Bel Canto eOne amps - Is this the future?

This is a relatively new amp series by Bel Canto. Any comments about this ICE technology? Are we done with the large power supplies and heavy back breaking amps?
In the lower ranges of hi-end - say to 5000$ - probably. In the upper reaches - not quite yet. The big Krells, Lamms etc still sound considerably better than any of the digital switching amps.
Bel Canto has always been a class D proponent. They just gave up on the inferior Tripath chip for ICE technology. Other big names are experimenting with class D chips. Jeff Rowland embraced ICE modules years ago.

I don't know of any solid state amp I would consider over my ICE amps.
Does the Sunfire amps work similar to this or is it altogether different?
Move on Muralman1! The ICE age is over. Next up..UcD. You could probably get the module (from for a few hundred bucks and drop it into your H2O with the power supply you are so fond of.

Every ears and every system is different. What makes you so sure that the uCD will outperorm Ice-based in general and the H2O in particular. And more importantly, that Muralman1 will like it better on his Scintillas. There is one case that Nuforce was preferred over the H2O stereo. And in other cases, The H2O slaughter both the Nuforce and the uCD-based D200 as well.....YES THE CIA D200! What Ice-based amps have you heard may I ask?
Read my system review Eldartford. If you ever find yourself in my vicinity give me a ring for a listen that will knock your socks off.
You guys can ice-out all you want. I'll keep tubin!
Muralman1...You do realize that I am pulling your leg a bit? Of course I have read your many comments about the H2O. I have also read many comments by others, who don't always agree with you. As Scintilla sez "Every ears and every system is different".

I confess that I have had only slight listening exposure to ICE based amps. One reason that I lost interest in ICE is that you and some others insisted that the on-board switched power supply is no good and the ICE module requires a conventional power supply (which you call "linear"). If the on-board supply is not used the price of the amp gets out of line.
No mfg will will ask audiophiles if its ok with them to dispense with the analog power supply and go to one that switches. They will promote it as a major advancement since it will be cheaper to build & is considerable lighter. However in the end it will be left up to the consumer if this fairly new technology is acceptable.

There is no question that digital amps are in our future because they eliminate large expensive heatsinking & some of them sound pretty darn good! My current amp is digital with a linear (analog) power supply. But there are still some very good analog amps around that sound excellent, including tube power amps!
Eldartford, Ok, just call me Mr. Sensitive. Two things price the H2O Signature ($2,800) as high as it is.

!) It is completely hand built in America.

2) A big conventional power supply does come at a premium price.

Like I point out in my review, not everyone is going to find it to their liking plunked down in their present system. I had to re-educate myself on how to bring out it's best.
I wish audiogon would come up with a way to 'tag' discussions. i want to mark this and follow it.

i have nothing to add.
Kublakhan, you posted, so now this thread will stay on your ,"My
Threads," as long as it is active.
I'm looking forward to great deals on the old technology amps. It appears chip amps have significant issues that need to be resolved.
thanks muralman1, that's why i posted. there should be a way to tag a thread though without having to butt in.
Agree with kubla on thread tagging. Would be an excellent feature.
The development in digital amps is starting to mirror the development in computers. You wake everyday to find a new king.

Unlike the unlimited hz in computer speed, there is a limit in human hearing. Will we ever reach a point of no further audible improvement? (not counting adding additional channels.)
Muralman1...Where in America is the ICE amp built?
Some would say we reached that point decades ago. But for most members of this forum, I imagine the answer to your question is "no".
IMHO, it does not make sense in terms of sonic quality to a amp convert a analog signal to digital, amplify the signal then convert it again to analog to feed the speakers. It only makes sense in terms of energy saving.
Eldartford, in Washington DC.
Seurat, the proof is in the listening. A great part in what makes them different is their faster switching speed. They are analog, not digital. They don't sound like tubes, or solid state.
Muralman1...Really? I thought the ICE module was made in Europe.
Eladarford, the H2O is the sum of it's parts. The 500A ICE module is crucial to
H2O's success, but that chip has no power supply. This is not to say the H2O
is merely a Scandanavian chip stuck to a cap and torroid.
Muralman1 - then what else it is ? Unless H2O modifies the ICEpower modules, H20 amps are nothing more than an american made box, a toroid, rectifying bridge, a couple of caps and some wiring. That's it. No more, no less.

For those who haven't seen the ICEpower module, which is a COMPLETE power amp, not a chip, looks like this:
Muralman1....All the complexity, design originality, and parts count are in the ICE module. The H2O power supply is a simple brute force design. This may be a great approach, but it represents a small part of the overall amplifier.

By the way, I have nothing against European products. The UcD module that I like also comes from Europe.
And for comparison go to

As the saying goes "There is more than one way to skin a cat" (IMHO all of them good).
Elberoth2, I repeat, the B&O 500A module is not a complete amp. It will make
no sound if you plug it in. You can stick one of those digital power supplies
on it, and it will sound much the same as the ASP stand alone amps. The nice
thing about the 500A is it allows a talented engineer, like Henry Ho, the
freedom to change the house sound of a B&O module as desired.

