NuForce Icon / S1 Amplifier Reviewed

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NuForce has made a name for itself over the past couple of years by producing switched power supply amplifiers that have been getting rave reviews. One of the benefits of a switched power supply amplifier is that it can be much smaller than a similarly-powered conventional amplifier. This allowed NuForce to create the Icon, a 12-watts-per-channel integrated amplifier the size of a paperback book.  The heart of the Icon is NuForce's own Class-D amplification circuit. The S-1 speakers were designed to accompany the Icon, the Icon and S-1. Each retails for $249.
The six-inch by 4.5-inch by one-inch Icon weighs about a pound and is housed in an aluminum case that can be had in four different colors. The tiny Icon has two knobs on the front panel: one for choosing between the RCA, USB and 3.5 mm inputs and the other for volume. The back panel has the above-described three inputs, a power jack for the supplied wall-wart power supply, headphone output, subwoofer line level output and a pair of Ethernet jacks. The Ethernet jacks are the speaker outputs. They work well. Also included in the box are a stand for vertical mounting of the Icon and two pairs of cables. One pair comes with RJ-45 plugs on both ends and is designed to work with NuForce's S-1 speakers and the second pair has RJ-45 plugs on one end and banana plugs on the other end so that you can use speakers of your own choosing.

The NuForce S-1 speaker is a diminutive waveguide speaker, featuring a single 3.5-inch titanium full-range driver. The driver was engineered by NuForce and has a die-cast basket, vented pole coil and a neodymium magnet. The driver is set into an enclosure 9.5 inches tall, six inches wide and 4.75 inches deep, weighing 5.5 pounds per side.  The speaker's waveguide controls dispersion, reduces cone excursion and increases efficiency.

Listening to the system on my desktop, I had the speakers a few inches from the wall and about three feet from me. This system benefits from the bass reinforcement from the wall and sounds best with the listener in the near-field position. I found the Icon/S-1 system made a good desktop system that was able to handle a variety of sources and provide great bang for both the buck and the size.

 Read The High Points, The Low Points and the Conclusion on Page 2

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