Donald North Audio — Owners Thread

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

  1. YMO

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    Well....shit. It's a good problem to have, but I was hoping that this amp if I purchase one can keep me engaged without the fatigue. Also helps that honestly I'm not a tube rolling freak, so I might just stick to the stock ones and call it a day.
     
  2. Ntbm3

    Ntbm3 Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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    Exactly right, that was one of the biggest surprises for me with my Starlett. Detail galore + tube magic with little to know 'penalties' of tubes IMO. How does the detail retrieval compare to the AF aficionado?

    I also have 600, 650, 800s. All sound great but I spend the most time with the 800s on it. Zero fatigue for me with any of these headphones on the Starlett. Which is not the case with the Mjo2 and other SS amps I have.

    The output impedance is adjustable and can be surprisingly low (3 ohm with -6 db setting) so you can really use this to drive most full size headphones.

    Another big plus for me is Starlett tubes are dirt cheap and all long lasting. If you do get a tube rolling itch you won't break the bank.

    I really do not know how you would not love this amp.
     
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  3. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Gearmaster

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    You need to go back to the Starlett thread and read impressions. The consensus seems to be that we praise the Starlett for being a resolving amp that allows for a supremely musical experience assuming you like the DNA sound. Not a single one of us mentioned fatigue, implying that it isn't a problem with this amp.

    I've listened to the JAR modded HD600 with Starlett and have no real complaints other than bass extension (which is going to be a downside to every HD600/650).
     
  4. YMO

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    Hi, I read the impressions thread, but I didn't see too many HD600 impressions. I only posted here since I didn't want to go too off topic from the impressions thread. My thought was to read out to the owners directly. Looks like I should had post in the impressions thread directly.

    Looks like everyone is giving the finger up at the moment, which is good. And yes HD 600 can't have really good bass slam, woopee.......

    Looks like I have a plan right now. I'll stick to HD6xx and HD600 for now, not really liking the type of sound from the HD800 series.
     
  5. famish99

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    I'd say Starlett outresolves the Af. The only things the Af does better is staging and slam.
     
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  6. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    And compared to a T4?
     
  7. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Gearmaster

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    When I listened, Af >= Starlett to my ears in terms of resolve, but it really wasn't by much (probably about the same difference between Starlett and Stratus). They stage pretty differently, and the Af is drier compared to Starlett in tone. Af does hit harder in slam.

    No idea about T4, but extrapolating from other impressions on T4 vs DSHA-3F, they might be similar in technicalities with the only major differences being flavors. ECP tube sound vs DNA, etc.
     
  8. fp627

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    @YMO I will echo what others are saying - DNA amps (any model) are very musical and easy to listen to for long periods of time with no fatigue short of doing something deliberately fatiguing. They also happen to have great detail retrieval and resolution.

    I will also agree with chacha that AF slightly outresolved or equaled the Starlett (depending on headphone and track) when I listened back to back at the last 2 meets... cavaet meet conditions, unfamiliar gear, etc etc.

    The only complaint I would have is if you just don't like the DNA house sound - it's present in all the amps. And me being one of these people about 60% of the time, I still have a Stellaris and it's still my favorite amp to date.
     
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  9. YMO

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    Of course, the only way to find out if I'll like the sound is try it. I'm looking for the musical and listen to listen to for long periods of times type of deal here.
     
  10. StageOne

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    As others have stated, the 600/650s and even the 800s are a fantastic match with the Starlett. They are relaxed and easy to listen to for hours.

    I posted this comparison a while back - #179

    I tend to listen to my 600s in my office with the ZDT jr, and I was curious so I dragged them into the music room for a listen to both the Starlett and T4. My other review still holds. The Starlett is a bit more relaxed and has a deeper/wider headstage over the T4. But I found my preference with the 600 to be highly dependent on the music playing. Jazz, vocals something a little slower, I'll give the nod to the Starlett. Modern music or something with a faster tempo and I tended to like it on the T4 as it has faster transients and a little more punch.

    From what you are describing, it does seem like the Starlett would be a good fit.
     
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  11. YMO

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    That's what I was kind of guessing with regards to what the Starlett can do. If I want to do Depeche Mode, I kind of wanna use my THX 789 for that for the bass slam on my IEMs. I'm really big on fusion and non electronic based stuff in general, more instruments based in general than vocals.

    And that's why I think it is very useful to have two main amps at times.
     
  12. Ntbm3

    Ntbm3 Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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    Did you order it yet?? :)

    +1 with having a few amp and dac’s to play with. I love having the option to mix and match depending on the mood.
     
  13. YMO

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    Not yet. I need to save up first, also, I'm moving to a new apartment.

