Thank you for your fine review. I am planning to purchase an H20 amp from Henry and your review helped confirm my own point of view about these fine amps. I am rebuilding Apogee Scintillas so this amp is really a no brainer. I was wondering how different sounding was Henry's system when you inserted your First Sound preamp in his system. I had the pleasure of visiting Henry this summer with my family. It was shocking to me hearing the 20 year old Apogee Scintilla sounding as realistic as any speaker that I ever heard. Listening to this system felt like we were at the actual event of making music. Bob
I also found Henry's amps quite musical - almost "analog" like. Very effortless. They do need decent partners though.
The speaker has to match. The preamp is also key, as the input impedence on the H20 amps is on the lower end of the scale (driven by the IcePower module).
Congratulations on you success . . .
Thanks for the input... I actually posted this in the wrong area, so I reposted it in the Review section... I also stated, "After reading what I wrote above it seems apparent to me that I did not convey just how pleased I am with these amps. I still am a bit frustrated by not knowing exactly how to put the performance into words that do it justice. I think that fact in itself left my "review" a bit cold sounding. I want to express that I am very pleased with the performance of the H2o Signature Monoblocks. They continue to astound me and gain my admiration. I would also add if you are considering a new amp I would highly recommend considering these. All of the glowing press that drew my attention to this company was mainly based upon their $2,500 stereo unit. I feel the H2o Signature Monoblocks will be a "staple" of my system for many years to come! " - this was posted in the review area...
Yes, this amp although it is ICE based technology (some type of switching, I believe) runs in the analog domain and is coupled to an analog power supply, thus it is *not* a digital amp. It does portray an analog like sound, however it also posseses the liquidity and speed that don't always accompany many of the analog sounding amps... Henry would be happy to speak with anyone about the technological side, however much of it was over my head.
I personally felt the First Sound preamp mated with the H2o's were better sounding than the other two preamps. With that being said, I am biased, and unfortunately I "hogged" the sweet spot listening while up there and Henry was not able to fairly make a better/worse than comparison with his other preamps. I felt the First Sound improved upon dynamics, both micro and macro... the depth and control of the bass was astounding. Overall liquidity, timbre, "organicness", and soundstage were also bettered with the First Sound in my opinion. Hope that is of some help, Baranyi.
Audiofankj, I notice you are running single ended, but H2O has both RCA and XLR inputs. Wouldn't it be beneficial to run these amps on a fully balanced system? Is the design fully balanced with simmetric/double circuitry, or is the balanced design achieved with phase splitting, or other means? Perhaps these are questions that Henry may be able to address on this thread. Guido
Great review, Audiofankj. What were the other two preamps? One was an Adcom 750, I believe.
I think I mentioned it in the review... one preamp Henry had on hand was the Adcom GFP-750, the other preamp was his "Fire" preamp.
This seemed like a can't go wrong or can't miss type of audio purchase. Then you said it is very important the rest of the system is a match for it. Therefore, it is not unique in that regard.
Kclone, yes, the H2O is mortal after all. If anything, it's frank honesty in reproducing what is feeding it will only exacerbate anything not right before in the chain. Unlike amps that bear hard with crayons, there will be no masking available.
Therefor, I keep my H2O system simple.
Guidocorona, yes I would direct your questions to Henry. I am runnning all single ended as Emmanuel Go of First Sound (my preamp) designs his preamps for single ended use only.
Kclone, I would speak with Henry on the specs of your preamp, unless there is a red flag of input/output impedance mismatch, I would agree with you that this is really a "can't miss" purchase... especially with the "trial" period after the purchase... just keep in mind breakin does occur over quite a bit of time...
I've read that the ICE module is a very good package, and some other designers are also using it. Your review is further assurance that the ICE module is all it's "cracked up" to be.
The designers(B&O) have always been basically a "mid-fi" company with most of their stuff, but apparently they really hit on a high-end design with the ICE module.
Can anyone comment on the projected reliability of these amps or if anyone has encountered any problems in performance?
You need to be careful with some of the IcePower modules because short circuiting the speaker terminals will bake the module. See the sixmoons.com review of the Acoustic Reality ICE amp.
