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Icon HDP High Performance DAC and Headphone Amp

8.00 LBS
Calculated at checkout

Product Description

NuForce Icon HDPTMMSRP $449


The Nuforce Icon HDP incorporates a full-speed USB DAC (24bit/96kHz) and full-function S/PDIF D/A converter (24bit/192kHz), plus a headphone-amplifier circuit and preamp output. Supporting digital USB, S/PDIF in coaxial and 3.5mm optical (3.5mm) modes, along with an analog line input, the HDP accommodates all manner of audio devices. The Icon HDP, which has been designed to serve as the heart of a high-performance audio system, competes head-on with DACs and preamps costing several times its price.

Nuforce USB Audio devices are designed to work with x86 architecture.  Tablet devices running Windows 8 (RT) are not supported.

Note: The Icon HDP employs the same DAC as our high-end CDP-8 (MSRP $1,450.00) and a preamp similar to that of the P-8S (MSRP $1,650.00).


The following design features contributed to the stellar performance of the Icon HDP:

  • The digital input has no capacitors in its signal path. The analog input utilizes a single DC-decoupling capacitor.
  • Components along the signal path are minimized.
  • The 24/96 USB interface outputs a I2S signal to a high-quality DAC.
  • The digital circuit occupies a separate daughter board.
  • The DAC chip consists of four internal 24/192kHz DACs that provide a fully differential and balanced output. The differential signal's DC offset operates without a need for decoupling caps.
  • Digital and analog voltages each have separately isolated internal power regulations.


  • USB 2.0 Full Speed compliant and 1.1 supported, 8-96kHz/16-24-bit (88.2kHz is not supported)
  • S/PDIF input: Coaxial up to 192kHz/24-bit or Optical up to 192kHz/24-bit
  • Analog input: 3.5mm or RCA input
  • Audiophile-grade DA converter
  • Low-distortion, high-current headphone amplifier
  • High quality analog volume control


Subwoofer connection - a RCA male to two RCA female AudioQuest adapter can be used to provide extra connection to subwoofer.


  • USB:1.0 and 1.1 up to 44.1kHz/16-bit, USB 2.0 Full-Speed up to 96kHz/24-bit
  • S/N Ratio:> 100dB
  • THD+N :0.001% @ 1kHz.
  • Frequency Response:10Hz to 100kHz (-0.5dB).
  • Dimensions:6
  • Analog Inputs:RCA or 3.5mm when inserted
  • Digital Inputs:S/PDIF - Coaxial or 3.5mm Optical when inserted. Coaxial up to 192kHz/24-bit or Optical up to 192kHz/24-bit
  • Coaxial input impedance:75 Ohm
  • RCA Output:2.6 Vrms (cuts off when headphone is inserted)
  • RCA Output impedance :100 Ohm
  • Headphone Output:6.3mm full-size headphone output jack drives headphones up to 600-Ohm (96 mW@600-Ohm)
  • Headphone Output impedance:10 Ohm
  • Headphone power spec:288mW rms @ 30 Ohm 210mW rms @ 120 Ohm 152mW rms @ 300 Ohm 123mW rms @ 500 Ohm 96mW rms @ 600 Ohm 59mW rms @ 1200 Ohm 43mW rms @ 1700 Ohm 35mW rms @ 2000 Ohm
  • Headphone Jack:6.3mm full-size headphone output jack drives headphones up to 600-Ohm (96 mW@600-Ohm)
  • Weight :1 lb.

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Product Reviews

  1. Outstanding!

    Posted by CD Scott on 23rd Feb 2012

    After reading the reviews below and many, many other reviews online (6 moons, etc) of the HDP, I finally bought my HDP in black. I use it for all three features: DAC from my iMac, headphone amp and preamp going to amp. This HDP is in my 'mini system', next to my main hi-fi rig. I can say that after having run the thing for a few hundred (I lost count after 2 weeks: 168 X 2= 336) hours, the sound definitely warmed up and became even more musical than right out of the box (which sounded great even brand new). I also run the headphone amp with a few different cans. One of them being the Etymotic ER4-S; which, are very difficult to drive for any headphone amp. The HDP drives them with gain to spare.
    Not much to add to all of the other reviews other than if you're serious about sound quality and have use for even one of the three main features that the HDP offers, get it! It IS worth all of the $449.00.

