DNA Starlett Impressions

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by ChaChaRealSmooth, Sep 27, 2019.

  1. wbass

    wbass Facebook Friend

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    Fellow Starlett owner here. I agree with you about the BF2 being a touch dark in this context. (Though I use it with Utopia and HD800S, so less of an issue for me.)

    Over in the DAC talk thread, I posed similar questions to folks, including about the DACs you list. I was told (I believe) not to go with the Yggdrasil GS, as its SE outs are limited and thus not a huge step up from the BF2. No clue if that's true or not--since ears-on is the only way to know--but I ended up getting an X-Sabre Pro, and I quite like it.

    I'm not a huge fan of the Gungnir Multibit A2, which I also have, at least not SE out. It sounds a bit dull and un-resolving to me, though it has a good, organic tone. Anyway, more comments over in the DAC talk thread. I'll try to find a link.

    Edit: Here it is: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/sbaf-dac-talk-ii.6964/page-48#post-293600
     
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  2. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
  3. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    Willing to accept the gimp RCA outputs from Gunny and Yggdy?

    Edit: purr1n said.
     
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  4. tommytakis

    tommytakis Gear Cycler SoCal Edition

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    My vote would be to the Matrix XSP. If I didn’t obtain the SFD2 recently, I would have paired my starlett with that. XSP helps to reduce the rounded transients and attack when I heard the pairing at the LA meet. XSP stages really well for a DS DAC too. I noticed this even when pairing with my Bryston BHA-1 amp. However, it doesn’t render vocals as smooth as a good R2R DAC, so if you listen to a lot of vocal-oriented music, it might throw you off a bit. There’s a very slight “tizziness” that is noticeable when switching back and forth between the Bifrost 2 and XSP.

    XSP seems to be very synergy dependent as I loved it with the Starlett and Black Widow, but I didn’t like it much with the SW51+ and 3F. Transients were too intense and aggressive, probably too much of a good thing. XSP also made the SW51+ Slightly lean sounding with a need for a bit more body and meat.

    EDIT: this is all based on Filter 3, as Filter 4 helps with the more “meat on the bone” or w/e but it takes a big hit in dynamics so I always ended up switching back to Filter 3.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
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  5. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    I would be using the Jensen transformer, so am not worried about gimped outputs.

    Thanks for the advice all.
     
  6. Phantaminum

    Phantaminum Friend

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    If you decide that the Yggradsil isn't your cup of tea, the Matrix X-Sabre Pro gets another vote from me.

    I ran into the same observation that the BF2 was too much of a good thing when paired with the EC Studio Jr's rounded presentation and Verite. I'm using the non-MQA version and while it sounds better out of the Pi2AES, I'm still jamming out of its USB implementation. Setup this way for work since I need to take MS Team calls for meetings/collaborations while still able to listen to music. Easily found for $1100 used.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
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  7. Gaspasser

    Gaspasser Flatulence Maestro

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    I’ve got two cheaper suggestions. Try BE2 pads or Verite pads on the Verite (I’m assuming your using Universe pads) and/or get a different source like Pi2AES.
    I too thought that Bifrost2 was a little warm. The problem for me was USBRIDGE into Unison was too warm. I sold BF2 and realized the error of my ways and came back to it with Pi2AES and it is pretty balanced sounding now.

    Edit: Also making assumption that Starlett sounds more like Stratus and less like Sonnet 2
     
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  8. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    @ColtMrFire are you on the digital streaming bandwagon yet? I love my CDs but at this point too much stuff digital only nowadays.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
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  9. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Yggdrasil GS or A1 could be the ticket. More than a few folks have remarked on how it was the original neutral sounding Schiit DAC.
     
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  10. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    Verite pads are a no go. They turn the headphone into one I don't care to own, I wont bore people as to why.

    I use a laserdisc transport for CDs (coax), sounds better than Unison, though I admit Unison is a tad more incisive. But the spinner is much better on almost every front and can't be unheard, so I'm not giving it up.
     
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  11. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    Naw. I probably should though. Get out of my bubble and discover new stuff. I'm just too busy these days.
     
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  12. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    [​IMG]


    Best of both worlds, do digital streaming and CD transport. PI2AES doesn't cost an arm/leg.

    Best decision I did was to do both tacos. $1 CDs and all the weeb music that I have on my hard drive streamed into my Starlett.
     
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  13. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    Yeah I love the organic tone of the Schiit multibit so unless I get a loaner XSP I'll probably spring for Yggdrasil.
     
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  14. Gaspasser

    Gaspasser Flatulence Maestro

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    Yeah I did not like Verite pads the best and BE2 pads are the nice middle ground between Universe and Verite. If your LD is less incisive than Unison then that is a big part of problem. Warm transport into warm-ish DAC into warm-ish amp into warm-ish headphones with warm pads. Warmpoo city bro. A1 probably won’t fix your problem long term.
    Seriously, adjust pads (they make solid differences in ZMF land) and get a neutral/bright transport paired with Bifrost 2.
     
