Donald North Audio Stellaris - The Experience

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by purr1n, Sep 19, 2022.

  1. Maven86

    Maven86 Almost "Made"

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    Appreciate the impressions. In this case, I'd guess the DACs would probably matter. But if it's something you really had to think about before noticing, I get the impression that the differences in macro are not significant enough to matter in the grand scheme of things.
     
  2. Erroneous

    Erroneous Friend

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    The differences in presentation are big enough to matter in the grand scheme of things. If you want it straight, no chaser but with a big ass head stage then choose recent Eddie Current. If you want a bit of romance with a big ass head stage then choose classic Eddie Current. If you want a romantic presentation but don't need the massive head stage and prefer realism mixed with a side of sexiness then Donald is your man.

    None of this is bad. When you're playing with these amps you're at the stage of matching your preferences with your gear. You're not trying to climb the mountain, you did that shit awhile back. You're just trying to make the best match you can to achieve the sound you want.

    If the dacs don't matter at this point, you dun fucked up because your stack is fucked and you lose. Everything should be totally transparent and you should have long ago killed the weak links in your chain.

    Honestly, source first and if your source is fucked then your chain is as well. But a chain is only as strong as its weakest link and at this point in the journey if you haven't addressed the rest then why are you here?

    Anyway Maven none of this applies to you because you are at least a level 97 Wizard and this is mostly for the people who need the scoop.
     
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  3. KenAR

    KenAR Rando

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    Not quite, the AN OPT are located inside the chassis as they are not as large as the Stellaris AN OPT.

    The V4 Stratus does have the AN OPT along with the Deuland caps, and is still called a Stratus as denoted by the new serial sequence shown in this pic:
     

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  4. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Holy crap. Going to ask Donald about this. A full tilt Stellaris would be too much consider how little use it would get. A mini-Stellaris maybe.
     
  5. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    ^ This. So well said. The reason is that a lot of folks have climbed the mountain and don't realize it, still chasing up, rather than settling in.

    I love this. I'm source first and have been for a while. This seems contradictory with the often "transducer-first" advice I give, but this is another topic for another time. I plan to start on a thread on this. Maybe tonight.
     
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  6. Riotvan

    Riotvan Got lost for three weeks at Delft City Hall

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    Would be an interesting thread, for me it’s a ying yang situation. Both matter. If one is weak the other will let you know.
     
  7. JeremiahS

    JeremiahS Facebook Friend

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    Thanks for the impressions @purr1n and others... I am looking at tube amp too and am always interested in DNA amps because of how cute the amps look. However I am just a bit worried it will not show its true strengths if we are predominantly a planar headphone user. I wonder if we can request some modification to better play with planar headphones?

    Finding an amp that plays well to the strengths of planar headphone is not easy. Ultrasonic Oblivion showed some interesting promise with planar headphones but I'm not sure if it's a true classical tube amp because it sounded 70% like a solid state amp with fast attack and big dynamics but the way it shows extra large staging and imaging is definitely a tube amp thing.
     
  8. wbass

    wbass Almost "Made"

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    FWIW, my LCD-2F is just okay through the Starlett. It seems to much prefer solid-state. As reported in the ortho thread.
     
  9. Maven86

    Maven86 Almost "Made"

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    Straight truth, couldn't agree more about the DAC business. It's an opinion I've heard more often when asked privately but it's good to see it out in the open.

    I realize my statement was vague and I could have done better with providing context. I didn't mean to imply that there probably weren't noticeable qualitative differences in macro between the rigs and that swapping DAC's wouldn't have mattered. It was more along the lines of thinking "even when paired with the Holo 2 VS May, I don't get the impression that he felt like macro was lacking on the Stellaris S to the point where it started to affect his enjoyment of the music (in absolute terms)." Maybe things would have been much better with the May, in fact, I'd take that wager... but even with the Holo 2 macro didn't seem to be a concern that stood out.

    Your last line gave me a laugh because it made me feel like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. It 1000% applies to me. Lately I've been spending too much time building down stream when I probably should take a few steps back and figure out what to do with that beaver dam in the middle of the chain. Thanks for the insight.
     
  10. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    My Final Audio D8000 Pro (a relatively "easy" planar load) does not really synergize that well with a Yggdrasil OGg> Starlett chain (not that it is "bad"). However (just speculating) the Stratus and Stellaris are significantly more powerful then the Starlett, and my provide the current some planars need
     
  11. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

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    I'm not the betting type, or I'd take you up on that DAC wager. With the HQPlayer setup I use, for my typical music selections, the difference between Spring 2 and May is there but not what I'd call "much better." It's more that Spring 2 accentuates Stellaris romanticism, but not over the top for me, while May keeps things a bit more straight. The subjective problem is that the two locations are quite different in mood for non-audio reasons, so my "acceptance" of Spring 2 with Stellaris may be to some extent environment rather than absolute attributes. The other factor is that most of my headphone music selections are more chamber-like than arena rock or Mahler's 9th. Micro and timbre are in charge way more than macro.
     
