Opinions on Wyred 4 Sound ICE amps

These are somewhat new and I was wondering if anyone had any experience with these high powered amps. Specifically if they are a good choice for Magnepans.

I just hooked up a pair of SX 500s yesterday. Supposedly, they need 300 hours to fully break in. But straight out of the box, I can tell they are not only exceptional amps, but mate perfectly to my Maggie 3.5Rs.
I currently have a pair of modded SX 250s in my system and I am very impressed with the sound and build quality.
Thanks. Did either of you consider the D-Sonic Magnum amps when deciding? They are less money, but don't have the input buffer switch.
The SX 250s are on loan from a friend. He did consider the others you mention and the input buffer swayed him towards the WFS. No regrets.
I did a recent review of the Wyred amp, a four channel version I tried for biamping my Von Schweikerts. You can read my conclusions at: http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=df7c5tcg_0ctrptmf6
Nice Review Oscar, I really enjoyed it.
Me too - really helpful review.Thanks Oscar
I bought a pair of SX-500 mono amps to replace my McIntosh MC275 stereo amp. I am using the Wyred 4 Sound amps to power Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 speakers. I am using a Modwright preamp and phono stage. The Mac was great, but the Harbeths are already pretty "relaxed" sounding on their own and I was looking for more detail and low end authority. I got it in spades using the SX-500's! Some may question my decision because the SX-500's cost less than half of a new MC275. I have absolutely no regrets with the swap. The synergy of these amps in my system is amazing. I got what I was looking for without losing any musicality at all. The Wyred 4 Sound amps are smooth, tonally balanced, and support a believable soundstage all while providing a more detailed presentation with much better bass impact than the MC275 was able to deliver.
I have 3.6's and am powering them with dsonic 1000s. I am really pleased with this amp. It really brings out the bass. I can play the maggies really loud without the amp straining. The amp runs very cool. Soundstage is great. I have full maggie hometheater setup and plan to upgrade all the amps with the dsonics. The only problem is, they are rarely found used. Hope this helps.
I have a pair of SX-500 Mono Blocks as well. They are not fully broken in yet.
(DO PAY ATTENTION TO ADEQUATE BEAK IN) they have significantly improved over time. Thus far, their wonderful attributes are great bass control, huge deep sounstage, beautiful midrange, good pace and rhythm. Compared to MUCH MUCH more expensive, Audio Research Tube Monoblocs they lack a couple of subtle attributes.... a slight diminution of very high frequency overtones, and
the images of singers are slightly less 3 dimensional (one of tubed electronics true blessings). On the whole, for $1800 these amps are GIANT KILLERS. None of the solid state nasties. I do suspect though, that these amps really need a somewhat warm sounding tubed pre-amp (cary, conrad johnson EAR as well as many others) to really shine. I use an EAR full function pre-amp, the 864
with my SX 500s. A full review to be posted on this site when break in of completed.

