Gets out of the way of the music
smart passive AVC preamplifier with remote
GETS OUT OF THE WAY OF THE MUSIC
smart passive AVC preamplifier with remote
icOn 4PRO passive preamplifier is
- a passive magnetic preamplifier (AVC) built around Dave Slagle’s world-class autoformers
- without colouration, noise or distortion, but has unrivalled transparency enabling you to enjoy the original recording to the full
- fully controllable from your listening position with an easy to use Apple remote
- capable of unlimited life of noise-free switching on account of using FET switches instead of rotary switches or reed relays
- adjustable in 1 dB volume steps, which allows a smooth control of volume having a range of 75 dB with 68 steps
- unbalanced and “true” balanced (with 2 pair autoformers) models with flexible input/output configurations
- highly functional with balance, mute, optional AV bypass, display with night mode providing control at your fingertips
- the most versatile and future-proof passive preamp family on the market with customizable features through firmware upgrades
- contemporary design with clean, sleek lines in a minimalist enclosure with high WAF
- highly innovative with unique features seldom found in passive preamplifiers regardless of price
- designed and built in the UK
As seen in
“Today’s award wrote itself… One this good and flexible is simply more globally relevant than many will have thought. Being priced fairly and built to a high standard makes it a true standout.”
People don’t just buy what they need. They buy what they want. which needn’t be the same. Case in point? Active preamps. Most modern digital sources will drive most modern amplifiers to full output. No extra gain is required, just signal cut/attenuation plus sure selection. What do active preamps do in this context? Look at it this way. 2+8 -9=1. Two is your source signal voltage. One is the signal strength needed to play at your desired loudness. Adding more gain symbolized by eight only to knock it down by nine is wasteful. A passive simplifies the math. 2-1=1. It’s pure signal cut, no boost. At the very least it’s more efficient so greener. It also should incur fewer losses from less signal manipulation and produce less noise and distortion.
How does it work?
These features are simply missing from other passive transformer based preamps, meaning icOn 4PRO has a much higher level of versatility from the comfort of your armchair.
For volume level adjustment, icOn uses high-quality FET switches to select the autoformer taps, ensuring contact error and noise-free operation, which conventional rotary switches are prone to.
Furthermore by the use of these FET switches the signal path is kept remarkably short, thus reducing possible interference to a minimum. This compares to the more common rats nest found in many TVC/AVC passives which can be prone to interference pickup.
Most people find that the autoformer volume control sounds significantly better than even the best potentiometer or stepped attenuator. And it’s not a subtle difference; most people report that the autoformer has such an open, effortless sound that they would not consider going back to a resistive device.
Most frequently asked questions
How long does it take to burn in my new icOn preamp?
If you ask me about the icOn’s burn (break) in time I would say: that for my icOn preamps there is no burn-in time. The copper wire and magnetic cores don’t change in short term (within a few years). But a lot of icOn customers stated that they have experienced improvement after approx. 100 hours of music listening. My understanding and experience are that this improvement happens in the listener’s brain and not inside the preamp. The autoformers produce quite a different sound than the resistive passive attenuators or active preamps. Our brain “learns” this new sound experience, and adapts to the complete lack of background noise and distortion, the higher transparency. Some audiophile calls this adaptation as the “burn-in”. I’m an engineer and music lover too but like to stick with the scientific and engineering facts. Maybe I’m wrong with the science, who knows? So as usually – YMMV … your mileage may vary 🙂
I did read a review where a different wall wart was used with the icOn and there was a slight improvement despite the passive sound path. Can I make my icOn even better with a LPS (linear power supply)?
Sorry, but a linear power supply doesn’t improve the sound of an icOn 4PRO. The icOn’s external wall wart power supply doesn’t have a direct connection with the signal path – because that is a passive circuit – and is galvanically separated from the icOn’s inner power supply circuits. The light of the display and the microprocessor’s operations can’t sense any difference between an smps and a linear power supply.
The problem with an smps in general in the audiophile community is the “generalisation”. Yes, 20-30 years ago it was absolutely true that in most cases the linear power supply was better. Today this is simply not true. Today there are amazing high-frequency switching devices, and new circuits which offer better result than a traditional 50-60Hz linear power supply. Audiophiles don’t have proper measuring equipment, A/B testing gears to hear and see the reality. And the “maybe I can hear a difference” bias is based on the outdated knowledge of “self-made experts” without any technical background.
Some facts which are never considered by the power supply “experts”:
1. If the switching frequency is 100 – 1000x higher, filtering and suppressing the noises is much much easier. (50kHz – 1MHz instead of 50 or 60Hz).
2. The noise and EMF from an smps are proportional to the current used. There is a huge difference between an smps of a power amp and the low current smps which I use.
3. Today’s digital audio electronics are full of small smps’, hidden from the audiophiles’ “critical eyes”, embedded on the pcb. They don’t know about them, they have no problem with them. But my “poor” wall wart is very obvious and immediately it is “suspicious”.
There are dozens of other factors which aren’t considered by audiophiles. My absolutely honest opinion: my smps solution isn’t worse than a pure linear power supply.
But I hear my audiophile friends, that some of them prefer something more “substantial” than a small wall wart ps. My new optional icOn power supply (expected around autumn 2022) will be a “hybrid” – like some other very popular audiophile power supplies – combining the best advantages of both the linear and switching power supplies.
The icOn models
Meet the exact input/output requirements of our customers.
The expected delivery time of the 4PRO models is approx. 1-2 weeks. All prices on our website don’t include VAT. For UK customers, we charge 20% VAT and the buyers outside of the UK will have to pay VAT alongside any applicable customs fees or duties at the point of import.
- 168 steps over a 83 dB range in 0.5 dB increments
- 8 pair RCA sockets with user reconfigurable input /output ratio
- 130mm high enclosure (W 134mm x L 260mm)
In October 2022 Life-Changer Audio UK revealed two brand new magnetic passive preamplifiers as an addition to their popular icOn 4PRO series. The icOn Multichannel with 6 or 8 channels offers the best possible analogue volume control for active high end loudspeakers with DSP.
The icOn5 has exceptional features and specifications, like the 168 x 0.5 dB volume steps, 83dB attenuation range and user configurable numbers of the inputs and outputs. Read more here: https://6moons.com/audioreview_articles/icon5/