Bel Canto's IcePower and similar designs- your thoughts

Discussion in 'New Gear - Performance' started by thedelihaus, Aug 16, 2012.

  1. thedelihaus

    thedelihaus Nocturnal transmissions

    Messages:
    31,182
    Location:
    Boston Area, Massachusetts
    I love the small form factor of these amps and their power sipping frugality.

    Only complaints I've heard so far are some folk feel soundstage and imaging are still not 100% up to class a and a/b designs, and a few folk feeling the top end needs a touch more extension and refinement.

    Otherwise, glowing reviews about bass and a cool neutral presentation seem to be the sound strengths.

    Now, it's hard at times to really figure out who's comparing what to what on the internet, as well as a stranger's preference, so I figure I'd bring it up here and see what a few of my fellow Akers, many of whom I am confident of their listening habits and abilities, have to say. I'm confident you guys can deliver a solid foundation for me to work from.
     
  2. ejfud

    ejfud Audio Pinhead

    Messages:
    5,641
    Location:
    St Paul, MN
    Well, funny you should ask. I just swapped in a ICEpower 125ASX2 based amp into my system. Listened for a few hours this afternoon. First impressions are very good.

    Soundstage is on par with anything I've hooked to these speakers ( http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/showthread.php?t=232028 ). The previous best was an older Threshold which was amazing. Width and depth of soundstage with the ICE amp are wonderful. The top end may be a little soft, but I found it lacking in no way.

    Love the tiny size and big sound. I'm happy so far.

    http://www.google.com/search?q=ghen...tUKH3FuOjyAH8ioCACA#biv=i|2;d|LiFCnG7kqGyrNM:
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2012
  3. cubdog

    cubdog banging through drywall Subscriber

    Messages:
    21,776
    Location:
    Oregon IL.
    Well I have owned vintage SS receivers and integrateds, 80s SS amps and also modern tube amps. All are gone in favor of Icepower, [Bel Canto], and a LM3886 chip amp, [Jaton]. I love the transparency of these class D amplifiers. I've said before that the beauty of these is how they get out of the way of the music. Unlike other amps I've had I never think about them. When an amp is good I don't want to think about it. It seems when I do it's because of something I don't like not something positive. Bottom line is I like this new technology very much.

    cubdog
     
  4. estreeter

    estreeter Super Member

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    Location:
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    Far more interested in Hypex NCore modules, but agree re the ergonomics of the Bel Canto kit. Bang and Olufsen - who knew ?
     
  5. RichPA

    RichPA Don't drive angry Super Mod Subscriber

    A few years back, I switched from a Bryston 3B-SST to Bel Canto M300s, and liked the Bel Cantos better - smoother, more precise sound (and the Bryston was no slouch). Later I switched to Channel Islands D200s (which use Hypex modules rather than ICE), and thought they were even better. Still in the main system here, and I have no plans to upgrade - the tiny little boxes just sit there and do their job - great bass, very clean, great imaging.
     
  6. Jack G

    Jack G Super Member

    Messages:
    1,236
    I can't comment on the Bel Canto ICE power amps, but I do have the Wyred4sound STI-500, which is also ICE Power. Its quite good. Smooth, detailed, delicate with good FR and a huge, deep soundstage. The imaging is good, but not quite as organic as the best tubed amps. I also have the Bel Canto eVo 2i, a Tripath based amp. The Wyred4sound amp STOMPS the tripath amp in every way, especially imaging and soundstage.
    Speakers were either Silverline Sonata 3s or Ohm Walsh 5000s. It likes the Ohms.
    Jack

    PS. The wyred4Sound amp is VERY susceptible to different power cords and needs clean power. I've got mine plugged into a power regenerator.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2012
  7. slippers-on

    slippers-on Music...let it move you!

    Messages:
    4,635
    Location:
    Saint Charles Mo.
    I once had a Bel Canto 2.5 DAC/preamp. Very nice.....I love the way it did female voices. I have listen to my dealers system over and over again which has every Bel Canto component. All I can says wow! They were driving Galo Reference 3.5's as well as Goldenar Triton Towers...can't say anything bad about the Bel Canto, but the GoldenEar are not my cup of tea.......they are the weak link.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2012
  8. MWalt

    MWalt Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,153
    Location:
    NE OHIO
    The Wyred4sound STI-500 is a nice sounding amp. I like the way ICE powered amps run so cool. Conversely, I love pure Class A amps sound, but I do not like the way they run so hot. I feel that heat is an electronics killer.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2012
  9. StevenZ

    StevenZ Texas or nothin'

    Messages:
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    Location:
    San Antonio, TX
    I'm a big fan of the ICEPower modules. I haven't done any direct comparisons with A or A/B amps, but rather other class D types and have found it on par with my Class D Audio SDS-224 which is a Texas Instruments based reference design. I've also compared it to a couple Tripath based amps and find it to be a few notches above what my little T-amps could offer. I personally didn't notice a softness on the high end, but what I did notice was it's ability to portray vocals in a very convincing way.

