Icon Audio tube integrated amplifiers

ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,973
edited April 25 in Electronics
I know I'm likely not the only one who has seen the tube integrated amplifiers by Icon Audio when browsing www.musicdirect.com

I've been intrigued by their products for a while, so I've just begun the process for requesting a review sample. These are made in China amps that have a final QC check in the UK.

I'm interested in either checking out the Stereo 30SE($3,749):
AICONST30SE.jpg?profile=FullScreenHeroZoom&scale.option=fill&scale.width=900
100% "Pure class A"
28wpc UltraLinear
18wpc Triode
Remote Contol
Choke power supply
Tung Sol KT150


Or the Stereo 40 MkIV($3,499):
AICONST40MK4T88.jpg?profile=FullScreenHeroZoom&scale.option=fill&scale.width=900
KT88 or 6550 valves
Headphone Socket
"Easy Bias" Meter
50wpc UltraLinear
30wpc Triode
Remote Control

Speaker pairings would be one or more of the following: PMC twenty.22, Elac Adante AS-61, Margules Magenta Studio Monitors, Epos K1i, ATC SCM 11 (once they're fixed), or Ascend Acoustics Sierra 1.

I have a 35wpc tube integrated on hand (MastersounD BoX), so I'm assuming that the 30SE's 18/28wpc would also be adequate for my smaller 13x10 listening room. Of course the 40 MkIV's 30/50wpc would be more than enough.

Anyone have any thoughts on which one would be a better fit for the speakers I'll be pairing up? I'm leaning toward the 30SE as I really want to hear what this single ended design at $3,750 gets you.

Edit: now I'm reading more about the 30SE and it's not clear if it really is a single ended design. Maybe @mhardy6647 can help clarify.

Edit 2: I'm seeing conflicting advertising materials, found this on it's product page elsewhere:

"Single Ended

Only one output valve is used so the one valve has to “push and pull” on its own. Although this limits the power available, the lack of “phase splitter” stage required by “push pull” amps means that the mid-range and upper frequencies have less “processing” which gives a smoothness and charm to the sound not found in other designs."

Comments

  • Mike ReeterMike Reeter Posts: 3,874
    I hope you receive a piece to review, at one time Music Direct was ICONs only US Distributor, they might very well still be.

    I've always been intrigued by their Mono Blocks

    https://www.musicdirect.com/power-amp/icon-audio-mb90-mkii-kt150-monoblock-power-amps-pr
    SDA SRS 2.3TL's/SDA SRS 3.1TL's/SDA CRS+4.1TL's and some other stuff
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 25,403
    edited April 25
    The first amp is singe ended, using a modern design 'kinkless tetrode' wired as a triode.

    I am sure it gives away some of the 'DHT magic' using that rather ungainly KT150 tube, and/or the UL mode -- but on the other hand, it provides more output power. Devil's bargain.

    But, yeah, it's a single-ended amplifier.


  • displaynamedisplayname Posts: 654
    Clipdat wrote: »
    I know I'm likely not the only one who has seen the tube integrated amplifiers by Icon Audio when browsing www.musicdirect.com

    I've been intrigued by their products for a while, so I've just begun the process for requesting a review sample. These are made in China amps that have a final QC check in the UK.

    I'm interested in either checking out the Stereo 30SE($3,749):
    AICONST30SE.jpg?profile=FullScreenHeroZoom&scale.option=fill&scale.width=900
    100% "Pure class A"
    28wpc UltraLinear
    18wpc Triode
    Remote Contol
    Choke power supply
    Tung Sol KT150


    Or the Stereo 40 MkIV($3,499):
    AICONST40MK4T88.jpg?profile=FullScreenHeroZoom&scale.option=fill&scale.width=900
    KT88 or 6550 valves
    Headphone Socket
    "Easy Bias" Meter
    50wpc UltraLinear
    30wpc Triode
    Remote Control

    Speaker pairings would be one or more of the following: PMC twenty.22, Elac Adante AS-61, Margules Magenta Studio Monitors, Epos K1i, ATC SCM 11 (once they're fixed), or Ascend Acoustics Sierra 1.

