How do you guys like your PS Audio Stellar S300 amps ?

13

Comments

  • joecoulsonjoecoulson Posts: 3,613
    edited June 29
    For my they trounced Linn LK240 ($4800 a pair) monoblocks.
    Auralic Vega G1/Rega TT/Denon SACD - Parasound P6 - PS Audio M700x2 - Elac Adante AF-61 - AQ Niagara 5000 - SVS SB16u
  • gyosagyosa Posts: 255
    I’m so glad I asked this question ... seriously...
    I , too , am skeptical of class D ....I am mighty tempted by the B&K 200.2 for sale here for half the price of the Stellar - it is a well known entity with a long history..
    But , it’s probably close to 20 years old now ..
    I already have an old amp ...

    Tempted to try something new ....
    So far haven’t seen anything negative about it ....

    BK
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    PS Audio Stellar S300 , Cambridge Audio 851n , Yamaha wxc-50 , Salk Supercharged Songtowers
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  • jdjohnjdjohn Posts: 1,015
    In my review here: https://forum.polkaudio.com/discussion/179314/ps-audio-stellar-analog-cell-amp-versus/p1 one thing I mentioned was harmonics. Before doing direct comparisons of class D vs class A/B, I had never noticed the harmonic distortions in class A/B. Normally, harmonic distortion is only mentioned in reference to tube amps, but this phenomena is also present (and known) in solid state amps, but to a lesser degree.

    IMO/IME class D pretty much strips all harmonic distortion. Distortion is a fickled friend, and comes down to taste. Those who prefer it will gravitate toward tube amps. Others will land in class A, A/B, or otherwise. Class D IME provides very clean and undistorted playback. It is interesting to more clearly hear reverb/delay/echo effects, with vocals in particular, when utilizing class D playback.

    Again, this all comes down to taste, but I know several members on this forum that made the switch, and haven't looked back.
    "Sometimes I do what I want to do. The rest of the time, I do what I have to." - Cicero, in Gladiator

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  • nooshinjohnnooshinjohn Posts: 21,511
    If I didn't already have the greatest pair of tube amps in the known universe, PS Audio would be on my short list to try out. I say go for it, as at that price there is nothing else new that will come close to touching it.
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  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 16,221
    jdjohn wrote: »
    In my review here: https://forum.polkaudio.com/discussion/179314/ps-audio-stellar-analog-cell-amp-versus/p1 one thing I mentioned was harmonics. Before doing direct comparisons of class D vs class A/B, I had never noticed the harmonic distortions in class A/B. Normally, harmonic distortion is only mentioned in reference to tube amps, but this phenomena is also present (and known) in solid state amps, but to a lesser degree.

    IMO/IME class D pretty much strips all harmonic distortion. Distortion is a fickled friend, and comes down to taste. Those who prefer it will gravitate toward tube amps. Others will land in class A, A/B, or otherwise. Class D IME provides very clean and undistorted playback. It is interesting to more clearly hear reverb/delay/echo effects, with vocals in particular, when utilizing class D playback.

    Again, this all comes down to taste, but I know several members on this forum that made the switch, and haven't looked back.

    I don't like the way this is worded but I'm tired and don't want to try to clean it up. If it comes across as antagonizing I apologize. I just got done mowing the yard.



    I'm not sure you understand what it is that tube amps do. It isn't about distortion - that's for guitar amps. What they do is something special in audio and class D isn't there yet. In fact, the units I've heard aren't even close. It is true tube amps distort in such a way that it is pleasant to the ear, but you shouldn't be pushing a tube amp into distortion.

    Tube amps have a presentation that is organic and almost completely unique to tubes. Tonality of the amplifier have nothing to do with this and most vintage tube amps are warm and syrupy because of poor power supplies. For solid state, Norma Audio and T+A do very well with this presentation, regardless of tube or solid state.

    Class D is extremely controlled and extremely efficient. Those are the benefits of the topology. It requires much less in terms of power supplies because of the efficiency and that might be the 'distortion', which I refer to as noise, that you are missing. A higher quality PS will make EVERYTHING sound better.

