budget nearfields for the office and NuForce Icon

heftydude -- Thu, 09/11/2008 - 00:14

Intrigued by the NuForce Icon as a way to upgrade my audio at the office, I now need a decent set of speakers for the office computer.

I listen mostly to hard rock, metal, alternative, etc. but I also like good vocal recordings (a la Chesky 10 Best, Johnny Cash).

Looking at:

PSB Alpha B1, Usher S520, possibly the B&W 685 (but concerned about lack of low end).

I'm particularly interested in Chis Jones take on this as he reviewed the Icon with the S520 and maybe he's heard the other speakers as well.

heftydude -- Thu, 09/11/2008 - 00:17

oops. Hit the wrong Speaker link. I'm reposting in the audio speaker section.


Chris Martens -- Tue, 09/30/2008 - 17:20

I did the NuForce Icon system setup for Chris Jones' Playback review, and spent a fair amount of time auditioning the Icon system myself. On the basis of that experience, and in light of your listening tastes, I would say the Usher S520 is probably not the best overall choice for use with the Icon.

While both products--the Icon and the Usher S520--are strong performers in their own right, they just miss having the sort of synergy that would make them a ideal team (this is true in part because the very revealing Ushers benefit from amplifiers that have a bit more power and dynamic clout than the Icon has to offer).

Though I have not heard either speaker with the Icon, my educated guess is that you might get better results with either the PSB Alpha B1s or the Paradigm Atom Monitors (I've not heard the B&Ws and so cannot comment on them). I have listened to the PSBs and Paradigms at length, though with amps other than the Icon, and my sense of both is that they are just enough warmer and more forgiving than the Ushers to be able to match well with the Icon.

One last thought: If you've not already purchased the Icon, then a desktop combo I would strongly recommend that you hear is the Focal XS 2.1-channel multimedia system, which I review in the next issue of Playback (coming in early October). It's one of the best sounding and most versatile desktop rigs I've ever heard, and it offers the cool combination of a built-in iPod dock plus a built-in USB DAC--all bundled with a very slick 2.1-channel speaker system.

Chris Martens
Editor, Avguide.com/Playback/The Perfect Vision 

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