  2. Adriana Andrea

    Posted by EstelaSilas on 21st Oct 2011

    <a href=http://www.ezeen.net/Art/169779/263/Whey-Protein-The-Fundamental-Supplement-to-Your-Lifting-Endeavours.html>Deanne Narcisa</a> <a href=http://www.free-articles.dckl.com/Art/314939/377/A-Few-Facts-about-Protein,-the-Most-Crucial-Powder-on-the-Globe.html>Bryan Jettie</a> <a href=http://www.freearticledirectoryonline.com/Art/181227/52/A-Few-Facts-about-Protein,-the-Most-Crucial-Powder-on-the-Globe.html>Isela Janella</a> <a href=http://www.getfreearticle.com/casein-amino-acids-are-ideal-for-weight-lifters-as-they-hit-the-sack.html>Milton Kimberley</a> <a href=http://www.hamstoo.com/Art/422956/385/Milk-based-Items-Are-Absolutely-Vital-for-Weight-Lifters-plus-Exercise-Lovers.html>Lester Luisa</a> <a href=http://www.idoarticles.com/the-slow-growth-of-casein-or-the-fast-hurry-of-whey-peptides-which-protein-is-better/>Colton Junita</a> <a href=http://www.iinformyou.com/Art/412964/283/Success-of-the-Fittest-Isn't-the-Case-With-regards-to-Protein-Peptides.html>Elois Gabrielle</a> <a href=http://www.inclinenetwork.com/important-dissimilarities-among-whey-and-casein-peptides.aspx>Colton Coletta</a> <a href=http://www.internetvive.com/wanetayolande594/24118/venture-lift-dumbbells-whey-drink.html>Maryalice Britt</a> <a href=http://www.look4articles.com/Art/217282/270/Who-Would-Care-to-Exercise-with-Weights-Lacking-A-Whey-Drink.html>Paulita Coletta</a> <a href=http://www.malaysiapos.com/articles/Art/102839/52/Important-Dissimilarities-Among-Whey-and-Casein-Peptides.html>Calista Danial</a> <a href=http://www.maxref.com/archives/56528>Weston Steven</a> <a href=http://www.netarticledirectory.com/Art/99180/418/Protein-Can-Come-in-a-Large-Selection-of-Forms-Each-Fitted-to-A-Distinct-Application.html>Jerrica Tommie</a> <a href=http://www.nichearticleslive.com/Art/203020/263/Important-Dissimilarities-Among-Whey-and-Casein-Peptides.html>Malik Adrian</a> <a href=http://www.nippomac.info/sportsExercise/do-not-disregard-whey-peptides-in-cases-where-you-want-to-be-a-powerful-weightlifter.html>Roberto Gilberto</a> <a href=http://www.noarticle.com/Art/8540/52/Unquestionably-Essential-Education-Regarding-Protein-Powders.html>Ricky Domenic</a> <a href=http://www.perfectarticles.com/index.php?page=article&article_id=406089>Emilee Archie</a> <a href=http://www.phenomenalarticles.com/Art/231383/390/Put-Aside-Fancy-Gimmicks,-Adhere-to-Easy-Whey-for-Optimum-Gains.html>Weston Johnathan</a> <a href=http://www.portarticles.com/some-truths-regarding-protein-the-most-vital-powder-on-this-planet.html>Milton Samual</a> <a href=http://www.procontentsite.com/articles/index.php?page=article&article_id=228102>Hee Jackson</a> <a href=http://www.save-on-everything.co.uk/sports/fitness/put-aside-complicated-tactics-stay-on-basic-whey-for-maximum-gains.html>Van Jeffrey</a> <a href=http://www.southamericanarticles.co.uk/health/fitness/just-how-much-amino-acids-does-one-need-and-more-importantly-when.html>Ricky Lorrine</a> <a href=http://www.swim-articles.com/Art/59713/52/Whey-Protein-Your-Fundamental-Supplement-to-Your-Lifting-Endeavors.html>Forrest Janella</a> <a href=http://www.theauthorplace.com/Art/213806/52/Unquestionably-Essential-Education-Regarding-Protein-Powders.html>Felton Brenton</a> <a href=http://www.tipbus.com/Article/Some-Miracles-and-Charms-of-Several-Types-of-Peptides/175245>Renato Toney</a> <a href=http://www.uniquearticles.info/Art/245672/52/Precisely-How-Much-Amino-Acids-Does-One-Need,-And-More-Significantly,-At-What-Time.html>Eugene Danial</a> <a href=http://www.vibaku.com/no-person-has-got-enormous-without-whey-amino-acids/>Megan Sherwood</a> <a href=http://www.wordsdepot.com/Article/Some-Truths-regarding-Protein--the-Most-Vital-Powder-on-this-Planet/281373>Farah Kenton</a> <a href=http://www.worldportal.us/no-one-has-become-huge-without-having-whey-protein/>Gordon Micheal</a> <a href=http://www.yourarticlesource.com/Art/418280/264/Some-Miracles-and-Charms-of-Several-Types-of-Amino-Acids.html>Bryanna Andrea</a> <a href=http://your.internetbusinessopportunity-1.com/2011/07/03/whey-protein-the-fundamental-supplement-to-your-lifting-endeavours/>Robyn Toney</a>

