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Stello DA100 (show-off/impressions thread) - Page 2

post #16 of 496
MaloS, how does it compare to your EMU 0404 USB? (Btw, the EMU has an AKM4396, but I'm sure the Stello has better circuitry and a much better buffer stage.)
post #17 of 496
Darnit you beat me to it. My DA100 is arriving on Monday.

Off to fedex.com to check where it is now..
post #18 of 496
Originally Posted by jules650 View Post
Off to fedex.com to check where it is now..
It's at Stansted.

post #19 of 496
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by dizzyorange View Post
MaloS, how does it compare to your EMU 0404 USB? (Btw, the EMU has an AKM4396, but I'm sure the Stello has better circuitry and a much better buffer stage.)
I do not own 0404, i have a 1616 (which is better than 0404). Stello DAC has much more musical nature to it, and is more detailed. Frankly the main advantage that anyone will notice immediately when going to Stello is the non-harsh tonality and very nice PRAT. Detail comes out on well-recorded tracks, and plenty of it too.

And the fact that e-mus use a higher # chip does not mean its better ;-). I am under impression that the akm4395 is a better chip but 4396 has support for 32 bit input.
post #20 of 496
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by jules650 View Post
It's at Stansted.

Mine came in perfectly timed, same day as new set of ICs and my Millet came in the day before =].
post #21 of 496
Is the Stello available for less than the retail price anywhere?
post #22 of 496
Keep an eye out on Audiogon, every once and a while you can get a real steal
post #23 of 496
Originally Posted by Iron_Dreamer View Post
Keep an eye out on Audiogon, every once and a while you can get a real steal
Lucky bastard

If you guys have got pictures, please post them!
post #24 of 496
Thread Starter 
How about you come to Davis and get a personal acquaintance with it? ^.^
post #25 of 496
I guess you didn't see the ones I put in my review, like this:

Actually, my next DAC to check out is the Apogee. I've heard it briefly at meets, but nothing's like having it at your beck and call. Especially when, as Bob Barker would say, "the price is right."
post #26 of 496
Chris. It is a power amp not a psu. As in setup would be as follows:

Stello DA100 -> Preamp (hp100 is good pairing) -> Stello S100 -> Speakers.
Chris was talking about my setup. I ordered S100 with DA100 as I liked its form factor for my room setup. I have heard very good things about it from my friends. It uses topology used in award winning Stello M220 mono-block, which is said to give tube like sound with ample power.
post #27 of 496
My Stello DA100

Here are some pics!

Internal view

Power supply section

Dac Chips

Digital filter and discrete output

post #28 of 496
My Take on DA100

The unit

April Music sent it to me very nicely packed via DHL. There was a well written manual, USB cable and a better power cable. Surprise! It contained a little Allen key tool to open the case if someone wants to peek inside.
Its build quality is excellent. It is heavy due to the fact enclosure being steel!!. Budget DAC! Face plate is aluminium though. It has a very nice feel and 1/2 size of a full rack component in width! Idea being keeping two components side by side if one has full sized components and a RACK.
I should say for a home component it is miniature in size. Space saving if is is used as a desktop component. Nice touch!! If it was combined with headamp/preamp HP100 it gives a nice desktop stack as headroom stack.

Dac has power switch, upsampling selector, and input selector. It has a green LED as a signal locking indicator. All the plugs and connectors have nice feel and good build quality.

The topology of the DAC has few distinct features. Its USB receiving chip is BB PCM 2704. So USB receiving capability is limited to 16bit 48KHz stream!! And its USB 1.1!

Power supply section is impressive. It has 2 10000UF 50V tank capacitors! Some Korean brand! Samyong!! I am itching to swap them Panasonic HA ones. But it is clearly mentioned in the manual doing so, makes 5 year warranty void. So no modding for this! 5 year warranty seems to be too precious thing to loose for stupid mods. Power supply section has 5 voltage regulator chips. The ones with heat sinks, are LM317 series and gets very hot. Nice toroidal transformer. Dac section has two dac chips for each channel and the upsampling circuitry.

Impressively , it has a 6th order digital filter section including four NE5532 chips and one OPA2604 chip. I don't think swapping them will have any effect on sound as they serve as digital noise filters.