    I'm not saying you can do better for the money. I honestly have no clue. Much like Magnepan, Class D offers great value but does have caveats that need to be noted prior to purchase. I still personally haven't heard a class D amp I could live with but not everyone listens the way I do.
  • joecoulsonjoecoulson Posts: 3,613
    You have tried the PS Audio Stellar line Skip?
    Auralic Vega G1/Rega TT/Denon SACD - Parasound P6 - PS Audio M700x2 - Elac Adante AF-61 - AQ Niagara 5000 - SVS SB16u
  • jdjohnjdjohn Posts: 1,015
    Joe beat me to it. Until one has done a true real-time comparison, one shouldn't imply comparisons.
    "Sometimes I do what I want to do. The rest of the time, I do what I have to." - Cicero, in Gladiator

    Regarding collectibles: "It's not who gets it. It's who gets stuck with it." - Jimmy Fallon
  • kharp1kharp1 Posts: 3,393
    joecoulson wrote: »
    You have tried the PS Audio Stellar line Skip?

    Thought he made it pretty clear that he hadn't, but, iterated that he had yet to find a class D he could live with. I'm in the same boat, though I have not heard the Stellar amps. That was why I was asking for amp comparison to see if anyone had put them up against any amps I've had. The McCormack is one I've had. Same with a B&K. Neither of those made the cut, but, the hot-rodded McCormack was a good one.
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  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 16,221
    edited June 29
    joecoulson wrote: »
    You have tried the PS Audio Stellar line Skip?

    I've heard it but I've made no judgments off my experience with it. I have talked with Drew about it and he doesn't seem to disagree with my presumptions but I'll let him share if he wants.

    Among others, I've heard a pair of $17,000 Class D monos and wasn't overly impressed. I have been told by an ear I trust fully that there is at least one Class D amp that shines (for my preferences) but the guy no longer makes them.
  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 16,221
    jdjohn wrote: »
    Joe beat me to it. Until one has done a true real-time comparison, one shouldn't imply comparisons.

    I wouldn't speak unless I felt confident. Like I said, I've heard many class D amps and none have done it for me, including the limited experience with the S300. Keep in mind we all listen for different things though and what I look for might not be what you look for.
  • jdjohnjdjohn Posts: 1,015
    edited June 29
    DSkip wrote: »
    I'm not sure you understand what it is that tube amps do. It isn't about distortion - that's for guitar amps. What they do is something special in audio and class D isn't there yet.
    So if guitar amps accomplish the tube mission, why do we need power amps (in a playback function) to do it again? That seems repetitive, redundant, and unnatural.
    "Sometimes I do what I want to do. The rest of the time, I do what I have to." - Cicero, in Gladiator

    Regarding collectibles: "It's not who gets it. It's who gets stuck with it." - Jimmy Fallon
  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 16,221
    jdjohn wrote: »
    DSkip wrote: »
    I'm not sure you understand what it is that tube amps do. It isn't about distortion - that's for guitar amps. What they do is something special in audio and class D isn't there yet.
    So if guitar amps accomplish the tube mission, why do we need power amps (in a playback function) to do it again? That seems repetitive and unnatural.

    They don't. Tube guitar amps are all about TONE and the way they distort. Hifi tube amps are about the presentation and organic presentation. You don't want to push a hifi tube into distortion.

    There are spatial things that happen with a good tube amp that are incredibly hard to replicate with solid state. It could be because transistors operate off square waves and tubes operate in sine waves, which is obviously more natural. It could be that there is 'magic' in the bottles. Whatever the reason, its simply more organic.
  • kharp1kharp1 Posts: 3,393
    jdjohn wrote: »
    DSkip wrote: »
    I'm not sure you understand what it is that tube amps do. It isn't about distortion - that's for guitar amps. What they do is something special in audio and class D isn't there yet.
    So if guitar amps accomplish the tube mission, why do we need power amps (in a playback function) to do it again? That seems repetitive, redundant, and unnatural.

    That's not how I read that statement. The harmonics that tubes distort are the even harmonics, which are far more pleasing to the ear. Tubes excel in guitar amps because they can be distorted to give the beautiful fullness we love on distorted guitars. SS shows a much more jagged line when scoped and isn't as pleasant to listen to.

    In home playback tubes often offer a fuller, richer sound with a more holographic sound stage. Some say that can be reproduced with SS, but, the cost is usually stratospheric.
    Main System:
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  • BlueFoxBlueFox Posts: 12,180
    DSkip wrote: »
    There are spatial things that happen with a good tube amp that are incredibly hard to replicate with solid state. It could be because transistors operate off square waves and tubes operate in sine waves, which is obviously more natural. It could be that there is 'magic' in the bottles. Whatever the reason, its simply more organic.

    It has been a few years since I worked with hardware, but I think analog circuitry transistors aren’t dealing with square waves.
    Bud - Silicon Valley

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  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 16,221
    kharp1 wrote: »
    jdjohn wrote: »
    DSkip wrote: »
    I'm not sure you understand what it is that tube amps do. It isn't about distortion - that's for guitar amps. What they do is something special in audio and class D isn't there yet.
    So if guitar amps accomplish the tube mission, why do we need power amps (in a playback function) to do it again? That seems repetitive, redundant, and unnatural.