Otherwise, you should be fine as the amps run cool.
H20Audio is a new company, so a bit of concern there, but Henry is a real stand up guy who stands behind his product.
To be fair, the 6moons review of the Acoustic Reality amp reported that the reviewer caused the short circuit after he had opened the amp and accidentally severed a wire. I don't know of many amps that would invite such damage to its internal wiring and emerge unscathed.
To my knowledge, only the ASP and ASC series ice power modules, which feature an integrated switching power supply, has built-in short circuit protection. However, the general consensus seems to be that the A-series icepower module (which is the version used in the Rowland 300 series, the eAR amps and the H2O) sounds better. The A-series requires an ancillary linear power supply and has no integrated short circuit protection, so the amp designer must add it himself. I could be wrong on this, but it appears that today only Acoustic Reality has an A-series icepower amp with proprietary short circuit protection.
I would expect anyone with any sense not to cross wires of any amp. It has always been known such an act invites blown speakers, if not the amp. I would never choose an amp based on it's "fool proof" design. The Acoustic Reality amps have incorporated in them a trip wire, that breaks when the cover is removed. I know, because I had to replace an internal fuse twice. One can remove the cover of the H2O without concern. Also, the H2O has easily accessible connectors that are fully visible.
FYI, my post was meant to address the concern expressed by Loudandclear. To me, the issue isn't whether a person has "sense" or not. It's simply a matter of accepting the fact that accidents do happen, and it's up to the buyer to decide whether he or she values a design that is "bullet-proof". Having said that, I do think that Srajan laid it on a bit thick in the 6moons review regarding the supposed "design flaw" of not having short protection circuitry. If this is a flaw, then probably upwards of 80% of high-end amps are likewise flawed, yet I don't see Srajan applying the same standard to other amps that he's reviewed. I'd wager that he would not get many review samples if he pulled that stunt more often.
Sorry for getting defensive. Henry never joins in to defend, or explain, his amps. Being his friend, I wade in, sometimes stumbling.
I think Strajan, perhaps, was writing defensively. The "cave" is awkward. I am curious what wires shorted. It wouldn't have been the light wire.
By the way, Oxia, you were a major influence on my decision to try the ICE module eAR amp. I still had it, when I got my first H2O, an early prototype. All who listened gave the H2O the nod without hesitation. The production model S250 H2O is even better than it's predecessor. The Signature, reviewed above, is in a class of it's own, IMHO.
I might buy the stereo version, partly out of curiosity regarding how it might compare with my CarverPro ZR1600. The comment about the H2o resembles what was going around several years ago about the ZR1600. The main difference is that the H2O costs three times as much. Of course the ZR1600 includes a bunch of extra features for pro sound use, and these are bypassed in the home audio application, but I'm sure they add to the cost.
I believe the Carver is a Tripath based amp, no? the H2O does not cost four times as much for nothing. Looking at the innards of the Carver, it reminds me of the PS Audio. The H2O chasis is packed tightly with power caps, and a 1kw transformer. No Tripath amp has been chosen over the H2O as yet. Who knows, just maybe, the Carver......
Muralman1...Yes, CarverPro uses the Tripath module. The Tripath people will tell you why their design is better, and the ICE folk will blow their horn. The only thing I know for sure is that the H2o costs more than three times as much and delivers slightly less power. And the CarverPro comes with 5 year warranty.
The ZR1600 is one damn good amp, and I am sure the H2o is also. I would be interested to see how the H2o compares, and, if it is better, is the difference worth two grand per channel (and I have six channels).
Muralman, you used to have Oddyssey Monos Right?
What happen ? Did you sell them?
I had Pass Labs X600 monos, then eAR II. They are sold.
Eldartford, the H2O has been compared with various Tripath amps, including the Bel Canto Evo Gen II with capacitor upgrades. The H2O was judged cleaner, more extended, more dynamic, and deeper. As one new H2O owner has said, "The H2O is the most artifact amp I have ever listened to." He sold his Evo Gen II amps.