i have a pair of the sx1000 monoblocks and love them. i had previously bought the d-sonic dual mono 1000 amp just to try the ice amps. liked it enough to go with the WFS mono's. i liked the looks of the new WFS amps and also the ability to easily mate with a tube preamp (i currently run a blue circle but am saving up money for a shindo pre). my speakers are martin logan vantages.
I have the SX-1000s and find them sonically transparent, very well-built and attractive in an understated way. They are keepers.
Put em in your system and find out.Some like the digital amps some dont.
That was helpful Coffey!
I think these are made by Cullen Circuits who made some P.S. Audio products.
Everybody has a opin thats the only way you will find out,i tried 2 different dig amps,did not sound good,bass was no better then any other amp,highs were not good,the bottom line was they did not sound good.
I am amazed no-one have made a compairson with the Nuforce amps and pre's towards W4S's dito's. I have never heard W4S amp or pre. I am building a system from start again. I have pre-ordered the STI-1000. Looks like a good deal. Might aswell ask away, no-one here that have listened to the STI-500/1000 units?
So the burning question is...do the W4S amps equal, surpass, or fall short of the PS Audio GCA/GCC 250s? How about the HCA2? IMO the GCA/GCC just down't plumb the depths like Bryston 4BSST, Krell KAV250A, KAV 2250, FPB 200 & 300. Tried these (GCA/GCC 250's) on all types of speakers and even several passive subs with poor results. Why do cheap BASH plate amps and Mackie pro digital amps produce incredible bass, but expensive ICE PSA amps do not? Klipsch Epic CF4s were the only speaker the PSA was impressive on as far as really deep bass response. Still bettered by the conventional amps though. I may put the big W4S monos on my Maggies 3.6Rs, but not if they have the same or less bass performance than the GCC and GCA 250. The Bryston is clearly better with the maggies than the PSAs. Can't really swing the 7BSSTs right now, but the W4S monos are in the budget. Heard similar hype about the PSA amps, someone else is enjoying them now. Any thoughts from those in the know?
I like the bass control from my W4S STI-500 and W4S ST-500 better than the Mac and Pass amps I've owned. Anyone who says they're lacking in low end is probably used to big, bloated bass.
I would demo the Bel Canto ICE amp (Ref 1000m). I went to Stereo Exchange in Manhattan and listened to the Bel Canto Ref 1000m as well as a McIntosh MC275, Meridian G57, and an Ayre. No question, the Bel Canto was different, and not at all to my tastes, my wife's tastes, or my daughter's.

But if you like the way they sound, then go ahead and buy a W4S. Don't believe any claim from W4S that their amps sound better than the Bel Canto...the amps sound very similar.

Personally, I ended up buying a W4S amp based on a reassurance from Rick Cullen that their amps sound a lot better than Bel Canto's Class D amps. Well, an old B&K 4420 sounded much better to my ears than the W4S when I owned it, as does my current MC275. In the end, my impressions at Audio Exchange and in my own system were the same and left me unimpressed with W4S and Class D generally. YMMV, of course.
I had a negative opinion of class D amps. One of the first of these amps was a PS Audio amp that received a very favorable review in Stereophile. I auditioned one at home in my system and it was the worst amp I've ever heard. Everything sounded fake through that amp.

Many years have passed, and due to favorable comments on A-Gon, I decided to give class D another audition. I purchased an ST500 with the upgraded WBT output terminals. The system is configured with a VAC Renaissnace pre connected to the ST500 via balanced Audio magic IC's. The ST500 is using a PS Audio Prelude cord plugged into a Nordost Thor. The speakers are N802's biwired with DH Labs cable.

The W4S ST500 is the "best" solid state amp I've heard with N802's. The bass is powerful and controlled, neither too tight or overly warm. The bass is only noticeable if it is on the recording. This is not a ham fisted amp that puts a bass signature on every recording whether the bass is recorded or not. The soundstage is very chameleon like. Depending on the recording, it can be lively and up front or expansive with excellent depth. I read a couple of reviews that mentioned a lack of depth and I don't experience that. In fact, the ST500 is better than any of my amps in its ability to portray sonics outside the boundaries of the speaker itself. The midrange is excellent for solid state. The N802's are susceptible to glare through the upper mids and there is none of that with the ST500. Top end air is not as good as my tube amps but is perfectly adequate and does not call attention to the fact something is missing.

The W4S ST500 powering the N802's is a fantastic combination regardless of price. If one factors in price it is insane.

Other amps owned and auditioned with the N802's, Classe DR8 either bridged or biamped, Classe CA300, VAC Phi 110, and VAC PA100. Amps borrowed for audition, PS Audio, Threshold, Soaring Audio, and Manley.

Hello Mcondon,

"Personally, I ended up buying a W4S amp based on a reassurance from Rick Cullen that their amps sound a lot better than Bel Canto's Class D amps.."

Its unethical behaivor.... IMO

".... my impressions at Audio Exchange and in my own system were the same and left me unimpressed with W4S and Class D generally. YMMV, of course "

From one extreme to another. Firstly, you auditioned only amps based on mass production ICE-power module, The best amp based on such output stage is Jeff Rowland 312.

