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AMB Audio 4-Channel Sigma/Beta 22 vs. DNAStratus 2AB for Sennheiser HD800s?

Poll Results: AMB Sigma/Beta 22 or DNA Stratus 2A3 for Sennheiser HD800s?

Poll expired: Oct 13, 2012  
  • 44% (8)
    AMB Audio 4-Channel Sigma/Beta 22
  • 55% (10)
    DNA Stratus 2AB
18 Total Votes  
post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Hi,

I started a long thread over in the summit Hifi forum a week or two ago searching for a better HF amp than my current amp which is a Grace Design m903. I was looking at amps between $1,000-$2,500.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/629322/hd800-1-000-2-500-amp-sonic-bliss

8 helpful pages later I have narrowed my search to two amps:

- AMG Audio, 4-channel Sigma/Betta 22 (built by YBM Audio)
- DNA Stratus 2A3

So one is a balanced, solid state amp and the other is a single ended, transformer coupled, balanced output tube amp (using 2A3s). There is a larger audience in this forum, so I thought I would open a poll over here.

Here are my sonic goals:

Bass Performance

Not bloated, but solid, detailed, textured bass with more "slam" than the m903 provides.

Sonic Detail & Dynamics

One thing that I enjoyed with the m903 was the level of sonic detail that I can hear. I want to any amps excel in presenting micro details and micro/macro dynamics an amp that can rapidly respond to the demands of a musical passage.

Sound Stage & Imaging

It is already quite good on my m903, but an amp that both translates the recorded space supremely in terms of depth and width and instrument location within the image would be welcome.

Thanks,

Bob
post #2 of 20
Thread Starter 
25 lookers
2 anonymous voters
0 comments

Where is everybody?
post #3 of 20

I only have experience with a 2 channel (not balanced) B22, and not with the headphones that you have.  From my experience with it, I think you will not be disappointed with the bass.  It is detailed, not bloated, but it will only "slam" as much as the recording/eq/headphones allow.  I have had lesser amps with more slam, but the bass was over exaggerated and less detailed.  It has a warm analogue sound with a good amount of detail, at least as I hear it with LA2000.  Also, the case gets very hot and this is normal.  Just don't block the vents.  I won't cast a vote one way or another, as I technically haven't heard both options, just something similar to one option.

post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
45 lookers
2 anonymous voters
0 comments

This forum is DEAD....

Vote closes next Friday
post #5 of 20

The amount of users with significant experience with both is miniscule as there are only 8 or so Stratus owners.  At best you'll find B22 owners who heard the 2A3 at a meet.

 

I did own a Sonnet and a B22, and would prefer the Sonnet (or EC amps) to the B22 with the HD800 purely because it benefits from some of the pleasant harmonic distortion that tube amps impart.  If I had other headphones it would be a different story.

 

My favorite amp for the HD800 is an SET not so unlike the Stratus.  The stratus will also hold up its resale value more than a DIY offering if you decide the amp is not for you. 

 

Whatever vote you hold will go in favor of the B22, as it has been around for years and hundreds of users own it.

 

Its a 2A3 by the way- you might want to take some time to research the tube and it's properties as that will give you some idea of where the amp falls.


Edited by Radio_head - 10/5/12 at 3:08pm
post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Radio_head View Post

The amount of users with significant experience with both is miniscule as there are only 8 or so Stratus owners.  At best you'll find B22 owners who heard the 2A3 at a meet.

I did own a Sonnet and a B22, and would prefer the Sonnet (or EC amps) to the B22 with the HD800 purely because it benefits from some of the pleasant harmonic distortion that tube amps impart.  If I had other headphones it would be a different story.

My favorite amp for the HD800 is an SET not so unlike the Stratus.  The stratus will also hold up its resale value more than a DIY offering if you decide the amp is not for you. 

Whatever vote you hold will go in favor of the B22, as it has been around for years and hundreds of users own it.

Agreed...

Thanks much for your thoughtful comments.
post #7 of 20

Haven't had the opportunity to hear the DNA Stratus 2AB myself, but from your list of goals, I can tell you the B22 will fit the bill.
 

post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Radio_head View Post

I did own a Sonnet and a B22, and would prefer the Sonnet (or EC amps) to the B22 with the HD800 purely because it benefits from some of the pleasant harmonic distortion that tube amps impart.  If I had other headphones it would be a different story.

 

+1. I've heard both the Stratus and the B22 and think they are both great amps. For the HD800 though I prefer tubes.

post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 

It should say Stratus 2A3 (not 2AB).  I can't se a way to change or edit as poll.

post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 

 A picture says a thousand words...

 

AMB Audio Sigma 22 & Beta 22 (made by YBM Audio)

 

 

Image by YBM

 

Donald North Audio (DNA) Stratus 2A3

 

Image by Duckman

post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 
We're up to 10 votes so far...

