Donald North Audio — Owners Thread

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

  1. Donald North

    Donald North Friend

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    Not lite; it’s more costly
     
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Ahhh, this is the Super Stellaris you spoke about with the next level OPTs!
    I must hear this sometime.

    Can I come over with a mask?
     
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  3. Donald North

    Donald North Friend

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    First one is in its new home. I’m building the second one in May and you’re welcome to hear it.
     
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  4. penguins

    penguins Friend, formerly known as fp627

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    Should clarify this sentiment (or the message underlying the sarcasm) is exactly why it took me almost a year to get around to this part of it. Still don't really care for tube rolling, but if I'm going to spend money buying tubes and we're at home all day via covid, may as well aim more carefully this time around.


    Yes, I'm using old S plate 2A3 tubes (RCA) . Haven't used any non-s plate tubes yet so that may be it right there.
    The input and rectifier do affect sound, but it's not a huge difference, but what I've gotten so far from the tubes you sent me (other tubes have not arrived yet):
    - The triple mica (particularly the one you sent me) is slightly more fluid, a little more lush, and has that "sweetness" that some people want with tubes. However, I lose a tiny bit of texture and clarity in stuff like cymbals.
    - With the stock voskhod, it's a little warmer yes, has some ring and "life", is very musical all around, but somwhat paradoxically it also adds a tiny bit of an edge I can't describe very well that only pops up from time to time and isn't even bad when it does. However, this is what made me curious about tube rolling this to begin with.
    - Single wire getter - nothing was wrong per se, but there was nothing "special" that would jump out either. And yes, random parts did seem more emphasized (half full or half empty) or masked with the single wire.
    - Gold pin voskhod - pretty similar to stock tube, but slightly less musicality and no edge that pops up from time to time. Not sure if small difference is due to pins, different production decade (near end of CCCP), or some other minor factor.
    - Still trying other input tube families as we mentioned over PM, but awaiting tubes.

    - Tried each of above with one RCA and one Raytheon 5U4G picked at random from amongst rectifiers, done in a random order, about 10-15 min per combo input/rectifier combo. Started with Tung-Sol too I got tired of listening to tubes and cut it down to only 2 after the first try (stuck with RCA and Raytheon b/c I have multiple tubes, not b/c Tung-Sol 5U4G is bad). Characteristics changed with rectifiers, but again, it was more about some small changes adding a little synergy rather than a drastic change. If I'm going to overly generalize it, overall RCA tube made things slightly more lush with a little more color while the Raytheon made things slightly more neutral, even, and solid state sounding.
    - Will still throw a EML Mesh 5U4G into the mix later, but it's pretty low priority right now.

    Actually, now that I write this all out, if anything, I think I'm going to try to stick with S plate 2A3 in the future if I ever need more tubes. It's nice not having to worry too much about the other tubes but still being able to make small tweaks as desired (that and I have a lot of tubes already built up). But who knows, maybe one day in the future I'll hear your super tubes and be proven wrong.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2020
  5. Claud

    Claud Living the ORFAS dream

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    Emailed Brent Jessee early this morning and heard from them a bit after 9. No problem sending the 50s back. No more single plate 2A3s so I just ordered another pair of VT-95 RCAs.
    It was my fault ordering the 50s. Their listing was beside the RCA single plates so I assumed that they were 2A3 equivalant.
    DUH!!
    For you tube folk, you need to check out his on line inventory. Its a audiophile candy store.
     
  6. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    The cool thing is that even two of the same brand and make of tubes could sound different, depending upon condition! Tends to happen for "NOS", vintage tubes, and some brands of new production tubes. A really good way to ratchet up toob neurosis is with good toob testing gear (not the crap the eBay sellers use) and an AverLAB analyzer. The differences are not subtle when it comes to measurements. We're talking almost headphone level non-linearities in distortion = can be heard.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2020
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  7. Claud

    Claud Living the ORFAS dream

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    So, Mr. North, how much for your Setllaris Special?
    I want to thank you for your warning about those RCA 50s. The absolute finest customer service I could have imagined.
     
  8. penguins

    penguins Friend, formerly known as fp627

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    Yep - I heard a difference between the individual RCA and Raytheon rectifiers even though many were only made a few years apart most seem to have the same construction. Not a surprise given that this is all analog and I imagine even little random neurosis level stuff like "the speed of electrons" and "how far do the electrons have to travel" or "batch variations in raw materials" maybe even "my hair is now 3mm longer and affects the headphone seal" etc. probably make a difference. This is on top of probably more obvious stuff like tube life / balance.

