DNA Starlett Impressions

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by ChaChaRealSmooth, Sep 27, 2019.

  1. JeremiahS

    JeremiahS Facebook Friend

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    If you don't mind sharing, what do you feel about the comparison between Starlett and GS-X Mini?

    I always want to try a DNA amp but I don't think I have ever seen one in my country so I am still trying to figure out how it sounds like. I have a GS-X MK2 on loaner so maybe your comparison will give us more clues. Generally I'm a solid-state person but I am begun considering trying out a tube amp.
     
  2. johnnypaddock

    johnnypaddock Facebook Friend

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    Sure, here goes... The DNA Starlett has more weight from the upper bass into the mids. It's got a fat sound that can take any type of recording and present it in a pleasing way. The midrange is really special, with a lush quality. The bass is rock solid on the Mini but in a different way. It's tight, articulate and probably more neutral, but it feels a little thin in direct comparison with the Starlett.

    I find the GSX-Mini to be more resolving, with better transient speed and treble extension. The soundstage is slightly larger but more diffuse where the Starlett has more of a holographic, tactile feel to it.

    I hope this is helpful. My chain, for reference:
    Metrum Ambre > Metrum Adagio > GSX-Mini / DNA Starlett > ZMF Auteur / ZMF Vérité Closed.
     
  3. Levpush

    Levpush Rando

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    Just out of curiosity I switched the power cable from the stock one to an analysis plus cable I use for my power amp, and I couldn't believe how noticeable the difference is...The most obvious improvement being on the low end and the dynamic is also improved a bit. Now I have to get a second power cable...
     
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  4. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth 2000% biased Planar Hater

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    In my 3+ years of owning the DNA Starlett, I've confirmed 2 things:
    • Starlett has provided me with lots of hours of listening enjoyment. While sometimes I still get the urge to go nuts and buy a Stellaris, the fact is that 2A3 prices are still too much for me to swallow (I'd much, much rather spend that money on my car, going out on dates, cigars, whiskey, etc).
    • I hate tubes. Tubes have so many dumb things to worry about:
      • Even though the Starlett (and all DNA amps from my understanding talking to Donald) is very gentle on tubes, eventually tubes WILL go bad and you WILL have to replace them. Finding another complement of tubes to settle on is absolutely maddening, especially since most of the time we're talking maybe percentage point "improvements" at best, and usually the "improvements" are really just dialing things to your preference.
      • Tubes can do dumb things like arc and then damage your pot. Or just decide to start ringing. Or make noise. Ask me how I know.
    So about that last point; the arcing thing happened to me with the new production Gold Lion 5AR4/GZ34. The tube was fine and then one day...it wasn't. After this I decided to try a good NOS rectifier since I've heard and read from multiple sources that good rectifiers last a very long time and shouldn't catastrophically fail (fingers crossed, knocking on wood here).

    I ended up deciding to trying a Mullard GZ37 after talking to Donald. This tube is drop-in compatible with the Starlett and it's slightly cheaper than the NOS 5AR4. And before anyone asks, yes, the sound did noticeably change from the 5AR4. The GZ37 is for some reason slightly more resolving and has a thicker, richer timbre than the 5AR4. This does require some mucking around with the power tubes and input tube to offset the thickness a bit, but it is a good tube that has grown on me.

    This post is really a too long post to say I hate tube rolling, but for those who own a Starlett and are as insane/more insane than I am, the GZ37 does indeed work well.

    Screenshot proof that I hated myself while doing this:
    Screenshot_20230110-021037.png

    Marv making fun of me is exactly what he should be doing in this situation.

    All this being said, I've held onto the Starlett for 3 years and I still love it to death to this day. The sound is so good that I'm willing to be insane enough to deal with tube idiosyncrasies. However, my sanity does not thank me.

    Edit: I spoke to Donald about this since I didn't want to say anything untrue. If you own a Stratus/Stellaris, the GZ37 will work but it won't operate optimally. So you can try it, but my advice would be to stick with the 5U4G. And also, the 5U4G is not recommended for use in Starlett.
     
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    Last edited: Jan 10, 2023
  5. roshambo123

    roshambo123 Friend

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    With the price increases, I'm completely with you, even for cheap tubes for MJ2. Tired of dealing with it, especially how dust loves to get into the sockets. Again, hard to get away from the tube sound...
     
  6. internethandle

    internethandle Almost "Made"

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    I also heart zomg Mullard in my Studio B vs. a new prod Tung Sol 5AR4 I was using, although I think its tilt toward richness was ameliorated by Craig's non tooby OPT's, despite the 300B's. I could see how you'd have to swap around toobs to get the right synergy with it in a DNA.

    Speaking of Mullard GZ34's, if you hate toobs you should check out guitar amp guys arguing about them at guitar amp guy forums. It's kind of funny. They all accuse each other of being like audiophiles, lol.
     

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