  3. Money well spent

    Posted by Unknown on 1st May 2011

    To be honest, I was hesitant initially about spending hundred of dollars on something that I thought my PC and Ipod could do. Thankfully nuforce delivers its promise. HDP is a handy dac/amp combo with very good sound. It drives my DT770 with no problem, while at the same time works with IEMs like Turbine Pro Copper and ER4s. Money well spent.

    Reference: Order #1737 from nuforce e-store

  4. Giant killer DAC/headphone amp combo

    Posted by Amazon Customer Reviews-- David Dennis "David Dennis", March 27, 2010 on 8th Apr 2011

    I've been waiting ages for a moderately priced headphone amp / DAC combo that could handle high resolution audio (>16 bits, >44.1kHz) straight from my computer, while also working well with my hard-to-drive (but great sounding) AKG 701s. Upon first reading about the NuForce ICON HDP I thought it would fit the bill and, after a few months of product release delays, it's finally here.

    I actually got the silver version, rather than the black one, which has a blasted aluminum appearance which matches well with my source, my MacBook Pro. The fit and finish is quite good and has a mimimalist, yet stylish, appearance. The HDP doesn't have the fugly parts-bin look that many well-regarded headphone amps have.

    When using with a Macbook Pro over USB, it's automatically detected as an external DAC (nice!) with a choice of bit and sample rates available via the Audio MIDI utility. Just make sure iTunes is opened *after* you connect the DAC, select the sample/bit rate you like, make sure it's selected as the output source, set the Icon HDP control knob appropriately ('U' if using USB), and you're good to go.

    After that, sit back and enjoy amazing bang for the buck sound through your choice of high end headphones.

  5. Wow

    Posted by Amazon Customer Reviews-- S. Kosloske on 8th Apr 2011

    I did a lot of reading trying to find a high-quality headphone amp that didn't cost a fortune, and did everything I wanted/needed it to.

    USB-input for connection to iPad (via camera kit) or laptop.
    Mini-optical input for connection to MacBook Pro.
    3.5MM audio out for connection to line-out adapter on iPod.

    It also has a co-axial optical in, and RCA line-in, in case you need them.

    Sound quality is amazing. I'm currently using it with Sennheiser HD650 headphones, and have used my iPad, iPod, and laptop as audio sources. You definitely want to make sure you rip your audio CD's in lossless format. If you're using a high-quality headphone amp like this, and have a good set of `phones, you will want your source material to be of equal quality. And since the HDP has a built-in DAC, having a purely digital input is about as good as you're going to get for this.

    My HD650's are 300ohm, so they need a good driver, and the HDP drives them perfectly well. They'll get much louder than I would ever use. I also tested it with my Grado 60's, and it switches over to low impedance headphones with no problems.

    Great headphone amp for the money. There are better, but they also cost much, much more. There are cheaper, but they will not have all these features, the build-in DAC, or the quality.

    If you want something portable to carry with your iPod, I would probably recommend a battery-operated micro amp, since the HDP with it's external adapter and power cable, can get pretty big to carry around. For home or office use, though, HIGHLY recommended.

