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DNA Sonett 2 - Page 2

post #16 of 80

any more impressions out there...?

 

i'm poised to pull the trigger on one of Donald's creations...trouble deciding between the sonett 2 or go big with the stratus...

Gear mentioned in this thread:

post #17 of 80

Donald has sent a Sonett 2 and Stratus for our humble Vancouver meet this Sunday...i believe both units are headed down to Seattle for the get together on Saturday...

 

Hopefully people will post up impressions...

post #18 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by toads View Post

Hopefully people will post up impressions...

 

 

Yeah!  Hopefully! 

post #19 of 80

let me qualify by saying i don't claim to have golden ears or really care all that much to work on my critical listening skills....i simply love music...i seek that elusive ideal...'the suspension of disbelief' when listening to either my 2 channel, IEMs, or full size headphones (currently T1s and LCD2.2 with LCD3 pads and hpl silver cable, both balanced)...
 
thus, qualities i value in a presentation are balanced tonality, resolution, clarity, detail, texture, imaging, placement and staging...
 
before i go into my impressions, i'd like to thank Donald North, founder of DNA, for sending both the Stratus and Sonett 2 to our very humble little meet a while back...i was fortuate enough to have the Sonett 2 for several weeks and enjoyed every minute...well, almost every minute (more on that later)...unfortunately i only had a few hours with the Stratus...in all honesty i had purposely avoided a longer demo with fears that my wallet would need CPR after an extended listen, but I succumb to curiosity, knowing the amps were poised to leave Canada in short order to other HF'ers wanting to sample these special devices....
 
initially, my first few days with the Sonett 2 were quite disappointing frankly...i recall thinking this amp must be fresh, the tubes must be fresh cause this thing sounds flat and lifeless....i emailed Donald and he in fact confirmed the the amp and tubes were young, 10 hrs young...virtual newborns...nonetheless i plotted along plugging in several hours a night or running it for a few hours at a time while out of the house...i distinctly recall it was a Wednesday night, it was like the amp awoke form a slumber...

several days later i received an NOS Mullard 5AR4 and then a few days after that a set of NOS Reflecktor 6H30s (1986 build)....well the NOS tubes dramatically improve all aspects of the presentation, particularly the bass control and texture, high end airiness and detail, and, naturally, sound staging...

unfortunately i only had the Stratus for a day to A/B against the NOS tubed Sonett 2, and even then it was only a couple of hours i was able to go back and forth...in all honesty, it was no contest the Sonett 2 handily out performed the stock Stratus...this was most apparent to my surprise with the LCD2, the vice like control over the lower registers....the Stratus was muddy and ill defined...granted the Stratus had a bit more space but the Sonett was more immediate and engaging...

i was kinda sad to pack up the amps and send them off to their destinations...but knowing i have a Sonett 2 on order was satisfaction enough...

i’ll be sure to provide more impressions when my Sonett arrives in July...

 

 


Edited by toads - 6/3/13 at 8:10pm
post #20 of 80

some nifty little components i'll be sending off to Donald this week for my Sonett 2 build... :-)

 

 

you may notice there is an extra WKZ 'Heart of Muse'...if anyone is interested PM me... ;-)

post #21 of 80

Would love to hear more impressions of the Sonnet 2 + LCD-3.

post #22 of 80

Would the Sonnett be suitable with 8 ohm and 16 ohm iem's?

post #23 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meremoth View Post

Would love to hear more impressions of the Sonnet 2 + LCD-3.

 

While I haven't yet heard this combo, I have some doubts the Sonett 2 will provide satisfactory power for the LCD-3, which is power hungry compared to traditional headphones.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leicachamp View Post

Would the Sonnett be suitable with 8 ohm and 16 ohm iem's?

 

The Sonett 2 is low noise & microphony and should work with them. Do keep in mind the Sonett 2 provides 28 ohm output impedance when set to full gain and 11 ohm output impedance when set to -6dB.

post #24 of 80
Donald, have you sampled the LCD2 on the Sonett 2 ?

I did briefly and thought it sounded outstanding with plenty of headroom (volume pot @ 6.5 with LCD; 4.5 with T1)
post #25 of 80

Yes, I heard the LCD2 with the Sonett 2 and enjoyed the combo too. On the Stratus at a meet I compared the LCD2 with LCD3 and found the LCD3 needed more power for the same SPL.
 

post #26 of 80

Toads, thanks for sharing your impressions of the Sonett 2, its good to finally hear some real feedback. I've been enjoying my sonett for over three years now(enjoying is an understatement) but still wondering about sonett 2 and stratus. I haven't been convinced that the stratus is the way to go(at least not for me), just reading between the lines of the comments people are making especially about the bass. Also, I think dealing with the 2a3 tubes may be a little more than I want.  I guess I'll have to find a way to hear them for myself. I've owned/heard a lot of headphone amps and am convinced at the moment that the 6h30 tube provides the perfect balance of solid state and tube sound, at least for me. I'm 99.9% sure I will never sell my sonett, I love every thing about it.     

post #27 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by P+D-MI View Post

Toads, thanks for sharing your impressions of the Sonett 2, its good to finally hear some real feedback. I've been enjoying my sonett for over three years now(enjoying is an understatement) but still wondering about sonett 2 and stratus. I haven't been convinced that the stratus is the way to go(at least not for me), just reading between the lines of the comments people are making especially about the bass. Also, I think dealing with the 2a3 tubes may be a little more than I want.  I guess I'll have to find a way to hear them for myself. I've owned/heard a lot of headphone amps and am convinced at the moment that the 6h30 tube provides the perfect balance of solid state and tube sound, at least for me. I'm 99.9% sure I will never sell my sonett, I love every thing about it.     