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  15. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    I tried the Be2 pads when I had the loaner Verite and didn't really take to them. They were a bit better than Verite pads but the headphone doesn't make sense for me without the Universe pads. The LD is not super warm or anything, its mostly the DAC.
     
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  16. Gaspasser

    Gaspasser Flatulence Maestro

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    I will disagree with you and leave it there. I wish you luck in your endeavor into the warm, Coach Steve.
    2DC7AF7A-22C1-4D75-BB3A-B7895FCF2FDF.png
     
  17. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    *Big Mouth*...*shutters*

    I remember making a Modi 3 go from warm to borderline netural/grainy when it was feeding my THX.

    I made my BF2 slightly less warm when it was also feeding the THX.
     
  18. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    Disagree with me on the fact that I don't care for the Be2 pads and wont use them and am not getting rid of my LD player? Those aren't really up for debate. The Be2 pads aren't kosher for me and I'm not getting rid of a super resolving playback source just because it's a little warmer than Unison.

    Sooo.... the only option is replacing the DAC.
     
  19. RobS

    RobS RobS? More like RobDiarrhea.

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    Colt,

    You've got some solid DACs chosen for the kind of tonality to offset the warmth of the Starlett. If the Bifrost 2 has too much thick density, I'd seriously consider the Matrix X Pro over the rest. I was talking with @tommytakis yesterday and he was saying that going from a Yggdrasil to the Matrix X Pro is going to sound a bit thinner. But with your amp and cans that wont be detrimental. The sharper attacks would also do well to balance the roundness from the Starlett.

    I'm actually in the same boat you are. I've thought about going down to Yggdrasil A1 or Gungnir A2 to have a more neutral R2R sound but if the Matrix X Pro is anything like the ESS DAC in my phone but better in all areas, might be just what I'm looking for in my current speaker system. @ChaChaRealSmooth uses the Matrix with Starlett so hopefully he can share his perspective and give you good advice.

    I too disagree with @Gaspasser , its definitely the DAC. I wouldn't change that LD either, thats up in the top echelon of sources. Pi2AES might be an interesting comparision with your LD since its reported as fairly incisive sounding. I dunno though, I'd take your LD over everything else out there. Now that I think more on this considering you have a Verite, I'm getting surer the Matrix Pro is probably the best way to go. You can find a non-MQA version for around $900 used or the MQA one for $1200. I wouldn't pay more than that. FWIW, YMMV.

    Good luck. Keep us posted on what you decide and how it works in your setup.
     
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  20. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Gearmaster

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    Correct. Starlett is basically a mini-Stratus with different tubes.

    @ColtMrFire is not entirely mad. I can see the point where one would prefer the presentation of Verite with the Universe pads (the spacious, "3D" effect) and be unwilling to compromise on that. This is coming from someone who prefers and uses the Verite pads. YMMV.

    Not sure if you want it, but here goes.

    The X-Sabre Pro's presentation is thoroughly modern: it's all about clean, incisive lines with fast, sharp transients (more incisive than Schiit stuff). On the wrong chain, can be too startling and fatiguing (can be confused with bright). On the right chain, adds athleticism, speed, and squareness. It doesn't have the "tone density" of the Schiit R2R stuff, but it's close; timbre is actually very good.

    Keep in mind the Gungnir A2 is actually a bit cooler in tonality than X-Sabre Pro (unsure about latest Gungnir A2). The Gungnir A2 sounds warmer only because of the R2R "tone density."

    Starlett nicely fleshes out the X-Sabre Pro's timbre and brings some nuance into the transients, making it a great pairing assuming you like the X-Sabre Pro's modern presentation.

    For the record, the Bifrost 2 is too warm for my tastes as well, even when using Starlett with Utopia. And funny enough, I too was looking at Gungnir A2 and Yggdrasil GS, but am not curious enough to buy either of them to see if I like them better (I happen to like my rig and have no real intention of changing anything).
     
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  21. lagadu

    lagadu Acquaintance

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    For my starlett/VO setup the chain I've landed on that I'm extremely happy with is pi2aes > unison gungnir a2 > freya s into the starlett. Reasoning is that the SE output was too soft and mushy, the freya S handling the BAL to SE conversion made it sound a lot sharper, it wasn't a small difference. Having tried a warmer DAC, I really agree that the starlett benefits from a cooler and most importantly: sharper presentation from its upstream.

    Also I'll strongly advise against a holo spring with the starlett, I really didn't like that combo, a couple of the relevant reasons being the tonality and softness (but I'll post about it in the appropriate thread). I've never heard the xsabre so I can't comment on it but based on the description I'm definitely curious about it.

    edit: spoke too soon about the Spring, I had a configuration problem.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2020
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