Secondly, when you will audition Spectron, Mark Levinson(No53), Kharma, Weiss and few other first class switching amplifiers then and only then you can make some generalized comment.


The person who started this thread asked about the Wyred 4 Sound amps, not about Spectron, Mark Levinson, Kharma, or Weiss switching amplifiers. I owned a Wyred 4 Sound amp, so felt I could offer first-hand impressions.

The amps you mention may sound terrific, although I suspect are considerably more expensive than Wyred 4 Sound amps and are not on the radar screen of the person who started this thread.

But since I have not heard the amps you referred to, my generalization about Class D amps was unwarranted.
I need an amp for my dad's old speaker (german brand, the enclosure is made from stone, can't remember the name, 87 db).

I found a second hand W4S MC4x250 for a good price, and tempted to give it a try.

I own Threshold SA1 and 10E monoblocks, do you guys think MC4 is comparable/better than the 20 yearsold Thresholds?

Seems though, as most class D amps is leaner in the lower mid, upper bass. Might be, that some speakers suits better and some worse.
These are the best buy in Class D generally to match to tube pre-amps.

They are highly damped and sound best with speakers that benefit from this and a lot of power and current

ALso, the small physical size and light weight makes these very practical for many to use rather than big, heavy monster amps that may be required otherwise.

In these scenarios, they are hard to beat.

Otherwise, YMMV more and other amps are more competitive practically.
Oscars review....from '08 points out the use of the ASC module, which I believe needs a powersupply. OR can be driven by the appropriate power rail on an ASP module.
'd' may lack upper range information on very low impedance loads where the Zobel begins to drop off the frequency response.

Also, at least from the visual standpoint, the W4S amp is the back panel DUPLICATE of my PSAudio GCC series. The so-called 'gain cell' input on the PSAudio? Who knows? It could be the zero-feedback FET input under a different name, or a fairly simple (but potted) opamp circuit? Unknown.

As for sound, my PSAudio drives my panels with ease. Very good dynamics and high overall loudness at the same time. Image/ space is severely impacted by speaker setup in my space. The (formerly) Big Box TV between the speakers made setup even more compromised and difficult....This is NOT the fault of the amp, which has alway performed to the limit of my setup...IMO.

Other than the fact that the maximum power output is severly time limited (see B&O datasheet) this amp delivers.
For HIGH DB listeners, I'd go with a pair of of the lower powered amps rather than the Kilowatt model. Doing a biamp with a pair of the 500 watt (4ohm) will both result in more extended highs at low impedance and longer hi power time limit.
Well, you forgot JRDG with (inbuilt) power factor correction. If separates, bought and used on side. Personally, i prefer the C-500 in case of sound and looks. W4S is maybe a better buy looking at expenses. If i should take a pick, i would still take the Continuum 500. Slightly smoother than W4S, still a little better resolution.
However i've heard W4S been working on a Ref series:-)
First, I know what Power Factor IS and how large scale PFC can help a large company with electric bill reduction. You get charged for watts but consume VA.... Unless your load is pure resistive, VA will alway be higher.

Now, and maybe YOU can explain, where is the PFC employed in the amp? In the power supply....that is on the plug end of the amp, OR at the speaker end where the same thing applies....a speaker which is ALWAYS a reactive load except at a certain frequency(s) can kill an amp with high phase angles.

I appreciate JRDG's advertising copywriter. He's pretty good.....
I'll go look this up and if a retraction is in order, I'll publish that, too.......

That has nothing to do with how JRDG amps sound. In testing you may prefer one of them over some of the ICE stuff or maybe even HYPEX or perhaps even Spectron.....

Have fun!

