Icon Audio’s Heart of Glass

22nd September 2016

Based in Leicester, England, Icon Audio is famed for its wide variety of valve-based amplifiers that offer a great balance between performance and price. The company is also known for its successful exploitation of Chinese facilities and for its repair policy which means that all of their products are ‘infinitely repairable’ while it also provides a repair service (or, at the very least, advice) for antique hi-fi. Paul Rigby visited the company and produced the most in-depth and thorough profile of the company thus far.

In this first part of the interview, Paul Rigby talks to owner/designer, David Shaw, about his very early days with sound and technology and the learning process of hi-fi and business.


Icon Audio’s Workshop


In part two, David Shaw describes his first serious encounter with a restored Leak amplifier, featuring an upgraded pre-amp, his first forays into China, the launch of his first product, the Stereo 40 amplifier and why valves are the centre of his products.


Stereo ST30SE Amplifier

HP8 Mk.II Headphone Amplifier



PS3 Mk.II Phono Amplifier


In this part? The eye-opening problems of working with China and the stark cultural differences that influence those problems.


Testing valves


Setting up premises in China, why other companies succeed and fail in China, piracy and how to tackle it (or not), Icon Audio’s fight against the ‘throwaway society’ and their repair policy.


David Shaw and the enormous GM100 valve which, so I hear, will form part of a future project. ¡Ay, caramba!


Icon Audio’s prices are notoriously low for what you get. Why?



PS3 Mk.II Phono Amplifier


David Shaw explains why valves are made for vinyl play, notes on the Icon Audio valve phono amplifiers, the new Stereo 30 amplifier using the KT150 valve and the massive MB81 power amplifiers using GU81 transmitter valves.


Adrian Feary, Office Manager and friend

Talking to Office Manager, Adrian Feary about how Icon Audio offers an infinitely repairable product service but also provides a repair service for a broad range of antique hi-fi components outside of the Icon Audio brand.



Icon Audio’s Chief Engineer, Eric Kolakausks



MB81 Power Amplifier (above and below)