I shall start at the end first, and tell you an easy way to get convulsions, glazed eyes, expressions of pain and sheer sadness....
Buy a Nuforce Icon for SING $300.
The links to some websites on this:
USB (USB 1.1, 2.0 compatible)
Speaker Outputs (RJ45 connectors with 15 micron thick gold plating). NuForce RJ45 to banana plug speaker cables are provided with NuForce Icon.
Maximum output @32 ohm Load: 31.25mW
THD (20Hz ~ 20KHz) : < 0.03%
Frequenc Fresponse (20Hz ~ 20KHz) : < -1dB
Line Out (for Subwoofer) connection
USB DAC: USB 1.1, 2.0 compatible. USB native bit rate: 32-48kHz, 16-bit
Power = 12WX2. Peak power =15WX2
THD+N=0.05%, 1kHz, 2W @ 4 ohm load. THD+N=0.06%, 1kHz, 2W @ 8 ohm load.
Power Bandwidth : 26Hz ~ 50kHz, -1dB, 1W @ 4ohm load
SNR = 84 db at 7W @ 8ohm
Maximum sampling rate: 48kHz
S/N Ratio: 98dB
Power Adapter - 12-14V, 25W, 100-240VAC worldwide voltages
Dimension: 6" x 4 1/2" x 1"
Weight: 1 lb. Shipping weight 5 lb.
So who is a sucker for punishment?
I recently recieved an invitation from a friend who called and said innocently "hey, pete, wanna try something new, just 300 clams... I won't take up too much time, just 20 mins..."
So Quest comes along, whips out this tiny bright red metal box which can fit in the palm of my hand and proceeds to disconnect my speakers from my pride and joy, the Marantz SR 12, and then looks around and grabs my old dusty Pioneer DVD 535 off the floor to press into duty as a CD source. He then grabs my monoprice interconnects (USD 4 a pair) off the floor - (yes there are that many things on my floor) and goes to work connecting the setup to the above said tiny red box.
He asks me how sensitve, I say, well, you know, I was never a sensitive New Age man, but still will cry at poetry, then he rolls his eyes and points to my Monitor Audio GS 10s and yells how senstive, I blush politely and mutter 89db....
He then turns the dial on the volume to 11 o'clock and places my Sting CD into the Pioneer.
A moment later, Sting comes into my hi fi room....
I begin convulsing, sighing heavily and my mouth opens quite widely all whilst my feet follow their own rhythym and tap to the beat of "Every Breath You Take"....
This $300 SING amp can take on products 2-3 times its price and not feel embarassed. There is very good sound, detailed, tight deep bass and decent with just a hint of a splashy treble. It brings life back into a lowly Pioneer using only the cheap analogue outs from the Pioneer into the Nuforce.
Power delivery is quite linear and belies its rated 12w. You want bass? Check. Decent mids? Check? And a stable image of Sting belting his famous hit lies just a little behind my MAs, quite holographic.
Obviously they work better in near field listening, and are not meant to replace those massive Krells or even their own $8000 power amps. But in the right setting, say a bedroom bookshelf setup, a PC desktop, or a studio monitor, they will astound you with what they can do.
So for what you would pay to enter Tetsuya, I reckon they are a veritable bargain!
The main issue is when you begin convulsing thinking of how much more your other pieces of equipment cost that don't sound that much better....
A caveat though, $300 is only the beginning, since the speaker connectors are proprietary, and cost $50 for another 2m pair, a 40W power supply is extra, and by the time you get the S1 speakers, you are out of pocket by a total of 7xx plus. So it is a crafty piece of marketing to say it only costs 300 clams ....
Who said hi fi wasn't a slow poison.....
I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.