Donald North Audio — Owners Thread

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

  1. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

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  2. RestoredSparda

    RestoredSparda Friend

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    Out of curiosity I picked up another NOS Sylvania 5U4G. Same D getter style as the one I was using with identical internals.

    Happy to report it sounds pretty much identical to my other. Will most likely buy a few more as they are dirt cheap, and be set for a good while. If you are looking for BASS these have the most quantity out of any other 5U4Gs I've tried. :headbang:
     
  3. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    This is a discussion/owners thread, not a head-fi "appreciation thread". I've spoken at length with Donald, posted a thread about his amazing customer service and have said many good things about the Stellaris - it's an incredible amp, but I've also posted about my frustrations and what I dont' like in what I'm hearing and what I want more of. This is what a discussion is - various different opinions coming together and people offering counter opinions or helping each other find what they're looking for or just offering advice.

    This is a good thing, this is what makes life interesting and this is how we learn from each other's experiences. I dont' want friends who just says yes to everything, I want to discuss things, gain perspective from their differing point of view or knowledge, hash things out, but all in the context of friendship and fun and knowing how awesome this all is. Look at this f'ing amp! It's so awesome. All of this is amazing we are so lucky to have pieces of equipment made like fighter jets for the sake of reproducing audio as beautifully as possible. Whatever my experience is with the Stellaris I'm sure it sounds incredible with the right headphones.

    As for driving ortho iems with the Stelaris I understand your skepticism or rather not understanding why it makes sense, I had a TOTL iem desktop rig 3 years ago and I would never use a tube amp for any of the BA or dynamic iems available at the time and I tried some expensive/"TOTL" iems. I settled on the og Solaris and Andromeda 2020. I used a THX 789 which is an awful amp but somehow sounds really good with BA's. And that's as far as I went with that rig and I considered it the best desktop iem rig in the world.

    But then I modded the S12 ortho iem when ortho iems started coming out, and it is a different beast compared to all other iems I've heard. I started with a Vali and thought I'd stop there - I thought that it would max out the S12's potential, but then Drop sent me a prototype of this el84 amp and my jaw dropped on the floor and I drooled everywhere at the magic I was hearing, I couldn't believe it. And so of course I wondered what other amps might sound like if my modded S!2 sounded this good with this $350 Drop tube amp. So it was a coincidence that I discovered this potential. And I have not reached their full potential, the better the amp, the better they sound. If they maxed out with the Vali I would have definitely stayed there, I'm not into gear for gear's sake.

    But really, ortho iems are just smaller driver orthos, the S-12 sensitivity is very close to the Audeze LCD-X and no one would bat an eye at plugging an LCD-X into the Stellaris.

    More ortho iems will come out that are tuned better and people will realize the potential they have and figure them out, but it may take some time as all off them are tuned horribly at the moment and mass opinion takes time to shift.

    So I understand why you are scratching your head. And I agree that the Stellaris was not designed for ortho iems or orthos in general, but electrodynamics, but ALL amps were designed for electrodynamics so us ortho heads have to find the ones that work the best with orthos.

    I'm trying to do something very specific with the Stellaris and I've been pretty clear about that. I like the Stellaris, I want it to sound the way I think it could sound with my phones. That's pretty positive.

    Regardless, even if I don't find synergy with the S12 and the Stellaris, I think the Stellaris will sound great with my RD-4. And if not, I still think it's a wonderful amp, designed impeccably. Honestly, I think the problems I'm running into could be that it is too clean, too little distortion (H2), etc. that gives notes those liquid leading edges and air and space. But I don't know yet.

    This is supposed to just be fun. I'm just having fun trying to get a certain sound I have in my head (imagination) out of an amp and my RD-S12's. Criticism and analyzing and thinking about the amp is all part of the fun. Figuring things out, deciding where to go from there. it's all part of the fun of realizing that sound you have in your head (for me at least, I have a very specific sound in my head that I'm trying to realize in physical form).

    I don't know why I wrote all that geeze haha. I'm glad you like your DNA amp and are enjoying it @KenAR ! wonderful to find the sound you like and just be enjoying music.

