Donald North Audio — Owners Thread

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Huxleigh, Aug 12, 2016.

  1. BillOhio

    BillOhio Friend

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    I'd be using a Gungnir Multibit. I assume the RCA output of a Gungnir Multibit is as good as the XLR output?
     
  2. TwoEars

    TwoEars Friend

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    Theoretically they should be equally good. Personally, I wouldn't worry about it. A good single ended tube amp should only need RCA inputs. If you don't like the sound of your Gungnir Multibit later I'd change it to something else.
     
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  3. ogodei

    ogodei Headphone Heaven Gatekeeper

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    I have Stellaris with balanced and SE inputs, got the balanced primarily for convenience as the rest of my system had already gone that way. After some very careful listening I still can't hear the difference between the inputs. Others with better ears than mine have told me I'm wrong but I'm not there yet.

    BTW congrats on a great purchase @BillOhio, great amp.
     
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  4. BillOhio

    BillOhio Friend

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    Thanks @ogodei , I actually read your comments on headfi comparing the Stellaris to the Stratus. Good Stuff, and I was hoping you'd chime in here.
     
  5. bazelio

    bazelio Friend

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    It's going to be personal preference... but if it were me, I'd absolutely go single ended regardless of what those supposed super ears have to say. XLR for convenience in an otherwise balanced rig is one thing, but converting back and forth between balanced and unbalanced as you go from source to transducer doesn't make sense. Stay single ended all the way if possible. Adding transformers into the signal path can not improve anything. I understand they may add attractive coloration or help balance out deficiencies in the system at times, but there are generally better ways to fix those...
     
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  6. Donald North

    Donald North Friend

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    In general I agree and have similar thinking. This is why I did not include balanced inputs on the Sonetts or Stratus. With the Stellaris I decided to make it an option. When I compare the unbalanced and balanced inputs on the Stellaris, the balanced input to me sounds at least as good as the unbalanced input, which says a lot for the quality of the Audio Note transformers. One possible advantage of the balanced inputs is reduced noise because the source and amplifier have isolated grounds.
     
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  7. TwoEars

    TwoEars Friend

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    And to clarify, the signal output ground of the source is isolated from the signal input ground of the amp. Which may or may not be an advantage, if you have a noisy source it very well could be. But the power main grid ground will meet at the wall power socket for source and amp in any case. Donald knows 30000% more than me about amp design but I just thought I'd point that out.

    I suppose if you really nitpick the best way to look at balanced is to say that the signal has no ground at all, it's all relative. But I suspect I'm starting to sound like a complete tosser at this point. :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018
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  8. bazelio

    bazelio Friend

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    Well IMO, if you don't need transformer inputs in order to avoid a ground loop, then the only remaining question is which way do you prefer the sound - with or without the input transformer. There is no shame in preferring the transformer's coloration but the Audio Notes aren't cheap and I'd simply put that money to (better) use elsewhere.
     
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  9. Melvillian

    Melvillian Friend

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    With the Gungnir Multibit there is a difference between the XLR and RCA output, primary difference I heard was a better soundstage with the XLR outs.

    @BillOhio you can borrow my iso-max and see which you prefer. The iso-max is nowhere near the quality of the audio notes Donald uses, and it introduces its own sound into the chain, but I still found myself preferring it to the RCA outs on the Gungnir Multibit.
     
  10. m17xr2b

    m17xr2b Friend

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    How do metrum and schiit convert xlr to single ended on their dacs? If it's summing or transformers etc would't it make sense to use the audio note transformers for the best conversion possible? At least in theory it makes sense.
     
  11. bazelio

    bazelio Friend

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    A $2200 bandaid doesn't make sense to me. If I were prepared to spend that $$ and my DAC's single ended output was gimped, I'd put it towards a better DAC instead.
     
  12. Erikdayo

    Erikdayo Friend

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    Someone correct me if I'm wrong. I believe the Onyx/Jade use summing and the Pavane/Adagio use transformers.
     
  13. ogodei

    ogodei Headphone Heaven Gatekeeper

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    Definitely a matter of price point. On the Stellaris they make sense to me.
     
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  14. BillOhio

    BillOhio Friend

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    ogodei, what DAC do you run with your Stellaris?
     
  15. ogodei

    ogodei Headphone Heaven Gatekeeper

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    Primary is a Holo Audio Spring Level 3 fed from I2S, and I have an upgraded Yggdrasil on its way back to me. I've been focusing more on amps and tubes than DACs lately.
     
