**Original DNA thread here. While that thread has some good posts and good information, now that there are more DNA amps out there with various models, I feel that specific impressions threads based on model are warranted to help organize some posts and keep signal-to-noise ratio high. My original post on the prototype Starlett can be found here, with some more pictures of my personal Starlett here. For more information on the Starlett, it is best to peruse @Donald North's website here.** From memory of having the prototype, literally nothing has changed sonically from the prototype to the production unit I have sitting on my desk, despite slightly different branded output tube on the production Starlett. And I have no problems with that; it's a damn good amplifier, and I daresay that it's one of the finest amplifiers for dynamic driver headphones. I'll mostly refer people back to the link to my impressions of the prototype amp above, but I'll summarize some points here. The Starlett is mostly neutral, slightly wet-sounding (wetter than EC/ECP stuff), has great macro and micro-dynamics while maintaining an easy-going, gentle presentation. It has quite a large stage, but feels natural with good depth. Extension on both ends is very good (I don't feel it's limiting any dynamic headphone in any way). Transients are quick, rounded in attack, with seductive decay. Biggest strengths are in its timbre (slightly wet, very smooth, very Donald North), sonic texture (something the Euforia is kind of epically bad at), and in its ability to separate and layer sounds while still sounding cohesive. Much more of a generalist than Euforia (which is a specialist to the extreme). I'd rate this amp as better than Euforia overall. What I'll focus on more here are specific headphone pairings. I'll update this post accordingly when Verite arrives if I remember (this is going to hold true if I get sent a headphone for a loaner, or buy some new headphone). In no particular order: ZMF Auteur: Tied with Verite as my favorite pairing with this amp. In my opinion, the ZDT Jr sounds a little wetter and doesn't come close in the technicalities department (this is with the green-labled JAN tubes in the front), the Euforia is too rich and loses in layering and tonal balance. Timbre with Auteur + Starlett is very nice (obviously still ZMF timbre), layering in mids and treble are top-class, and really shows off the resolving ability and overall prowess of the Auteur. Transients are well-defined with pleasing roundness in the attacks. This is the amp that made me feel that the Auteur might be slightly underrated in terms of its technical ability; this combo is musical and technical in ways that hit my fancy. ZMF Verite: Insane levels of separation and layering, yet maintains cohesiveness in stage and instruments. Plankton and little details are finely defined. Verite timbre + Starlett timbre is richer and yet not as "liquid" or wet as Auteur (my guess is that this is due to Auteur having a significant degree of 2nd order harmonics in its sound, whereas the Verite naturally has a rich timbre that isn't shown via measurements). Really fills out the depth of the Verite's stage. Gentle presentation of Starlett does not interfere with Verite's speed, but transients are definitely rounded with superb microdynamics. Also, more athletic and dynamic than Auteur pairing (Auteur is more gentle and rounded). Tucks at the heartstrings; hard for me to fairly say if Auteur or Verite is more emotionally involving on Starlett. Vastly different presentations, although Verite is technically superior. Toss up whether I choose this or Auteur for listening. ZMF Verite Closed: Essentially the same as above, with slight differences. Treble might have been a touch smoother, and female vocals clearly recessed in comparison. Reverb effect, which is present on the Verite, is very obvious on the Verite Closed. However, still very much a Verite; worthy of consideration and praise. Sennheiser HD 6XX: Not far behind the Auteur. It doesn't quite have that "magic pixie dust" that the Euforia has with the 6XX, but it's synergistic in different ways. The Starlett does seem to have better control over the driver and allows you to hear just how much the 6XX can resolve; layering ability is on par with the Auteur, transients are maybe just a touch behind, and the familiar 'greyground' is still present on 6XX with Starlett (it's not as present on Euforia). Timbre seems more accurate with Starlett. I got to admit that I like the Euforia with the 6XX a bit better because of the smoke and mirrors effect that amp has with this headphone, but I think the synergy factor here is equal between both amps. With the Starlett, I don't have the urge to go move the Euforia from its place in the turntable/speaker system to my desk for my headphones. Toss up really. JAR HD 650: Essentially the same as the 6XX, but improved or the same across the board. A little blacker, more controlled, and slightly smoothed out. Most notable difference is bass; somewhat tighter and more controlled, with more extension surprisingly enough. Very good synergy; it's very apparent Euforia is different with much different vision when using either the JAR HD 650 or the HD 6XX. Interestingly, with the JAR I preferred Starlett. Focal Clear: Similar story to HD 6XX above. The Starlett surprisingly does a good job in getting rid of some of the metallic timbre and blunting the sharp transients of the Clear. Once again, very good resolving prowess, and fleshes the timbre just a bit. Compared to Euforia, once again doesn't have the magic sound, but the Starlett is better in most technical ways. WIth the Clear, I prefer the Euforia, probably because the Clear has always sounded a touch lean to me and the Euforia's bloom and warmth do a lot to fix that. The Starlett plays things