Member of the Trade: Network Acoustics
- Feb 28, 2018
The Stellia's on paper are easy to run, but i've tried mulitude of amp/dac combos as well as all-in-one DAC/Amps and the better the kit the more you get from them. They are genuine TOTL HPs and to my ears head and shoulders the best closed backs, so good partner kit will get the most out of themTrying to decide what to pair with my Stellias. A Cord Hugo 2, Qutest + Topping A90, The Arche (my store still has 2 available) or the Oppo HA-1. What would you guys recommend? I haven't heard the Questest(heard the dac is nearly identical with the Hugo 2 just slight changes), and the Topping A90. Everything else in this list I heard, and liked.
Out of these my choice would be Hugo2. Its super flexible and as resolving as the qutest plus the Stellia's working brilliantly with the amp stage. To my ears the arche is all a bit vanilla in every department, not as resolving as either chord, and lacks the sense of contol and impact that they have. Base on my experience of reliability alone, i gave up after on the a90 after my 3rd unit developed a fault. Sonically with the qutest you get a good clean powerful sound, but it doesnt suffer poor recordings gladly.
Other pairings i liked with the stellia, keeping your budget in mind are: qutest or H2/ Flux Lab Acoustics FA10 - very natural, fast and dynamic. The Questyle amps work great with the Stellias, the CMA800R is stunning and was the only amp that can match the Hugo2 resolution, but gives you a bit more body and even more control especially in the low-end, but i appreciate this hard to find amp, but its CMA600i is one of the best value all-in-one DAC/Amps i've heard, not quite as resolving as the Hugo2 but there something very special about the way it drives the Stellias. Other than these the RME-ADi 2, FS version is a great DAC and a pretty good amp with loads of functionality, but because you really need a separate amp to get the most out of the DAC.
So coming full circle and based on your budget, i find it hard to look beyond the Hugo2, especially if you can pick a a good used one for £1000-1300, you wont get a better all around DAC (apart from the amp-less qutest) for under £2000, but the clincher is your getting and powerful amp stage that matches the DAC and more to the point the Stellias, better than anything else ive heard without getting way beyond your budget. And you can take your full set-up anywhere without compromising on SQ.