    That's not how I read that statement. The harmonics that tubes distort are the even harmonics, which are far more pleasing to the ear. Tubes excel in guitar amps because they can be distorted to give the beautiful fullness we love on distorted guitars. SS shows a much more jagged line when scoped and isn't as pleasant to listen to.

    In home playback tubes often offer a fuller, richer sound with a more holographic sound stage. Some say that can be reproduced with SS, but, the cost is usually stratospheric.

    Even this is often a voicing of a unit, either at the factory or by the owner's tube selections. Modern tube amp design has come a long ways and the frequency response we get out of them is better than ever. The richness came from limitations during the earlier days of tube amp design.

    The MastersounD amps (except for the Dueventi) are actually quite linear like solid state with the stock tubes. Its the way they present the music that is different and hard to really elaborate on in a solid sense.


    I'll see if I can find out what Class D manufacturer that was that seemed to capture some of that per my resource. I think he was down in the Houston area.
  • joecoulsonjoecoulson Posts: 3,613
    Thread derail complete.

    Bottom line, PS A class D amps are an absolute bargain for the performance.

    I recommended them highly to the OP

    Auralic Vega G1/Rega TT/Denon SACD - Parasound P6 - PS Audio M700x2 - Elac Adante AF-61 - AQ Niagara 5000 - SVS SB16u
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 23,458
    edited June 29
    kharp1 wrote: »
    ...
    That's not how I read that statement. The harmonics that tubes distort are the even harmonics, which are far more pleasing to the ear.
    ...

    No. I'm sorry, but that is simply not correct [slight edit applied]. It IS true that a single-ended amplifier will not cancel out even-order harmonic distortion; but it doesn' t matter whether the amplifier uses vacuum tube or solid state active devices. It is true that even-order distortion is euphonic. It is further true that push-pull amplifiers cancel out even order distortion -- again, regardless of whether the active devices are solid state or vacuum tubes.

    Odd-order harmonic distortion is unpleasant (non-musical, so to speak) and is objectionable at far lower levels (percent of total signal) than are even-order harmonics. The (so called) second harmonic of a fundamental tone is exactly one octave above the fundamental -- which is why it sounds pleasant (euphonic).

    Vacuum tubes do have very different behavior as they go from linear to nonlinear operation (clipping) -- they tend to compress as they go nonlinear; transistors are typically much more brick wall as they go into clipping -- but this is irrespective of amplifier operating "class".


  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 16,221
    mhardy6647 wrote: »
    s do have very different behavior as they go from linear to nonlinear operation (clipping) -- they tend to compress as they go nonlinear; transistors are typically much more brick wall as they go into clipping -- but this is irrespective of amplifier operating "class".


    Very accurate. Sometimes if you aren't actively listening you might not notice the tubes are distorting. It's never a question with solid state.
  • jdjohnjdjohn Posts: 1,015
    DSkip wrote: »
    Whatever the reason, its simply more organic.
    'Organic': often used in describing the sound of vinyl playback...good or bad. I honestly don't know: Skip, do you utilize a turntable?
    "Sometimes I do what I want to do. The rest of the time, I do what I have to." - Cicero, in Gladiator

    Regarding collectibles: "It's not who gets it. It's who gets stuck with it." - Jimmy Fallon
  • kharp1kharp1 Posts: 3,393
    mhardy6647 wrote: »
    kharp1 wrote: »
    ...
    That's not how I read that statement. The harmonics that tubes distort are the even harmonics, which are far more pleasing to the ear.
    ...

    No. I'm sorry, but that is simply not correct [slight edit applied]. It IS true that a single-ended amplifier will not cancel out even-order harmonic distortion; but it doesn' t matter whether the amplifier uses vacuum tube or solid state active devices. It is true that even-order distortion is euphonic. It is further true that push-pull amplifiers cancel out even order distortion -- again, regardless of whether the active devices are solid state or vacuum tubes.

    Odd-order harmonic distortion is unpleasant (non-musical, so to speak) and is objectionable at far lower levels (percent of total signal) than are even-order harmonics. The (so called) second harmonic of a fundamental tone is exactly one octave above the fundamental -- which is why it sounds pleasant (euphonic).

    Vacuum tubes do have very different behavior as they go from linear to nonlinear operation (clipping) -- they tend to compress as they go nonlinear; transistors are typically much more brick wall as they go into clipping -- but this is irrespective of amplifier operating "class".