    I have thought about a tube tester since before I even got on SBAF... but every time I realize the $$$ for a good tester + Averlab/reliable measurements stuff (+ time relearning subtleties of how to do good electronics measurements) probably > or >> $$ spent on tubes, even if I throw in a few bad ones. Plus the difference in sound isn't big enough for me to want to spend the $. Yes there is a next level of knowledge I can attain etc. and maybe I'll want to one day... but for now would rather put $ (and time) towards savings, a new DAC, other hobbies/things, trips, etc.
     
  9. penguins

    penguins Friend, formerly known as fp627

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    EDIT: Got EML 5U4G Mesh in a trade elsewhere. Using w/ stock input tube + RCA power tubes.

    Adds macro dynamics and impact, more so in the bass than elsewhere, it cleans up the sound a little bit overall (tighter transients it seems and maybe a slightly blacker background?), also seems to reduce distortion in the 2nd/3rd order harmonics that old tubes seem to add. All really nice, but now that I have an Af (which doesn't slam as hard as Stellaris per se, but with does it in a different way that I enjoy), I'll probably stick with various NOS tubes for Stellaris for more "tube magic sound" instead of the more dynamic sound of the EML. Otherwise, I see why so many DNA owners use this tube.

    Shameless plug - EML for sale if anyone wants it ($175, see FS section). If this is a no-no mods please remove this line.
     
  10. Ntbm3

    Ntbm3 Friend

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  11. fluxbat

    fluxbat Rando

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    Stellaris #17 is now being enjoyed nightly, much to the detriment of my sleep pattern! Too early for impressions, though I doubt they will add new insight. Letting everything bed in for a few months. So far, leagues above the Schiit Ragnarok, but then again, different in every way. A decadent delight.
     
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  12. ogodei

    ogodei Headphone Heaven Gatekeeper

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  13. m17xr2b

    m17xr2b Friend

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    The 300B with a 2.5V heater is still a 300B and my issue is:
    -no one would run the a standard 300B at 250V and such low current as in the Stellaris, would be a poor fit IMO.
    -some 2A3 circuits run the tubes hard and would be a better suited. These 2A3 wannabes expect a typical datasheet operating point and not the finally tuned one in the Stellaris.
    -the only good Sophia 300B is the Royal Princess, the standard 300B used with 2.5V heater is mediocre at best and not better than standard Chinese 2A3.
    - Psvana WR2A3 is something else, a hybrid of sorts and not a 300B and their references to such are marketing only.
    - JJ 2A3 I think is a 300B in hiding, it's a cheap tube no one cares because it's cheap but high quality if forums are to be believed.
    - the input stage of the Stellaris is perfect for 2A3 and horrible for 300B. 300B needs a stout driver.
     
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  14. penguins

    penguins Friend, formerly known as fp627

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    Brief note on JJ 2A3 - I don’t think it exceeds performance of most vintage 2A3 but it’s my favorite cheap tube (edit: as a whole, not for Stellaris specifically) so far. Its maybe a 1/4 point worse than a good vintage 2A3 and mostly a different sound where as most modern “cheap” tubes are a full point or two worse. I would say stock shuguangs are the exception only on a Stellaris - same tubes in Af weren’t good.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2020
  15. saint.panda

    saint.panda Friend

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    I had the Sophia Electric Carbon Princess 300b 2.5V. Didn't like it. I remember it being a bit bright and not very nuanced.
     
  16. Xecuter

    Xecuter Brush and floss your amp twice a day

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    Try the acme 2a3 if you want some of the 300b sound with 2a3 specs. It's a good step up on the JJ in SQ IMO
     
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  17. ogodei

    ogodei Headphone Heaven Gatekeeper

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    For those of us still catching up, is the acme everyone is raving about the Psvane Acme series 2A3 or is there actually a brand called 'acme' out there?
     
  18. Xecuter

    Xecuter Brush and floss your amp twice a day

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  19. ogodei

    ogodei Headphone Heaven Gatekeeper

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    No need to apologize, I've just seen these referred to so often only as 'acme' I was wondering if there was a new reseller around.
     
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  20. saint.panda

    saint.panda Friend

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    What sources have folks found to synergize well with the Stellaris? I find the Rockna to be overkill for headphones as many of its strengths don't come into play, especially soundstage, and I'll likely build a speaker system around it instead. And while Morpheus/Stellaris has a nice tone, I find the combo a bit too dense & rolled-off. So probably not NOS. Maybe I'll just go back to Yggdrasil. Has anyone ever tried a more aggressive DAC with the Stellaris, e.g. Convert 2?
     
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