Maybe there is an owner nearby that will give you a listen. I'm in Sacramento. There are at least half dozen user reviews on the net, too, that might be of interest to you.
I've had my Signature amps for over a half year now, and they still haven't relinquished any wow factor. I don't believe they ever will, because it is the music, they play, that provides the excitement. The H2O amps just let it be.
For several months, I also sat on fence thinking and reading everything I could about the H2O amplifiers. I contacted some of the owners and each told me they were very pleased with the performance of the H2O.
I then decided to purchase the H20 S250 amplifier without having heard it - based mostly upon the trust of the Apogee owners' discussion group. It replaced a Krell KSA-150 amplifier in my setup.
I drove 5 hours to pickup the amplifier from Henry Ho. In person, the H20 is simple, elegant and gorgeous. After spending some time with Henry, I felt very confident the amplifier would work out for me. I did hear the H20 powering the Apogee Diva with Henry and the sound was spendid.
At home, the H2O actually sounded good immediately despite what other owners have mentioned about lengthy break-in periods. It runs cold to the touch and does not require warm-up time. The rather difficult load of the Apogee Duetta Signature speakers is handled with total ease - the H2O never seems to struggle at any time.
I often hear the New York Philharmonic live. When I come back and listen to the H2O, there is a definite link back to Avery Fisher Hall. No artificial bloom or undisplined bass are present at any time. Notes are reproduced as recorded - the attack, tonality, sustain, decay bring the musical event back to life each time an LP is played. This is truely a gentleman's amplifier.
You seldom hear from Henry in the discussion forums and you never see the H2O adverised anywhere. I believe Henry is simple interested in building world-class equipment regardless of financial rewards.
I know the H2O amplifiers will be exhibited at the upcoming Home Entertainment Show here in New York. They will be powering the Apogee-like Analysis Audio speakers from Greece. Also sharing the room will be VPI - an upcoming turntable manufacturer from New Jersey. If you plan to attend the show, make sure you don't miss this room.
I own a pair of the H2o Signature Monoblocks. I have nothing but praise and respect for Henry, and his amplifiers. It has only been a few months for me, however well into the period of time in which any unforseen anomaly appears in a system that went unnoticed at initial purchase. I am extremely pleased with the performance of these amps and have actually written quite a few words on them...
Click on the links by my moniker, I wrote a "music lover first / audiophile second" review, as well as install and break in notes in my system thread.
I also have the S-250. I listened to three different types of speakers (planar, conventional, and single driver), one at a time of course depending on my preference, powered by this amp and all I can say is that "I have found it"!
As the posters above mentioned, Mr. Henry Ho is a no non-sense low key guy. He seldom participate in discussion forums and does not advertised his product. Like Pkaram, I bought mine without hearing it and just took my chances. Almost three months now since I received the amp and so far, I have no complaints on how the amp sound in my set up.
FWIW, the amp has a trial period and a demo unit can be requested (for a week stay in your system) from Mr. Ho. Maybe the best thing is to hear it first in your rig so you can make your decision.
The Man is willing to let you hear his product in your home.
But he's small, and if he decides there's no money or future in his product, repairs, warranty service, and reliability are questionable.
However, since I haven't heard these, they may be the best thing since sliced bread, and you may find them to be the bargain of the century.
He does allow you to hear them first. Try that with a super amp from your local salon owner. Stereophile says: " A good retailer will allow you to try the product in your home" Yeah, most are pressed hard to allow you to audition in there place after hours with no confusion or noise. Huzzah to Henry Ho and the folks at Juicy Music for pushing a new marketing pardigm.
Anyone willing to spend the money and take the damage risk to send you his product for auditon, must be confident in their sound.
My system is in flux, darn new new everything. So once the pre-amp question is answered, I'll settle in and take Herr Ho up on his offer and see. Steep competition he'll have. I have Threshold, Pass, and VTL 350's to challenge him.
So beware the down side, and be brave!
I also have the Stereo H2O (s-250)in my system. I bought it after visiting Henry last summer when he still lived in Richmond, VA. I bought the amp to use with my Apogee Scintillas that are being refurbished. Meanwhile, I have been using Von Schweikert VR-4.5s with them. I love the way S-250 sounds with my new Supratek Chenin. It is the best sound I have ever coaxed from my system. The stereo units do take quite a while to break-in (read the reviews posted elsewhere.) I also think that the amp is so neutral that the preamp and cables used is very important to the overall sound of your system. I love the way tube equipment sounds so having the tube preamp is ideal in this situation. I do not miss at all having a tube amplifier which is really amazing. While it is hard to imagine my system getting any better than it is, the Scintillas should even take it a few steps further. The amp is very good and well worth an audition. The caveat to what I have written is that only your ears will tell you what is the truth. Either way you go, I wish you well. Bob
I auditioned the H20 S250 for a few weeks in my system early last year.
Best digital switching amplifier I have ever heard. Very analog like, yet not missing any details. Treble was exceptional (every other PWM amp I heard has been subpar in the higher registers).
It definitely requires a top notch pre-amp that can drive the 10kohm input impedence of the H20. Speaker matching is important as always. The H20 amps have a real high damping factor.