The most important part is the discrete output stage. It consists of high quality wima capacitors and transistors. Output stage is biased class A, so again it generates lot of heat. It doesn't have headphone amp stage. HP100 gives that functionality as a separate class A discrete amp/preamp. For DA100, being a budget product, APRIL music has done well in keeping output buffer as a discrete circuit. It really does have a huge effect on the SQ. As most dacs waste parts, space and money on a sub-standard headphone out section. DA100 has done well to reserve that space for a high end discrete output buffer.
All the components and PCB are of top quality. Only grudge I have is the brand of power capacitors. I would have been more reassured if they were low impedance HIGH ESR caps like Panasonic HA!
APRIL MUSIC has retained the same topology found in their award winner DA220 in DA100!! They have served budget users very well doing so with this sub 1000$ DAC.

Operation and connectivity

Its functions are pretty basic. Input selector allows to choose 1 AUX line, 2 optical lines and one USB input. It has unbalanced output only. Upsampling switch convert any input digital to output stream of 24Bit 192kHz stream! when I used upsampling function output signal was more refined with extended dynamics.

Sound quality

Frequency and sonic qualities

DA100 has essentially a flat neutral response. It is not bright and upfront compared to MD10 I used to have. Bass is deep and accurate. The deepest bass notes, I heard with my HD650 to date! It combines with my GS-1 very well to bring punchy bass. Mids are sweet and female voices seem to be correctly reproduced. Trebles do extend well without any sibilance.
Timbre and tonal accuracy is pretty impressive. The sound is not unduly analytical. It has some musical quality and does not fatigue on long standing listening. Recently I auditioned one of my friends DA-10. I didn’t like the sound very much as on long hours of listening it used to give kind of fatigue mainly due to being too analytical. DA100 has right combination of being musical without being unduly analytical.

Timing and Dynamics

Both attack and decay across the spectrum pretty impressive. The attack and thump in low bass notes were very impressive and beyond the capabilities of MD10. It shows how good my GS-1 is, when it comes to reproduce quality and fast bass and trebles. The control of dynamics is good and it reproduced most difficult passages of music without any cluttering and distortion.


DA100 is very detailed but not overly detailed as I already told. It has very wide soundstage and spatial layering of music. I can feel air between performers and most impressively music genres like heavy metal or jazz do not seem to be congested. Even bass notes are well separated to discern multiple sources generating low end notes.

Sweet sound and really high end sound for budget users!

April Music produced really quality DAC both soundwise and quality wise! It not not very surprising they are giving 5 years warranty for this unit.

A special line should be written for CHRISTINE of April Music. She promptly responded to all the queries and was most helpful in speedy shipping of the unit even when they were short of one part. Wonderful person! According to her April Music is going to organize its distribution network more. But there may be price hike of the unit in near future too according to 3rd party source known to April Music.

Compared to MD10, DA100 is certainly an improvement. But improvement is not twice more as the price does. The diminishing return rule applies here. But I think DA100 can give head on fight to more expensive DAcs such as Lavry D10. I can safely say it is one of the best sub 1000$ DAC available even surpassing more costly DACs above 1000$ Real value for money. Well done APRIL MUSIC!

DA100 has got recognition of few professional reviewers too.

The Absolute Sound

Few words should be said about s100 power amp too. Its topology is based on M200 mono block amp.


M200 is known for its pure tube like sound quality. S100 although it produces 50W per channel gives clean performance with impressive bass and clarity. I am very impressed with its size and capability of producing real high end sound. Certainly a miniature M200 with single ended output.
post #29 of 496
Thread Starter 
Excellent take, agree with it perfectly. It has an effortlessness in its sound which is magical, and it reproduces vocals with such fervor that I only expected from Audio-Technica headphones before.
And treble is really lot of fun because it does not hurt (anyone think about how intro of Pink Floyd - Time sounds on brighter setups? paaaaaain).

Cheers, it took this DAC about 2 days to make it into the list of my favorite Audio components.

I must note also. My computer has a ridiculous issue with jitter, which frankly forced me to abandon the Micro DAC. I started looking at various options including going optical, but I did not like the idea of another USB device sticking out of my computer just to have an optical connection to a DAC. Frankly, Stello resolved the issue entirely. It is dead quiet even though the leaking of the jitter through the Micro DAC would drive me entirely nuts on quieter songs.
post #30 of 496
With such high praise of the DA100 in this thread, I may never find a DA100 seller on these forums
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