-on research from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

Features and Specs
General
Watts RMS per Channel (8-ohms) 18
Watts RMS per Channel (6-ohms) 0
Watts RMS per Channel (4-ohms) 24
Frequency Bandwidth N/A
THD 1%
Minimum Impedance 4 ohms
Signal to Noise Ratio 90
Number of Inputs 3
Phono Inputs No
Preamp Outputs Stereo
Width (inches) 1-5/16
Height (inches) 6
Depth (inches) 4-3/8
Weight (pounds) 1
Parts Warranty 1 Year
Labor Warranty 1 Year
Product Research
What's in the box?

Download owner's manual

  • Integrated amplifier
  • Power supply with attached 45" DC output cord (15 volt/4.5 amp)
  • 6' AC power cord
  • Silicone stand
  • Two 82" Speaker wires (each with one RJ-45 connector on one end and two single banana plugs on the other)
  • 38" USB cable (USB Type-A on one end and USB Type-B on the other)
  • Manual

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team — they open the box, verify contents, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Features

Overview: The icon2 is a desktop amplifier with a headphone amp and digital to analog converter built in. There are three inputs, USB (digital), stereo RCA, and stereo mini-jack, along with a mini-jack line output and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

USB Input: The USB input is designed to connect to your computer's USB port, allowing the icon2 to act as the sound card and amplifier. The input is a USB Type-B port and a USB Type-A to USB Type-B cable is included.

Analog Inputs: There are two analog inputs, stereo RCAs and a 3.5mm stereo mini-jack, both on the rear panel.

Speaker Outputs: The amplified outputs are RJ-45 terminals and speaker wire is included with the amp (with an RJ-45 connector on one end and two single banana plugs on the other). When using the NuForce S-X speakers, the wire included with the speakers should be used, which has RJ-45 connectors on both ends.

Controls:

  • Power: rotary power/volume control on the front panel; controls the volume for both the speaker level and front panel headphone outputs; turn fully counterclockwise to turn the unit off
  • Input: rotary input selector switch; three position, mini-jack, RCA, and USB

Connections:

  • Front: 1/8" headphone; stereo; compatible with headphones up to 32 ohms; 31.25 mW x 2 @ 32 ohms; 80 mW x 2 @ 16 ohms; THD+N 0.05%; 20 Hz-20 kHz
  • Rear:
    • Power: DC input for use with included power supply
    • Input 1: stereo mini-jack (3.5mm)
    • Input 2: stereo RCAs; maximum 2.0 volts
    • Input 3: USB Type-B input; compatible with USB 1.1 and 2.0 (full speed and high speed); USB cable included; 96 kHz maximum sampling rate; 24 bit resolution
    • Speaker Output: left and right RJ-45 terminals; muted when headphones are plugged in
    • Line Output: stereo mini-jack; use the icon2 as a preamp or add a powered subwoofer
 
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NuForce Icon 2 Reviews

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5 out of 5

Well worth the money!

Written By Jeff B, Philadelphia, PA on Friday, September 14, 2012
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Purchased to amplify and improve the sound of my portable devices, especially my Sirius XM unit. I was amazed at the clarity and dynamics that it produced. Clean, crisp highs and vibrant, resonating lows. I'm hooked on it and use it every day. A well engineered device! Requires 120v AC so I need to use an inverter to use it in my vehicle.
Pros:
Excellent analog reproduction. Great dynamics and clean sound.
Cons:
Would be perfect if it would run on both 120v AC and 12v DC.
1 out of 1 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

PC is now the best stereo in the house

Written By Dirty Lou, Phoenix on Friday, February 11, 2011
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Innovative product that delivers power enough to drive high quality speakers. Plenty of
power driving my large bookshelf speakers, creating a much better audio experience
from the PC. It's a must have for anyone who demands high quality from a listening
experience, no more hokey PC speaker kits.
11 out of 15 people found this helpful
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For a more in-depth review and enhanced detailed information on the NuForce Icon 2, please visit the Crutchfield website product page (/ISEO-rccbcspd/p_773ICON2L/NuForce-Icon-2-Blue.html ).