In the end, the H20 did not synergize to the degree I had hoped for in my system. Henry was very understanding and dealt with me with the upmost of professionalism.
If I change gear, I would definitely look up H20Audio again.
Does Mr Ho provide a schematic and parts list when you buy his amp? This used to be common practice for audio electronics (and is still the norm for pro equipment). With this information any competent electronic shop should be able to fix the amp. If he does it would go a long way to set my mind at ease about the possibility that he may quit the business.
Three cheers for you, Loudandclear. I have the utmost respect for you. Not so long ago, someone was asking questions about the H2O. You rose to the occasion, and explained things very well. Hoorah! Hoorah! Hoorah!
Eldartford, I hadn't known that. none of the amps I have owned carried schematics, and parts lists. Perhaps when Henry's amp venture matures?
I know Henry very well. I can absolutely say, without a doubt, Henry will service his amps to his dying days. He is just that kind of guy.
Muralman1...God forbid, but Henry could get run over by a truck. As I said, the schematic, and better still, a service manual, would eliminate the concern expressed by Loontoon.
A friend of mine who is a technician made a small repair to my H20's binding post and thought the amp was completely straight forward and a breeze if any repairs would be needed. He thought that the amp was very well put together and he's thinking of purchasing one for himself. He also thought that the price charged by Henry Ho was more than fair for the stereo amp based on the quality of parts used. Bob
What is the price for the stereo amp?
I just got my signature mono's in last night. I am hooking them up right now and will keep you posted as to any conclusions I have. If they perform as well as everyone says then they will stay forever. Henry has been very nice to deal with to this point and very professional. I went ahead and purchased without hearing since I have the two week trial to return if I don't like them. How can you go wrong?
Although I must admit that the thought of buying an amp from a startup was somewhat scarry, but all of the big, well respected guys out there today were startups at some point. I mean, lets face it, I'm sure if you would have bought a pair of synergistic research cables when they first started out they would have sounded just as good and not cost $1000's. Now synergistic has to pay for advertising and has to pay the middle man too. This thought greatly put my mind at ease. Nothing ventured, nothing gained! You can pay $5500 now for this signature version or you can wait until the Stereophile "Class A" stamp is placed on them and pay $10,000.
I also was intrigued with this amp, so i ordered 1 pair of S250 to biamp my speakers, and guess what,Henry emailed me back that he has Signature S250 the difference is that the Signature S250 has a bigger toroidal trasformer making it a true dual design.
The utilization of the ICE module puts a new light on the question of purchasing a product from a new company. An ICE module is an ICE module regardless of who packaged it up with a chassis, power supply, and connectors. (I exaggerate only slightly).
Eldartford, what is your point? Are you saying, all ICE amps sound the same? I know for a fact, that isn't so, having heard three, and owned two. Strajan, of 6Moons, compared the H2O directly to the ICe powered JJaz, and concluded the H2O clearly sounded better to his ears.
What established companies using ICE technology are you thinking of?
Muralman1...The discussion was about reliability, and fears about service from a startup company, not sound. The ICE module comprises most of the amp. Repair of non-ICE parts, like connectors and powercords, don't require specialized knowledge of the manufacturer.
You are right. The ICE module can be removed from the amp, and replaced by any handy person. I don't believe there is any fix for the module itself. As you mentioned, the rest of the amp is old stuff to any repairperson.
I guess I am being redundant. Sorry, I hadn't known the discussion moved to warranty matters.
Although, I wouldn't characterize the the ICE module as being most of the H2O amp. It's actually a very small part, albeit crucial to the sound.
It looks like the H2o amp uses the ICE module which produces 500 watts into 4 ohms. The newer 1000 watt ICE module reportedly is significantly improved in ways other than power capability. I wonder when Mr Ho will come out with another amp.
Yeah, I wish. B&O has, so far, only offered the 1000ASP, with the built in digital power supply. Jjaz, among others, is produced around this module.
You can add me to the list of owners. I just bought a pair of M250 signature monoblocks for my MBL 101Es.
Received my Signature S250 about 3 weeks ago. Henry was kind enought to run it 48 hrs. before shipping it. Out of the box, I had a hard time believing an amp could make such an improvement. Very satisfied with it in my system.
I have the first three S250 Signatures and I'm VERY happy with them.
" The newer 1000 watt ICE module reportedly is significantly improved in ways other than power capability."
Well, having built amps with them, I wouldn't say that is the case.
The ASP series has some features built in that the separate modules do not have. And while the 1000 W sounds different from the 250 W and 500 W, I do not consider it be better.
Ar_t..."reportedly" better was based on reviews of the 500 and 1000 watt eAR amps. I haven't heard either, yet. Am trying to decide what to buy.
You say "different". Which do you like?
Acoustic Reality's pricier amps are their 500A module amps, with an analog power supply. They are their best sounding amps, and are priced accordingly.
Like I said before, if you want to know what the module in the box 1000 ASP amp sounds like, just read the H2O review. They compare it to the Jjaz, a 1000ASP amp.
Have any of you H2O owners compared or auditioned a Halo A21 or JCl in comparison to hte H2O.