I have also owned the original Sonett for a while now and I am still enjoying it emensely. I have it as my bedside rig and power hd800 and se535. It works beautifully with them! The only can it does not work with in my stable is the he6. Enery other can shines on this amp. I think currently it is one of the most underrated amps out there.
post #28 of 80

I would be interested to hear others impressions on how the Sonett 2 compares to the Stratus on HD800. Characteristics most imporatnat to me are sound stage depth and imaging and detail retrieval. other things like extension are also important but not as much. Thanks! 

 

If I am not planning on running Audeze's and HiFiMan cans off the amp is Stratus worth the expanse? 

post #29 of 80

I think I received the Sonett 2 after Toads was done with it, so I'll share some impressions. Please let me know if you have questions.

 

In the meantime, I'll say that it's the best headphone amp I've spent time with. It's not in the slightest bit tubey sounding—the S2 is fast, extended, dynamic and highly resolving, the way I like it. And it retains the lit-from-within quality of good tube circuits as well as the beguiling lucidity of transformer-coupled single-ended triode amps. It's also powerful sounding, driving the Senn HD800 and HD650 with unremitting control. I hope to borrow the LCD-2 this week to try with it as well. 

 

Part of my mission with the Sonett 2 was to figure out a way to tame the HD800—to make listening to it pleasant and relaxing rather than a cringe-fest. I'm happy to say it's come a long way. First, I replaced the stock cable with a Cardas cable with 4-pin balanced connector. Balanced drive on the S2 added bass, richness, a slightly wider soundstage and, of course, gain. (I cannot swear how much of the difference was due to the cable itself and how much to XLR drive, but the new cable helped a lot.) Replacing the JJ rectifier tube with a Mullard was another step in that direction—more richness, color and bass. Swapping out interconnects produced very audible differences as well, and the amp highlighted the distinctions between Cardas, Van den Hul, Analysis Plus and Wireworld. The S2 also allowed me hear the sound of different tubes in the buffer section of the DAC I was using, the MHDT Havana. Maybe the most unexpected gain came from lifting the amp off the shelf and letting it sit on 3 Vibrapods—the headstage got much bigger and more of the HD800s wiry tendencies receded. Now, with the latest version of Audirvana Plus providing an almost electron-microscope view of detail, the HD800 floats a huge stage with almost no hardness or brightness apparent. Far less fatigue. It's the sonic equivalent of being at a planetarium for one of those weed-scented rock shows—everything floats around the head. I'm psyched. 

 

Experienced Head-Fiers sometimes refer to the HD650's ability to "scale," and now I know what they mean. It sounds insane with the Sonett 2, passing much more detail and ambience than I though the headphone was capable of. Really silly good. If not for the HD800, this combo would make me happy.

 

I appreciated the impedance and gain switches on the amp, but I didn't use them much. I preferred the impedance on low and gain on normal. Setting impedance on high softened the sound and added a layer of mist and bloom, which I didn't care for.

 

I've never heard the original Sonett and listened to the Stratus briefly at a meet, so I can't make meaningful comparisons to those amps. I can say that my Bottlehead Crack, a great little amp, isn't even in the same parking lot as the Sonett 2, which is better in every imaginable way. Same goes for the Matrix M-Stage, but more so. I heard the Bryston amp recently with my HD800 and frankly found it a little boring. While hosting the Sonett 2, I was happy to drop in on a fellow Head-Fier here in Brooklyn and listen to his Decware CSP2+ and EC Zana Deux through my HD800. I was unfamiliar with his (very expensive) DAC and cabling, so take these impressions with a chunk of salt. I did notice that the CSP2+ sounded more traditionally tubey than the Sonett 2, with a more prominent upper bass, more forgiving treble and less apparent power through the Senns. I can understand why the Decware amp is such a popular pairing with the Senn, but I preferred the bigger, clearer sound of the Sonett 2. The Zana sounded powerful, detailed and transparent, much like the S2, but to my ears added a bit of high-frequency etch that I didn't think flattered the already treble-prone Senn. It was also hot as a furnace. 

 

I'm pretty thrilled with Sonett 2. I can't hear any character to it's sound that could be described as a flavor. It' strikes me as pure, transparent, and neutral, but not in the least boring or polite. It's colorful and rich. It has plenty of power and control with the phones I've tried it with. I can, as they say, hear things I've never heard before. It doesn't make me want to do something else after listening for 15 minutes. It makes the HD800 into the most revealing transducer I've heard—and, with the right attention to ancillaries, also makes it fun, something I wasn't sure was possible. It's not too big. I really like the way it looks, and that it's blue. And I can't think of another amp under $2K I'd rather listen to (though admittedly I haven't heard the EC Super 7). 

