DNA Stratus, V4 vs Woo WA5-LE, Gen 2 vs LTA MZ3

Glad to hear that you’re enjoying it. That’s pretty much a totl setup for dynamic headphones. Don’t think I’ve heard better for my zmf but it will be great to compare it to the new stratus and also the stellaris! It’s a pity that EC is winding down but at least Donald is still goin strong.

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I’m glad you found it helpful.

You’ve found a keeper! I get similar reactions from my wife.

Understood, the price wasn’t initially fixed where he stated a range depending on parts etc.

100 percent.

Looking forward to your findings.

I do recall you posting about this. Awesome. These are well thought out upgrades. I wasn’t aware that these were available.

I trust your methods, and we could very well reach similar results if a more expensive tube complement were used in the MZ3. I just wanted to highlight this point. Based on my experience with the MZ2 and other tube amps, I do suspect the LTA designs may be less sensitive to tube rolling (and there is no rectifier tube to roll!).

It’ll be interesting where things land for you, in terms of preferring a 5AR4 variant with less sag versus a 5U4G variant with more sag. I’ve tried the Starlett with stock 5AR4, but have not tried the Stratus with 5AR4, where 5U4G is stock.

Your preference for 5AR4 over 5U4G may foreshadow a similar preference for XLR over the TRS outs. I agree with @perogie that it is very slight and more audible with certain recordings.


Quick tube rolling update on the Stratus. I got a couple of 6BQ7A tubes in from Tube World Express, and they brought my last tiny issue with the amp into focus. It’s something I thought was a problem, but I couldn’t quite be sure if it was a tube artifact or the amp until I had something to compare it to. Basically, I found that the Stratus had just the tiniest bit of ringing around notes - almost like a bit of a higher-frequency “halo”. It’s slightly different from “bloat”, which was greatly improved with a better rectifier, but this halo remained.

The tubes I got were a Sylvania (labeled Philco) and Raytheon from the 1960’s (both NOS 6BQ7A equivalents). Halo gone. Other than that, a bit cleaner, a bit more controlled, and a bit more air. I’m not yet decided on which new tube I like more, but they are clear winners for me over the 6N1P (stock) tube. Lesson learned. America beats Russia to the moon, in Olympic 3x3 women’s basketball, freedom, and small signal tubes :wink:

The best part? They were both under $15. No, I didn’t forget a 0. One Five. That’s it. Because these tube types aren’t super popular in amps, they’re still plenty cheap. If you have a Stratus or Stellaris, do yourself a favor and pick up a couple of these. For me, it didn’t transform the amp, but definitely gave it that last little tweak that’s making me fall completely in love with it.


Wow, excellent write-up!

You’ve very nearly convinced me that there will be a DNA amp in my future, despite the hideous color. :laughing:


You strike me as someone who will eventually embrace boarding the Blue Train.



Well played, sir. Well played indeed. :bullettrain_side: :saxophone: :blue_heart:


Cheers, all in good fun :musical_score:.


Now that is a write up. Some of the best I’ve seen with in a public forum.


This is an incredibly well written and helpful review… Thanks!


@andris … I think I somehow missed this until now … Excellent read. … Just curious what the quote is for the latest Stellaris?

(No worries, plan to enjoy my Stratus for awhile).

I was quoted $6,700 for the “stock” Stellaris back in June, 2020. However, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if that has ticked up a bit recently due to components seemingly getting more expensive across the board.

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That’s the range I’ve heard. Wasn’t sure if there was now some super Stellaris coming up. Very happy with my Stratus/Utopia combo, just trying to get the rest of the chain cooking

There is the Stellaris, the Stellaris Silver and Stellaris Special IIRC. Pricing goes up really quick with the upgraded models.

Donald is more open to upgrading the Stellaris so you can upgrade parts or add balanced inputs, etc.

His pricing has stayed remarkably stable up to this point.


And of course you can get very nice results just from tube rolling

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@perogie is exactly right. I actually got something in between a Stellaris and Stellaris special. I upgraded the potentiometer and added the rectifier switch, but passed on the upgraded transformers. Stellaris silver is another stratosphere - many times the price of a single “regular” Stellaris.


Wow! I have never read such a good write up containing such expensive price tags before. I can’t imagine what they would sound like. Well… I mean… I guess now I can thanks to this write up. Thanks. Nice!

Those photos are beautiful. Normally I would have already suffered heart palpitations just from the photo of the Chord Dave, but the DNA, Woo, and LTA are so beautiful that I feel aneurism sneaking up on me.

My favorite parts are the pictures of chickens listening to sound stage. I am a lover of sound stage and have never seen an illustration of the stage. This is brilliant and conveys stage so much better than when just using words. Bravo! I really hope to audition something like the sound stage of the Stratus some day. It looks like how Neo must have felt being jacked into the Matrix with the sound stage wrapping around like that.


IMO, the biggest staging/imaging benefit for DNA amps is the depth and separation it can pull out of the music. May not be the widest tube amps out there, as I have read some EC amps can go wider, but you have a tremendous awareness of where things are in space.


Good God it’s wild. Running vinyl through a Modwright (tubed) phono pre into the Stratus (the album was Dolphy’s Out to Lunch) recently, was pure drugs. Holographic teetering on psychotropic. And on the Aeons, not even the Utopias. I mean, that’s a special recording, and a very good analog pressing (etc.), and a great chain of gear all the way but it was an elevated experience to be sure. I honestly still need to get more hours on it, but the sound is phenomenal.


Thats quite a bit lower than I was expecting if im honest (given I feel like I alway see them used in the high 9s). I was fully expecting a list of like 9995-12k just like totl EC/A&S/traformatic/etc

Also, mind if I ask if youve heard any of the A&S stuff? Im actualy fairly currious how you feel something like the mogwai SE stacks up here if you have

EDIT: This is probably the model im thinking of then. Didnt realize there were sub versions of the stellaris

Absalutely the same for me. I am going to have to start adding these to my comparisons. I think it realy realy helps the understanding

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