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  16. Eric

    Eric Rando

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    One thing I can say about DNA amps is that you never see any for sale which speaks volumes. I am in the market for an endgame amp and it's not easy to be on a waiting list....
     
  17. Magnetostatic_Tubephile

    Magnetostatic_Tubephile Friend

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    Very glad to join the club at last - recently acquired DNA Stratus from sorrodje! A dream-come-true/endgame amp, never actually thought I would have the balls and/or luck to get it. (FYI in case you decide to read the below - should be an up-to-date version as of 2018 based on info from sorrodje, with stock set of tubes.)

    Highlights of the amp for me so far:
    • Strong sense of physicality across the board (very deep hard-hitting bass; solid/grounded mids; almost holographically rendered treble; great dynamic contrasts)
    • Subtle, effortless equilibrium between smooth and detailed. It has the 'inner warmth' in bass-to-mid region described by others but I hear this phenomenon being effortlessly combined with a sheen of what I would call 'outer coolness' (sense of treble microdetail/holography/air)
    • High versatility (heaps of power, no hiss/hum even with sensitive headphones, various impedance/output settings, generous headphone connectivity)
    Downsides of the amp for me so far:
    • Form-factor, obviously. (Very big, very heavy, a bit of a space heater so tubes need a lot of space around them.)
    • While being satisfyingly close tonally to Kenzie (in terms of overall smoothness and naturalness), my opinion about the Amps&Sound amp is now reinforced - its general tonality (bass-mid-treble balance) with stock tubes is world class. I would wish Stratus was a tiny little bit more calm and dark ( = a bit less bright in treble). Yep, team warmpoo speaking here. And I really mean just tiny bit more calm/dark - nothing some tube-rolling couldnt easily fix me thinks.
    Any advice would be much appreciated:
    • Any tube-rolling recommendations to make the amp a bit calmer and darker sounding compared to stock tubes? I find Stratus smooth but tonally a bit brighter than optimal to my liking in treble region.
    • As for the potential tube replacements, dont mind less detailed sound but would like to avoid collapsed/in-your-face soundstage. Reasonable stage depth is important for me. Also would be nice not to get a completely muffled sound signature. That being said, not sure if Stratus can ever be transformed into a muffled, in-your-face amp with tube-rolling - probably not.

    P.S.: I know it will probably not tell much to many of you... but the amp just fukin slays with metal! Especially atmospheric or melancholic subgenres of metal benefit extremely of the subtle warm/cool equilibrium described above.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2018
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  18. m17xr2b

    m17xr2b Friend

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    Congrads on the stratus. You have two choices to fix your sound. Either a warmer input tube like a brimar or mullard 6bq7a or I would recommend the sylvania 2a3 s plate with springs or fishing poles for the output tubes.
     
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  19. Magnetostatic_Tubephile

    Magnetostatic_Tubephile Friend

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    Thanks, mate, will look into it! I am already on page 181 from 240 within the Headfi thread... my head gonna explode from the massive amount of (sometime even contradicting) info on tube-rolling!
     
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  20. Magnetostatic_Tubephile

    Magnetostatic_Tubephile Friend

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    Two small updates on the above:

    1]
    Seems like sorrodje included 6N1P-EV tube with the Stratus instead of stock 6N1P, havent noticed that till today. :) Found two 6N1P tubes at home fortunately, tried to roll both in the Stratus. As @m17xr2b correctly pointed out, all three 6N1P-based tubes sound very very close to each other to my ears, with only slightly different levels of brightness and focus. Guess what - using the most laidback of the three 6N1Ps made the difference I was after, Stratus now sounds perfectly fine tonally to my liking. (The 6N1P-EV was a bit too focused and fatiguing on ears.)

    2]
    Went through this thread, followed by the 240 pages marathon on Head-Fi. Wow, some people actually invested many thousands of dollars for tubes! :eek: Very crazy but brave individuals, I guess. Kudos to them. Anyway, not planning to join them. The stock set of tubes (meaning with 6N1P, not 6N1P-EV) is nicely synergistic. That being said, it still may be fun to get Stratus further on the warmer side of neutral with some of the following general options I shortlisted for my future reference:
    • Output: RCA / Sylvania / GE 2A3 or Psvane WE275
    • Input: Westinghouse / Sylvania / Tungsram / Brimar / Mazda 6BQ7a
    • Rectifier: EML / RCA 5U4G
    As already said though, I really enjoy the stock set of tubes. Synergistic and affordable = ideal.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2018

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