  6. Needs patience

    Posted by Amazon Customer Reviews-- asbjoern, November 19, 2010 on 21st Mar 2011

    Guess i have only one thing to add to the other reviewers. - Be patient with this amplifier. Personally i wasnt impressed with it at all when i first recieved it. The sound was cold, closed and hard - the treble was hysteric. It was even hurting my ears. So i left it on for 24 hours as many reviewers advices. Still i wasnt really impressed - so if you get this amp and get the same experience as me - try to burn it in for a few hundred hours before you decide. I think mine has been running for at least 300 hours now. And only the last couple of days i really started to enjoy this amp. The sound has become just excellent. It has changed completely. I cant understand that many people apparantly are impressed with amp right out of the box.

  7. Audiophile Quality from an iPod Using Digital Out

    Posted by Amazon Customer Reviews-- mysticriver, March 10, 2011 on 21st Mar 2011

    I am a long-time lover of classical music who upgraded my home stereo equipment last year to audiophile grade equipment including a Violectric V800 DAC and V181 headphone amplifier. While these changes were quite costly, the improvement in listening experience over my previous configuration (PC soundcard) has made an enormous difference in my enjoyment of music.

    After upgrading my home system, listening to my iPod Classic 160gb at work was seriously disappointing. I wanted a rich, detailed listening experience similar to what I was getting from my home system, without spending an arm and a leg to get it.

    With further research and listening tests using my home equipment, I realized that the only way to get quality sound out of my iPod was to completely bypass the internal DAC and amplifier. The iPod is great for storing and retrieving digital files, but the analog circuitry is not designed to audiophile standards.

    Bypassing the iPod DAC is possible by using a device that plugs into the dock connector and outputs a digital signal. Wadeia has provided such a device for several years now, but at a cost of $379. The Onkyo ND-S1 is a similar product for about $200, but I happily settled on a Pure i-20 for $99.

    When I received the Pure i-20, I was able to confirm that outputting data from the iPod through the i-20 digital coax out into my Violectric equipment produced the same excellent results as I was getting by using the USB feed from my PC into the Violectric. I should mention that the DAC in the i-20 is not any better than the iPod DAC to my ears, so only the digital output is worth using. Now all I needed was to find a DAC/headphone amplifier suitable for taking to work.

    There are some tempting DAC/headphone amp products available direct from China which have gotten a lot of commentary in the audiophile forums, but I decided to steer clear of them after reading mixed reviews and cautionary tales of service problems. Frankly I am not an electronics nut and will not be opening up my equipment to roll the op-amps or whatever. I just want reliable, quality equipment at a reasonable price.

    When I became aware of the Nuforce Icon HDP, I read as many reviews as I could find. I was struck by the fact that there were no negatives. I was also impressed by Nuforce's claim that the HDP DAC was the same as the one in their $1600 CD deck and the HDP preamp is similar to their audiophile preamp product. Since I could order it from Amazon with a money-back guarantee, it was a slam dunk, even at $449. Some of the reviews I read pointed out that this little unit has no equals under $1,000. I cannot testify to the competition, but my experience with the HDP has been wonderful.

    To make a long story short, I have been completely satisfied with my iPod Classic -> Pure i-20 -> Nuforce Icon HDP setup and can't believe I could ever have lived without it!

  8. Nuforce HDP is Shockingly Good DAC/Amp

    Posted by Amazon Customer Reviews-- J. Spalding, March 10, 2010 on 18th Mar 2011

    I bought one of the original 12 HDPs as soon as they became available. Since I got it I've been running it 24/7 & it keeps getting better. For 6 months I've been looking for a dac or dac/amp combo that sounded good enough to allow me to move my $1895 Benchmark DAC1 HDR (which was further modded with $995 worth of upgrades) off my PC back to my stereo system (for which it was purchased). ll dacs later I've finally got the unit I was looking for. In fact, I can already say that when using full-size headphones to listen to music off my computer, I actually prefer listening to the HDP over the Benchmark. I can also say that using the HDP as a dac only feeding my Doge headphone amp, that the HDP is ALMOST as good as my highly modded DAC1 HDR. Now that is comparing this $449 device with what is essentially a $2900 device (one that probably has received more positive professional reviews over the years than any other dac.

    I've got a good collection of headphones including the AKG K702, Senn. HD650, Grado SR325is, Shure SHR840, & Ultrasone HFI700 & the HDP drives them all easily, even the K702s which are notoriously hard for amps to drive well enough to get the best sound out of them. Many of the 11 dacs & dac/amp combos I've tried in the last 6 months of searching cost 2-4 times what the HDP costs & IMHO, none of them sounded as as good to me as this little Nuforce DAC. That makes this dac an unbelievable value for the dollar.

