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DNA Stellaris

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by yage, Feb 3, 2016.
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  1. ogodei
    Haven't done the whole thing yet. Planned to use the Stratus of another local Head-fier (mine got sold in part to fund Stellaris) but it got shipped back to Donald for upgrades just when my time off came up. Then I started traveling for work again. Im trying to get it back in for the Stellaris \ Stratus section.

    Of the testing I did with Afficionado, ZDS and Stellaris my findings so far were:
    • Stellaris is my preferred amp for clarity & definition, speed, features, and general 'hi-res' listening. Its the most versatile in that you can swap out the tubes and shift the sound palette without losing the speed and tonality. Make it warmer, lusher, etc. Most of my headphones sound their best of it and I have yet to hear it actively make any of them sound worse.
    • Afficionado & ZDS are different beasts. The ZDS sounds like a ZDS, not going to go into that. Afficionado is definitely more versatile than it is, not as slow, not as much impedance in the picture from what I'm hearing. More rounded as an amp, better for rolling for sound ( for me anyways).
    • Afficionado v Stellaris: The Stellaris is winning by taking fuller advantage of the tubes. Same tubes are performing better on the Stellaris. But obviously a huge price difference.
    • Once again, the tubes make the biggest difference on each amp and make sure they are fully warmed up all the time or your tests are useless.
    As I was typing this I heard the Stratus is back in town, now plan to get that and do some listening over the Holiday. I believe the Stellaris is better, will like to hear it v. the upgraded stratus though.
    Thenewguy007 likes this.
  2. Thenewguy007
    Interesting take on the Afficionado and Stellaris.

    I wonder how much the quality of the parts inside make in the difference. Stellaris uses the most expensive Duelund caps & Audio Note transformers, while I think the Afficinado uses cheap off brand Russian caps.
  3. ogodei
    Believe you are correct, EC is generally very price conscious about the parts they use. Not sure on my final opinion of the amp yet (again, traveling too much to get long sessions with it) but you can make a pretty good amp with low cost parts. Its those last few inches that cost the most money.
  4. P+D-MI
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2017
  5. P+D-MI
    Wow, what the....
    Have you stopped listening to headphones are you just using DAVE?
  6. bigfatpaulie
    Stopped listening pretty much all together.

    The DNA has sat off for over a month and DAVE gets used for a song or so a week. It's just really all collecting dust.

    As an aside, my DAVE is also listed.

    I been really into the hobby since 2012. I guess I've just come full circle. Perhaps one day I will get the itch again.

    It's pretty sad for me personally because it has been such a big part of my life for so long now.
  7. ogodei
    Going to be a blue Christmas here

    sejsel, lcasadonte, claud W and 2 others like this.
  8. jmac1516
    Looks like a high end retail shop! Congrats and enjoy!

    Is the Stellaris new?
  9. ogodei
    Stellaris is no. 3, arrived in May. Just got in (borrowed) an upgraded Stratus to do some comparative listening. I had a Stratus previously but that was pre-upgrade and pre-Stellaris, so haven't been able to do head-to-head before.
  10. Frihed89
    What an amazing system. We all look forward to what you hear from your 3 DNA maps with your headphones.
  11. ogodei
    Cross-posting, this is also over in the Stratus thread.

    I’ve had just over two weeks to compare my Stellaris head-to-head with a Stratus with the latest upgrades.. I did some critical listening sessions during the holiday time off, some casual listening sessions, and invited some people with better ears than mine over to hang out and give some opinions. Jump to the findings section for conclusions.

    Critical listening was done with matched sets of tubes in both amps. I used two sets of rectifiers, either Western Electric 422A grey plates or Mullard/Philips Miniwatt metal-base 5AR4s. Power tubes were Shuguang Nature Sound 2A3C-T s and drivers were matched Voskhod 6N1P-EV for all sessions, the only double sets I had. I flipped tubes back and forth between the amps to make sure I wasn’t just hearing tubes.

    Hardware chain was PC, playing either Tidal via Roon or DSD & FLAC via JRiver, streaming to an SOtM SMS-200 (W4S PS-1 PSU) > iFi USB > Singxer SU-1 > HDMI i2S > HoloSpringDAC > goldpoint balanced level controls > Balanced Splitter > Balanced cables to the amps. For the Stratus I converted balanced to RCA using either a Jensen ISO-MAX PI-2XR or Sescom SC15XJR. I tested only against the balanced input on the Stellaris cause that’s what I bought it for.

    Amps were level matched, headphones used were the Audeze LCD-MX4, SE cable; stock Senn HD-800s with stock balanced cables; Utopia with a custom balanced cable, and a ZMF Auteur Blackwood with the neutral pads, balanced and SE cables. I did a lot of casual listening with other tubes and headphones.


    Both amps are end-game territory. The differences noted here all at the hypercritical edge.

    Bass was very slightly extended and pushed on Stellaris in the 10 to 30dB region on some tracks but I didn’t find this to matter with most material. More importantly, low bass was better controlled on Stellaris which helped with clarity and timbre in the mid-range, especially in orchestral or very busy material. This was probably the most noticeable difference between the amps and it became very clear on the comparatively bass-pushed headphones (e.g., Audeze, ZMF, Denon). Stellaris was also faster, with speedier attack and decay on most headphones. I found the difference reduced when using the Philips vs. the WE422A, with the Stratus almost reaching up to the level of the Stellaris. Another listener didn’t hear that change though, so, grain of salt.

    Treble extension, dynamics and noise floor seemed identical. Openness and imaging were essentially the same except when heavy or persistent bass was involved. Another listener stated that the Stratus seemed ‘almost congested’ compared to Stellaris on one track, then we laughed our heads off at the idea of the Stratus ever being called congested.

    Other comments were Stellaris consistently had better ‘layering’ of sound, was faster, was clearer in overall presentation. The consensus, which I totally agree with, is that the Stellaris sounds slightly better but the Stratus is the better value.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
  12. Peti
    A very highly appreciated comment indeed. Thank you very much indeed for sharing your thoughts on these two amps. The difference could be heard immediately when you "switch" the amps? Translated, the differences are obvious immediately upon switching between the amps?
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2018
  13. ogodei
    To my hearing, no, its not an immediately obvious difference unless you are listening for specific changes. The tone of the amps is very, very similar and the changes seem minimal to me on most tracks. Given that, once my ears were 'tuned' to what I considered a difference I could hear it (or think I heard it) pretty easily after a switch.
    Peti likes this.
  14. Thenewguy007
    What would you say was the best headphone/amp pairing you have heard to date?
    Your current & previous amps are very impressive.

    Stellaris, Aficionado, Blue Hawaii, KGSSHV Carbon, Liquid Gold etc..
  15. ogodei
    Randomly: Utopia\HD800 on Stellaris; SR-007 on KGSSHV Carbon CC; SR-009 on Blue Hawaii; HE6 on dual-mono CMA800Rs. HE6 has really been a perennial favorite on most amps that will drive it.
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