A few days ago I reviewed the relatively affordable Light Harmonic Mera. Today I’m checking out the higher-end alternative, the $1299 Stella. Utilizing a hybrid driver setup with one dynamic and two BA drivers, the Stella promises a lot out of the gate. But how does it sound?
Light Harmonic Stella Review
The first thing that strikes me about the Stella is how cheap it looks and feels. Packaged in a cardboard box, a cheap plastic insert holds all of the components. Included with the earphones, you’ll find a carrying case, two cables, and six pairs of eartips.
Both cables are braided silver-coated copper cables, and both cables feature MMCX connections. One cable terminates in a 2.5 mm balanced plug, while the other features a standard 3.5 single ended plug. Both cables measure the usual 4 ft (1.2 m). Unfortunately, the cables feel a little thin and cheap, but the inclusion of a balanced cable constitutes a nice touch.
The earpieces look gorgeous, and feel well-made. However, once placed in the ear, the fit seems a bit wonky. Even though I normally use a medium size eartip, I find myself having to use the large size tips just to prevent my ears from aching.
However, once placed inside my ears, and with the volume at a listenable level, the Stella delivers some isolation from surrounding noises.
During my listening sessions, I used the Stella with my iPhone 8, a slow work computer, and a modified iPod and pocket amp. While the iPod sounded best, the iPhone and computer still remained listenable. So if you’re looking for an expensive earphone that can sound great with good amplification or running out of a smartphone, this might be the one.
Light Harmonic Stella Review – Sound Quality
In the lows, the Stella feels just a little underpowered. Lacking much impact or slam, the bass feels lackluster to almost nonexistent. There’s some detail here, but not enough to really compensate for the “oomph” one would expect to hear. This results in a fairly shallow low end that can work for some genres, but lacks the punch needed for rock, hip hop, or electronica.
Decently detailed, the mids may be the high point of the Light Harmonic Stella. There’s a sense of presence and intimacy here that can work well with jazz and classical. But the mids can also lend an infectious quality to rock and pop, too. Vocals especially seem to benefit from this sound, rendering lyric-heavy tracks something special.
A little bit thin-sounding in the highs, the Stella still manages to offer a fair amount of detail, though. While not my favorite earphone in terms of the highs, they remain smooth and never sound too harsh. That being said, female vocals and instrumentation both feel weak and less substantial than they should.
Actually, thanks to a sense of depth, the soundstage on the Stella isn’t too bad. While still hampered by the in-ear design, the soundstage works well with most tracks, including some jazz and classical numbers.
Light Harmonic Stella Review – Conclusion
Pros and Cons
Pros: Good mids and a fair sense of soundstage easily recommend this earphone to jazz and classical music. Appearance-wise, this earphone looks gorgeous.
Cons: Weak lows and highs prevent this earphone from doing justice to bass- or treble-heavy music like rock, pop, and electronica. Cabling looks and feels cheap.
At $1299, the Light Harmonic Stella can’t really perform the all-in-one duties I would expect of an earphone at this price. What’s more, a cheap presentation doesn’t help this earphone’s case. But while it might seem a bit overpriced for most listeners, fans of classical and jazz might still do well to consider this earphone’s solid midrange.
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