Stated power does not equal real guts. There are 85 watt amps that will power anything. Henry Ho, the creator of the H2O, built such an amp for his 1 ohm speakeers. The trick is in how the amp delivers power.
Interesting Muralman, how did Harry design an 85W amp to comfortably power his 1Ohm speakers? What is the crucial factor?
Henry calls his creation, "The Beast" He built it years ago. It has huge heat sinks, two farads of capacitance, and is fully class A. It provides rivers of current.
I be interested in knowing what the voltages and amperages were for the monster amp. I suspect though there may have been some other crucial and unique measurable factors as well, otherwise the 1980s designers that first developed the SS behemoths. for driving Scintillas would have designed something similar, rather than 350W monoblocks.
Muralman, what power cords and isolation products have you used with the H2o? I have had the S250 for about two months now and notice it is sensitive to power cord changes.
Rpw, Hmmm, interesting. When the first prototype H2O arrived, I found it absolutely needed an EMF rejection cord to work properly. Since then, Henry has incorporated filter devices that reject such trash. With my new amps, I couldn't hear a difference between the ferrite loaded cord, and one without. I use an ordinary cord with a ferrite clip, for assurance purposes. Of course, all amps will react differently when fitted with various cords.
Let us know what cord you settle on.
I noticed Audiofankj uses Electraglide Mini Khan Plus.
I use the Electraglide Mini Khan Plus power cords on the H2o Sig. Mono's. I took my power cords with me to Henry's when I went to initially listen to his H2o mono's. I believe both Henry and I noticed an audible difference when the aftermarket power cords were added. Most noticably bass had more body, depth, and weight, noise floor seemed lower, and soundstage seemed to open up and become more defined. The details I just spoke of are what I heard, I can not speak for Henry as for what he felt was improved...
I have just ordered my stereo amp from Henry and can't wait to use them on my Scintillas! I plan to buy another one in the near future to biamp the speakers. I have had a great advantage in that I was able to visit Henry this summer and hear his amp with his Scintillas. I can't wait to listen to this amp with the Scintillas and my Von Schweikert 4.5
Audiofanj, What do those power cords cost? Bob
Baranyi, the Electraglide Mini Khan Plus powercords retail for $2,500 new, however you can find them used here on A'Gon running from about $500 - $700 or so... not a subtle improvement to the amps...
Audiofankj, did you consider Frank Dai's (Signal Cable) MagicPower cord? He has gotten great press and overwhelmingly positive feedback; pretty impressive for those of us that can't consider $2500 (or $500) power cords.....just curious.
Joe, Have you fired-up your H2o yet? Henry just emailed me and he is doing the final check to mine prior to sending it out. I would love to hear your impressions since our systems will be so similar. Bob
Bob - no change here. Tempting, but like I said, in it for the long haul. Now that I've decided to vertically biamp the Scinnies, I'm saving towards my second H2O S250. I want to break them in together - evenly. I'm now shooting for a Spring setup :)
In the meantime, the old JBL L100 Centuries don't sound too shabby through the Yammie receiver (my HT rig) - and you wondered how I could be so patient :) .
I did recently pick up an SP-10 obsidian base to anchor my future vinyl deck. I'm thinking a Dynavector DV-507 arm and a Kontrapunkt B MC ought to make for some nice analog playback through the Scinnies. The MF pre has a decent phono stage, so I should be all set. JR
You have even more patience than me! I am hoping to get the first pair of Scintillas back in the next two weeks. I am also planning to vertically biamp one pair of Scintillas. I have been looking into the the H-Cat preamp which is also a current thread here on Audiogon. I would like to give it a listen with Henry's amps on the Scintillas. That could be an amazing set-up. I had been thinking about the Supratek Chenin but that takes 6 months to order and receive. Anyway, I am hoping to listen to Henry's stereo amp solo before vertically biamping it. I should be receiving the first H20 within the next week. I will also play it on the Von Schweikert 4.5's that I currently use. That speaker was voiced with a amp similar to Henry's so it should be interesting as well. Bob
Just remember ICE amps like an active preamp. Choosing attending components becomes a delight for H2O owners. Preamps, for instance, will not be chosen to sooth, but to refine the final sound.
