Audionet Stern PreAmplifier

shakti

Well-Known Member
May 9, 2015
1,155
1,561
330
Cologne, Germany
My current set up was optimized to have a great sound with my former

Wilson Audio Maxx 3

speakers. But the change to my new

Avalon Osiris

speakers was a challenge for the existing components. The Osiris is capable to reproduce a level of detail, which is much higher, than I was used from the Maxx 3.
The Osiris has also a darker tonal balance than the average Wilson product (old Avalon DNA).

My goal was (is) to exchange some components to explore the higher level of detail efficiency of the Osiris and in parallel to offset the darker balance of the Avalon Osiris a little.

First steps of my plan were the upgrade to more Amp Power, than the change of the signal source, followed by a new Preamplifier.

My situation at home requires a XLR connection of 8m length from Preamp to Amp. The Avalon Osiris is hungry for power in my 60 sqm room, a second

Jeff Rowland 825

amplifier was the way to go. For the Maxx 3 the tonal balance and focus to the harmonic mids of the

Jeff Rowland Criterion

PreAmp was a perfect blend. But the lack of fine detail and clarity became more obvious with the Osiris speakers.

Fortunately a friend of mine works at an Audio Magazine and has access to some gear and we tried some preamplifiers in his home set up as a preselection. The price level was set in the region of the Koda K10, which was one of my favorite PreAmps before. I do like Koda Preamps, but this would add another darker voiced component into the chain, so looked for alternatives.
Not too cold in sound, as my Boulder 2008 Phonostage is "neutral" enough :)

Finally I was impressed ny a PreAmp , which was not on my radar in the beginning. But I had asked my friend to help and to give some open guidance,
as I was focussing too much on my fan boy brands. Arriving at my friends home I was thinking, that he had received an integrated Amplifier for a test, as a huge component
was placed on the ground. Than I learned, that this is the new

Audionet Stern

Preamplifier. A 40kg heavy statement from Germany. Designed by Hartmut Esslinger (Frog Design), who did some great industry Designs before.

We started to listen to some old Coltrane Jazz music, followed by some Blue Note Tone Poet reissues from various musician. It became obvious, that the AudioNet Stern can create a wide open and nicely detailed stage, without loosing the connection to the music as such. I decided to continue my listening at home and replaced the JRDG Criterion.
Fortunately the Audionet Stern fits to my HRS M3x base size.
Firstly I was interested, if the Audionet Stern can drive 2 sets of 8m long XLR cables on the low ohm impedance inputs of 4 amplifier channels without a problem.
Some other PreAmps had failed this excercise. Going from 1x M825 to 2x M825 too often had killed the performance , which was their with one Amp.
The Criterion were able to drive the amps, but preferred one set of xls cable and the linked modus on the M825.
To my surprise the Stern was able to run both M825 with 2 sets of xls cables.

Listening to the Stern made clear, that the Criterion is still a very good Preamplifier Design, but after some hours on power the Stern was better in all criteria.
Most important for me is, that the Stern supports the level of fine detail, my new sources can provide.

As an example:
The difference between the Etsuro Blue and the Etsuro Gold cartridge was easy to identify with the Criterion preamp.
But with the Stern the difference becomes bigger and more easy to understand. The bad side is, that the digital source was sounding so bad in comparison, that I had to move over from

Innuos Zenith III

to the new

Antipodes K50

Musicserver to make digital enjoyable again.

The Stern is sensitive in placing (as all gear I know). I tried some different feeds with good effect, the winner in price is currently the combination of Cardas Myrte blocks and the HRS M3x base, but now I am trying the CMS Centerstage2 1.5 footers. First hours were terrible. I will find out soon, if this combination will become my favorite.

I will describe the performance of the Stern in more detail, when the final integration has happened, still trying different power chords.

62706955355__EF9CFF92-AA30-4672-8172-C78D5129B509.jpg IMG_4608.jpg IMG_4606.jpg audionet-stern-look-inside-002.jpg audionet-stern-look-inside-001.jpg
 

heihei

VIP/Donor
Jul 24, 2017
320
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Great write-up. If you now have the Stern, you owe it to yourself to try a pair of Heisenbergs - of the two, I think the Heisenbergs are the more impressive achievement.
 
