California Audio Labs Icon CD Players

Icon

CD player circa 1990

User Reviews (8)

Showing 1-8 of 8  
Joseph   AudioPhile [Nov 17, 2015]

It is sad - though I spent so much time researching - trying to filter out the lies associated with advertisement - I still get burned.

The circuit boards being used these days do NOT hold their programming - so eventually you have a box worth nothing! The real repair shops do not want to even touch these units.
But an Audio unit I had - they were able to quickly see the 'CAN' that needed to be replaced and fixed it for $25.00.
WOW - replacing an optical reader for 40% of the cost of the unit! And you are happy?!

I have a Friend that spent $150.00 to replace the display unit. I found the part for $30.00 - it is easier to replace than a single spark plug.

OVERALL
RATING
2
VALUE
RATING
2
doctor_ivan   AudioPhile [Mar 28, 2004]
Strength:

Open warm CD sound that was completely free of harsh digital artifacts.

Weakness:

Items rarely worked.

The Nightmare That Sounded Terrific! Sorry, there's absolutely no more accurate way to describe the California Audio Labs Icon and their other CD players in general. When they worked... heaven on earth. Unfortunately these damn machines had the worst quality control of any high end product I've ever sold. Transports that never worked properly, discs spinning aimlessly and software that refused to read 80% of what was placed in front of it. Even the buttons on front panels would sink behind their aluminum faceplates when firmly pushed. It was truly a shame because those who engineered these products ONLY KNEW SOUND. They were absent the day that CD school taught reliability. I sold this line of CD players with Myer -Emco (Washington DC area) and have had a great deal of experience with this product.

Similar Products Used: Luxman, Audio Research, Levinson, Proceed
OVERALL
RATING
1
VALUE
RATING
1
bachlogic101   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 19, 2002]
Strength:

Good musicality. Good player for the money.

Weakness:

Some reliability issues.

I understand a few of the reviewers concerns. I had one issue with my player around 5 years ago. Lost the optical reader. Sent the unit back to CalAudio and they fixed it for around $200. Other than that this player is a great value. It has great musicality and extension throughout the ranges. Bass extension is low and the mids and highs are sweet yet not overbearing. If you ever have a chance to pick one up used in the market it will be a good choice.

Similar Products Used: Just others that I have auditioned. None others owned.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
AudioBob   AudioPhile [Mar 02, 2002]
Strength:

Build quality of main circuit board.

Weakness:

Transport cannot read/play most discs. CAL customer service.

This product is a sad mix of good and bad. The build quality of the digital/analog output board is of very high quality, among the best I have seen (I own Krell and Levinson). In its day, the sound was exemplary, no digitits in the treble, warm sounding with good bass. Unfortunatly, the transport is terrible. On many disc, when trying to read the TOC, the transport goes crazy, spinning out of control. Attempting to press stop does nothing. The only way to stop this is to press the open button, which does open, but the rapidly spinning disc does not stop before contacting the drawer mechanism, causing circular scratches in the disc, the worst type for damaging a CD. This would happen with brand new, pristine disc. It was completely unpredictable. All the unplayable disc would play immediately on any other player, from portables to dedicated transports. I received excuses when contacting CAL, was told to clean the laser lens, and not connect the unit to an AC filter/surge protector. None of these fixes made any difference. I am not certain, but I think the transport was sourced from Matsush*ta (A. Review sees the sh*t as sh eye t) (Panasonic, Technics). In my opinion, CALs customer service was terrible. They would not admit to having a flawed product, and did nothing to repair it. Needless to say, I never have, nor ever will, purchase another CAL product. Avoid this product on the used market at all costs. I keep mine around to demonstrate to other audiophiles. I have a $39 portable on top of the Icon that I play the disc on that was just unplayable on the CAL. A truly pathetic product.