The Beta 22 (6) votes to the Stratus (4) votes.

I suspect Radio_Head's comments are on target in that just too few have experienced each of these amps. The AMB has been a DIY project with a variety of configurations and has been around about 6 years. Being a DIY there is more variability to build quality as well. The DNA has been around less than 1 year and I believe only 8 production units have been sold. It has been demonstrated at a few public meets, but I suspect the (n) who has heard it is quite limited. So perhaps the utility of a poll in this case limited.

I think it really is a more general question. Each amp really represents different schools of performance and potential synergies with HD800s.

AMB Audio 4-Channel Sigma/Beta 22: Represents taking the solid state approach to its ultimate embodiment with balanced inputs, dual, discrete JFET/MOSFET amplifiers, dual discrete PSUs, and balanced outputs. You are buying a well tested design, built by a professional builder, but as others have said; if you ever go to sell it, you will see a lot of depreciation on your investment.

DNA Stratus 2A3: Represents a pure and simple signal path based upon, unbalanced inputs, point-to-point construction, highly praised audio tubes (2A3s) and dual tapped custom transformer to provide low output impedance, single ended or balanced outputs from a single ended amplifier. Unlike a SS amp which cannot be easily altered, you are buying into an amplifier who's timbre and sonic characteristics can be altered by purchasing aftermarket and or NOS tubes. It should retain more of its value given its exclusivity, but there is a finite buying audience.

So even if you have not heard these specific amps with HD800s, this is the decision before me. Do I invest into an amp in the same school of what I have (Grace Design m903) but taken to the next step OR do I venture down a contrasting road into tubes to explore that route? Even if you haven't heard either of these I think that is safe to assume both are stellar sounding amps.

Perhaps this more basic description will solicit more votes?
post #12 of 20

I'll vote for the Stratus if you don't care that I haven't heard either one.  I own a DNA Sonett and enjoy its sound greatly and in reference to your pictures being worth a thousand words, I like what it looks like, as I do the Stratus, and that matters.  With the Stratus it's likely inevitable you'll be buying tubes, so there's that cost to factor in if it matters to you.  

 

I've read your posts in the few threads and I think if I were you I'd do the Stratus.  You have the Grace and it should resemble what a top tier SS design should do.  So, you're almost if not already there with SS.  So, why not play with the tubes?  

 

cool.gif

post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eee Pee View Post

I'll vote for the Stratus if you don't care that I haven't heard either one.  I own a DNA Sonett and enjoy its sound greatly and in reference to your pictures being worth a thousand words, I like what it looks like, as I do the Stratus, and that matters.  With the Stratus it's likely inevitable you'll be buying tubes, so there's that cost to factor in if it matters to you.  

 

I've read your posts in the few threads and I think if I were you I'd do the Stratus.  You have the Grace and it should resemble what a top tier SS design should do.  So, you're almost if not already there with SS.  So, why not play with the tubes?  

 

cool.gif

I have considered the aftermarket tubes.  The 2A3s that people seem to love are the Emission Labs 2A3-Mesh

 

http://www.emissionlabs.com/

 

So between them and a rectifier you are in the $700-$800 range with tubes.  That puts the cost of the Stratus still on a par with the Beta 22.  The Stratus is $2,600 with the better poteniaometer (which I would go for) and the Beta 22 is much more expensive.  While a 4-board Beta 22 is $2,550 with a single PSU Sigma 22, by the time you go for a attenuator and a second PSU, add a front power switch and a 4-pin XLR out and you are at ~$3,400.  So even with aftermarket tubes on the Stratus, you are likely somewhat less expensive.

 

I am in the same buy it blind situation on both amps.  With tubes you have some route of adjustability by rolling and with SS you do not.  On the other hand every 2-3 years you likely need to replace the tubes with  reasonable listening hours on them, so it will have higher ownership costs. Another advantage to the Stratus is that it has a SE out to play my AKGs and Westones.  But even if I get the AMG, I can play the AKGs and Westones on the n903 still.

 

Thanks for chiming in...

post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7 View Post

On the other hand every 2-3 years you likely need to replace the tubes with  reasonable listening hours on them, so it will have higher ownership costs..

 

Thanks for chiming in...

Maybe not if you keep the SS amp on all the time and consider the cost of the electricity? 

 

Sure.  Tough decision you have.  Meanwhile, I'm staring at my Sonett listening to Pink Floyd.  

post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eee Pee View Post

Maybe not if you keep the SS amp on all the time and consider the cost of the electricity? 

 

Sure.  Tough decision you have.  Meanwhile, I'm staring at my Sonett listening to Pink Floyd.  

Listening to Money...:-)

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