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sbnx

Well-Known Member
Mar 28, 2017
661
501
185
If I can ask -- what is that black dot on the side of the Stern in your picture?
 

shakti

Well-Known Member
May 9, 2015
1,155
1,561
330
Cologne, Germany
Great write-up. If you now have the Stern, you owe it to yourself to try a pair of Heisenbergs - of the two, I think the Heisenbergs are the more impressive achievement.
step by step :)
 

shakti

Well-Known Member
May 9, 2015
1,155
1,561
330
Cologne, Germany
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Reactions: bonzo75

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
13,207
1,591
698
My current set up was optimized to have a great sound with my former

Wilson Audio Maxx 3

speakers. But the change to my new

Avalon Osiris

speakers was a challenge for the existing components. The Osiris is capable to reproduce a level of detail, which is much higher, than I was used from the Maxx 3.
The Osiris has also a darker tonal balance than the average Wilson product (old Avalon DNA).

My goal was (is) to exchange some components to explore the higher level of detail efficiency of the Osiris and in parallel to offset the darker balance of the Avalon Osiris a little.

First steps of my plan were the upgrade to more Amp Power, than the change of the signal source, followed by a new Preamplifier.

My situation at home requires a XLR connection of 8m length from Preamp to Amp. The Avalon Osiris is hungry for power in my 60 sqm room, a second

Jeff Rowland 825

amplifier was the way to go. For the Maxx 3 the tonal balance and focus to the harmonic mids of the

Jeff Rowland Criterion

PreAmp was a perfect blend. But the lack of fine detail and clarity became more obvious with the Osiris speakers.

Fortunately a friend of mine works at an Audio Magazine and has access to some gear and we tried some preamplifiers in his home set up as a preselection. The price level was set in the region of the Koda K10, which was one of my favorite PreAmps before. I do like Koda Preamps, but this would add another darker voiced component into the chain, so looked for alternatives.
Not too cold in sound, as my Boulder 2008 Phonostage is "neutral" enough :)

Finally I was impressed ny a PreAmp , which was not on my radar in the beginning. But I had asked my friend to help and to give some open guidance,
as I was focussing too much on my fan boy brands. Arriving at my friends home I was thinking, that he had received an integrated Amplifier for a test, as a huge component
was placed on the ground. Than I learned, that this is the new

Audionet Stern

Preamplifier. A 40kg heavy statement from Germany. Designed by Hartmut Esslinger (Frog Design), who did some great industry Designs before.

We started to listen to some old Coltrane Jazz music, followed by some Blue Note Tone Poet reissues from various musician. It became obvious, that the AudioNet Stern can create a wide open and nicely detailed stage, without loosing the connection to the music as such. I decided to continue my listening at home and replaced the JRDG Criterion.
Fortunately the Audionet Stern fits to my HRS M3x base size.
Firstly I was interested, if the Audionet Stern can drive 2 sets of 8m long XLR cables on the low ohm impedance inputs of 4 amplifier channels without a problem.
Some other PreAmps had failed this excercise. Going from 1x M825 to 2x M825 too often had killed the performance , which was their with one Amp.
The Criterion were able to drive the amps, but preferred one set of xls cable and the linked modus on the M825.
To my surprise the Stern was able to run both M825 with 2 sets of xls cables.

Listening to the Stern made clear, that the Criterion is still a very good Preamplifier Design, but after some hours on power the Stern was better in all criteria.
Most important for me is, that the Stern supports the level of fine detail, my new sources can provide.

As an example:
The difference between the Etsuro Blue and the Etsuro Gold cartridge was easy to identify with the Criterion preamp.
But with the Stern the difference becomes bigger and more easy to understand. The bad side is, that the digital source was sounding so bad in comparison, that I had to move over from

Innuos Zenith III

to the new

Antipodes K50

Musicserver to make digital enjoyable again.