    I have a 35wpc tube integrated on hand (MastersounD BoX), so I'm assuming that the 30SE's 18/28wpc would also be adequate for my smaller 13x10 listening room. Of course the 40 MkIV's 30/50wpc would be more than enough.

    Anyone have any thoughts on which one would be a better fit for the speakers I'll be pairing up? I'm leaning toward the 30SE as I really want to hear what this single ended design at $3,750 gets you.

    Edit: now I'm reading more about the 30SE and it's not clear if it really is a single ended design. Maybe @mhardy6647 can help clarify.

    Edit 2: I'm seeing conflicting advertising materials, found this on it's product page elsewhere:

    "Single Ended

    Only one output valve is used so the one valve has to “push and pull” on its own. Although this limits the power available, the lack of “phase splitter” stage required by “push pull” amps means that the mid-range and upper frequencies have less “processing” which gives a smoothness and charm to the sound not found in other designs."

    All I can tell you about these is a friend on another forum got the 30SE as an open box. At first he was pretty happy, but he ended up utilizing their return period and sticking with his PrimaLuna. Main reasons were bass was “wonky” and inconsistent with the Icon, and he knew the PL would be easier to get serviced if that was ever needed down the road. He was running the amp with Zu Souls for reference.
    Analog: MoFi MasterTracker > MoFi UltraDeck > Sutherland 20/20
    Digital: Cambridge CXC / Streaming > Cambridge CXN v2
    MastersounD Dueventi > Usher T-515 or Arcam rHead > Hifiman HE4XX
    Discogs
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 25,403
    mhardy6647 wrote: »
    The first amp is singe ended, using a modern design 'kinkless tetrode' wired as a triode.
    ...
    [emphasis added]

    Well, that was an embarrassing typo I missed :p

    I think that Bob Carver built some singe ended amplifiers, at least in his Flame Linear days -- and that little Carver Cube "Magnetic Field Amplifier" B)

  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,973
    I hope you receive a piece to review, at one time Music Direct was ICONs only US Distributor, they might very well still be.

    I've always been intrigued by their Mono Blocks

    https://www.musicdirect.com/power-amp/icon-audio-mb90-mkii-kt150-monoblock-power-amps-pr

    That's correct, Music Direct is the sole US distributor.
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,973
    Anyone have any thoughts on my speaker combinations/pairings? In regards to which amp might be a better fit?
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 25,403
    edited April 26
    It's easier to answer the converse question -- what would be good for the SE amp? High-ish nominal impedance, benign impedance and phase curves (e.g., simple crossovers will help a lot). These factors, IME/IMO, are sometimes more important than sensitivity per se. IF the amps have 16 ohm taps, use 'em if you can. OPTs 'work' best when the entire secondary winding is used with the load -- not that I can tell you why :/

    Too bad you're as far away from here as can be -- otherwise I'd lend you my Altec Santiagos. B) 18 watts SE would be pretty dandy with a pair of Santiagos or Valencias. :)
    Possibly a life-changing experience.

    For the PP amp -- I'd try everything you've got, but in general the suggestions I proffer for the SE amp also go for the PP amp.

    These amplifiers will have higher output impedance (even with the UL taps) than y'all are used to, so they're gonna feel the load more than you're used to. That's what some folks call "synergy". It's also somewhat unpredictable.

    Case in point (FWIW) -- I have an EICO HF-81, a very good kit-built pp EL84 stereo integrated amplifier. Almost any loudspeaker I've tried on it sounds very good. One that didn't -- to my surprise -- was the Polk Audio Monitor 7A. The pairing was thin, harsh, and steely sounding; no idea why. Some other 1970s monkey coffins sound glorious with it (even though it's only about 12 wpc at "hifi" levels of distortion).

    HTH.

  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,973
    Thanks! I asked the same question to Icon and MD so we'll see what they say as well.
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 25,403
    Clipdat wrote: »
    Thanks! I asked the same question to Icon and MD so we'll see what they say as well.

    Cool. It'll be interesting to get their input! If you would share their suggestions (as much as you're comfortable with doing), one would be interested. :)
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