Just something to consider::

I have only read that all modules are fed from the PFC-1 (2 pcs 501 monoblocks and the internal Capri (pre)..
From what i were told, the PFC-1 uses incoming AC, pumps it up to 385v DC, further feeding the modules (Continuum 500 only).
There are more to this, which i do not know how to write in English sadly.
I understand it very well though, but to go on here writing i could not as i know not how to explain.
I have a friend who is well understood in audio-schematics and electrical in general.
He explained, but is no JRDG dealer or user.
There are advantages which obviously is known, even for W4S resellers (i've talked to one without mentioning name)
But doubt is always wise. It proves one wishes to understand. I still do not claim anything is equalizes a certain value/ asking price.
Most things are very much too high priced when it comes down to audio.
An example of this and has really nothing to do with this thread, but anyway!
I was at a demo yesterday. For a system, mainly a newly released loudspeaker.
Price, near double of my own. Better, no!
On the contrary!
If they've been, i had gladly admitted so and released a sneak preview.
This is weird (pricing) , but seems to work in audio out of some reason.
W4S is very good priced. Who could or can argue!?
I have owned them, and can say they might ask a bit more tweaking (which also cost) but it is very nice pieces and they are very nice people and stand fully behind their products.

I'm jumping a bit but again. The C-500 is substanitailly better looking than W4S units and has another feel and slightly different way of doing things (music).
I was actually told, you might need to jumps separates W4S to get closer to C-500.
Again, value (asking price) is subjective.
But i could easily bow head when the Ref series arrives from W4S. I think they could be a potential blast and fact is. Before the C-500 i was waiting for them.
So, the Ref has been postponed. I guess due to the dacs etc....
PFC? Still no answers. I suspect it is a solution in search of a problem. Again, what is corrected? amp power supply to plug? OR speaker to amp? /both are reactive loads. Make the speaker look like a resistor to the house current?

The problem remains that speaker designers will ship some wacky speaker with a 2.1 ohm minama at 65degrees. No problem there, right? HEH!

large companies, mainly manufacturing, can and will use PFC if the entire plant has a lower PF, say .9 or below. The reason? Power companies will bill you a surcharge for a low PF load. I'm talking 6 digit electric bills...in $.

As for ICE amps in all the flavors? I suspect they have more in common than stellar differences. The urge of any company searching for business is to come up with a 'unique selling point', made more difficult by using the SAME module as a dozen other manufacturers. So you change a few things. PS caps? Better connectors? Just so you can claim such a 'unique selling point'.

I'm going to T.H.E. Show in Newport in a few minutes and may have an opportunity to listen to many 'd' offerings. I expect most amp differences to be SWAMPED by speaker differences.

Audio Pricing is all about PERCEIVED value. Why else would the constant question be 'What is the best XXX for 2000$'? If they (new buyer) didn't think their was a direct coorelation between money and sound quality, why ask? This of course, isn't true, as a rule. You also hear stuff like 'product XXX competes against gear 3x its price'.
As mentioned, i could not answer on the PFC. Have you looked at JRDGs product sheet?
Anyway, i measured my speakers at minimum 6.5 ohm at the high (tweeter/mid) and 8.5 ohms at low (bass). In my setup the C-500 offers a smoother top but still with slightly enhanced dynamical contrast and resolution than my W4S STI-1000 with PS Audio high end fuses. The W4S sounded slightly more forced and also a bit sharper in the top. I prefer the C-500.
I won't argue, i could easily use a combo of pre/pow (none class D).
I did however find this unit neat and i need not use more inputs than 1, lesser cables etc.
C-500 work very well with Wadia 381. As a system, i think it performs well. I have been at a few private demos. All system setups has been more expensive than mine, but neither offered any all in all improvements to my sadness.
I made the plunge and purchased the Wyred4Sound preamp and SX1000 from Underwood HiFi. They arrived last week well packaged in double boxes with no UPS shipping damage.

Everything worked and the only hot flash of "what is wrong?" occurred when I started the CD player and no sound came out of the speakers (the volume was turned to zero!).

My initial impressions are compared to a Krell S300i integrated amp with 300 wpc/4 ohms and about 300 hours on it.

