, why buy a Stellaris if you like the transparency of the DAVE? What do you hope to gain from the Stellaris that is missing from the DAVE?
Some sweet sweet second harmonic distortion that soothes the ears like no other
@bigfatpaulie, why buy a Stellaris if you like the transparency of the DAVE? What do you hope to gain from the Stellaris that is missing from the DAVE?
Can't speak for bigfatpaulie and this probably isn't a popular opinion here. But I don't really buy into the whole, listen to the outputs on DAVE directly to get best sound. DAVE basically has some kind of Class D amp that is capable of bringing the output well beyond line level and to levels capable of driving a lot of headphones well. However, end of the day, you are essentially listening to their built in amp. Sure it measures well. Class D amplifiers measure well as a group. However, last I checked, Class D amps weren't that popular compared to Class A amps in the 2 channel world for a reason. But end of day it is an amp with its own flavor. The question in my mind is whether bringing a Class D amp signal from line level to levels capable of driving headphones brings more of the flavor than just bring it to line level. In any case, I get the overall argument. Sort of same argument 2 channel guys have over using a preamp or direct connecting. Personally, I tend to think the right amp will give you a better overall sound. Will it measure worse? If you are using a Class A amp, probably. But as I pointed out later Class D amps usually measure much better than Class A amp in 2 channel world, but Class D haven't taken over aside from the lower end receivers etc. (taken over for a different reason than sound).
That's a pretty good answer, but you'll get that, to one degree or another, with any SET amplifier. The answer to the question "Why will the Stellaris sound "better" than the Stratus" may, in some cases, be related to your preferences for the kind of "musicality" that it sends through your ears to your brain. I have limited experience with SET headphone amps. I have listened to a few at shows, mainly Eddie Current and Woo. If memory serves me correctly, the Stratus outperforms these, but that may be only because it's the one I have heard the most and the most recently. That probably has to due with the fact that the noise levels in the Stratus are so low (and I don't have the upgrade) and the fact that it can reproduce realistic bass (even with less than flagship headphones) that is not at the expense of anything else. It also seems to me to be relatively neutral as far as SET amps go and, as I implied, well-balanced across the tonal spectrum.
I would guess that the Stellaris will be quieter, but that guess is only based on seeing an improved, probably even quieter, power supply, all-round, and better components in the power supply (and everywhere else). Just look inside and count the number of chokes and see the number of better high-end components in the power supply (and everywhere else). It will probably do better job in the dynamics department, in terms of being able to keep up with complex symphonic music and hopefully improved better internal resolution and differentiation of the instruments in this type of music.
But will it matter if all this comes to pass? Me: I am not a critical listener. I also have bad hearing. The impressions my brain does get from my ears suggests that the "little things" do matter, even if i can't put these things in words. My only reservation in the Stellaris is the new AN-based OPTs. I've owned 2 AN speaker amplifiers with dual-core, copper, OPTs. I've listened to a lot of others at a local AN shop, up to level 5+. The ones with more exotic materials for the cores and windings of the OPTs are a lot more neutral, more detailed and dynamic than the lower level ones. So, I wonder what the Stellaris would sound like, after paying out an additional $5++K for the better materials! The existing OPTs in the Stratus were a cost-compromise, but it still amazes me how good the amp sounds to me, anyway.
Does any of this really matter? I'll buy one and find out. I'm putting my fate in Donald's engineering abilities, his ears and his judgement, as so amply demonstrated in the Stratus.