The ICE powered H2O is made in America. Check out it's 6Moons review, and notice how it compares with the Jjaz.
All of the above, except the H2O, utilize the digital power supplied ICE module. There is little to differentiate these models other than their box. I think the Jjaz is the coolest looking, with Rowland taking a close second.
The Nuforce is a different kind of switching amp. I know someone who is testing it against others.
If you can, try the amps you are interested in. There are H2O loaners available.
Tvad, "supplied" should read supply.
The H2O is the only one of the bunch that uses the B&O 500A module. All the others use the 500ASP, or 1000ASP. The 500A requires a good analog power supply, or an in house digital supply. I believe that is what Rowland does with it's 302.
The ASP amps are ready to put in a box, and terminate. They are giving birth to an array of module in a box amps. CIAudio goes one better through beefing up the digital power supply.
The H2Os transformer and caps are big enough to power a decent Class A solid state.
Our D series amplfiers use a linear power supply similar to the H2O (not a switching type) and are based on the new Philips UcD technology, NOT an ICE module or Tripath chipsets.
You can read more on this technology here
Muralman1...From the picture I saw it does appear that the H20 power supply is, as you say "big enough to power a decent Class A solid state". But I still wonder why? The amp's high efficiency means that almost no power is wasted. And why does a transformer and four capacitors cost several thousand dollars? Maybe the ASP module power supply could be "fortified" by simple addition of capacitors. I will probably end up with an ICE amp to compare with my TriPath one, but you haven't sold me the H20 quite yet.
Eldartford, have you read the review? It compares the H2O with one of the ASP amps, the Jjaz. They are good. Just not as good, to the reviewer's ear, as the H2O. You can fortify the ASP, but it is still a digital power supply.
I don't want to put the ASP amps down. They really are good, and they are a viable low cost solution, that will delight a lot of people. Still, I think you should borrow an H2O from Henry.
Don't ask me why, but the transformer Henry uses costs hundreds of dollars alone. The case, made in the USA, cost another big chunk. Circuit boards, modules, LABOR, boxing..... it's worth the extra grand.
As to why? You can read for yourself from the review. Otherwise, it would be good to talk to Henry.
We use ICEpower in some of our amps. Some with the built-in SMPS, others with separate toroidal transformer supplies.
In addition, we use some other brands of amp modules. The difference in supply/module combination is the intended application, and price point.
As has been covered in another thread, there seems to be a family resemblence in all of these products. If I were a consumer, I would not let my decision on which type or brand to buy be biased on what module or supply any of the any products out there uses. Price, looks, support, features, and comfort level with the company that you chose to buy from will most likely be what your decision is based on.
AR T I have never sold a new amp in my life. You may have sold a lot of AB amps. I have heard a great deal more brands than you've sold. I have also heard a variety of module powered amps. They certainly do NOT stand on equal ground.
I haven't heard any of your amps. Of all the digital, and quasi "digital" amps, I have heard, not one can entice me away from my H2O Signature monos.
Sedona, try to compare features added to the class-D modules within each amp to have an idea of what it may sound like and whether the asking price is commensurate with the finished product. Out of the box, class-D modules are relatively inexpensive and generally do not sound that great. Additional parts and circuits built around the modules can improve the sound but can also increase the cost substantially. On the other hand, features that add to the cost with dubious effect on the sound are a waste of money. Here are just some of the areas to check:
1. Out of the box, the frequency responses of class-D modules are different and far from flat. For example, the ICE 500 is worse than the ICE 250 but both are not optimally flat. If nothing is done to improve this frequency response, the amp may sound dynamic but not very pleasant.
2. Class-D modules are susceptible to RF that can make the amp sound awful. Is anything done (such as transformer coupling at the input) to prevent RF from getting into the amp?
3. The ICE modules, like all class-D modules, radiate EMI that can create havoc with the amps sound. Did the designer do anything to keep module EMI from affecting the rest of the amp?
4. The power supply affects the sound but the problem may be more complicated than we think. Analog power supply (toroidal transformer and capacitors) seems to sound better than switching power supply; dual mono operation (to prevent inter-channel modulation) seems to also improve the sound. But I am not sure if and why the highly efficient class-D modules need a very stiff power supply. Maybe they do. Well learn more about that with time and experience.
