Hello. New around here, though I've been a Stereophile subscriber for a couple of years now. Since reading the NuForce Icon piece, I've been wondering how the integrated's USB DAC compares with the one in the Outlaw Audio RR2150 receiver, which I own. Been trying to figure out a way to up that particular aspect of my system, but, as Wes Phillips correctly stated in the Icon critique, tweaking budget equipment can put you on the road to madness. In a discussion the other night, a friend who owns Wadia this, Nagra that and Bel Canto the other (yes, my friends make considerably more money than I do) suggested the Grace m902, which is probably fabulous but is double the price of the RR2150. If the Icon's USB DAC outpaces the RR2150's (described in the mag a couple of years ago as "for convenience only"
I haven't heard the Icon, but I got the M-Audio FastTrack Pro - it's a DAC/headphone amp. It can be used as a stand alone DAC getting digital signal either from the USB or sPDIF input. It doesn't have Icon's built in power amplifier, but it has line outs to connect to a preamp to powered speakers.
I'm absolutely in love with this thing. It cost me $200, and it's better than my Rega Planet 2000 CD player, which ran me a grand a few years ago. My jaw dropped when I first heard it. If the Icon sounds this good, then it's a definite giant killer. Else, check out the FastTrack Pro It's fantastic for what it does and the price.
Thanx, AlexO. To tell you the truth I hadn't considered a pro-audio option, but that just might be the way to go. If anyone else has ideas, it'd be great to hear those, too. Thanx again.
I hadn't really thought about pro audio either, but I read Ethan Winer's posts where he constantly claims that you get a consistently better bang for the buck in pro-audio. So, I asked him to recommend something, which he did. I couldn't be happier.
I think that for certain things, pro-audio offers incredible value. For other things, audiophile audio is the way to go.
Well, AlexO, I did it. Picked up an M-Audio Fast Track Pro cheap on eBay and added it to my system this evening. I'm gonna reserve judgement until I do much more critical listening, but right out of the box I feel like there's a boost in clarity. I'll check back when I've figured out more. Thanx again for the tip
Let me know how it goes. I'm curious to hear your opinion. I think this thing is underrated and I wonder if others feel the same way or if it's just me.
Definitely an improvement. Seemed slight at first, but now it's obvious that the instrumental textures are much more defined. The RR2150's USB input is fine, but it renders the music as kind of a mass
Glad you like it. I think that Fast Track Pro is a giant killer. Such an incredible value! I can't get over it!