    Just my 2 cents.


    -Steven
     
  10. Jack G

    Jack G Super Member

    Messages:
    1,236
    In addition to not generating a lot of heat, and all that goes with that, what's nice is that once I fine tuned the sound it is always ready at a moment's notice, and it always sounds the same. Unlike most tubed amps (especially class A) I don't have to wait an hour for it to warm up to sound its best. Its the most unfinicky amp I've ever owned in that regard. For me, that's extra brownie points since I don't have as much time to listen as I used to.
    Jack
     
  11. cubdog

    cubdog banging through drywall Subscriber

    Messages:
    21,776
    Location:
    Oregon IL.
    I leave my Bel Cantos on 24/7 as is recommended.

    cubdog
     
  12. ambient

    ambient AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,903
    Location:
    SoCal
    I'm a recent Bel Canto convert and have not looked back. Beautiful sounding, highly efficient little units.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2012
  13. NumbDiver

    NumbDiver Super Member

    I've auditioned 3 ice based amps, as well as Hypex and Spectrons. My feeling is that they must be very load dependent. Too many AKers that I have respect for, say they love them. I really want to love them, but have always left auditions wanting more (highs, depth and romance). But since so many laud their greatness, my auditions may have been lacking, or equipment was poorly matched.

    The Spectrons easily bested the others, but at their cost I'd really need side by side comparisons to my wonderful class A or tube stuff, to see if they really cut the mustard.

    I'm going to try a T-amp variant on some efficient speakers I own though. So many good things said here...and they are cheap. I think what people are really hearing is nothing. Nothingness between music. So quiet, so black. I believe that's where much of the magic comes from with most of the switching amps. Then again, I usually find out later that I'm wrong about stuff, so don't listen to me.:no:

    Here's a similar thread to yours:
    http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/showthread.php?p=5641604#post5641604
     
  14. thedelihaus

    thedelihaus Nocturnal transmissions

    Messages:
    31,182
    Location:
    Boston Area, Massachusetts
    I've personally been let down by expectations regarding the T amps. None have impressed me so far.

    These Hypex and Icepower and similar D class amps may have a leg up, if one is to believe the ears of our fellow respectable Akers.
     
  15. frperdurabo

    frperdurabo AK Member Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,912
    Location:
    Hawthorne, New Jersey
    Looks like you got the cases from Ghent audio? How easy was it to hook up? (I'm hoping to hear "very.") I think this is the configuration I'm going to build, once I deposit some $s in the bank.

    For me, it was comparing a cheap-ass Nobsound 3116 (with linear power supply) to my HK870 that sold me. Overall, it's better than the HK in every way that matters to me, although there is some midrange stridency that I (mostly) EQ'd away in the digital domain. But it makes big complex orchestral music appealing in a way the HK never did (albeit the latter is probably super tired and needs a good service)

    Now I'm curious about how much better the ICEpower or Hypex stuff is.
     
  16. StevenZ

    StevenZ Texas or nothin'

    Messages:
    1,964
    Location:
    San Antonio, TX
    Hey there. The Ghent cases were incredibly easy, but I'm not sure he sells kits anymore. From what I see his prebuilt ICEPower amps are a great deal. I have friends who have used his Hypex cases and they are pleased as well.

    One thing to consider is that if you like the 3116 you may prefer it over the ice modules. The ice modules are relatively old technology by now and have been surpassed long ago.

    I am still a proponent of class d amplification and have moved onto Temple Audio monoblocks. These latest monoblocks from Temple (I had their older monos too) in my opinion offer one of the best performances I have ever heard. They are incredibly accurate to the source which can be a bit tricky at times because they only give an honest portrayal of their source. So if you have shrill sounding recordings you will get shrill sound. Warm recordings will give you a warm sound. However if you like warmth added to everything go with the ice modules as they are still good but are known for their organic quality.

    I've not heard Hypex as it has always been above my price range but I did manage to hear an Abletec and a Pascal module and both were pretty great. So possibly look into those as well. D-Sonic uses Pascal based amps. I had the m3-800s and it was lovely.
     
  17. frperdurabo

    frperdurabo AK Member Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,912
    Location:
    Hawthorne, New Jersey
    Ghent still offers a case with the appropriate hookup cables - all I'd have to solder is the RCAs and Output terminals.

    What I don't like about the 3116 is the midrange forwardness, at least in the Nobsound implementation. Other than that, and wanting a bit more headroom (it's maybe enough already, or maybe not - big orchestral crescendos sound kinda "mushy") I'm happy with it. The Pascal modules aren't available except to OEMs, if Google can be believed, although many people speak highly of them.

    I'm looking to not spend more than $250 or so on this project, BTW. There's a used icepower module on ebay right now that would allow me to get the Ghent case and do this on that budget.
     

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