    So, what did I say that wasn't true?
    Main System:
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  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 16,221
    jdjohn wrote: »
    DSkip wrote: »
    Whatever the reason, its simply more organic.
    'Organic': often used in describing the sound of vinyl playback...good or bad. I honestly don't know: Skip, do you utilize a turntable?

    I have a bit in the past but no. I have had vinyl guys jump into streaming after hearing my system though. Vinyl as a Sound has never really had the allure to me. Could be the music selections though.
  • kharp1kharp1 Posts: 3,393
    edited June 29
    joecoulson wrote: »
    Thread derail complete.

    Bottom line, PS A class D amps are an absolute bargain for the performance.

    I recommended them highly to the OP

    And why is it practically ever time a conversation takes a slight turn someone wants to start complaining about a derail. Are we that much of a Na-z-i community that we can't tolerate a thread taking a slight turn? Everything posted is still amp related. Do we need to make rules that no one other than the OP can speak of anything else but the exact line of the original post?
    Post edited by kharp1 on
    Main System:
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  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,248
    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 16,221
    The brand was H2O and the amps were the S100 and S250. It looks like they have been talked about prior on the forum, albeit 12 years ago.
  • verbverb Posts: 8,010
    joecoulson wrote: »
    Thread derail complete.

    Bottom line, PS A class D amps are an absolute bargain for the performance.

    I recommended them highly to the OP

    Interesting discussion thus far! :smile:
    Basement: Polk SDA SRS, Cary SLP-05 Pre, Enlightened Audio Designs CD Transport, Northstar Designs Excelsio DAC, Silnote Morpheus Ref2 Digital Cable, Marantz SA-14 SACD, McIntosh MC300 Amp, Furman 15PFi Power Conditioner, Pangea Power Cables, Wireworld Oasis 8 RCA IC's, MIT Shotgun S3 IC's, MIT Shotgun S1 Bi-Wire speaker cables
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  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 23,458
    edited July 1
    kharp1 wrote: »
    mhardy6647 wrote: »
    kharp1 wrote: »
    ...
    That's not how I read that statement. The harmonics that tubes distort are the even harmonics, which are far more pleasing to the ear.
    ...

    No. I'm sorry, but that is simply not correct [slight edit applied]. It IS true that a single-ended amplifier will not cancel out even-order harmonic distortion; but it doesn' t matter whether the amplifier uses vacuum tube or solid state active devices. It is true that even-order distortion is euphonic. It is further true that push-pull amplifiers cancel out even order distortion -- again, regardless of whether the active devices are solid state or vacuum tubes.

    Odd-order harmonic distortion is unpleasant (non-musical, so to speak) and is objectionable at far lower levels (percent of total signal) than are even-order harmonics. The (so called) second harmonic of a fundamental tone is exactly one octave above the fundamental -- which is why it sounds pleasant (euphonic).

    Vacuum tubes do have very different behavior as they go from linear to nonlinear operation (clipping) -- they tend to compress as they go nonlinear; transistors are typically much more brick wall as they go into clipping -- but this is irrespective of amplifier operating "class".


    So, what did I say that wasn't true?

    You said:
    The harmonics that tubes distort are the even harmonics, which are far more pleasing to the ear.
    That isn't true, full stop -- as I went on to explain.
    For whatever reason, lots of people seem to conflate the THD spectra of SE vs. PP amplifier topologies (i.e., Class A vs. Class AB or Class B topologoies) with the harmonoic distortion spectra of tubes vs solid state -- and that is a misapprehension.


  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 23,458
    edited July 1
    DSkip wrote: »
    The brand was H2O and the amps were the S100 and S250. It looks like they have been talked about prior on the forum, albeit 12 years ago.

    There was a guy on AK who had one for a while. He's something of a flavor of the month kinda guy in terms of componentry (although perhaps not of the sound he seeks), as perusal of his history there will show. He buys stuff, talks it up, then sells it and buys different stuff (as best I can tell).

    https://audiokarma.org/forums/index.php?threads/whats-your-hidden-gem.844126/page-2#post-12113768

    yu9c7h3037dy.png

    EDIT: FWIW
    From the for sale ad for the above-mentioned amplifier (October 2018):
    This is a reference quality amp, that has developed a reputation of fantasitc sound, and the ability to drive any speaker out there. The designer uses Apogee Scintillia as his reference speaker, and this amp is built to handle that 1 ohm load.
    This is a Class D amplifier capable of outputting 250 WPC and 40 amps of current. This is the signature version that uses dual stack toroidal transformers, and improved bypass caps and internal wire. This amp has the mids of a quality tube amplifier, yet has control of the bass the way a quality solid state amp has. Here is the whole story from 6 Moons

    http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/h2o2/1.html
  • kharp1kharp1 Posts: 3,393
    mhardy6647 wrote: »
    kharp1 wrote: »
    mhardy6647 wrote: »
    kharp1 wrote: »
    ...
    That's not how I read that statement. The harmonics that tubes distort are the even harmonics, which are far more pleasing to the ear.
    ...