The Stern is sensitive in placing (as all gear I know). I tried some different feeds with good effect, the winner in price is currently the combination of Cardas Myrte blocks and the HRS M3x base, but now I am trying the CMS Centerstage2 1.5 footers. First hours were terrible. I will find out soon, if this combination will become my favorite.

I will describe the performance of the Stern in more detail, when the final integration has happened, still trying different power chords.

View attachment 71779 View attachment 71777 View attachment 71778 View attachment 71780 View attachment 71781
Wow...big congratulations. I have read a number of articles about Audionet Stern/Heisenbergs...have spoken with an owner of the set...and also the dealer for Audionet (who loves the Audionet reference equipment) who has been over to the house helping out my dealer to set up the Gryphon Mephisto.

He was incredibly impressed by Audionet as a clear veteran of the industry who does not have a reputation for 'overselling'. He was very descriptive of their qualities and just clearly impressed and genuinely enjoying their remarkable sound...and he is one of those who has heard a lot of equipment over the years.
 
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LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
13,207
1,591
698
Great write-up. If you now have the Stern, you owe it to yourself to try a pair of Heisenbergs - of the two, I think the Heisenbergs are the more impressive achievement.
step by step :)
Yes...that would be one BIG step! Look forward to reading about that one!
 
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shakti

Well-Known Member
May 9, 2015
1,155
1,561
330
Cologne, Germany
Yes...that would be one BIG step! Look forward to reading about that one!
I am not sure about the "big step",
2 times of the Rowland M825 retails in Germany for around 100k and runs in my set up with the benefit of BiAmping,
A pair of Heisenberg retails for 70k and has to drive the complete network/speaker in single Amping.

I will give it definitely a try,
but for me the Heisenberg is from the pure data not the natural winner of the comparison, driving the Avalon Osiris system.
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
13,207
1,591
698
I am not sure about the "big step",
2 times of the Rowland M825 retails in Germany for around 100k and runs in my set up with the benefit of BiAmping,
A pair of Heisenberg retails for 70k and has to drive the complete network/speaker in single Amping.

I will give it definitely a try,
but for me the Heisenberg is from the pure data not the natural winner of the comparison, driving the Avalon Osiris system.
Fair point! Interestingly, I think the Jeff Rowland is GBP34K per mono here in UK and about $32K in the US? The Heisenberg in the US is $52.5K/mono.
 

shakti

Well-Known Member
May 9, 2015
1,155
1,561
330
Cologne, Germany
Fair point! Interestingly, I think the Jeff Rowland is GBP34K per mono here in UK and about $32K in the US? The Heisenberg in the US is $52.5K/mono.
The JRDG M925 mono is more less nothing more, than the stereo M825 amplifier stages splitter into 2 mono chassis plus one more power supply, 2x M925 monos is like 50% plus eur on top of 1x M825 stereo. prices in Germany are incl VAT.

In general I do prefer a better Amp in 2 channel than a 4 channel simpler amp.
But the Avalon Osiris eats a lot of power and likes BiAmping, the comparison will become a nice 2021 challenge :)
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
13,207
1,591
698
Yes! I had a long hard look at the Rockport Arrakis...active crossover...requiring 2 stereo amps or 2 sets of monos...and for reasons of sheer size (1000lbs per side), extra cost, extra amps, extra speaker cables, extra interconnects, extra power cables...I took a deep breath and passed. I also gratefully embraced the Wilson XLF. So while I have not actually done what you are now doing...I certainly gave it a LOT of thought and realized just how much commitment it really is. So well done to you for taking up that challenge...and best wishes to finishing it in 2021!
 
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shakti

Well-Known Member
May 9, 2015
1,155
1,561
330
Cologne, Germany
After many listening hours the integration of the AudioNet Stern is nearly finalized.
The search of the best power chord took some time, as I prefer to do this decision
after long time listening sessions.
My personal winner is a pure silver cable, the Wireworld Platinum Electra 7 power chord.
As I am using on my amps (Heisenberg) NBS Back Label III power chords (8m length, difficult to do comparisons),
the Wireworld silver is the best overall blend for the complete Audionet Amp set up.

