Manufacturer Page: https://www.denafrips.com/hestia Preliminaries: The Hestia is a 60 stepped relay attenuator. The flagship Denafrips preamp, the Athena, has the same specs with lower distortion numbers. The Athena by the way looks to be two Hestias in one box - one Hestia per channel. The same way the Hattor Big preamp just doubles up on the stepped attenuators when you step up from the Hattor Mini. I only mention this because I was originally going to buy the Athena, thinking bigger was better until I studied the specs and pictures a bit more - mainly noticing that despite double the number of relays the number of volume steps remained unchanged. I seriously doubt the two preamps sound any different. Folks at ASR might be willing to pay for the lower distortion numbers though. New, it will cost you about $900. Looks and Functionality: Notwithstanding my crappy photos, this is a badass looking piece of gear. I think this is par for the course with the upper range Denafrips offerings. It has a huge display - I'm partial to displays. It never got warm during the more than two weeks of 24-7 burn-in. The remote worked well - it just seems overkill for a small preamp with only 3 inputs. Unless you own a Denafrips DAC and CD Transport, you will probably only ever use 5 buttons on the thing. I imagine most people who end up with a Denafrips stack that includes the CD transport, have probably opted for the Athena for matching aesthetics. Sound: In-house I still have my headphone amp, the Master 9, for comparison. My memory of the Schiit Freya+ is still pretty fresh as well. I also did comparisons to the Yggdrasil outputting directly to my amp and volume-controlled through JRiver media center. My final assessments were made after more than 2 weeks of burn-in. Soundstage: I gave some initial thoughts in the Freya thread here https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...ream-of-consciousness.7998/page-8#post-318390 My thoughts on the Hestia's soundstage depth did not change from what I wrote in that post. The width did get a lot better and it ended up almost on par with the Master 9 and Freya+. Regarding soundstage depth, the Hestia's stage is deep but I find it to be poor at layering. I suspect that this has more to do with my biggest complaint about the preamp, which I will get to in a little later. Tone: This is an artificially warm preamp. I say artificially because the Hestia just can't suspend my belief long enough to think that the added warmth is natural. Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation and Phil Collins Face Value had lots of body all of the sudden but it just sounds fake to me. The main reason for this is that while the Hestia is warm it is decidedly not smooth. The edges get rougher as the volume goes up. I'm not opposed to a warmer preamp, I lived with and loved a Hegel H360 for about a year. Its the roughness and lack of refinement that ruins things. Detail: My biggest beef with the Hestia is that on first impression it sounds clear and bold but it quickly becomes apparent that details are being obscured. This is the weirdest bit about the preamp because this lack of this lower level detail makes it appear like it has a very black background. Unlike it's poor ability to fool you into thinking the recording you are listening to actually is as warm as the Hestia portrays it as, it does a fairly skilled job at convincing you that it has an inky black background. Upon switching to the Master 9 or the Yggdrasil direct, I was hit with "oh yeah, I was right, you can hear that guy in the audience talking during that solo" types of experiences over and over. Putting the Hestia back in the chain, I found those missing details only after increasing the volume a fair amount. Dynamics: Look, maybe it isn't that bad but there is a distinct drop off from every other preamp I have heard in my system. The Hestia just seems intent to bore here. It's competent and you hear those big moments, its just lazy AF. Also, in keeping with what I wrote above, dynamic swings seem a bit muted or truncated given the Hestia's lack of lower-level detail. So you are left with a whole lot of "in-the-middle" dynamics: The Hestia doesn't think those low volume sounds and those big, loud crashes on the other end of the spectrum are that important. If there was a such thing as a reponse chart for dynamics, The Hestia would be rolled off on the extreme ends. Conclusions: This is actually a good preamp LMFAO. And yes, I do prefer it to the Wyred STP SE, thanks for asking. After you use it exclusively for about a week you might forget how better preamps sound. There were a lot of moments during which I really enjoyed what I was hearing a lot. It was only when I switched back to the Master 9 or the Yggdrasil direct that I remembered how outclassed it was. But this thing is $900 - buy a Freya+. Denafrips should put this thing in a cheaper case and sell it for $499.