Review: Stoner Acoustics EGD & EGA – Value

Disclaimer: The Stoner Acoustics gear was sent to me for the purpose of this review. Stoner Acoustics has requested a “ship back” after the review. I do have to apologize for the delay in publishing this article.

Stoner Acoustics

It’s not the first time we feature the Malaysian Stoner Acoustics on HFN, I previously had a look at the UD100, UD120 and their Ruby. Stoner Acoustics up to know was known for their miniaturist gear but this time they’re back with a full sized desktop setup. Both the DAC and amp have all the good numbers but that doesn’t always mean it sounds good.

End Game

I’m a bit surprised that Stoner Acoustics named their latest DAC and AMP the “End Game” units, as that leaves very little or no margin for future updates and even better products. Does it?

For both the amplifier and the DAC, Stoner Acoustics really has tried making the best possible unit out there while keeping the costs as low as possible. At the moment their website says the price is to be confirmed but a while ago they were charging $750 for each of the units. Right now it seems you have to contact Stoner Acoustics or the E1 shop in Malaysia if you’re interested in buying one. Edit: In the meantime Stoner got back to me and confirmed they are out of stock for the moment and focusing on the new product (see below).

Do note that both of the units come without any accessories whatsoever: no interconnects, no feet, not even a power cable. Back to basics, just like the packaging. The feet issue was easily solved as I just used four large 3M removable stick on-feet under both units so they could easily and safely be stacked without scratching each other or the surface they’re resting on. The units are well built but they are very “basic”. The casing is nice but it isn’t the most attractive on the market. The whole “Look & Feel” of course is very personal and while I like a minimalist design, this stack does look kind of “simple” right next to my V281 & V850 setup. There are really only two things I don’t like: the plastic volume wheel and the fact that all the XLR terminations don’t come with a locking system, you just push it in and pull it out. While it doesn’t impact the sound directly, I would have liked to have seen better (locking Neutrik) connectors.

Stoner Acoustics Stack (6)

One thing I really do like is that the EGD DAC has small OLED display on the front that is nicely displaying the bit rate/sample rate and lets you easily navigate through the elaborate EGD menu. To me, each single DAC that was/ is made in this decennia should immediately show you in a nice way what the actual receiving sample and bitrate is. Then again, is it that important? Well, I like knowing that stuff.

Stoner Acoustics has always taken pride in their technical achievements. Therefore I will first give an overview of their EGA and EGD’s characteristics and then I’ll come back to how they sound.

End Game Amplifier – EGA

First thing you notice plugging in the amplifier is that it doesn’t have a power button. The amplifier is designed to be left on 24/7 and the unit itself is only draws less than 2 watts when idle. I can’t say I left it plugged in at all times though but I did let it warm up for at least 30 minutes before using it.

Our first criteria from a high performance amplifier is its Signal to Noise ratio (SNR). Disconnect your source, connect your low impedance, high sensitivity head devices and turn the volume knob all the way to the maximum; Is it dead silent? The EGA is engineered to provide you with an eerie dead silent background while you enjoy the full range of quality signal from your source. The high SNR, coupled with its astonishingly low distortion levels allows you to experience uncompromising minute details from your favourite source.

I have to say I tested this with several headphones and they all were dead silent. The EGA only has balanced outputs and you either have the choice between a 4-pin XLR and two 3-pin XLR outputs. This was a very specific choice made by Stoner Acoustics and to them the benefits of balanced over unbalanced are:

  1. Noise Immunity
  2. Cross Talk Reduction, i.e. leaking of left side signal to the right side signal or vice-versa.
  3. Higher Slew Rate
  4. Doubled Voltage Output Swing
  5. No DC Offset Effec

Stoner Acoustics EGA

That being said, I did hear rumors coming from Stoner that they would be working on a non-balanced amplifier as well. To be continued. For more information about the how and why, check out the SA website.

Stoner Acoustics EGD and EGA + Tech Specs on the next Page, after the click. Sound on Page 3

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

8 Comments

  • Reply May 25, 2016

    Barun C

    Nice article, Lieven couple of questions, could you elaborate on the part of

    “The HE-560 with this setup has very good layering” and “The overall sound signature is musical but neutral”.

    It says “sticok” in the beginning of the fourth line of the End Words segment, I believe it will be “stock”.

    Thanks

    • Reply May 25, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      Hi Barun, in what way would you like me to elaborate on that?
      Thanks for pointing out the typo, weird my software didn’t notice that one.

      • Reply May 25, 2016

        Barun C

        Well I get confused when the word “layering” comes up, cause I don’t get the context e.g. when playing keyboard I can mix 4-5 layers of sound and when I’m playing, the number of layers coming out when sound is created depends upon how hard I hit the keys, I get what layering of the sound means there but for headphones is it instrument separation or layering of harmonic environment around which melody and rhythm of a song is crafted?

        And in case of the other “musical but neutral” , what does musical mean in comparison to neutral here, do you mean that it is neutral but it doesn’t get in the way of enjoying your music?

        Thanks

        • Reply May 26, 2016

          Headfonia_L.

          How to explain. Imagine bass: no layered bass would go BRRROOOOM and layered bass would go BbBrRrRrROoOoOoMmMmM. Same goes for voices, guitars, etc. Layering of the tone with specific detail and difference, not just one same tone. I hope I make sense to you. It’s not instrumental separation to me. The better the amp, the better the layering should be, like horizontal layers of sound/detail. Confusing? 😀

          There are several types of neutral (flat, not boosting any FREQ): boring, musical, analytic, …. Some amps just suck all the fun out of it, some are very analytic and other manage to keep it neutral (as in flat) but in a musical, enjoyable way. Those are the amps or DACs you want.

          Mental note, I should reply when I’m more awake and after coffee

          • Reply May 26, 2016

            Barun C

            Thanks Lieven. Neutral is very hard to define, and I sort of get what you mean here. Measurements and listening experience always don’t go hand in hand and in case of neutral it is also quite similar.

            So when I read your example I get, that by layering you mean attack, sustain and decay of sound. Cause that is what I can infer from you example.

            • Reply May 26, 2016

              Headfonia_L.

              I’ll see if I can find an example this weekend, would be easier to show. But then you would still need both a layered and non layered amp. I’m not talking about attack and decay :/

  • Reply March 2, 2017

    Patrick Murray

    Hey do You feel the EGA for 300$ is considered a good buy? The DAC has and is still out of stock which is really too bad, but was just wondering about the Amp for 300$ do you think there are other amps out there that are better options? like the jotunheim from Schiit

  • Reply August 2, 2019

    Mubin L

    Stoner audio is doing a clearance sale. EGA for RM450(125usd). Should I get?

    Though I don’t have a fully balanced DAC and pretty much only own mid end headphones. (HD6XX, MS2(nhoord redv2), modded T50rp mk3).

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