Being focussed mainly on XLR connections, the Audionet Stern teaches me, that RCA connection can be great too.
So I am more open to look for matching source components. At the moment I have some gear coming,
will become a nice Corona lock down Feb with a lot of time for listening hours :)
 

sbnx

Well-Known Member
Mar 28, 2017
661
501
185
Audionet Stern

Preamplifier. A 40kg heavy statement from Germany. Designed by Hartmut Esslinger (Frog Design), who did some great industry Designs before.

We started to listen to some old Coltrane Jazz music, followed by some Blue Note Tone Poet reissues from various musician. It became obvious, that the AudioNet Stern can create a wide open and nicely detailed stage, without loosing the connection to the music as such. I decided to continue my listening at home and replaced the JRDG Criterion.

Listening to the Stern made clear, that the Criterion is still a very good Preamplifier Design, but after some hours on power the Stern was better in all criteria.
Most important for me is, that the Stern supports the level of fine detail, my new sources can provide.

I agree 100%. This is what AudioNet does. If you try another preamp the soundstage just collapses. I am interested in which other PC's you tried. I have used the Shunyata Sigma NR and Nordost Tyr2. Have you tried either of these and how the compared to your favorite Wireworld.

Thanks.
 

shakti

Well-Known Member
May 9, 2015
1,155
1,561
330
Cologne, Germany
I agree 100%. This is what AudioNet does. If you try another preamp the soundstage just collapses. I am interested in which other PC's you tried. I have used the Shunyata Sigma NR and Nordost Tyr2. Have you tried either of these and how the compared to your favorite Wireworld.

Thanks.
I had asked my audiophile friend to bring their power chords while visiting, so there were a lot of cables around, many of them were before unknown to me. The more well known were Cardas golden cross, NBS BL, Nordost Valhalla I, NAT, HMS Suprema, Kondo Avocado, MIT AC1.
 

heihei

VIP/Donor
Jul 24, 2017
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Lampi Pacific is incredible with Stern / Heisenberg.

Interested in your findings on power cables. Do you use any power conditioner? How much difference does the Telos make?
 
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shakti

Well-Known Member
May 9, 2015
1,155
1,561
330
Cologne, Germany
Lampi Pacific is incredible with Stern / Heisenberg.

Interested in your findings on power cables. Do you use any power conditioner? How much difference does the Telos make?
I have no conditioners in place, power distribution is done with Furutech Powerblock 6E, which has a grounding box effect as well. Telos GNR does work. I had the unit already, so not bought it for dedicated Audionet usage. If the Telos GNR works in you powerNet , it will work with Audionet as well.

Good do hear, that the Stern is working with a Lampi DAC, as my Baltic 3 will arrive soon :)
 

heihei

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Jul 24, 2017
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Might be worth experimenting with tubes in your Baltic. I find the Audionet a very saturated sound, and dynamic too - as such, you don't need the DAC to over-emphasise this.
It was interesting that the Audionet system was the first one where both Ked and I preferred the Pacific to the Golden Gate 2 for the above reasons.
 
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shakti

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May 9, 2015
1,155
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330
Cologne, Germany
Might be worth experimenting with tubes in your Baltic. I find the Audionet a very saturated sound, and dynamic too - as such, you don't need the DAC to over-emphasise this.
It was interesting that the Audionet system was the first one where both Ked and I preferred the Pacific to the Golden Gate 2 for the above reasons.
I have already some sets of tubes waiting for the Baltic 3.
JPS Super Aluminata and NBS Black Label cables as alternatives will give a different signature too
Looking forward!

Had a similar experience with my Boulder 2008. Together with the STERN tonal balance is nice.
Mostly Boulder sound isa little bit too dry and lean.
Now I am waiting for an Allnic H7000v Phono Pre as alternative to the Boulder.

Looking forward to finde best source match for the STERN :)
 

bonzo75

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Feb 26, 2014
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Might be worth experimenting with tubes in your Baltic. I find the Audionet a very saturated sound, and dynamic too - as such, you don't need the DAC to over-emphasise this.
It was interesting that the Audionet system was the first one where both Ked and I preferred the Pacific to the Golden Gate 2 for the above reasons.