    @Donald North what's the weight of the Starlett? Your website didn't say and I need to make sure a rack of mine is heavy enough to support it.
     
  14. Donald North

    Donald North Friend

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    Around 20lbs (9kg)
     
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  15. YMO

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    I just wanted to say thank you everyone for your impressions about the Starlett. I have went ahead and submitted an order request to @Donald North, now just waiting on how to submit the deposit.

    Impressions are so useful, which is why when I write impressions I personally spend a lot of time writing them up. You just never know when your impressions/review will help someone decide what to buy. I wanted a good musical tube amp that goes well with my HD600 series stuff (as a good counter with the THX AAA 789). I also like that the amp is blue (which is my favor/lucky color) and easy to swap out tubes. However, I also like that I don't feel like I'm missing out anything if I don't tube roll (which honestly that was never my thing).

    Thanks everyone, I'll talk more about it when I get my unit later in the year.
     
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  16. m17xr2b

    m17xr2b Friend

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    Rectifiers...why would a component filtered by capacitors, chokes, resistors have such an impact on the sound, quite baffling yet I won't deny the subtle change they make and the crucial part played in overall synergy.

    Stratus and Stellaris by default use 5U4G, directly heated rectifier that barely idles given how much more current they can offer. Even so having tried all 5U4G including U52 variants I always came back to the indirectly heated Western Electric 422A, it has much more body, dynamics and detail yet there was an inexplicable x factor to the 5U4G, if only there was a way to combine the best of both.

    One mesh deserves another, Marconi globe U12 mesh plate directly heated 4V rectifier.
    [​IMG]
     
  17. m17xr2b

    m17xr2b Friend

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    Another 4V rectifier, Telefunken RGN 2004. Different adaptor required with two 0.25ohm resistors. Capable of around 150-170mA in the Stellaris and ideally you'd want 60-100ohm resistance for the secondary winding, I'm just hoping this is the case. My confidence in adaptors has returned when I'm doing the soldering and double checking everything.

    Nice shape
    [​IMG]
     
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  18. m17xr2b

    m17xr2b Friend

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    And the mesh version of the above tube, very pretty and exceptional synergy with mesh AVVTs
    [​IMG]

    Why mesh? Whenever a mesh version of an already popular tube surfaces prices shoot up. A mesh 45 or 50 tube can go to 1K+,there's a pair of mesh MH4s inputs on ebay for 2K, yet few know why mesh was chosen for the very early tubes.

    When vacuum tubes were made, vacuum was needed where all the air was sucked out of the glass. Whatever gasses remained were captured by the getter and it did its job for capturing any potential remnants for the tube lifetime. That's why a white getter spells trouble and indicates a gassy tube and a vacuum failure in most cases.

    Due to the vacuum technologie being in its infancy some tubes had mesh plates to make sure gases could escape and be captured. Once the vacuum process was honed there was no need for expensive mesh plate and solid ones quickly replaced them. As I understand it at no point were mesh plates used for their sonic abilities in the 30s and 40s, it was purely a manufacturing process to meet a certain standard with the available technology.

    Why does mesh sound better?
    I don't have much experience apart from these very new acquired rectifiers and the AVVT 2A3 mesh. Alesa Vaic chose mesh not because he didn't have the right tools but because he knew the potential benefit.
    For real mesh plates, not punctured plates like Sophia there's a theory the individual contact points increases the overall damping. If all else is equal if one takes a solid plate and taps on the glass there's a distinct bell ringing sound lasting for several seconds. For a mesh plate that sound is dampened faster and ringing is shortened significantly, that's the theory anyway yet it's still unclear why mesh sounds different but I won't deny the mesh AVVT 2A3 is without question the best in the family. That is if one gets a pair that actually biases as a 2A3 but that's another story.

    In this case for the two Telefunkens, each has its own distinct sound, the solid plates are meaty and intimate where the mesh is airy and delicate. Similar descriptions are online for EML solid and mesh 2A3s and one would choose the best according to synergy yet airy almost always has the upper hand in reviews even if it's actually bass light. Still I'd suggest to any sane person to stay away from 90 year old tubes and ebay sellers of these.

    Both telefunkens meet as they were supposed to, rectifier and AD1 output:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2020
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  19. m17xr2b

    m17xr2b Friend

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    To conclude the globe 4V directly heated rectifier journey, the big brother of the RGN 2004 type is the 2504 and the closest spec wise to the 5U4. 2.5A heater and capable of 200mA with 60uF max.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2020
  20. ogodei

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    Did you try any indirectly heated 4V ?

    And did anything best the 422A ?
     

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