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.
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