Vince, good to see you on this thread (the water seems to be a bit more calm here!) What preamp are you using with your H20 monos? Hope you had a nice holiday. Bob
Hang in there Baranyi, my Chenin will arriving soon and it will mate it with Henry's H20 Signature Monos.....The H20's in currently in my system for about a week now and I'm speechless with the way they sounded with a non-hi fi preamp...With the Chenin, I will be in heaven....More to come..:-)..I can't resist anymore......
I'm on vacation, and can't wait to go home to hear my H20's and Chenin together...:-)
68! I can't wait to hear how you like that combo! What speaker do you use?
Joe, have you tried other Signal Cable products such as the speaker cables. I am in the market because I should get Henry's amp on Monday and really need to upgrade both speaker cables and interconnects. I have been looking over Audiogon and these seem to be well regarded. Bob
A maddening problem!!!! My H2o was just delivered to my office and I can't wait to hear it. The problem is that I have two residences (house and an apartment) and the house is where my stereo system is located. This apartment is where my wife is now and much closer to the ultrasound appointment that I need to be at tommorow at 2PM. The easy solution would be to spend the night at the house (1 hour from my wife at the apartment.) and join her tomorrow for the appointment or she could come out to the house tonight. The problem is that it is supposed to snow 9 inches tonight and the house is in a rural area!!!! This is driving me crazy!!! Bob
Baranyi, did you get your Scinnies? Paul is getting his re-ribboned Studio Grand back tomorrow. I'm taking my H2O Signatures over to his place.
Muralman1, you mention some comparo's - any feedback vs. the ICE Rowlands, or the Spectron digital amps?
Zaikesman, not that I'm aware of, except a cut short comparison trial at last year's New York Rave. I know there has been a lot of interest in Rowland ICE amps vs. H2O ICE amps. As the H2O gets around, we are seeing more feedback.
BTW, The H2O will be featured at the HE show in NY.
Vince, I should be getting them in the next 10 days! Bob
Can anyone compare the S-250 H20 with the M-250 (or Signature)? I'm very interested in trying one of these to compare to my Levinson 331 amp using my Aerial 10T speakers. I have no doubt that the M-250 & Signature are a step up from the S-250 but my budget is far more aligned with the S-250.
So, I'm looking for a real-world comparison of what the M-250's offer that that the S-250 can't. Any and all insight is greatly appreciated!
Mdconnelly, here is my short take. Remember, there is a money back trial period allowed.
(Henry), forgive me for saying this, but I see little reason for getting the monos, unless you need multiple amps. There use to be reason to, because he used the extra room in the monos to add fast firing caps. Since he has elongated the chassis, the extra room of the monos is just extra room. Of course, the monos will exact a bit of advantage due to complete separation of the channels, or so they say.
On the other hand, the Signature's performance is a cut above the S, and M models, when it comes to attack. You'll have to contact Henry to find out why.
I'd like to read your comparison of the Levinson vs. the H2O.
Henry's response to a similar question is that the Monos offer more focus, bass dynamics and separation -- which I certainly don't question... Mostly, I'm seeking insight on how much of a difference to determine if I should pop for the stereo S250 or hold out until I can swing the Monos. Opting for the Signature Monos is beyond my budget but I do like the idea of being able to upgrade the Monos to Signatures down the road. Any idea if Henry is considering a Signature of the S-250?
While I do understand that Henry offers a full money back trial period of two weeks, there is the cost of shipping both ways coupled with my patience in breaking in a new amp (not to mention my wife's ;-). So if I'm going to do it, I want to believe there is a high probability of keeping it.
Thanks for the feedback, Murlman1. That S-250 is mighty tempting...
Your welcome. Did you read the reviews at the H2O site? They are all written for the S-250, I believe.
Yes I did, and more recently started wading through all the posts out on the Apogee site. Do you think Henry will ultimately offer a Signature upgrade to the S-250? That is the one aspect of the Monos that is keeping me on the fence between the two.