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Setting Up a NuForce/Optoma Icon (HDP etc)....
Just a quick 2c on how to ‘get the best’ from this “five star” rated product ;-)
As the spec output is 2.6Vrms from the Icon, when standard audio equipment expects 2Vrms input, a level matching should be done....
I found leaving the volume dial at full output when using the Phono plug outputs (into other audio kit), resulted in the “Overload” light warning on my preamp.
(To be fair the strong RCA/phono linelevel outputs on my 90’s Rotel CD player does the same at ‘peak output’ on some recordings)
Essentially, if using this as a DAC into other equipment, a slight ‘trim’ is required (aiming for the standard 2Vrms):
This was the required location on the volume dial to remove the overload light from illuminating.
:It actually matched the spot I expected it to be once I read that the output was 2.6Vrms
As a net user since bulletin boards days’ I love the high bandwidth multimedia ease that the world wyde web gives; so heres a few extra pics for your perousal... (in the old days I would have Jpeg compressed these images until they were ‘just’ legible to save the minute long load times...)
This shot shows my final configuration on the magnet/filter on the power cable. I went with four windings with some paper towel to force the cable through the midpoint of the filter...
This USB DAC works with Nintendo Switch. Skyrim and Octopath Traveller have NEVER sounded so good. (Surprised me with Skyrim as I was one of the few who couldn’t start the game on launch, back on the 11/11/11, due to the bug that crashed the game on the opening menu with the PC version, if the sound in Windoze was set to high bitrate/high sample rate- which was standard affair for me with all software: Yes I have played Skyrim on PC via several $400-$500 sound cards...)
This USB DAC is a beaut way to upgrade the sound for many pieces of equipment. The Octopath Traveller soundtrack is truly beautiful. As would be Bloodstained and a whole slew of other titles.
The photos above are using an Icon (not an ‘HDP’ model), and if the HDP model was feeding into the home theatre/loungeroom setup, ALL the consoles would likely be wired through it.
I suppose some games I would prefer in surround sound for the directional cues (eg first person shooter titles/race games), but otherwise I would certainly choose the superior ‘richness’ in sound that this nice DAC brings to the table.
Cheers and ‘happy using’.
The Nintendo Switch compatibility is an interesting find. Now I'm interested since it would be useful for my desk where I run the audio from the sources directly through a mixer instead of the monitor (with HDMI). 🤔 Thanks for the info!
As a complete and utter sound noob, would this be preferred over an Asus Xonar DG soundcard? It drivers my Massdrop HD58X just fine (no jitter or static noise), but for somewhat reason I like to believe that the card isn't "enough" to power those headphones. But, again, I'm not an audiophile what so ever... Do you have any advice?
DirkG: hmm a ‘two parter’ would be my normal answer to this; but for now I will probably leave us ‘in limbo’, answering a question with an answer than makes you question (further...)
<I am on train on way home, so ‘super quick reply’>
Most DACs read pretty good ‘by the spec sheet’, and sadly, most people think that spec sheet numbers indicate how musical a piece of equipment is...
I have no doubt the Asus soundcard is great (I use an essence STX presently myself), one of the best things that the sound card can do is encode surround sound into Dolby headphone (still a two channel format that can be output digitally and then decoded by an ‘outboard DAC’ eg Nuforce Icon),..
does the asus Asia soundcard have limitations or is it ‘weak’/poor sound quality? Not at all!
I still output digitally (using a high quality sound card) into the Icon HDP.
may have more volume and or technical prowess, but it is more than that- both will power the headphones to IMO overly loud volumes, and both will do so cleanly.
will they sound the same?- absolutely not!!
Do I think the asus deserves a better DAC upgrade - potentially yes. The Nuforce seems to run out of ‘reserve juice’ when large scale bands go crazy.
what music you listening to?
<my station is next>
definately is a massive sound quality jump. Richer/nuanced/textured>volume/jitter etc (which both parts are more than capable to handle).
Thanks for the extensive reply! Much appreciated and it gives some proper insights.
I actually listen to a wide variety of music ranging from melodic power metal to current popbands to classical music (no bassy rap, trance or dance music though). I also watch an occasional movie or series. If the xonar card is good enough, then perhaps I should temper my urge to get a DAC/AMP.. :-)
I’d say quite the opposite.
For the music you are after a level (or two?) above this entry level nuforceOptoma product.
it might just be a power supply upgrade that is needed (its where my money is) for the Icon/HDP but it runs out of weight behind the instruments when five or more instruments go all out in a musical soundtrack.. (CDs/DVDs etc)
the sound of the instrument is still still there but a lot of the magic/nuance is lost.
its the bit that makes DACs a logical budget allocation as the extra ‘resolve’ (texture etc) is what reveals a piece of music is being made by a master musician.
if you could stretch to a ladder dac, might be a fun prospect...
ultimately for 2channel playback into a reference sound system, the price to benefit (bang for buck!!) jump up to the 4-5 hundred $ mark is outstanding again.
the equipment level improvements are really great value in the sub 1000$ mark, and a DAC is crucial to musical reproduction. When you buy a good one- it will last you many many years.
generally every seven or so years the tier below equipment start to be near equivalent in sound quality; has been the trend the last few decades
flagship stuff from just about any vintage is often worth giving a spin too..
One of these nuForce Icons is the absolute doorway to DAC delight.
it will instantly outclass most equipment not seriously hifi, at the few hundred dollar pricepoint.
Using an outboard DAC is a pretty worthwhile investment.
tgis Icon punches well above its pricepoint and is great for stereo sound.