Stella renders velvety smooth, with a wide-open, airy presentation, and the blackest of backgrounds. It’s what I call neutral done right. Not analytical, nor overly warm. Natural, is the best word for it. There’s an easygoing balance which gives you plenty of everything, without overdoing a single element.
Treble is buttery-smooth and utterly effortless. With excellent extension, Stella achieves so much air and atmosphere. The notes breathe effortlessly, feeling free to decay at their leisure. There’s plenty of space around the instruments, allowing for, again, a very natural performance. If you require brighter highs, where details are sharp and aggressive, Stella may seem lackluster. It’s not trying to wow you with artificial pop. Instead, Stella exudes mature, confident tuning, which is far more accurate.
Vocals are so lovely. Slightly lush, deeply organic, and full of breath. They are on the smaller size, which helps emphasize the immensity of the stage. There is superb articulation. Texturing brings out the humanity and imperfections of the artist. Still, these vocals are not forward, and pushed into your face. I’ve heard some individuals say that’s the only signature they like. If you are one of those, understand there is much beauty to be found in other presentations as well. What Stella does is ever so relaxing, and wonderfully pleasing to my ears.
Due to a proper helping of warmth, acoustic instruments possess good overtones, with an honest sense of harmonic decay. There is a kind of softness and gentleness that may not suite Metal the best, but works great for most other genres. I’m not saying Stella is terrible for Metal, but it does lack a bit of that crunch and aggression the genre is known for. Normal Rock is very good with these IEMs, as there’s more than enough richness and depth to fulfill the promise of all those instruments.
Then there’s bass. Stella is a true champion here. That’s not to say she is for bassheads. The balance is neutral done right, remember? But goddamn, Stella wants for nothing here. The Beryllium DD goes very deep, into the lowest reaches of bass, and strikes with authority. There’s an abundance of texture. Low-end speed is better than your average dynamic driver. As a bass lover myself, there is enough in the mix to keep me from ever wishing for more, and it’s all of such technical mastery to ensure TOTL quality.
As far as the other technical aspects: soundstage is extremely wide, with good depth, and okay height. Imaging is great. Separation is tremendous. Resolution is high, but not super sharp. It presents in a natural way. I’m not sure how to explain it better than that. Basically, the resolution isn’t there to shock you, like with some gear. It simply renders everything so right and true, as to be nearly indistinguishable from real. Call that hyperbole, and it probably is, but I love how Stella delivers the goods.
A good comparison would be the Campfire Audio Dorado ($999, Review HERE). It’s an IEM I am quite fond of. Yet… Stella is better in almost every way. Stella has the wider, deeper soundstage, the cleaner and clearer rendering, higher resolution, and superior separation. Both Dorado and Stella share a rich smoothness, but that’s where the similarities end. Dorado has tons of bass, which muddies the mids. The treble is brighter and more twinkly. Stella is much smoother up top, and extends higher. Also, Stella’s bass is tighter, more textured, and better detailed. The only thing Dorado has over Stella is its housing, which stands as my all-time favorite for universal IEMs. It inserts SO DEEP, and never, ever causing pain or discomfort.
How about a mid-priced IEM that shares a lot in common with Stella? The DUNU DK-3001 ($469, Review HERE) is one such monitor. Their tuning is very alike, though DUNU has more bass, and a little more treble emphasis. Yet the overall impression you get is smoothness, air, and gloriously natural tones. Apart from the bass, which does kind of stand out, everything feels oh so right and in perfect balance. Stella has the slightly wider and deeper soundstage, while DUNU has a much taller one. Both have effortless, clear, and non-fatiguing treble. DUNU’s vocals are larger, but every bit has lush and easy. Just like with Dorado, Stella’s bass is tighter, more textured, and better detailed. And again, here Stella comes across more resolving. YET! I think I prefer the subtle differences in DUNU’s signature. Even though Stella is clearly the superior performer, something about the DK-3001 always gives me goosebumps.