I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with how good the newer class D amps perform. I think the Ice amp 125asx2 module was intoduced about 5 yrs ago and was considered a much better performer than the original Tripath modules. These modules had much better bass and the treble was extended to full range. They were very neutral sounding and never ran more than warm to the touch since they didn't produce a lot of excess heat llike traditional class A and A/B amps.
Several newer class D modules are now on the market from companies like Abletec and Hypex that outperform the Ice modules you asked about. I'm now using a pair of class D monoblocks from D-sonic that utilize the Abletec modules and they are very good.
I can better advise you about class D modules and amps if you can let me know a few things:
1. Do you plan to build your own amp or purchase a fully assembled amp using class D modules?
2. Are you interested in a single stereo amp or a pair of monoblocks?
3. What speakers would the amp be powering?
4. How big is your room?
remember how awful the early CD players were?? I'd wait a few few years if I were you.
1. I was just going to buy a module and put it in a pretty box...which is a few hundred dollar project.
2. Stereo mode should be plenty of power for my application
3. Silverline Prelude plus
4. Room is a good sized master bedroom.
geared4me has a good point about knowing your budget range,so please answer this 5th question,too..
5. I'm not sure there really is a budget. The Ice module costs about $200 and then I would need to buy a case and connectors. The total cost would be about $300. Thanks
I have not heard all of them but the ICEPower 250ASP are very good. Very neutral with good dynamics. May be too boring for some audiophiles. They dont add anything or take it away. If you are looking for an amp to color your sound the ICEPower modules are not it.
I can also recommend Ghentoo cases and kits.
im no historian, but the icepower modules went through a couple of generations. Make sure to get the latest.
These particular Ice modules are fine, they definitely enter the so called "audiophile territory".... the guy that designed the modules that you are looking at left B&O and has been designing for Abletec. A couple of his amps there have a great rep.... Their are plenty of ney sayers about Class D, but I've sat in front of several since about 2010, These are nice sounding units.
I hope this helps.... another Tim
There is no comparison of the current class D amps or modules compared to the very old Tripath amps. Current class D can be very, very good. You will also need a power supply for the module.
Thanks guys. I also have a Brio-R that I enjoy and hope that this Ice Amp is comparable and doesn't sound cold.
The ASX2 has a built in power supply, external supply is not needed.
Thanks for all the advice everbody. I just pulled the trigger and bought a complete ice unit with housing and volume control for $285 shipped
I think you're going to like it. Like several posters have stated, these class D amps are very neutral. I use a total of 5 class D amps in my combo 5.1 ht/ music system utilizing 3 different power modules listed below:
Anaview/Abletec modules - in a pair of D-sonic M3-600-A monoblock driving the front l/r mains.
B&O Ice ASP series modules, I believe - in a bridged Emerald Physics EP-100.2SE stereo amp (with a custom analog power supply rather than the usual switching one) driving the center.
Proprietary modules - in a stereo ClassD Audio SDS440CS amp (also using a traditional toirrodal transformer power supply, not the typical switching power supply) for the rear surrounds.
Even though I'm currently only using the Anaview/Abletec modules for music (because they're the latest models, the most powerful and sound the best to me), I have auditioned all 3 driving my older 4 ohm Magnepan 2.7 spkrs. I can tell you with confidence that all 3 modules have similar characteristics:
- Very neutral, highly detailed and natural sounding from top to bottom with no added flavoring but also without harshness which allows you to tailor the sound to your preference; very neutral when paired with a neutral solid-state preamp or some flavoring with a tube preamp.
-Virtually zero background noise so music sounds like it's emerging from a dead quiet blackness.
-Very good dynamic range that, paired with the quiet background, creates that 'in the room' soundstage that portrays a sense of listening to live music. This can actually be a bit stunning on well recorded source content for both music and ht.
-Seemingly effortless power, coupled with extremely low distortion, that is able to maintain a solid and stable sounstage illusion no matter what the volume setting.
The above is what I think you can expect from the B&O Ice ASX module you asked about. I've only heard the previous B&O ASP module Ice amp that I think is in my Emerald Physics amp. The ASX module is a more recent module that I read has an even more extended top end.
Please let us know your results once you're done,
It all depends on the particular amp... The class D module is one of the factors in the sound of an amp, but the sonic characteristics of an amp go far beyond the contribution of the module.
The only amp powered by ICEpower 125 ASX2 that I know is the Rowland M125 bridgeable amp.... It has fully balanced, and is transformer coupled inputs. According to all reports I have heard about M125, it has been found to be a great music maker. See more information at:
Thanks for sharing. I will let you guys know how it compares to my Rega Brio R, which is a brilliant little amp.
That's interesting about the Rowland M125. These ICE modules appear to be very complete so I wonder how much tweaking can be done.
After comparing Tripath module with ICE one, I figured that Tripath isn't any worse.
Hello, my friend. I'm glad you found this thread and decided to contribute your thoughts.
