Leicester based ‘Chi-fi’ valve specialist Icon Audio has launched a new MkII version of its well-known Stereo 40 budget integrated valve amp. The new version improves on the old model by incorporating some of the features and developments from the amp’s bigger brother, the Stereo 60.
The 20-watt Stereo 40MkII (£900) uses a circuit inspired by the late H J Leak’s amplifiers of the 1950s and uses the renowned 6SN7 and 6SL7 driver valves of the early 1940s (which are still in production). Icon says the valves have “an impeccable reputation for rich and finely textured sound, excellent consistency and an extremely long life”.
The company designs in the UK but makes no secret of its Chinese manufacture. It has chosen both modern and classic ‘audiophile components’, custom hand-wound transformers, large choke power supplies and a distinctive high-gloss white metal flake chassis, which gives it a unique aesthetic.
The output stage uses the excellent Mullard EL34 output valve and users have the option of ultralinear- and triode-mode operation. Pure triode operation, with its 20 watts, is ideally suited to high-efficiency loudspeaker designs, but ultralinear’s 40 watts should give a bigger bandwidth with a wider variety of speakers.