    No. I'm sorry, but that is simply not correct [slight edit applied]. It IS true that a single-ended amplifier will not cancel out even-order harmonic distortion; but it doesn' t matter whether the amplifier uses vacuum tube or solid state active devices. It is true that even-order distortion is euphonic. It is further true that push-pull amplifiers cancel out even order distortion -- again, regardless of whether the active devices are solid state or vacuum tubes.

    Odd-order harmonic distortion is unpleasant (non-musical, so to speak) and is objectionable at far lower levels (percent of total signal) than are even-order harmonics. The (so called) second harmonic of a fundamental tone is exactly one octave above the fundamental -- which is why it sounds pleasant (euphonic).

    Vacuum tubes do have very different behavior as they go from linear to nonlinear operation (clipping) -- they tend to compress as they go nonlinear; transistors are typically much more brick wall as they go into clipping -- but this is irrespective of amplifier operating "class".


    So, what did I say that wasn't true?

    You said:
    The harmonics that tubes distort are the even harmonics, which are far more pleasing to the ear.
    That isn't true, full stop -- as I went on to explain.
    For whatever reason, lots of people seem to conflate the THD spectra of SE vs. PP amplifier topologies (i.e., Class A vs. Class AB or Class B topologoies) with the harmonoic distortion spectra of tubes vs solid state -- and that is a misapprehension.


    Thank you for the clarification, you're in depth analysis is always appreciated.
    Main System:
    Joule-Electra LA 100 MKIII Upgraded by Rich Brkich Pre
    Butler Audio TBD 2250 Amp
    PS Audio DirectStream DAC and MemoryPlayer Transport
    LSA-1 Statement
    SVS SB4000 & SB2000
    Wireworld Equinox 7 bi-wire, Wireworld Silver Eclipse 7 IC

    Secondary Rig:
    Parasound P5, Audio Electronics by Cary Constellation
    Marsh a200s, Audio Elecrtonics by Cary Hercules
    Pioneer Elite DV-45a, Denon DVD-2910
    Klipsch Epic CF-1, Vandersteen 3CE sig
    Analysus Plus Oval

    Backup Gear:
    Pass Labs Aleph 30, McCormack DNA-125, Parasound A21
    Marantz SA-14S1
    Usher CP-6311/Tyler Acoustics Taylo Reference Monitor, LSA-1
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 23,458
    kharp1 wrote: »
    mhardy6647 wrote: »
    kharp1 wrote: »
    mhardy6647 wrote: »
    kharp1 wrote: »
    ...
    That's not how I read that statement. The harmonics that tubes distort are the even harmonics, which are far more pleasing to the ear.
    ...

    No. I'm sorry, but that is simply not correct [slight edit applied]. It IS true that a single-ended amplifier will not cancel out even-order harmonic distortion; but it doesn' t matter whether the amplifier uses vacuum tube or solid state active devices. It is true that even-order distortion is euphonic. It is further true that push-pull amplifiers cancel out even order distortion -- again, regardless of whether the active devices are solid state or vacuum tubes.

    Odd-order harmonic distortion is unpleasant (non-musical, so to speak) and is objectionable at far lower levels (percent of total signal) than are even-order harmonics. The (so called) second harmonic of a fundamental tone is exactly one octave above the fundamental -- which is why it sounds pleasant (euphonic).

    Vacuum tubes do have very different behavior as they go from linear to nonlinear operation (clipping) -- they tend to compress as they go nonlinear; transistors are typically much more brick wall as they go into clipping -- but this is irrespective of amplifier operating "class".


    So, what did I say that wasn't true?

    You said:
    The harmonics that tubes distort are the even harmonics, which are far more pleasing to the ear.
    That isn't true, full stop -- as I went on to explain.
    For whatever reason, lots of people seem to conflate the THD spectra of SE vs. PP amplifier topologies (i.e., Class A vs. Class AB or Class B topologoies) with the harmonoic distortion spectra of tubes vs solid state -- and that is a misapprehension.


    Thank you for the clarification, you're in depth analysis is always appreciated.

    De nada.

    :)
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,248
    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
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