  9. Nuforce HDP is a solid DAC and amp that keeps up with the big guys!, March 6, 2010

    Posted by Amazon's Customer Reviews-- L. Ganz on 25th Jan 2011

    I am impressed with this little Nuforce HDP both as a DAC and as a headphone amplifier; which is high praise from someone who owns a $15,000 headphone rig with Stax SR-007, Sennheiser HE60 and HD800 headphones, a Woo WES amp, Eddie Current ZDT amp, and PS Audio Perfectwave DAC.

    The HDP seems to offer a lot of performance in a small package, and easily outperforms my original Nuforce Icon amp that I bought May 2008 for my computer desktop. And the beauty is that it is small enough that I can use the HDP's superior DAC to feed the original Icon when I want to listen to speakers (both amps are the same size). The feature list is quite full, including 24/96 bit rate USB and 3.5 mm 24/96 optical inputs, 24/192 coax input, RCA or 3.5 mm analog input, 1/4" headphone output, and variable output level RCA preamp out. Not many DACs in this price range offer 24 bit/96 Khz sampling rates, and even my 2x more costly Apogee mini-DAC only does 24/48 via USB.

    The HDP using 24/96 USB input from my Macbook beats all my other $100 - $500 USB DAC/amps in the house, and even beats the headphone output of my Apogee mini-DAC with USB. The HDP's RCA line-out seems almost equivalent to the Apogee's 1/8" line-out as well, where the Apogee seems to be a little more refined sounding at times (if using my upgraded Sigma 11 power supply). The HDP is very detailed and transparent, with good sense of air and space, and offers a deeper soundstage than the Apogee headphone out. The HDP bass has great extension and impact, with rich mids and sparkly crisp treble. And it's just a little to the warm side of neutral, so I can still enjoy it with brighter headphones like my HD800 or Head-direct HE-5. Likewise it is also a good match for my HD600 headphones and my re-cabled Denon D7000 which can sound darker on the wrong amps.

    Some amplifiers that are good with full-size headphones may not be a good match with very sensitive in ear monitors (aka earphones or IEM), and they might have noise, or hiss that is not otherwise detectable with full-size phones. Well, that is not a problem here. I find the HDP to be an excellent match with all my very sensitive universal and custom molded in ear monitors, including Monster Turbine Pro Gold, Westone 2, Westone 3, Westone ES3X, Ultimate Ears 11Pro and JH Audio 13Pro. It does a very good job with all of them, despite their widely varying sound signatures. The UE11Pro can sometimes be bass heavy or have some recessed midrange with the wrong amp; but neither of these are a problem with the HDP, even though it is not a bass-lite or forward sounding amplifier.

    How they managed to squeeze such good sound into a price this low is unclear to me, because you basically have to spend $700-$900 for a better DAC (Apogee or Stello) and $700-$1,000 for a better amp (upgraded Woo WA6 or ALO Amphora), and you'd have to buy both a DAC and Amp to get most of the features of the HDP. (Except for analog inputs for iPod or other players, where many DAC's don't include those).

    I will conclude by mentioning a couple of issues that I have. The HDP sounds very good with a wide variety of headphones, but it might not be optimal with all of them. With my Head-direct HiFiMan HE-5 and Grado HF-2, if I try to play those headphones at very high volume levels (closer to max) then the sound can get a little strident and fatiguing in the highs. I've heard this same thing with the HE-5 and a $700 Grahm Slee Solo SRG II, and that's probably because the HE-5 are very difficult to drive low impedance headphone and require a lot of current. With the HE-5 headphones this happens at volume levels that are much higher than my Woo WA6 tube amp can hope to achieve, so if I never tried to play the HDP louder than my WA6 I would not have heard this. The Grado HF-2 can be a little boosted in the upper mids and lower treble, and they just seem to respond better to my tube amps to tone them down a notch when trying to play them at very loud levels (levels that would be damaging or harmful for more than a few minutes). At normal to moderately loud levels this is never an issue.

    Another issue is that the volume pot can have some channel imbalance at the very low end of the volume control when using very sensitive in ear monitors which don't require turning up the volume knob very much. This is common with most lower price gear when using IEM, but can be alleviated by turning down the computer system volume if you are using the USB input. However, none of these issues would prevent me from highly recommending this product. It makes me eager to think about trying their high-end products at some point.