Similar Products Used: Sony, Pioneer, Mark Levinson, Theta
OVERALL
RATING
1
VALUE
RATING
2
Ed Weiss   Audio Enthusiast [Mar 21, 2000]
Strength:

Full rich sound

Weakness:

None

I picked up the cal icon used at a give away price. I have heard some hi end digital in my time. I feel the california audio labs product are a cut above. Although this is ancient in digital terms it gives the new high end stuff a good run for the money. Is it the best no. Is it close to the best yes...for hardly any scratch I picked mine up I'm embarressed to say for under $200, including shipping. Tons of detail, bass is excellent..I heard instruments I never heard before. I was an anologue guy, but this really closes the gap. This is digital done right hats off to the guys and gals at CAl's. If you don't have deep pockets and this comes up on ebay, audiogone.com or one of the other sites grab it and thank me later.Partned with a Naim Nait integrated amp. But it should sound good with any kind of amp since it is a great source. Good in good out.

Similar Products Used: None
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
S Aidan Finley   an Audio Enthusiast [Jan 28, 1999]

I recently purchased a CAL Icon, not MkII, for around 300 dollars. I use it with Mirage 595is speakers or a Sennheiser HD-580, amplified, for right now, by Harman Kardon. I had an extensive opportunity to evaluate the Icon on a friends' system (marantz esotec, camelot arthur 1.0, camelot mas), and I must say that the Icon aquitted itself splendidly. In complete honesty, the Icon is one of the smoothest and most detailed players in its price range. Against the Camelot transport and dac, it held its own with the speakers. Only with my Sennheisers were the slight differences revealed--a sound that does not emanate as completely from silence, and a slight lack of overall musicality. Bear in mind that this is against a $2500 combination.
The CAL Icon is notable for its detail and musicality. With the Sennheisers, some recordings can become irratiatingly detailed--how many times must the klutz cellist bang his stand with the bow? How many times can you goof turning a page? But beyond the errors that are painfully apparent on less than perfect recordings, the CAL has an x-ray quality. If you want to pick out the oboe part in a symphony, and just concentrate on that, you can. I've never heard a player that can reproduce so much exacting analysis. The grain and composition of the music are readily apparrent.

Overall, the CAL is a clear 5 star product. For around 300 dollars, it is a bargain. Some could call the sound analytical, perhaps excessively so. But it is not a digital harshness, but merely a refreshingly precise accuracy. The Icon deserves an audition against any of the products in its class. I think that it is a player of surpassing musicality and accuracy, a good choice for any system. But especially, for classical music, it shines.


OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Nate   Audio Enthusiast [Dec 31, 2000]
Strength:

Dynamics, clarity, almost grain-free

Weakness:

Almost grain-free

I've owned my Icon since 4/90. I've been delighted with this CD player from the first day, originally comparing it to an Adcom CGD-575. I enjoyed the machine so much, and wanted to keep it, so a couple years ago I sent it back to CAL for a significant upgrade, going to the Power Boss HDCD upgrade, which while costly was worth every penny. It significantly opens up and smooths out the Icon without taking away any of the dynamics. A winner, that has been dead reliable!

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
J Hughes   Audio Enthusiast [Jul 14, 2000]
Strength:

Great value, full rich sound, feature rich (if you can figure them out)

Weakness:

poor quality, confusing interface, poor error correction, throws off quite a bit of RF noise

I think/hope I'm the exception but, if there were a lemon law for electroincs equipment - I would have a case here. When I purchased the CD player around 1991, I paid about $1100(US). Since that time I've had the player in for service 4 times for a total bill of about $800! It still did not work properly. (Yes, I've since replaced it with a Krell). Some of the the problems may be the dealers (Golden Gramaphone, Akron OH) fault, they serviced it twice (@$120 ea.) and sent it back to the manufacturer the other two times. When I demonstrated the unit still had problems even after repeated service, they basically blew me off and said I would be charged for the next service request despite the fact the problem was never fixed in the first place.

Major problem - skips/locks up with the slightest blemish on a CD. (e.g. my walkman CD player can play the CD but the CAL can not.) Over the course of its two trips to California for service, I understand most of the internals of the device were replaced yet that did not seem to make a difference.

I always thought the Icon was a great value with a unique price point - I just hope the ICON II improved the units reliablility.

Similar Products Used: Krell KAV-250, NAD C540
OVERALL
RATING
2
VALUE
RATING
4
Showing 1-8 of 8  

(C) Copyright 1996-2018. All Rights Reserved.

audioreview.com and the ConsumerReview Network are business units of Invenda Corporation

Other Web Sites in the ConsumerReview Network:

mtbr.com | roadbikereview.com | carreview.com | photographyreview.com | audioreview.com