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    Last edited: Sep 21, 2022
  12. bigjako

    bigjako Rando

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    I bit the bullet and am putting down the deposit on a V4 Stratus. I asked Donald about the differences between the V4 Stratus and the Stellaris and, with his permission, will post it below:

    "The idea behind the current V4 Stratus was to bring it a couple steps closer in performance to the Stellaris by using Audio Note output transformers and Duelund coupling caps. The Stellaris with its larger transformers and higher spec components has more authority and effortlessness, greater layering and resolution."
     
  13. Lycos

    Lycos Acquaintance

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    Can Stellaris drive Susv ?

    I had Stratus order before but cancelled it after few ppl in diff forum said it cant drive susv. Curious if its bigger brother can
     
  14. Polygonhell

    Polygonhell Acquaintance

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    It’s not that it can’t get the Susvara loud, or even that it sounds bad, it’s just not a great pairing with it.
    I have a Susvara, and a V3 stratus, and it isn’t a combination I choose to listen to, and that applies to the other “hard to drive” planars I own, the 1266 and the new Raal transformer box.
    It’s a much better match with headphones like the Utopia ( which it has amazing synergy with ) or the Mysphere 3.1’s.
    I love my stratus, but when I was heavily enamored with top tier planars it didn’t get a lot of use.
    D8KPro works very well of it though.
     
  15. Empyah

    Empyah Facebook Friend

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    My Studio Junior with 2A3 tubes (same as Studio B, different chassis) plays wonderful with planars, LCD 2.2pf, Ether 2 and HE500 all sounded exquisite, makes even an HE6 sing at 3 o'clock. Seems to provide enough current for everything except the HE6 where it leaves bass potential on the table compared to my XA25, but not much.
     
  16. wbass

    wbass Almost "Made"

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    What tubes does your Studio Jr run? Mine's a 300B amp. For whatever reason, I find that it's a little bloomy and loose with my LCD-F. I prefer a solid-state amp for those, particularly the BHA-1. But I even liked the LGX better than the Studio Jr. with my Audeze, and I generally ended up not loving the LGX.

    (For Utopia and HD800, the Studio Jr. is next level for me.)

    I've not really tried the HE6(SE) with the Studio Jr, but my pair has always responded better to more power. I'd be curious to hear the HiFiMan on an amp like the XA25. I thought a pair of Aegirs would be a gangbusters set-up for the HE6SE, but, weirdly, I've gotten my best results with a humble Peachtree Decco2. Go figure.

    Btw, in no way meaning to contradict your findings. Just curious about what others have found.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2022
  17. Empyah

    Empyah Facebook Friend

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    It runs 2A3's as stated, less bloomy, more natural, could not find anything wrong - on the contrary, my orthos sounded sublime on it. Agree with Utopia, HD800 and Verite being next level.
     
  18. fluxbat

    fluxbat Rando

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    I think with the Stellaris it comes down to the type of music and difficulty of headphone as to how it works with planars. I mostly listen to acoustic instrumentals, jazz, rock, classical and international. With Audeze 3f and Diana V2 there is no difficulty at all at moderate volume to high volume, though mostly moderate. I primarily listen via ZMF Verité open but find little difference in ability between the 3. Very different sound signature but nothing I would attribute to lack of power.
    After all of the comments on the pairing of more difficult phones like Susvara or Abysss 1266 it is unlikely I will ever try them with the Stellaris, mostly due to the price of admission.
    If your preference in music runs to moderate volume material with some peaks I would not discount the Stellaris. Really wonderful amp.
     
  19. wbass

    wbass Almost "Made"

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    Ah, right on, not sure how I missed the tube type.

    I guess my experience or observation or whatever is that the big boy EC and DNA amps work fine with my planars, but that I get better results with them, personally, with solid-state amps. So, I wouldn't personally get a high-end tube amp to maximize a pair of Audeze, etc. But I would for dynamics, no question.

    In other words, I found it fruitful to trial SS amps. Cool to hear other people's experiences, whichever way.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2022
  20. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

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    NOS Sylvania 6BK7B input tube beats stock 6N1P in dynamics and enlivens the stock 2A3s (HQP DSD256>Spring 2>Stellaris Special>Atrium LTD koa). The tube likely needs a bit of burn-in, but the overall impression is very good, percussion has a bit more edge and punch (kick drums rule).
     

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