RMAF report on eXStata!
The eXStata is a great amp, but it was so highly detailed that we could hear jitter (grainy griity in the highs) with the Apple TV on Saturday, which at first was more difficult to pick up with the GES until 3 hours into the meet, making us have to change the transport to a Macbook Pro instead (big improvement). I posted about this in the CanJam @ RMAF impressions thread Saturday.
Although much better with a new transport, it was still a bit bright with my PS Audio Digital Link III, and more suited to the O2 Mk1. Also we think the PSA was overdriving the XLR inputs which we measured on Sunday at 5v @ 60Hz. So on Sunday (today) Bill started the day with a DIY Opus DAC, and that fixed the sound completely. At that point the amp was very good to my ears with O2 Mk1, Jade, SR-404 LE, HE60, Smegma Pros (woody Gamma pro), SR-404 LE, and SR-Lambda normal bias.
Being in a separate rig than the GES on Sunday made it more difficult to compare the amps like we did on Saturday. But on Saturday (with the same source and side by side) we felt the Woo's timbre and tone/Frequency balance was better, but the soundstage and separation was much better with the balanced eXStata (with a little more power too). With the Opus DAC the brightness/thinner sound became more balanced and punchier in the bottom end, and with even more power - enough to tickle your ear drums and make the skin on your face vibrate with O2's. I thought that wiatrob had modded the amp overnight, the improvement was so dramatic!
Today, at the end of the meet, we tried the CullenCircuits modded PS Audio which was better with the eXStata than the stock PSA, but the Opus DAC seemed to have the best synergy with it to me. I picked my PS Audio DLIII initially because it was what I needed to brighten up the dark sounding O2 Mk1 with the GES (after rolling brighter tubes). What works for the GES isn't always the best for the eXStata. I was very impressed with the eXStata by the time we had sorted out all the jitter/synergy issues with the transport and DAC. Even if nothing gets changed in the design, this amp will still be a big hit
, and my understanding is there are still a few things that can be done to make it even better. The listener just needs to remember that with this amp whatever you feed it is VERY important, because it will be so resolving that you will hear any issues - for example it was fairly bad with 192k MP3 files on the Cullen modded DAC owner's PC, and we had to switch to a CD transport to evaluate the amp with the Cullen modded PSA DAC.
It's caused a dilemma for me because I was thinking I would have to sell my GES, WA6, K1000 and RS-1 for a Woo WES, and now maybe all I really need is to add an eXStata (and EHHA for K1000) to what I already own, and just sell the APS V3 RS-1 to cover the cost.