Donald North Audio — Owners Thread

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

  1. loadexfa

    loadexfa Friend

    Friend Contributor
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2017
    Likes Received:
    1,976
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    SF Bay Area Peninsula
    Some tube thoughts ..

    I've been listening to the KR rectifier for a few hours today and so far find it fatiguing and a bit harsh. :( I'm not sure how much "break in" time I should allow but if this doesn't improve a lot I'll put it up for sale. Perhaps the mesh EML is more my flavor, so far I like it much better than any others. @Prtuc2 if you ended up getting the KR I hope it suits your taste, clearly many like it. I wish Stratus/Stellaris tubes didn't require such a high spend to experiment but these amps wouldn't be as awesome with different tube types.

    I recently switched to a recommended input tube from earlier in this thread and really like it. Better tone and some added clarity. Be sure to read which ones require an adapter if you go that route.

    My favorite 2A3 tubes are Acme, will try Linlai at some point but my understanding is the differences are mild (both are very good for new production). @penguins I have a pair of the Shugaung Treasure 2A3, you can borrow them if you'd like. I think they're pretty good but find the Acme more detailed, clear, and spacious.

    I prefer new production when possible for the sake of cost and availability. I hope penguins's speculation about the WE 422a comes true, I'm not willing to pay the insane price people ask for vintage versions of those but want to hear what everyone is raving about.
     
  2. penguins

    penguins Friend, formerly known as fp627

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2018
    Likes Received:
    2,627
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    SouthernCA
    ^ Thanks, appreciate the offer. PM sent.

    FWIW - I liked the EML mesh in the Status. Not the Stellaris though. I haven't heard the KR in the Stratus before so can't say much but I do know others like it.

    Also, I've since tried the Acme and Linlai, differences are mild when compared A/B in most cases, but with a few certain tube combos, I did prefer one over the other for that particular tube combo.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2022
  3. Erroneous

    Erroneous Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 15, 2016
    Likes Received:
    1,848
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Texas
    @loadexfa Definitely give the KR (and all tubes) time to break in. It should smooth out and improve.
     
  4. loadexfa

    loadexfa Friend

    Friend Contributor
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2017
    Likes Received:
    1,976
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    SF Bay Area Peninsula
    Yeah I realize tubes improve with break in but in my experience they usually aren't this bad at first. Maybe these are just more extreme, either way I'll be sure to give them 100 hours or so before deciding.
     
  5. Clear Water

    Clear Water Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    29
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Honolulu, HI
    @loadexfa wondering if the KR rectifier settled down for you. I have been using the same setup since around January, and I didn't care for it at first. I found the sound to be grainy and strident--strings had an etched quality and a very thin timbre. To my ears, it's improved considerably since then and was wondering what your final verdict was.
     
  6. loadexfa

    loadexfa Friend

    Friend Contributor
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2017
    Likes Received:
    1,976
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    SF Bay Area Peninsula
    I'm still burning in. It's been really slow due to sleep issues giving me listening fatigue. It is growing on me though. :)
     
  7. penguins

    penguins Friend, formerly known as fp627

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2018
    Likes Received:
    2,627
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    SouthernCA
    Was going to post about my findings with a few different rectifiers and power tubes, but brain is jello RN and way too tired, can't get things out cohesively right now. Will edit post later so this isn't just a stupid noise post.

    Short version though is the modern KR and ELROG rectifier made a much bigger difference than I expected with this amp. Power tubes helped in some ways but of the 2 I liked, both ACME and Linlai definitely added color and bloom and "other stuff". Did try the Slovakian JJ tubes in the past and although I liked them in the EC AF, I didn't like them as much here. That and I think current JJ production now is Chinese. The vintage stuff 2A3 is still good and much cleaner sounding but at this point, it's so much more convenient to just be able to get Linlai and ACME that are actually readily available with none of the problems associated with dealing with vintage tubes.

    edit: upon second thought, tubes are expensive. Maybe I'll write all of this up offline and people can PM me for this. IDK yet. Also note super motivated to write about tubes for 1-2 hours right now.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2022
  8. dirtyunderwear

    dirtyunderwear Rando

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2020
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Canada
    Looking forward to your findings as I've been eyeing the Elrog, but it is quite pricey. Can I trouble you to measure the height of the Elrog without pins? My shelf has limited clearance sadly.
     