    Cheers bud. Nothing I’ve said in this thread was intended to offend you or anyone else here. But rather revel at our mad passion. [​IMG]
     
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    Last edited: Dec 9, 2023
  4. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    This eBay seller has some beautiful looking Mullard 6BQ7A pairs, but I'm having a really hard time getting her to put up an ad for me with 2 pairs and DHL shipping so I can buy them and not wait 2 months.

    Is anyone else interested? Maybe if a few more people bought a pair she'd respond. I could collect the payments and pay for the shipping. And just refund you if it doesn't work out.

    I have a pair of Mullard 6BQ7A's a (not the beauties from this ad) nad they've been the most common best driver for me, and one died/started making noises
     
  5. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

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    Not sure I understand. She seems to be selling pairs and shipping is not too far into the future. I'd be in for a pair. Am I missing something?
     
  6. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    Hmm you're right it's not bad maybe I should just order them regular shipping instead of trying to wait for her to setup a DHL sale. I hate waiting months for tubes though. But this seems to be only a couple weeks maybe. She also mentioned that they are tested, but didn't say anything specific. I'm just going to assume they are good tubes I think in this case. They're so pretty :oops:
     
  7. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

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    Just swapped a TAD 5U4G, which @Donald North and @ogodei mentioned earlier, for the EML mesh I had in my Stellaris Special. Early impressions: a bit warmer, more liquid, maybe slightly slower but with more body. Or it could be just suggestion ;)
     
  8. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    Last edited: Dec 21, 2023
  9. RestoredSparda

    RestoredSparda Friend

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  10. RestoredSparda

    RestoredSparda Friend

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    Interesting. I'll have to give mine more listening time. Does yours have a red base too? Did it sound good right out of the box or did you burn it in a bit?

    I don't usually notice much change in tubes after "burn in" but who knows.
     
  11. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

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    Red base. I turned the Stellaris on several hours before listening. I've not had time to let it burn in longer since then given other things on my calendar. More impressions in January.
     
  12. dasman66

    dasman66 Self proclaimed lazy ass - friend

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    Interesting... I always thought TAD simply relabeled and resold other new production companies stuff... This is the first I've heard people of substance recommend their product.

    Very interested to hear more... while I don't have any smurf amps (they would stick out like a sore thumb and be immediately noticed as something new by my wife), I do have amps that use the same tubes TAD sells.
    ----edit----
    https://www.tubeampdoctor.com/media/pdf/f8/c3/fd/TAD_REDBASE_Tubes.pdf
    based on this, looks like the red base are from the Shuguang factory misinformation
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2023
  13. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

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    Given this https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...udio-—-owners-thread.2586/page-44#post-420145 and the price, I thought it was worth trying. After the first impressions I did not have time for more careful listening, so it could be a fluke. I won't be able to get back to close listening until January to confirm or contradict that first impression.
     
  14. Donald North

    Donald North Friend

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    That PDF says the Shuguang factory was closed and they’ve teamed up with a new partner for the new Red Base line.
     
  15. dasman66

    dasman66 Self proclaimed lazy ass - friend

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    You're right... I originally read it as that the Shuguang factory closed and they took it over with a new partner... but that was a leap on my part. No idea if they are in that factory or where the partner is located. My bad. Will edit my prior post
     
  16. Donald North

    Donald North Friend

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    They look like they’re made in China - Psvane perhaps?
     
  17. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    It's all relative. I think much of the A&S line, especially the lower end or from the past, is too syrupy, warm, etc. Too much of an "HD650 effect" if you get what I mean. Coming from EC, the DNA will sound more wet or bloomy in comparison. But not warmpoo like some other tube amps. Once we get to molasses or warmpoo, it's disqualified, not permitted to be called wet or bloomy.

    It's an SBAF site thing. It takes a while to understand SBAF vocabulary and general mentality.

    Depends who you read. I'd be happy with cheapo Shuguang 2A3s on a Stratus. I'd be happy with EML 2A3 meshes. Just different flavor. Then again, when I find a tube I like, I just stick with it than try to chase the holy grail. Depends upon personality. I just don't have enough time these days so would prefer to listen to music than listen to tubes.

