Mine just came in today. Some first impressions:
Both Utopia and Stellia, unsurprisingly, deliver an extra measure of naturalness, smoothness and refinement over Elegia. I noticed this when Elegia came in and I compared it to Utopia, and I’m still picking that up.
I'm using “Blue Fires” by Delerium & Mimi Page as a test track. The opening vocals have a crazy amount of chorusing, and there are subtle differences in the decay. Both Utopia and Stellia share what I refer to as an effortless fade into infinity. The smooth and lingering fade of the vocals gives that first couple lines of the song a sense of undulating like a gentle wave. Elegia, on the other hand, rolls off a little too quickly and that wave effect isn’t as pronounced.
As far as isolation goes, Stellia strikes me as very similar to Elegia. I feel about the same amount of damping of outside sounds, and while my wife listened it seemed like Stellia was doing a similarly good job of keeping sounds in.
Elegia, however, has a very slight sense of being boxed in. It’s a very minor coloration to the sound that’s only evident during quiet passages. Frankly, Elegia is nothing like the Fostex TR-X00 in terms of sounding claustrophobically closed-in, but you can tell they’re a closed-back design. I only mention this, because Stellia sounds quite a bit more open by comparison, even with nothing playing. It’s kinda uncanny.
As far as detail retrieval, the Utopias are not to be beaten. Not saying they’re better than Stellia, but whatever differences there may be are sufficiently negligible that I don’t feel like picking a winner.
One area where Stellia really shines, though, is bass. Utopia has very articulate and pleasant bass, but Stellia ups its presence to a thoroughly satisfying effect. Juno Reactor’s “Playing With Fire (Jitter Remix)” rolls along with a thunderous bass line that is simply magnificent on Stellia. Another impressive track was “Dissolved Girl” by Massive Attack, where warm and fuzzy bass notes are offset by razor-sharp vocals.
Overall, I was hoping Stellia might combine the best parts of Utopia and Elegia into one package, and based on my first hours of listening that’s what they seem to have done. Couldn’t be more pleased with this purchase. :-)