Generally speaking, to my ear, the Wyred4Sound and the Krell have a similar overall sound. The difference is not as dramatic as when I upgraded to the Krell from a McIntosh MA6300 integrated at 160wpc/4ohm. The change there was very dramatic as the Mac was definitely warmer sounding but with a lot less dynamics than the Krell.

Right out of the box, I can hear more detail with the Wyred4Sound. For example, individual instruments are easier to hear in a mix. Also, it is easier to recognize individual voices in a multipart vocal harmony.

The soundstage is improved. It is wider and better front to back. I often felt while listening to the Krell that the lead vocal and the drums were coming from the same place. With the Wyred4Sound, there is now a separation with vocals in the front and drums in the back.

Also, on the second day of listening, I cranked the volume to 40 which is well below 60 to stay in passive mode on the preamp. I immediately proved the old adage that Maggies love power. The fullness of the sound improved and there was no thought that the Maggies might sound thin as I sometimes had with the Krell. It was louder than what the Krell could play before it overheated and shutdown into protective mode.

I am not sure what I am hearing regarding the bass. It seems to be fuller, but with perhaps a bit less slam. Krell is noted for their bass so this may take some time to determine if there is an improvement.

The edges of the treble with the new Wyrd4Sound are a bit sharp and initially it is not as musical as the Krell. I hope (expect!) these to improve with time.

The W4S owner manuals advise that there will be a major improvement after about 100 hours of operation and another level of improvement at about 200 hours of operation.

ALSO, the manuals make a point to advise strongly that the power should be disconnected before anything is plugged into or out of the amp and pre amp.

So...my initial thought is that I have made a positive change but I wonder about the bass.
Not sure how Wyred compares to Bel Canto in regards to bass, but I recall when I first listened to the BC ref1000m's, I recall wondering where the bass went in that it really sounded like there was virtually none at first. Once my ears adjusted, I realized that it was there in spades like never before, but had a totally different dimensionality to it, mostly in regards to soundstage depth and imaging, and also cleaner and more tightly damped with much greater nuance.

It's pretty much been bass heaven ever since.

To clear things out regarding PFC:


I listened to four or five albums across the weekend and I think that understand at least part of what Mapman is saying.

For me, simply put, there is a lot more to hear. The feeling of being "there" is really improved. The sound is more palpable and I think that the bass is causing that.

What you are saying sounds consistent with my experience.

Also I found that I could turn the volume up significantly higher without any listening fatigue or harshness, and as I did the sound filled out and became naturally more "palpable" as you say. This was a night and day difference from prior, nothing subtle or difficult to discern.

Also I recall the change in soundstage and "dimensionality" led me to tweak my speaker placement accordingly as well a bit in order to re-optimize the soundstage and imaging, which had changed a lot with the new amps.
As an owner of SX-500's, I can tell you IME the amps need at least 200 hours, and more is better before they show their true colors. Make sure to leave them on 24/7 as suggested in the manual
Dsper, re: "Krell is noted for their bass...", I would caution you not to compare the Krell integrateds with their stand alone amps. BTW, thank you for the follow up on the Wyred 4 Sound SX 1000's, I for one really appreciate it. Good listening!
I agree. Having owned Krell FPB 600c + KPS 25sc and changed to FPB 700cx, KCT and KPS 28c, i say do not comapair A/B.
Had you the option to pay same for teh 700cx as the W4S, atleast me would take the Krell directly.
The integrateds from Krell,(might not be the FBI), but the others, are not even nearly close to the separates. Forget that! A W4S and or Bel i would never compair to a 700cx.
That is just too big of jump.
Few integrateds can compete with separates in regards to bass and authority due to physical limitations on power supply and otehr factors when placing multiple circuits in close proximity as is typically the case with integrated amps. Maybe if the power supply is housed separately......

Also I suspect IcePower and Class D might actually work better in a truly compact integrated configuration compared to most amps due to size and efficiency advantages assuming RFI noise issues are addressed effectively (a big if though perhaps). If integrated includes a low level phono section also, its even tougher.
Interesting comments about Krell integrateds versus separates.