What makes you think you can characterize Henry's amps with authority?
Have you dissected one? Your "facts" are wrong. For instance,
Henry doesn't use a rectifying bridge. He uses a much better, and more
expensive solution.

I have heard four iterations of 500A amps. Each one sounds distinctly
different than the others. The same cannot be said of ASP amps. Henry's
signature monos are a slam dunk best in my system.

Sajran, in his review compares my amps with one of the many ASP amps in a
pretty box, like the Evo-e. The H2O is just more refined, and so is a real
contender against any solid state or tube amp.

If you noticed, Bel Canto followed Jeff Rowland's example and built their first
ICE amps with a digital power supply, why? Profit, that's why. They know they
can get a darn good sound out of packaging B&O's creation. Likewise, they
know, if they use Henry's 500A amps as a model to work from, their amp
prices will end up out of reach for 90% of audiophiles.

Henry's amps are no similar to Bel Canto amps than Boulder is to B&K. They
are related only in type of amp. Henry's amps are so good, they compete
with the best. Owners of major audiophile brand tube amps and solid states
have replaced them with the H2O, amps such as, Boulder, Rogue, VTL,
Quicksilver, DNA, Manley, Edge, Conrad Premier, etc.

Here we go again.
But they are made (mostly) in Europe? Go on, admit it. We don't care.
Elberoth2, I repeat, the B&O 500A module is not a complete amp. It will make
no sound if you plug it in.

You are obviously wrong. The 500A module is 100% plug & play. The only thing you need to run it ia a power supply. It is all written in B&O specs in a link I gave you.

My questin still stands though - does H2O modifies in any way the 500A modules they are getting from B&O ?
Wow!~ This thread is taking off, like there is some interest, or concern surrounding these new strange amps. That's cool.

With Henry's American made Fire preamp I'm in audio heaven. The only reason I brought up H2Os being American made was to explain their pricing. The aluminum plates making up the H2O's chassis are formed within a short distance. Given US's high craftsman wages, each amp case costs around $400. Don't think Henry Ho hasn't considered outsourcing.

The thing is, I consider Henry's pricing a steal. I wasn't concerned about ditching $16,000 monos for Henry's $5,500 monos. However, I would think twice before I pay over $2,000 for a module in a box.
Muralman1...Don't you see that being less than truthful about where the amp is made hurts your credibility about other aspects of the amp. We don't care!!! You raised the subject.

The case is very pretty. But if it costs $400 that would be more than the ICE amp itself, and raises concern about Mr Ho's design priorities.
Elberoth2, Let's see what B&O says. Under applications for the ICE power
500A Module, it says, and I quote,

"The ICEpower A-series require external power supply but can also be
powered by the unique ICEpower DC Bus concept integrated in the ASP-series

I rest my case in this matter.

B&O denies warranty to modified modules. Modifying such minute circuitry
would be insane, anyway.

The sound from these modules can be significantly enhanced through linear
power supply, and filtering.
Eldatford, I resent you impinging my integrity. The amp is made in America. The module is made in Europe. It's all semantics. You tend to think the amp is the incomplete module, while I am talking about the whole component. I think the people here are smart enough to see the difference. Being that the 500A is not a stand alone amp just lends to my credibility.
Muralman1...I do not doubt your integrity. Sorry if it came across like that. I guess I should have said "accurate" instead of "truthful".

The usual description of products like this is "Assembled in USA with parts sourced from _____"

I do think that the amplifier module represents the heart of the unit, and that the power supply, the case, the connectors, the power cord, etc which are of very conventional design are of secondary importance.

"The thing is, I consider Henry's pricing a steal. I wasn't concerned about ditching $16,000 monos for Henry's $5,500 monos. However, I would think twice before I pay over $2,000 for a module in a box.

Really, I thought you went from "$16,000 monos" to an Amp made in Denmark by Peter the Great of eAR fame.

Or is that just another way you bend your reality?
OK, well back to to title of the thread, if that's OK with everyone? For what it's worth, I have owned a Bel C. Evo 200.2, Spectron Musician II, and had a two week audition with the S250 H2O amp (non-sig. version) and to MY ears, in MY system, the NuForce 9.02 beats them all, in every way that is important to truthful and emotionally involving music reproduction.

Larrytwo - you would do well to audition the NuForce and probably the Channel Island D200's, as both are more affordable than most if not all of the above aforementioned amps, and have a 30 day trail period.
Hi Denf,

What preamp did you use to drive the H2O when you auditioned it?
By the way, I think that the CIA D200 and the NuForce share the same UcD amplifier module, but the CIA unit has a conventional power supply whereas the NuForce has a switcher. I have no idea whether this makes a difference.
I do note that the manufacturer, ( offers fully assembled power supplies for their modules, and these are of the conventional type.
Kjgp, is this an audio forum, or a congressional hearing? I mentioned above I've had several ICE amps in my system. I didn't feel it was necessary to write my life history. Yes, one was the little Peter amp. It was a 500A analog supply amp too. It also sounded much better in my system than the solid state. The H2O Sig kills it, though.
Denf, the Nufocre 902 is a lot better than Nuforce's original 8. So is the H2O Sig better than the original H2O. I am not saying the H2O is the best amp for all systems. It's far from it. I am saying my system is awesome.