  9. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2016
    Likes Received:
    2,383
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Palo Alto
    Home Page:
    Just got my Stellaris Special, stock tubes. A few hours on, but it already shows what it can do in the bass and percussion departments for my jazz preferences. Listening to William Parker's bass in "2 Blues for Cecil" (very well done by TUM Records), the notes sound a bit thicker, more material than with my other/previous amps, but without being smeared, and very dynamic. The fine-grained texture, roughness, of all the instruments and their handling is very present. Listening on Verité closed so I can't expect a big stage. But the proximity of the instruments is something, and the bass notes are punchy to the point of surprise. I can already see that this is going to grab much of my listening time, even before I start the tube pilgrimage (two rectifiers waiting in the closet).
     
  10. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2016
    Likes Received:
    2,383
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Palo Alto
    Home Page:
    Maybe placebo, these tubes are way early in their "development," but replacing the stock rectifier with a NOS RCA 5U4G/VT-244 seems to move the needle to a bit tighter, faster while solidifying the bass further. This is the amp to truly listen to William Parker's bass. I spy a Parker-fest in my future (currently listening to "Sparks" with Parker, Eri Yamamoto, and Chad Fowler). Free jazz can sound dry, but not on this setup.
    Update: the RCA 5U4G is a bit microphonic, so I went back to the stock rectifier. This could be a burn-in issue, but I'll need more time to explore it. For the moment, I keep enjoying the superb dance of jazz bass and cymbals, now in "The Other Side" by the Tord Gustavsen Trio. One thing I'm noticing with this recording is that somehow the HQPlayer > Holo May > Stellaris > Verité (blackwood open this time) chain is taming a bit the over-the-top reverb in ECM's house style.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2022
  11. perogie

    perogie Facebook Friend

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2020
    Likes Received:
    150
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Ontario
    16cm
     
  12. dirtyunderwear

    dirtyunderwear Rando

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2020
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Canada
    Thanks! That's one big boy of a rectifier...
     
  13. perogie

    perogie Facebook Friend

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2020
    Likes Received:
    150
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Ontario
    It also doesnt glow so much but shine, fairly brightly, which may or may not be an issue.
     
  14. Erroneous

    Erroneous Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 15, 2016
    Likes Received:
    1,848
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Texas
  15. perogie

    perogie Facebook Friend

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2020
    Likes Received:
    150
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Ontario
    I know, if I didn’t have my amp just off to the side, out of my line of sight, Im not sure how tolerant of it I would be.
     
  16. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2016
    Likes Received:
    2,383
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Palo Alto
    Home Page:
    Trying the EL mesh rectifier I just got. First impression is bigger macro dynamics, more space than stock rectifier. Maybe a bit less precise in the attacks and micro stuff, but this is a new tube that I'd assume needs some time to get to it's longer-term behavior.
     
  17. Claud

    Claud Living the ORFAS dream

    Friend
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2018
    Likes Received:
    676
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    North Carolina
    The EMLrectifier is a big mother ain't it? Works for my Stratus/ Acme power tubes/ special input tube { no longer available}
     
  18. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2016
    Likes Received:
    2,383
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Palo Alto
    Home Page:
    It's big-ish, for sure, but not extreme.
     
  19. loadexfa

    loadexfa Friend

    Friend Contributor
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2017
    Likes Received:
    1,976
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    SF Bay Area Peninsula
    OK, the KR rectifier is now my current favorite. In comparison the EML mesh is too boosted in the bass and not as clear. Looks like I also need to try the ELROG. <sigh>
     
  20. Clear Water

    Clear Water Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    29
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Honolulu, HI
    It's weird how it grew on me, too. I'm hoping @Erroneous will give some comparisons with the elrog since it was his endorsement that pushed me to put in an order for the KR. I don't think I'd want anything more aggressive but I'm a sucker for a spacious, holographic presentation.
     

Share This Page