The dealer who sold me the Krell S300i said that I was about 95% of the way there and would have to spend a ton of money to improve the sound from an amp perspective. This dealer sells Classe, McIntosh, and Krell amps among others; and B&W amd Martin Logan speakers.

The only consistent comment has been that I need to lose the Maggies because they need too much power and do not have good bass.

Based on what I am hearing with the W4S that will probably not happen anytime soon.


Mapman, you are so right to remind us about tweaking speaker placement to maximze the sound of a new amp.

Frankly, this process gets more complicated with Mye stands that seem to like to stay in one place. The side clamps come loose when you move them which just adds to the fun.
Comparison's aside, I have heard the newer more modestly priced Krell integrated amplifiers in recent years and thought the sound was quite good and in no way lacking in bass, a product I would most likely be quite happy with in teh right situation.
Lets say you entered your dealers store and told him.
You'd won some serious money and then asked him.
How much better is the Krell separates?
Do you really believe he would answer you the same?
You know, one thing a good dealer do, is seeing to it, to sell you what you possibly can afford. If he told you the separates would make the S300i sound broken.
How would that turn out?
I know it is big difference. I started off with many different integrateds, just to enter separates.
But don't believe the S300i is nearly as good. It is not!
But i do not say one need to buy speakers that require huge amps. But if you had the possibility to borrow a combo for 2 weeks, after those 2 weeks put in S300i. Well, i'd say you'd probably end up unhappy. One smart reviewer once wrote, don't listen to things you understand you'd love if you can never afford them.
That is a hard thing, but it is some truth to this.
I put an end to my hobby a few years ago, sold all things off because it was just eating my life away.
I started a new system 2010 and sold it quite fast and begun another system build. I try to keep things sane. I admit, it is difficult.
Lets say you entered your dealers store and told him.
You'd won some serious money and then asked him.
How much better is the Krell separates?
That's why I leave the black card at home.
Mapman, In a very recent 6 moons review, the reviewer had both the latest Bel Canto and Yredforsound on hand to compare.

Inpieces, you are right to quote the smart reviewer who wrote, don't listen to things that you understand you'd love if you can never afford them.

Another important point is the ability to "AB" products to make sure that you are hearing the difference that you think that you are hearing. It is easy to fall into the trap that it must be better because it costs more, especially around changes that bring only subtle sonic differences.

Having said all of that, I would love to take my new W4S to the bricks and mortar store and listen to the big Krell and the classe amps to see what the difference really is, if anything significant.

The more I think about amps, I keep thinking that a big heavy amp with heat sinks and large transformers has got to impact the sound. It is called distortion.

Just the opinion of a guy who has probably reached the limit for amp affordability. If I can convince myself of this, then I will quit thinking about it!
"In a very recent 6 moons review, the reviewer had both the latest Bel Canto and Yredforsound on hand to compare."

Bel Canto Evo 200.4 compared came out a number of years ago I believe and may not quite represent the latest and greatest from BC. Also I do not see it on the current BC products list.
Thanks for the correction. I just figured the other two amps were there post other reviews. I was very fortunate the reviewer is a stalwart non-oversampling booster. That is the only way to go to get the best out of ICE amps. Stick a 47 Lab transport on that and hear what I hear.... almost. :D
I believe you'd find a difference in the class D amps and class A or A/B.
I had Krell FPB 600c when i got my 700cx. I also had W4S STI-1000 when i got my JRDG C-500.
The Krell 600c compaired to 700cx differ. The later is darker, smoother. All is changed except for bass which i found same.
The 700cx is less proned to sound grainy or harsh.
The C-500 is also different compaired to STI-1000. It is smoother, has inspite of this, a slightly better depth and resolving power. For STI i would change monoblock fuses for warmer, also PC towards more full weighty sound. Both these amps, IMO, suits best with speakers that is rather full in sound. I would not use them with bright sounding or thin sounding cdp or speakers.
PL 300 sound very good with C-500. PL 300 sounds sharper and little less full sounding with STI. But they are not night and day.