Prices and values are not the same. If someone just sticks a class-D module inside a box off the shelf, the amp should not cost very much and not much should be expected from its sound. On the other hand, not all expensive parts built around the modules serve to improve the sound. Some may serve only to impress gullible buyers. You should critically compare design features, construction quality, and price and then try to listen to the amp first before buying.
Justin_time...Thanks for a sensible discussion. I would really like to see a "white paper" with technical details on the various deficiencies of the ICE modules, and ways to correct them. In particular I am puzzled by the reported need for a robust and expensive power supply for circuitry that draws so little current. I will accept reports that such a power supply improves performance, but I really doubt that it is the current delivery capability per se that does the job, and I think that if the real reason is discovered a much simpler and cheaper solution can be found.
If you read what I wrote, I did not say that they "stand on equal ground".
You do not know how many I have sold, or how many competitors amps I have had to analyze (for any number of reasons). Don't assume facts not in evidence. I do not know who or what you are, but you are not a designer of power amps. I know a lot of the "big names" in the industry, and I am certain that their opinion will more closely mirror mine than yours.
As for "robust and expensive power supply", would you care to be more specific? The ICEpower modules require 3 power supplies to operate. Takes up room, costs $ to implement. Even if you take short cuts.
These comments that are made to the effect that........if it doesn't have a big analog power supply like the H20 amps then it's somehow substandard don't jive with me. Linn does a great switch mode power supply amp. JRDG has done the switch mode and conventional power supply and these are all outstanding products.
Ar_t, perhaps I've missed your post where you stated who you are, but for those of us reading this thread would you please identify yourself. As a designer/manufacturer of amplifiers, and someone with experience beyond us end users, it would be proper to tell us who you are to legitimize your claims, and to adhere to Audiogon guidelines.
AR T, Sorry about getting testy. If I misread your intentions, you have my apologies. All I can say, is the listeners at my place, and other places, where we have tested a wide array of amps over time, it has been the differences in the new module powered amps, H2O, TacT, Evo, eAR, and others, that have elicited the most starting reactions. Various Pass, Classe, Krell, Plinius, Mark Levinson, to name some, have not been as easy to tell apart.
Can you explain why the ICE 500A module needs 3 power supplies? I would like to see your product line. Can you direct us to your web site? Thank you.
Linn makes fan cooled AB amps. That is not what we are talking about. A far cry from it, I would say.
JR makes fine, very expensive, digital power supplied ICE amps. Before you can say they are the equal of the H2O, with it's big analog power supply, then you would have to hear both on the same system. I know of one fellow who has, and he owns H2O Signatures now.
First off, I did register as a manufacturer. I appeared here as I received a number of e-mails and phone calls about my products, which were mentioned in another thread. I am mainly here to discuss amps in general, more than to promote myself or my products. If there is a search function, you can find the posts that I first appeared in. If not, look for the one about experiences with "digital switching amps".
As for power supplies.............
We have not found that there is a major difference between modules when powered by linear supplies vs. ones powered by the onboard SMPS on the ASP series. This is not to say that differences do not exist. But compared to the effect that suppies have on linear amps, they are less sensitive. See my comments in another thread about power supply caps. I have a huge collection of caps that should have worked, but sounded like dreck.
An amp is really nothing more than a modulated power supply. On switching amps, the switching stage acts more like a power supply than does the output stage of a Class AB amp, which pretty much acts as variable resistor stuck between the output and the supply. Therefore, the AB types are more sensitive to what happens ahead of the output stage.
I base my comments that switching amps sound more alike on these effects. You are of course free to be of a different opinion, but listening plus designing trumps listening only in my book.
Ar_t...You said "An amp is really nothing more than a modulated power supply". Very true. In fact, long before digital audio amps were invented the manufacturer of an IEEE controlled bench DC power supply demonstrated the slew rate of his product at trade fairs by playing music through it! I'm told it sounded pretty good.
