I have had the Strata for a little over a week now with about 150 hours of burn time on it now and I wanted to share some thoughts about it here with you all.
A few of you have been sharing my journey in to the land of audiophilia and I am excited with this next, big step. I have been trying to find some reviews that mentioned the Sprout vs Strata and though I got some insight in to that in the forums (thanks Jamesh and Paul, Caleb for your talk on the phone), I just wasn’t finding the details I was hankering for. I hope to share those details from my own experience now. Just a review of my rig:
Elac UB52 bookshelf speakers
Stellar Strata (previously Sprout100)
Cambridge Audio CXC Transport
Blue Jeans speaker cables
Murrow Audio MAP1 power cable feeding the Sprout
So this all started with a pair of Paradigm Studio 20s driven by an Onkyo DS939 HT receiver six years ago.
I had gotten my setup with the Sprout to about as far as I thought I could given the not so perfect space I have to work with. I wondered if the Strata could really make that much of a difference given said space. In one word. Yes. In another, darn near revelatory.
First, I listen to ALOT of classical. So, let me say, right out of the box, I first noticed cellos. When I heard them with the Sprout, I knew that was the cello section playing. But with the Strata…the whole character of the cellos changed. I had no idea what I was missing. The body of the cello just filled out; filled with warmth.
The next thing I noticed was new details in the bass. I could now tell the distinct difference between what the basses were playing and what the cellos were playing. But it got more detailed than that. I could tell when basses were bowing versus when they were plucking. Maybe I had a hint of that on the Sprout. But now, with the Strata, I KNOW it is happening. And this is through the UB52s without a sub.
In general the details that come out just grab me all time. Darn…that clarinet is really holding that note a long time. Jacqueline Du Pre is really bearing down on that cello. There is an excitement to the music and performances that I was aware of with the Sprout. The Strata hits me full in the face with that.
A Mahler crescendo: with the Sprout the sound came together…not so much in a big mush, but I didn’t get any detail. Now, I can hear all of the instruments coming together and increasing their volume. And I don’t lose the details of the individual instruments to create the explosion of music. The first time I heard it on Barbirolli’s Mahler 5th, I realized another aspect of the music I have been missing.
Like I said previously, a big aspect is the excitement of the performances really coming through now. I always thought that Mehta conducting Tchaikovsky was so dang fast. But with the Strata their is a bigger immediacy and excitement to that performance. I didn’t feel that with the Sprout. I got chills yesterday listening to “All At Once” by Bonnie Raitt.
So…if you are wondering about the move from the Sprout (which is still an amazing little box that I love) to the Strata, I can tell you that it is worth the investment. Especially if you can take advantage of PS Audio’s most generous trade-in program. I was able to trade-in to move up and that really sealed the deal for me.
My next moves: once I have a good feel of the Strata’s sound, upgrade the stock power cord on my CXC transport to the Morrow MAP1 and buy a MAP3 power cord for the Strata. Then…well…watching for those bookshelf speakers to arrive. Patience always pays off for me.
Thanks again, PS Audio. Well done.