 

Thank you, Donald North, for the opportunity to live with your new amplifier for a while. It's terrific.


Edited by mink70 - 6/27/13 at 3:41pm
post #30 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by mink70 View Post

I think I received the Sonett 2 after Toads was done with it, so I'll share some impressions. Please let me know if you have questions.

 

In the meantime, I'll say that it's the best headphone amp I've spent time with. It's not in the slightest bit tubey sounding—the S2 is fast, extended, dynamic and highly resolving, the way I like it. And it retains the lit-from-within quality of good tube circuits as well as the beguiling lucidity of transformer-coupled single-ended triode amps. It's also powerful sounding, driving the Senn HD800 and HD650 with unremitting control. I hope to borrow the LCD-2 this week to try with it as well. 

 

Part of my mission with the Sonett 2 was to figure out a way to tame the HD800—to make listening to it pleasant and relaxing rather than a cringe-fest. I'm happy to say it's come a long way. First, I replaced the stock cable with a Cardas cable with 4-pin balanced connector. Balanced drive on the S2 added bass, richness, a slightly wider soundstage and, of course, gain. (I cannot swear how much of the difference was due to the cable itself and how much to XLR drive, but the new cable helped a lot.) Replacing the JJ rectifier tube with a Mullard was another step in that direction—more richness, color and bass. Swapping out interconnects produced very audible differences as well, and the amp highlighted the distinctions between Cardas, Van den Hul, Analysis Plus and Wireworld. The S2 also allowed me hear the sound of different tubes in the buffer section of the DAC I was using, the MHDT Havana. Maybe the most unexpected gain came from lifting the amp off the shelf and letting it sit on 3 Vibrapods—the headstage got much bigger and more of the HD800s wiry tendencies receded. Now, with the latest version of Audirvana Plus providing an almost electron-microscope view of detail, the HD800 floats a huge stage with almost no hardness or brightness apparent. Far less fatigue. It's the sonic equivalent of being at a planetarium for one of those weed-scented rock shows—everything floats around the head. I'm psyched. 

 

Experienced Head-Fiers sometimes refer to the HD650's ability to "scale," and now I know what they mean. They sound insane with the Sonett 2, passing much more detail and ambience than I though the headphone was capable of. Really silly good. If not for the HD800, this combo would make me happy.

 

I appreciated the impedance and gain switches on the amp, but I didn't use them much. I preferred the impedance on low and gain on normal. Setting it on high softened the sound and added a layer of mist and bloom, which I didn't care for.

 

I've never heard the original Sonett and listened to the Stratus briefly at a meet, so I can't make meaningful comparisons to those amps. I can say that my Bottlehead Crack, a great little amp, isn't even in the same parking lot as the Sonett 2, which is better in every imaginable way. Same goes for the Matrix M-Stage, but more so. I heard the Bryston amp recently with my HD800 and frankly found it a little boring. While hosting the Sonett 2, I was happy to drop in on a fellow Head-Fier here in Brooklyn and listen to his Decware CSP2+ and EC Zana Deux through my HD800. I was unfamiliar with his (very expensive) DAC and cabling, so take these impressions with a chunk of salt. I did notice that the CSP2+ sounded more traditionally tubey than the Sonett 2, with a more prominent upper bass, more forgiving treble and less apparent power through the Senns. I can understand why the Decware amp is such a popular pairing with the Senn, but I preferred the bigger, clearer sound of the Sonett 2. The Zana sounded powerful, detailed and transparent, much like the S2, but to my ears added a bit of high-frequency etch that I didn't think flattered the already treble-prone Senn. It was also hot as a furnace. 

 

I'm pretty thrilled with Sonett 2. I can't hear any character to it's sound that could be described as a flavor. It' strikes me as pure, transparent, and neutral, but not in the least boring or polite. It's colorful and rich. It has plenty of power and control with the phones I've tried it with. I can, as they say, hear things I've never heard before. It doesn't make me want to do something else after listening for 15 minutes. It makes the HD800 into the most revealing transducer I've heard—and, with the right attention to ancillaries, also makes it fun, something I wasn't sure was possible. It's not too big. I really like the way it looks, and that it's blue. And I can't think of another amp under $2K I'd rather listen to (though admittedly I haven't heard the EC Super 7). 

 

Thank you, Donald North, for the opportunity to live with your new amplifier for a while. It's terrific.

Thanks for your review! I own the original Sonett and the performance I am getting off this amp with my Senn hd800 is something very special. THis amp is amazing if you like clarity and flat freq response. you throw the price into the mix and now it is unbelievable. 

 

BTW, I have been wondering whether to upgrade to S2 or the Status. Not really an LCD fan and have a speaker amp for HE6 so it would be for my hd800 and IEMs mostly.


Edited by Cante Ista - 6/27/13 at 3:28pm
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