Ar t You still seem to be arguing your first point here. That is, given there is little difference between modular amps, the buyer should base their purchasing decision on, "Price, looks, support, features, and comfort level with the company that you chose to buy from will most likely be what your decision is based on."
I, and anyone who has heard a variety of those amps on my system, disagree. Their is a sonic hierarchy, just like with solid state and tube amps. One should buy the best sounding amp within their budget. That doesn't mean necessarily the most expensive one.
I'd say, if a buyer can, he should listen to his prospective purchase on his own system.
If you want, you can send one of your amps here for a group listen. There are a good number of good ears here, including one reviewer.
In message http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?aamps&1118928361&openflup&35&4#35 Ar_t identifies himself, but not in subsequent posts - might be a good idea to do so. Looking at the site I see no address or phone number since the Contact link isn't functional.
I agree, Tvad, except for the similarities. We are talking about amps here. They should be judged on how they sound.
They say you can tell an amp by the company it keeps.
FYI: The H2O Signature has been reviewed by 6Moons, and it has replaced admired conventional and module driven amps in home systems, including VTL225, Rogue 120, ARC VT1011, Pass X600, MC-2000, TacT 2150, eAR, Threshold S500 MKII, Music Reference RM9, Edge, Cary V12 etc. etc. etc.
Muralman1, as long as you continue to beat the drum of the H20 ad nauseum, I will continue to offer alternatives worthy of consideration.
I carefully read the 6Moons review, and I came away with an impression different than yours.
I appreciate your excitement, and I don't doubt the H20 sounds excellent, but to be fair, there are those who have heard the H20 who do not share your enthusiasm and would not replace their amps with the H20...or probably any digital amp.
Fortunately, we both agree that these amps need to be heard in one's own system, and most of the digital amps can be auditioned or purchased with a 30 day MBG.
This is getting old. I am not here to bang you guys over the head with sales BS. If I were, you would see me here more often.
OTOH, someone else can not seem to say diddle without pitching his favorite brand. Give it a rest, will you, bub.
I do not mind discussing amp stuff in general with the type of person who may be a potential customer. I do it more to gain insight into what they feel is important, rather than try to force feed them what I think is important.
This whole conversation was started in another post, concerning experiences with "digital switching amps." It is the belief of not only myself, but other designers, and customers, that there is a distinctive sound to the entire genre. Some find it annoying; others hear it, but do not consider it to be a flaw. Especially in light of all the things that they seem to do right.
I think that it all comes down to what listeners feel the most important sonic qualities of an amp. Some want something that is clean, accurate, powerful, and can be listened to for hours on end. To this end, amps such as mine, Henry's, JR's, and the rest seem to fit the bill quite well. (There are many others, and since they have not been mentioned here, I am not going to give them free press.)
Other listeners want "that magic........that tube midrange magic". I do not listen for that, so if I build a product that has that as a shortcoming, I am not surprised.
I have received enough feedback from customers who have heard my amps in comparison to the other brands of similar design to know that the problem is not unique either to my amps, and not just to ICEpower amps.
My comments on what may sway a potential customer to decide on Brand A or Brand B are mainly to serve as a friendly reminder that a lot of companies have come and gone in the last 20 years. There is a plethora of outfits popping up, shoving an ASP module into a bog standard enclosure, and viola!, they are in the amp business. Some of us take a more deliberate appraoch to our designs, including the guy who seems to get a lot of free adverising here. In the long run, I would imagine that most of you would feel that those matters would be of importance, in light of the investment a power amp is.
As for supplying an amp for a "shootout".........I have sent evaluation amps out that invariably get involved in one of those. I do not seek that type of comparison, but I do not shy away from them either. However, as a designer, I would find it more beneficial to know how the amp reacts to various types of speakers and cables, than hearing how mine beats Brand XYZ senseless. (High capacitance cables may be the wrong choice, it seems.) Whoever Brand XYZ is does not really concern me: it is someone trying their best to make a living, and I do not intend to make it any more difficult for them. Those of us who have been around long enough can appreciate how hard it is to begin with. No sense making it harder. Not for me, not for anyone.
