Icon Audio BA3 Buffer Amplifier
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Icon Audio BA3 Buffer Amplifier

  (3 Reviews)
£624.17 Exc. VAT |  |


Icon Audio BA3 Buffer Amplifier

Designed for transistor amplifiers where some valve “warmth and colour “is required

Our New BA3 buffer amplifier comes in a “one box” configuration for more convenient positioning.

Not everyone is willing or able to change to valve amplifiers. But many hi fi fans find their system can sound too harsh and tiring to listen to for long periods of time. Our BA3 is designed to fit between any two units of hi fi and will insert some “warmth and colour” making your hi fi system more pleasant to listen to.

Although Valves and Solid State amplifiers both do the same job, they do it differently, microchips are excellent for digital circuits, valves are increasingly recognised as having musical qualities that are impossible to “see” in specification or measurement.

A “buffer” amplifier does not amplify the signal voltage, but increases its strength (or current). In the process of passing the signal through a vacuum tube, subtle changes are made to its nature, which many people perceive as an improvement.

Hi Fi has now reached a level where enthusiasts can detect the tiny improvements of power conditioning, cables, interconnects etc, and of course the difference between transistors and valves.
So it follows that an all valve, triode, Class A buffer stage can add something that you may be missing!

It may be connected for example between a CD player and amplifier, or between a pre and power amplifier. It is also extremely effective at reducing the loss of long connecting cables. E.G:

All cables have high frequency loss, even exotic interconnects can have a relatively large capacitance per meter, so a 10 m cable will absorb 10 times more high frequency detail than a one meter length. So if the output impedance of your preamp is not as good as it could be, you will lose vital high frequency detail. It is not a question of amplification but of “muscle” to make sure that no detail is lost on the way through your interconnects.

An inexpensive way of adding some valve magic into your system whilst keeping you existing equipment.


6SN7s have a reputation for a very long life, inexpensive and easily replaceable there is new production and lots of “old stock” to experiment with. 

The oversized PS1/BA3 power supply has a substantial mains transformer and is choke regulated to smooth conditioned power. As with all Icon products we strive for the best sonic performance, this demands hard wiring “point to point”. The audio cable is Silver Teflon. Using only top quality audio grade full size components. The chassis uses a combination of Anodised alloy plate and polished stainless steel. This gives a beautiful finish and very solid feel, which also has sonic non-magnetic and dampening qualities. Despite its small size it weighs in at 5kg.  

The BA 3 would normally be connected between the output of your source unit (e.g. CD player), or between the output of a pre-amplifier and a power-amp. Alternatively the “record loop” of an integrated amplifier may be used.  

The simple triode design coupled with the superb characteristics of the 6SN7 valve will enrich the harmonic detail of your system adding a new dimension to the sound of any musical instrument. Your system will immediately have a richer, warmer, more textured sound. But the BA 3’s wide bandwidth and low distortion ensure that nothing is detracted from the purity of your system. There will be no loss of information, a glance at the frequency response and distortion will confirm the excellence.


Specifications and Features:

•  Comprehensive manual supplied
•  Full instructions for valve change included
•  All hand wired point to point
•  No printed circuit board to ‘colour’ sound
•  Class A, all Triode circuit
•  Very low output impedance of 180Ω
•  2x EH 6SN7 super double triodes
•  Gain = 0.96
•  Maximum output= 30v
•  Ideal for any input from 50mv to 20v
•  Signal to noise level -90db
•  Freq response better than 10hz to 100khz –0.1db
•  Total harmonic distortion typically less than 0.1% 1khz
•  Japanese steel EI transformers with low oxygen copper
•  Slim profile design
•  High quality 2W metal film, & wire-wound resistors
•  Blue LED mains indicator
•  Polypropylene audio capacitors
•  Silver PTFE audio cable
•  Ceramic valve holders for minimum leakage
•  Gold plated Input & output terminals
•  One line input/line output
•  225/240volts 50 watts.
•  C E, ROHS and WEEE compliant where applicable.
•  W11cm, D35 cm, H14.8 H (inc valves),
•  PSU W10cm, D20cm, H10cm. Packed Weight= 5kg






Average Rating (3 Reviews):  
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A lot of quality for the money
05 July 2021  | 

You’ll find a lot of hot debate about tube buffers online. But from my personal experience with the ICON AUDIO BA3 this unit has performed impressively well in several different system configurations I have tried it in.

Quality of the build is very high and the unit is black background quiet in my system.

It is extremely transparent. And making the ironically bigger audio improvements in some of the more modest quality SS component configurations I’ve tried it in to my ears.

And in the better SS component configurations it still added that last 5% life, dimensionality, depth and separation some quality tube gear is known for.

But like most things your mileage may vary. And the effects of this unit can be very subtle at times much depending on your setup.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful.

Icon Audio BA3 Valve Buffer
06 July 2017  | 

I use the Icon Audio BA3 Valve Buffer between my CD CD-player/DAC and transistor integrated amp, and I have got the change in sound that I was searching for. A little bit more warmth and a little bit more organic sound.

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12 of 12 people found this review helpful.

Buffer as Buffer
30 December 2016  | 

Did I purchase an Icon BA3 to add the magic of valves? No. I bought it as it says on the tin as a buffer to ensure that a recently purchased valve preamp interfaces properly with my solid state power amp. Did it work? Yes. The issues with impedance mismatch went away and also allowed me to add some attenuators to on the pre-amp out reducing the noise floor. Worth a try if you have issues to resolve in this area, but no doubt the results will be system specific as they always are.

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7 of 12 people found this review helpful.

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