    What @loadexfa said. The DNA amps are not finicky. It's the people. Seriously, if guys can stick their dicks into the tube sockets, they would.

    Finally, the tube rolling discussion here is nothing compared to some at HF.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2023
  18. yotacowboy

    yotacowboy McRibs Kind of Guy

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    I'd bet they are Psvane. Psvane was started by a group that left Shuguang, IIRC (and LinLai was started by a group that left Psvane, also, IIRC). Note that TAD is listed as an EU distributor: http://www.psvane.com/wap/en/salesnetwork.html
     
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  19. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    I definitely would. Is there an adapter?
     
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  20. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    Complete List of Tubes Compatible with the Stratus & Stellaris
    (they both use the same tubes)

    Power Tubes:
    2a3 NOS or New Production
    Including the following:
    Psvane WR2a3
    Psvane WE275

    Rectifier Tubes:
    • 5U4G
    • 5U4GB
    [all impressions indicate that the 5U4GB is less resolving and dynamic than the 5U4G and is not recommended)

    No other rectifier tubes are ok’ed by Donald as they are not robust enough for the Stratus/Stellaris with the exception of this tube:

    Input Tubes: (little tube on the far right)
    • 6N1P (stock) in all forms 6N1P-EV, 6N1P-EB, etc as long as it is a 6N1P
    • 6BQ7A
    • 6CG7/6FQ7 [less gain than the 6BQ7A if that is relevant to you]
    • 6BK7B [The Sylvania is by far the most popular here, but I really like the RCA as well. The others are probably not worth trying]

    With a 12au7 (tube end) to 6922 (amp end) adapter (this is the best made adapter on the market, but there are few left in stock and then they’re gone) these tubes:

    • Brimar CV 4068. [This tube is quite popular and is the favorite input tube of many Stratus/Stellaris owners]
    • Brimar 13D3
    • CV4068
    • Brimar 6158

    Note from @rhythmdevils:
    I bought a Brimar 13D3 and was sent an adapter by a kind SBAF’er and I thought it sounded absolutely wonderful except for having very very loose bass. This could change with different power or input tubes though, as explained at the end of this list

    Weird Input tubes here for the record only, but not really recommended:

    With 'flying leads' adapter and some pins re-routed:
    • CV4069
    This is everything known about 13D3 and equivalents. Question marks indicate doubt. It is doubtful that these are worth looking into, but it is here for the record.

    13D3 = Miniature Double triode, medium MU, Indirectly heated. Can run at 6.3 or 12.6 volts. Stratus \ Stellaris requires it to run at 6.3, which is why you need the adapter.

    6158 (Commercial Designation) = 13D3 with a ruggedized structure for military use
    CV4068 (Brit. military Designation) = 13D3 with a ruggedized structure for military use

    CV4069 = CV4068, FLYING LEADS (Needs a fixed base)

    F-6158 =? CV4068, FLYING LEADS (Needs a fixed base)
    CV4051 =? CV4068, FLYING LEADS (Needs a fixed base)

    CV8080 =?? CV4068
    VX7073 =?? CV4068
    CV2212 =?? CV4068

    NOTE about tube rolling with the Stratus and Stellaris by @rhythmdevils:

    I have purchased almost every tube available for the Stellaris and I have found that tube rolling with it is unique from other amps. With other amps, my experience has been that you can learn the sound of a tube and then it always sounds that way and you can mix and match pretty easily like cooking. But with the Stellaris, every time you change one tube, the sound of the other tubes changes. I have a bag of my favorite input tubes that work most often, and when I change 2a3 tubes, I have heard them all sound bright in the upper mids, bass lite, bass heavy, treble emphasis, etc. Which makes tube rolling in these amps time consuming because you have to try every combination every time you change one tube. This has mostly been true for me with the input tubes changing sound signature when changing 2a3 tubes, but not always just that.
     
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    Last edited: Dec 31, 2023

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