I have done a lot of things externally to maximize the H2O's delivery. My preamp is custom made, my cables and interconnects were revamped, and my front end is tuned nearly perfectly.

There is nothing more better I'd like to see than a head to head contest between UCD and ICE.
Muralman1 - point well taken. You are right on the money when you state that NO amp (including the H2o or the NuForce) will be the best for anybody's system. Just too many variables, room acoustics, system synergy, AC quality, personal taste/predudices, etc., etc..

Nothing wrong with your enthusiasm for the H2o either! I'm the same way when I find something I feel is exceptional. I think the fact that you have been pleased with the H2o for such a long time now, speaks volumes. Many times an audio love affair starts off bright but then dims as listening hours get logged on for a particular device.

Right now the NuForce is king in my system, but my own audio nervousa always keeps my amplifier-nirvana goal a moving target.

Scintilla - I used the TAD 150 Signature for preamp when I auditioned the H2o. Don't get me wrong, it was by no means a "bad" amp, just didn't trip my aural trigger at the time. I have read & talked to quite a few other 'philes that also LOVE the H2o, so I might audition the Signature version again in the near future, but again, I really like the performance-per-dollar ratio of the NuForce at about half the price of the H2o Sig.
Nuforce doesnt use the UCD module
Humanmedia...I stand corrected. NuForce doesn't use the UcD module. Based on what I read its design approach is more like UcD than ICE.
Hi Denf,

Not trying to be picky but the I thought the standard stereo H20 costs $2500 which a bit less than a pair of the Nuforce 9.02....Unless you meant compared to the H2O signature monos. Have you heard the Signature monos from H2O? Also, I happen to run across your system and review and you said that you drove the standard H2O stereo direct from your Areo Capitol player and the result were less than stellar. I think that is no surprise considering the H2O has only 8kohms input impedance if I remember correctly.
Scintilla. I ran the H2o both ways, direct from my Capitole, then at the end with a TAD 150 Signature. Really could not detect much of a difference as the Capitole is designed to run amps direct with a little over 4.5 volts out, so in a sense, it has it's own built-in preamp section.

I have rarely heard other Capitole owners (or reviewers) say that they preferred the sound of the Capitole with a preamp.

Based on my own personal experience, it seems like you would have to compare the Signature version of the H2o to come close to the sound of the NuForce. BTW Scintilla, have you actually even heard the NuForces?

I strongly disagree. In my system I MUCH prefer the Capitole run through BAT VK-51SE preamp than direct to my Lamms. It sounds so much better this way.

On the other hand, BAT is $9000, add to that another pair of ICs and a power cord, and we are talking about $12.000+ upgrade. From that point of view, it is hardly a sensible choice - you may probably get better resoults by spending that extra 12 grand on the rest of your system.
Hi Denf,
Thanks for the info. As for being able to swing 4.5V does mean much if it couldn't provide the current. Please don't get me wrong. Like I said every system and what a particular listener considered as GREAT, is different from system to system. And a prime example of that is exactly what Elberoth2 just said which is completely opposite to your belief.

Yes, I have heard the Nuforce 9.02. To my ears, it does not have to even take the H2O stereo signature to compete with the Nuforce. The Standard stereo H2O will be fine, in a right system of course. As for comparing to H2O signature series, both stereo, and specially the H2O mono Signature, will leave the Nuforce behind. Having just said that, Then again, as you noticed, there is a gentleman woodburger preferred his Nuforce over the H2O stereo Signature.
Both points well taken guys. Yes, it ultimately comes down to system synergy and personal preference, not to mention finances.

Scintilla, you have piqued my curiosity on the H2o's again. As Henry Ho is a such a great guy to deal with, I might try the Sigature version and do my own comparo. I am honestly so blown away by the NuForce's in my system that I just can't imagine how it could be improved, but...

That's what these forums are all about -- you gotta love it!
This is all very interesting. Being Henry's biggest, and longest fan, I use to
meet dislike of his products with incredulity. Since, I have become
completely aware the H2O is system dependent.

In my system review here, I make note the H2O will not likely give most the
performance I am enjoying, It just isn't the kind of amp that can be plunked
down into any system, and perform it's best.

Case in point: A fellow I know tried an H2O with his battery preamp system,
and predictably didn't like it. He preferred his PS Audio's tizzy highs. You
won't find many audiophiles that like the early PS Audio amp highs, but in his
system, it was his preference.

There isn't one amp, or system, that will push everyone's buttons.

My audio preference leans to brutal reality. I don't want the signal "
improved." I can hear coloration, random capacitance, tube warmth,
solid state brightness, and Krell like iron fist control. I don't like any of it.

Give me, as much as possible, the unadulterated free flowing music off the
disc. That is my desire.