Anyway, I am interested in hearing your comments and experiences. The ICEpower based amps seem to be a good choice for listeners who are more interested in something that can drive the daylights out of their speakers without driving the listener out of the room. The guys who are listening to 8 W SETs probably aren't going to be happy with them.
If I am off base, let me know. As long as it isn't about Brand ABC vs Brand XYZ. Let's cover that some other place, so that some of us can opt out.
Bravo to Tvad & Mr_bill. Vince, take a vacation man. When all you do is wax lyrical about a given product, you sound like a DK Design groupie... give it a rest. If people are interested, there are threads to research & a money back 30 day in home trial. There comes a point in which this is much more annoying to some, than intrigueing.
Enjoy the weekend with the family! Happy 4th to all.
(above stated, as a happy H2o owner...)
Eldartford - you asked about why a large analog power supply might be beneficial, when a module is so efficient. An electronics engineer has explained it to me this way.
The module must be fed energy on demand. Digital switching is one way of going about it. By it's very nature, some noise is introduced into the signal. Some may argue the noise is insignificant. Others can clearly hear it.
An Analog power supply, that has substantial amounts of capacitance, acts as a relatively clean energy supply, that is always present. That energy can be drawn upon by the module without switching noise.
Another benefit of a high capacitor storage analog power supply is it absorbs the ripple effect caused my AC/DC rectification.
I know, I am repeating myself through various threads, but you guys should remember, there are always lots of new viewers with every "digital" thread. I would love to leave comments to others, but, despite the expanding numbers of comrades in Henry's amps growing, his amps go with no mention, save for mine. I have left the commenting alone, when others step in.
I would love to listen. Just give me a call.
As for changing speakers, I had Sound-Labs for more than 15 years and will probably be buried with my Dali Megalines. I don't swap around much as you well know. Better to keep a constant concerted effort in a design that you know can be made to work (and make you happy) and then get it the best it can be.
Muralman1...Capacitors (or inductors) are ideal for filtering high frequency noise, and relatively small values do the job. All power supplies have some capacitance for this purpose. Lower frequency ripple, like 120 and 60 hz are easily tracked and eliminated by a regulated supply.
Actually, noise on the DC does not necessarily appear on the output signal. A feedback loop causes the output to match the input signal, eliminating errors such as PS noise. But the use of feedback is another whole argument.
Among amps based on newer technology, there is a certain novelty factor with the Nuforce that I think owes to its small size and weight. Same with the Rowland 201s although they are too pricey for many. The eAR Two models have that triangular chassis that contributed to the buzz when first released a few years back.
Sound aside, one feature I greatly appreciate about the H20 series is the ergonomics. Both balanced and unbalanced connections, two sets of binding posts and enough distance between the connectors so that hook-up is not a challenge. Anyone who has wrestled with the 'cave' in the fine sounding eAR amps will appreciate the layout of the H20 connectors. I guess I prefer a larger chassis for this reason even if an amp could be made quite smaller.
IC amps are here. Whether people like it or not, mosfets, jfets, etc. are obsolete. Tube pre-amps for those who wish to put bottles into the chain. Beta was a better format, but vhs won. DVD replaced vhs. 8-track, reel to reel, cassettes are all gone. There will be some Luddites, like vinyl junkies who seem to have forgotten all the shortcomings of the LP. When CDs first came out, some high end writer said they would trade 10% sound quality just so they won't have to get up and turn over the damn record. It is great that a powerful, clean amplifier far superior to most solid state amps can be had for a price most audiophiles can afford. IC amps are here, it's a whole new audio ballgame. Krell vs. Boulder vs. Rowland? SS vs. tubes? Who cares? It's like arguing who makes better film; Agfa, Kodak or Fuji.
I enjoy my friend's ICE Rowlands tremendously but I do feel there is some sonic sacrifice relative to the best tube amplification. He does use a very fine tube preamp, one of the best. Given the ease of maintenance of the ICE amps, I consider it a fair tradeoff.
Similar for cd vs LP. There is a layer of relaxation and natural presence that the best LP achieves that I've personally never heard cd even hint at. (SACD recorded via DSD, OTOH, does.) Whether this additional pleasure is worth the substantial overhead of LP is a personal call.