No-Money: I considered the $600.00 upgrade until I was able to listen to one of the units. It makes the Icon sound more like the newer 5, 10 and 15 models in that the sound is more analytical, but I feel that it loses some of it's musicality. This is just my taste and opinion. I instead applied the "no money" approach to my CAL which involved purchasing the basic accessories that I would have purchased anyway for another player. First were Vibrapods "under" a MDF platform/board (you do not have to remove the stock feet, just place the CAL on top of the board), total cost $26.00 (including shipping) and a big improvement in detail as well as more controlled bass. Second were Super Silver IC's from Homegrown Audio which made the CAL sound faster again with improved detail, total cost $73.15 -w- shipping. Third was the replacement of the stock PC with a Harmonic Tech Pro 11 PC with increased the dynamics (of this laid back player) as well as increasing detail and darkening/expanding the sound stage, total cost $130.00 used -w- shipping. The HT cord has a reputation of being slightly bright which I feel compliments the CAL. The total cost of the additions were under $230.00 and IMO it sounds better (smoother and more musical) than the same player with the Boss upgrade. I did not listen to the upgraded player at home and though it was on an isolation platform I did not try it with an upgraded PC or with my IC's so I have no opinion of how it would perform under those conditions and assume that it would have sounded better to my ears if they had been used, but still we are talking about an additional $600.00. I also use a Monster HTS2000 power conditioner on my CAL, but only because of the trashy power in my building. Even before the addition of the Monster it sounded real good at around midnight.
Get the upgrade! It is so worth it. Then wait until the new format arives.
No-Money: If there are any around and you can audition one at a shop try and find the CL-15. It sounded similar to the upgraded Icon to me and it will give you a good idea of what the change in sound is like. It will sound better at first impression but watch for the glare that you should not be experiencing with your stock Icon. I personaly will save my money and wait for a better player overall than any of the CAL's for our living room system.
Dekay, I have black diamond cones and "those things" under the player and everything in the system is wired with Transparent "super" including the pc. I also had some dots applied to some of the components inside, I think they where Marigo? or something like that. So the player is about as tweaked as I can get it except for the Boss upgrade. To tell you the truth I was hopefull that the upgrade was only around $400.00. I am not sure I want to invest that much with the new formats soon to come. Unfortunately I no longer have the box so that + shipping would drive it up further. The dealer I bought this from no longer carries them so I can't hear any of the newer models but unless the upgrade would make this player comprable to say a 2K or so new player I will just wait. Have you compared this player to any in this range? When I bought it four years ago it was all I could budget for but since then some major improvements to the finances have come about so now I am wondedring just how much would I have to spend to get a REAL improvement. I am not talking about subtle changes, I want to know for a fact I just upgraded my player. Oh yea, what are you using in the rest of your system, you too Gmele?
No-Money: The system other than noted is: Musical Fidelity X-A1, Kimber 4VS (one run) with the same wire used to replace the stock jumpers on Castle Acoustic Isis speakers. It is a modest but nonetheless good sounding system. I assume that you crave more definition and detail which the upgrade will supply. I just feel that the sound is too mechanical for my personal taste. I have auditioned Transparent Wave speaker cables but have never tried their interconnects. I would suggest that you try the Homegrown assembled Super Silver IC's (which have a 30 day return policy) for next to "no money" which will add speed and detail to the player's sonic presentation without adding harshness. This may be all that you will need to hold you over. The Homegrown's and the Pro 11 resurrected the CAL for me in my system. Carl may have some opinion's on the Homegrown IC's in the next couple of weeks as he is now auditioning my extra pair. My next step up may be a used Theta Miles (for it's speed and dynamics) and I would also like to audition either model by Audio Resolution as well as the new Sony SACD player (out of curiosity). I have a very specific sound that I like and it is one that favors lack of glare vs detail in all cases as I audition with the thought of listening to the sound for long periods of time. I have far too much time on my hands. Good luck and it's nice to talk to another relentless tweak it til it bleeds poster.
No-Money, Hello- When I had my Icon upgraded it was 4 years ago, at the time I had found my investment of $400, more than worth the cost, the HDCD alone is great, not to mention the powerful bass you get, the power supply upgrade in the Icon is killer. I have never found in my system the glare problem that you guys are mentioning. The rest of my system is Audioquest Python from the CD player to a Audible Illusions M3A with all the latest upgrades, going into a Ayre V3 power amp and Maggie 1.6's. Other interconnects inlude more Python, and speaker cables are Alpha Core Goertz MI2. All preamps and amps have Luxor Custom Power Cords Model 11, going into 20 amp dedicated lines. I also have a Basis 1400 with a Rega RB 300 and Dynavector 10X4 cartridge, with an outboard Phono preamp (EAR 834P) of which i find myself using much more that my Icon. I still think that until the prices come down on the new formats, that the Icon for the money is a great player. All the best in your quest! Gary...
Gary: I believe you that there is no "glare" in your setup. Your preamp (my favorite to date by the way) has a lot to do with it. I listened to the boss upgrade through the Plinius Integrated and the CL-15 through some Rotel seperates contraption neither of which are in anywhere near the same ballpark as the AI M3A. A good friend of my wife's has the Modulas 3A in his system and his tuner, 5 year old cheap Parasound CD player and reel to reel all sound better than my Icon II, his vinyl is to die for. I beleive that it has something to do with the preamp. The mod also went up to $600.00 per CAL one month ago.
Dekay- I think you hit it on the head...Interaction between components plays a major roll over how the entire system sounds. I know I'm stating the obvious here, but it always takes alot of playing around to find that great match. I have to say that in the past year vinyl has been quite a joy. You have to thank ebay for all the great vinyl deals we are able to get our hands on. Lets not forget Music Direct and Acoustics sounds! Also as of the past six months the addition of the Luxor power cords in my system have made an amazing difference, much more authority, also deeper insight into the detail of the music and a blacker background. An upgrade that really made a big difference. Best-Gary
I am running mine through CJ pv10a pre, Proceed HPA 2 amp and ML aeruis i speakers, not getting any glare and I enjoy the sound as it is, but you know how it is allways have to wonder what you might be missing. I used to have Transparent wave connecting everything then traded up to the premium line, it really was like night and day. Thanks for all the input Dkay and Gmele.
No Money: I forgot one thing. I tried a borrowed set (3) of Black Diamond cones and did not like the sound on the CAl. It made the sound kind of brittle and out of balance (quite an achievment on the stock CAL). I mentioned it to a dealer and he asked me which set I used. I din't know, but he told me that there was a major difference between #2 and #3 or between #3 and #4 (can't remember) for what I was using them for and that I had probably used the wrong model. I don't know if this is the case or not since I have not tried any other models. I can find out which ones I used this weekend and will post that info. It is interesting (to me anyway) that your preamp is also on my hit list though I have not heard it, noted as "classic" tube sound. I have made a list of tube preamps from the threads at this site in the case that I decide to go whole hog when our finances losen up a bit.
I found the CJ pre-amp IMO to be the best money I have spent in the system yet. Well.... the amp too but it cost 3x what the pre amp did, so I expected it to perform.
No Money: Cannot get a hold of the person that loaned me the racing cones. Mute point anyway as I am sure that you know what you are doing with them. I just purchased a MF X gear power amp yesterday so I am one step closer to going with a tube preamp. For now though I will play with a bi-amp setup using the little X-A1 for the top end. Another member here that has been there and done it suggested going with a good DAC. I think that they are right though it would be nice to get another player or transport.