I know you're very knowledgeable about class D amplification and I'm grateful for all the assistance you gave me when I was just beginning my discovery of, and journey into, the very promising iworld of this constantly evolving technology. You were instrumental in my decision to continue exploring the numerous class D offerings and increase my own knowledge and experience by trying more of the various class D implementations in my own system. Reading descriptions of how they perform and sound has been helpful, however, I think there's no better method than actually auditioning them in your own system.
I agree completely with your recent post stating that there's more than just the specific class D power module utilized that determines how well the amp performs. Individual implementations vary on the quality and compatibility of complementay components, the type of power supply, the use of custom input stages among other design factors. I agree these are important and would suggest that seanheis 1 may want to do some more research before designing and building his DIY amp. I know www.audiocircle.com
may be a better site to learn from other DIY amp builders than Audiogon.
I originally was planning to build a DIY class D amp and I learned a lot of good onfo on this site that mainly consists of DIY amp builders.
Hi guys, just an update that the ICE Amp didn't work out. You guys were right, they don't add anything to the sound and they are very clean and IMO sterile and flat sounding, especially with vocals. I'm sure that they would be great with movies and I can confirm that they sounded very nice with Katy Perry's ice cold voice.
I always thought that my Emotiva mini X amp was neutral, but now I know that it's a bit warm. I listened to Chris Cornell and Diana Krall on the Ice Amp and their voices both sounded dry and soulless. My computer speakers are Silverline Minuet Supreme, which are on the warm side with paper woofers and silk tweeters. Anyways, thanks for all of the feedback. I guess I learned that hifi to me is a warm & detailed sound.
That amp needs a few hundred hours burn in
I bought it used so it should have been burned in. IMO it needed a valve pre-amp to warm up the vocals. But of course that is my personal preference.
Sorry they didn't work out for you. I'm on the other side, they work great for my needs, but then I'm not taking a PC audio output. :)
You asked about inputs. Among some of the things I've read is the use of input coupling transformers. Either 1:1 or 1.4 or 2:1 to increase the apparent input impedance were some of the stories I've read. I"m actually dying to try some from Jensen, but that's another project that will have to wait. Not too terribly expensive, about $70 each
There's a lot of claims of vendors doing this or that to the amps to differentiate themselves. some are true, some are completely bogus but in almost all cases are almost costless. The biggest change which is true is from Theta who started shipping nCore modules with linear power supplies. It's easier to do with nCore since they don't have an integrated power supply like many of the ICEPower modules do. Of course, Hypex sells power supplies, but with the ICEPower 250ASP for instance, the power supply is on board and impossible to remove.
Just to be sure, leave them on 24/7 for a week or so, let us know if the amp warms up at all.
Oh, I just realized something. If you are going from PC to ICE, how are you getting the balanced input??
Hi Erik, I tested them with a USB external DAC with my PC, also with a Marantz AV receiver, and with a Chromecast audio....all streaming Tidal for the source material...I never did balanced input. I can see how a linear power supply would be nice. With my PC I got ground loop until I plugged it into a ground removal adapter. Same thing happened to me using studio monitors with Class D amps built in so I assume it's the switching power supply causing the ground loop.
I have two Icepower based amps. I have never heard an Icepower amp that could be described as "warm" sounding though I do use an ARC tube-preamp with one and that does add just a nice touch.
My second is a digital integrated amp with more recent Icepower. Its a great sounding unit but not at all for those seeking "warmth".
Sorry the Ice amp didn't work out for you. Like many have mentioned, class D amps are very neutral and add nothing to the source signal. I own 3 and they all have that quality.
With my 1st (CassD Audio SDS-440-SC), I paired it with a VTL preamp with NOS Mullard tubes that warmed things up more to my preference at the time. Over time, however, my taste has changed and I now prefer my music detailed and unadorned. I sold the VTL to a friend about a year ago and, surprisingly, I haven't missed it. On the plus side, my system is now so quiet and neutral that I can easily notice any upstream changes, including cabling and power chords.
But I understand everyone has their own sound preferences and I think you now at least better know your own.
If I was aware you preferred a warm sound, I would have advised against a class D amp unless you wanted to use a good tube preamp.
Wish you the best,
Yes, PC's are notorious for causing ground loop issues, using any metal plugs.
For analog outs from a PC the best solution is an isolation transformer from Jensen. Almost all USB DAC's now have galvanic isolation built in, and of course if your PC has optical S/PDIF outs then your good too. :)
Actually any conducting interface in any good dac these days (AES, coaxial, USB) should be isolated, though I'm sure some are too cheap to do this. Occasionally I'll still read that DAC x has high noise, or jitter, and the tester finally realized there was a ground loop involved. << sigh >>
Thanks for all of the help guys. For now, I am going to stick with half width class AB amps like my Emotiva Mini X & Brio R. Maybe add a Parasound Zamp V.3. With Tidal now streaming to Chromecast Audio, it's fun to setup multiple rooms in the house and play music simultaneously.