My pair of black Stellar 300’s turned up today.
The system pre-Stellar is an Oppo HA-1 DAC/preamp/headphone amp fed digital data through a MiniDSP Dirac room correction box. There is a 4-way SP-DIF switcher (the MiniDSP doesn’t have enough inputs) fed from a NuWave Phono Converter outputting data at 24 bit 96KHz from a Linn LP12 with n old Rega RB300 arm and an Ortofon 2M black.
The power amps were the monstrous Parasound 2250v2 machines; these lack XLR (balanced) inputs, so RCA connections were needed… About 400W a channel into the speakers, which are the original (i.e, quite old) B&W 800D, with an impedance of 4 ohms. The speakers were driven bi-amped - so the right channel drove the woofers, and the left the mid and tweet.
The listening space is about 20x20 feet (but not square) with 10 ft ceilings, with a 20x15 ft kitchen and a 15x11 dining room opening directly onto that space. I’d always been a little disappointed with the bottom end of the B&W’s with the Parasounds, and invested in a pair of even more monstrous Rhythmik Audio powered subwoofers - 15" aluminum drivers. These were driven off the XLR outputs of the Oppo, adjusted by ear for phase and level, and then a separate run of the MiniDSP/Dirac done. Yep - crossing the subs over at about 30Hz produced noticeably more substantive bass when it was actually present.
A key problem with the Parasounds was the presence of an audible ground loop (evident on the amps before them, too), which was tamed - completely removed - by the use of one ebtec Hum-X magic ground-loop remover.
The system really sounded rather good.
So, at risk to back and sundry body parts, I hefted the Parasounds out of the way, hooked up the two Stellars (using a cheap’n’nasty adapter to split the feed from the preamp to the two channels), turned off and disconnected the subwoofers and fired up Mino Cinelu’s eponymous album. Orginally a CD, I’d transferred it into my current music server (an Olive ONE…) where it’s played back through a wired SP-DIF connection.
Goodness! Despite the slightly lower power of the Stellars, I was able to get 90+dB levels in the (largeish) room. And, for the first time sans subwoofers, there was solid chest-impacting bass.
Next up was Blue Nile’s A Walk Across the Rooftops; Heatwave is a perennial favourite. Again, from the Olive, transferred to digital through the NuWave Phono Converter. Ooh - goodness, even on casual listening there was a bit more going on than I remembered.
Now I have to drive away and do some errands, so the machinery is left playing Best of the Shadows - you know, there’s a bit more going on in there than I’d noticed before, too. And, begum, there’s actual bass.
Bottom line - straight out of the box, these Stellars make my system sound better. Better bass; making the twiddly bits a bit clearer, no ground loop. All good.
More when they’ve had a chance to settle in a bit more.