I think it was also because of some crazy match with the gain and impedance. Haven't heard a better chain
 

Addicted to hifi

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My current set up was optimized to have a great sound with my former

Wilson Audio Maxx 3

speakers. But the change to my new

Avalon Osiris

speakers was a challenge for the existing components. The Osiris is capable to reproduce a level of detail, which is much higher, than I was used from the Maxx 3.
The Osiris has also a darker tonal balance than the average Wilson product (old Avalon DNA).

My goal was (is) to exchange some components to explore the higher level of detail efficiency of the Osiris and in parallel to offset the darker balance of the Avalon Osiris a little.

First steps of my plan were the upgrade to more Amp Power, than the change of the signal source, followed by a new Preamplifier.

My situation at home requires a XLR connection of 8m length from Preamp to Amp. The Avalon Osiris is hungry for power in my 60 sqm room, a second

Jeff Rowland 825

amplifier was the way to go. For the Maxx 3 the tonal balance and focus to the harmonic mids of the

Jeff Rowland Criterion

PreAmp was a perfect blend. But the lack of fine detail and clarity became more obvious with the Osiris speakers.

Fortunately a friend of mine works at an Audio Magazine and has access to some gear and we tried some preamplifiers in his home set up as a preselection. The price level was set in the region of the Koda K10, which was one of my favorite PreAmps before. I do like Koda Preamps, but this would add another darker voiced component into the chain, so looked for alternatives.
Not too cold in sound, as my Boulder 2008 Phonostage is "neutral" enough :)

Finally I was impressed ny a PreAmp , which was not on my radar in the beginning. But I had asked my friend to help and to give some open guidance,
as I was focussing too much on my fan boy brands. Arriving at my friends home I was thinking, that he had received an integrated Amplifier for a test, as a huge component
was placed on the ground. Than I learned, that this is the new

Audionet Stern

Preamplifier. A 40kg heavy statement from Germany. Designed by Hartmut Esslinger (Frog Design), who did some great industry Designs before.

We started to listen to some old Coltrane Jazz music, followed by some Blue Note Tone Poet reissues from various musician. It became obvious, that the AudioNet Stern can create a wide open and nicely detailed stage, without loosing the connection to the music as such. I decided to continue my listening at home and replaced the JRDG Criterion.
Fortunately the Audionet Stern fits to my HRS M3x base size.
Firstly I was interested, if the Audionet Stern can drive 2 sets of 8m long XLR cables on the low ohm impedance inputs of 4 amplifier channels without a problem.
Some other PreAmps had failed this excercise. Going from 1x M825 to 2x M825 too often had killed the performance , which was their with one Amp.
The Criterion were able to drive the amps, but preferred one set of xls cable and the linked modus on the M825.
To my surprise the Stern was able to run both M825 with 2 sets of xls cables.

Listening to the Stern made clear, that the Criterion is still a very good Preamplifier Design, but after some hours on power the Stern was better in all criteria.
Most important for me is, that the Stern supports the level of fine detail, my new sources can provide.

As an example:
The difference between the Etsuro Blue and the Etsuro Gold cartridge was easy to identify with the Criterion preamp.
But with the Stern the difference becomes bigger and more easy to understand. The bad side is, that the digital source was sounding so bad in comparison, that I had to move over from

Innuos Zenith III

to the new

Antipodes K50

Musicserver to make digital enjoyable again.

The Stern is sensitive in placing (as all gear I know). I tried some different feeds with good effect, the winner in price is currently the combination of Cardas Myrte blocks and the HRS M3x base, but now I am trying the CMS Centerstage2 1.5 footers. First hours were terrible. I will find out soon, if this combination will become my favorite.

I will describe the performance of the Stern in more detail, when the final integration has happened, still trying different power chords.

View attachment 71779 View attachment 71777 View attachment 71778 View attachment 71780 View attachment 71781
Stunning amplifier.
 

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