pretty straight, but still does let the Clear shine. Focal Utopia: The Clear+ analogy I alluded to in my impressions on the Utopia thread applies here. The Starlett doesn't hold anything back in terms of technicalities and allows the Utopia to truly shine. Just rounds the transients a touch, and gets rid of some of that metallic timbre while adding just a touch of that tube magic and bloom. Won't really touch the tonality, so if you find Utopia too bright the Starlett isn't going to fix that. However, extremely synergistic and in my opinion endgame-worthy. I prefer the Starlett + Utopia over Euforia + Utopia (yes, the opposite for the Clear. Funny how that worked out). The Utopia + Starlett belongs in the same echelon as the Auteur and Verite for my tastes, and finds itself in the regular rotation with Auteur and Verite. Thinksound On2: Shocking. To be clear, these don't have the resolving power of the HD 6XX, nor are these anywhere close to neutral. Vocals are forward (can be almost piercing), lots of mid bass, and some extra sparkle in the treble (with some treble roughness present), but remains engaging with Starlett. However, the Starlett is clearly a bad match in terms of a gain/power standpoint; the On2 is meant to be an efficient portable. I'm using the low impedance out with the gain on low, and I can't move the dial past 1 without killing my hearing. AKG K7XX: Wasn't sure how these would get along since this headphone seems to synergize randomly with certain amps. With Starlett, despite the K7XX's airy presentation, can still hear its resolve and decently good at layering mids. I'm beginning to feel that this headphone just sounds a bit disjointed in sound to me. Something about it just doesn't draw me in from the bass to mids presentation. Hifiman HE560: I paired these for shits and giggles. I'll have to take a second listen and compare it to Asgard 3 when it comes back, but actually not nearly as bad as you'd think. Compared to Lyr 3, a little wetter, but better technicalities and strangely does NOT sound underpowered. The Starlett really isn't meant to power planars and doesn't output that much power, so I'm curious as to how much of this is due to the fact that the HE560 is just not that hard to drive compared to other Hifimans. Rosson Audio RAD-0: Efficient planar, so Starlett has no problems driving. Very good resolve almost on par with Utopia. Tonality is overall neutral, with one or two minor treble peaks. Transients are quick and hits decently hard, hits harder with simple Marv mod. If you like the Audeze tonality this is like that but with none of the B or C grade shit timbre and inconsistent manufacturing. Worthy of consideration even against the ZMFs and Utopia. Verum 1: The Verum 1's very low impedance seems like it would be a poor match for the Starlett unless used SE with the gain switch on low, which turns the output impedance down a bit (I think down to 6 ohms?). However, I actually liked the Verum 1 on the high gain, low Z out or the XLR balanced out. Touch of looseness present in the lowest of bass notes (probably because the damping just isn't as good), but music sounds more lively and the drum hits really stand out. DNA character imparted through the Verum for better or worse. Actually a big fan; not far behind RAD-0 and I prefer this to HE560. It should be noted that on the HD 6XX, Auteur, and Verite, I used the IEC setting (120 Ohms). For all other headphones I used the low Z output or the XLR output, which is 9 Ohms. I experimented with both settings with the high impedance headphones and I find the IEC sounds better to my ears. Low impedance headphones obviously sound better with the low output z. I did not notice any difference in sound quality using SE or XLR in balanced drive mode (you can toggle balanced or unbalanced drive through the XLR with a switch, and the balanced drive sounds slightly better to me. The balanced drive XLR is equivalent to the SE out to my ears, so I just use the amp SE). My opinion of this amp hasn't changed since the prototype; I still love it and acknowledge that a large portion of this is that it fits my sonic preferences quite well, especially when paired with Auteur. That being said, it's performance is top-tier no matter how you spin it, so if you like tubes and like the DNA presentation (a touch gentle, slightly wet, mids and treble focused), I'd recommend giving this a try. Endnote: I admit that I've been quite the chronic gear-cycler and have gone through a whole bunch of gear, changing stuff in and out as I please. I have since been suitably reminded by @zerodeefex that I should slow down and be happy listening to music. I do plan on sticking with the Starlett and rest of the chain. Lingering curiosity hopefully will be taken care of by loaners, or perhaps I'll wise up and be happy with my stuff. P.S. If you're wondering how this is out this quickly, it's because I had an extended loaner of the prototype where I did spend a lot of time with my headphone stable and taking some notes. I took a listen with each headphone when the production Starlett got here and since nothing changed, there wasn't much of a point in waiting. You'll also note that there's no mention of packaging; that's because I met with @Donald North and funny enough, he didn't receive the packaging stuff yet. Perk of being local. Edit: Potato pic included with a sliver of my right leg for lolz Edit 10/20/2019: Added Verite pairing thoughts. Once again, honeymoon period warning. IEC is preferred when using Verite pads, and actually I prefer this combination. Delivers great slam and immediacy while still being slightly dark, although it needs to be mentioned that I'm just not treble sensitive (but I do prefer sound tilted slightly dark). Final note: this post will be updated as I gain more experience and try more stuff.