Icon Audio's Pure-Valve HP8 MKII Supplies Any Pair of Headphones With All the Necessary Power and Even-Order Sonics: Smoothness, Detail, Warmth, and Fluidity Equal Astonishing Sound
Conventional wisdom says manufacturers simply drop the power through a
resistor when needing to provide an amplifier with a headphone output. But Icon Audio says not so fast. Since the approach results in a very high
source of impedance, the net effect is an extremely low-fidelity sound.
And who wants that? In truth, headphones need to be driven via small
high-quality amplifiers, not tiny "microchip" devices. Enter Icon Audio's versatile, affordable HP8 MkII headphone amplifier.
Essentially a miniature pure-valve high-fidelity amplifier, the
HP8 MkII possesses a custom-wound multi-tap output transformer to ensure
perfect matching to virtually any headphone load. The first stage
gain uses a 12AX7, renowned for its smoothness, detail, and fluidity. It
serves as the ideal complement to the CV181 or 6SN7, the finest hi-fi valves ever
created. If it's musical insight and dynamics you want, you'll have
them in spades. Ditto options: You can connect the HP8 MkII to your system four different ways.
"The HP8 just flows like a
gentle breeze on a summer day, never forceful but always welcome and
refreshing. The sound quality is simply beguiling, with all the
stereotypical benefits of a single ended triode design and very few of
– John Grandberg, Inner Fidelity
Like all Icon products, HP8 MkII is entirely point-to-point hand-wired and contains no printed circuit boards or transistors,
which degrade valve performance and color the signals. It's all in the
service of ensuring that you're hearing music in the finest-possible
sound. In striving to attain the same goal, silver Teflon audio cable,
gold-plated terminals, all-Triode circuit, and an ALPS volume pot are
also utilized for optimum purity.
In addition to building the HP8 MkII with utmost care, Icon takes any worry out of the purchase by providing a two-year parts-and-labor warranty as well as full service and support for the lifetime of the product. That's how it should be, and while most competitors don't go to such extremes, Icon is happy to do so.
Icon Audio gear is engineered in the UK and manufactured in China, with
final assembly and checking done in the UK. Warranty on all Icon Audio
pieces is 2-year, parts and labor. Tubes are warranted for one year on a