Originally Posted by powerslave
Thanks Ironmine. I've been using mostly bypass though and it still sounds forward. I switched out my pico and threw in an old hotaudio amp which is much warmer and that seems to help. I think I've found that if i keep the volume slightly lower then usual that it engages me a bit more. At higher volumes, it just sounds overpowering to me. Still though, it's only been a few days so maybe i just need to get used to the sound signature.
FWIW, we compared the Stello to a Benchmark through my GS-1 at the last NY meet and were not able to tell the difference between the two under meet conditions.
Also, the Stello's USB implementation is inferior to its optical or coaxial implementations. But you want a relatively "good" card not a real cheap one if you go that route.
The people who listened at the meet preferred the USB implementation from a "Thingee" to that of the Stello, so that is another way to get the sound out of your computer and into the Stello either optically or coaxially. (The Trends UD 10.1 is probably just as good but I haven't tried it.)
I also compared the optical implementation of the USB Thingee to the optical implementation from one of the Shuttle computers I built and was not able to detect a jnd. In one of my comparison sessions I gave the edge to the Thingee, maybe.
I've found that the "192" mode brings the treble and vocals forward flattening the depth of the soundstage and diminishing the bass. Try it yourself. The Stello manual states that it is only useful for some types of music, as you've already noticed.
In addition to sounding like a Benchmark, it also sounds like a Neko, which means it's a very neutral DAC.