To use it to its fullest, I subscribed to Qobuz Sublime, with resolutions up to 24-bit/192kHz. A community of music and high-end audio lovers. Find what you like and then purchase and download the albums. If you’d like to hear all the lavish praise, click here to read our review of the P20. It can also be turned on or off from the remote. The PS Audio PerfectWave DirectStream DAC lets me hear more into my music and has me enjoying and exploring all different genres. The bass has depth, the brass is rich, and the strings sound natural and never strident. Like the PerfectWave DAC, the new DirectStream DAC provides a wide variety of digital inputs: SPDIF on coaxial RCA and TosLink inputs, USB, AES/EBU on an XLR connector, and two I2S inputs on HDMI connectors. 5: October 2020, Setting Up a Bryston BDA-3.14 Streaming DAC and Qobuz Streaming Service – A How-to Series, Part 2, Setting Up an AURALiC ARIES G1 Streamer and Qobuz Streaming Service – A How-to Series, Part 1, DCI-P3 Color – What It Means in Today’s Ultra HD World, AVR-Audio Video Reciever-Build Quality: Part V. Does Your Projector Display Accurate Color, and Why Is That Important? By now, it should be clear that I admire the musicality of the GCD. Using the front panel touchscreen is intuitive; allowing you to select inputs and change the volume (which can also be set to Fixed). Analog preamplifier with DAC functionality in one chassis. Though the space is close, you hear every detail while the instruments play against each other in left to right, front to back musical tag. The GCD is ready to use out of the box and requires only minimal setup. In those aspects, it handily beat out the Audiolab P-DAC portable headphone amplifier (MSRP $199) that my son normally used. Thus, you need a device that can put out I2S, and that is another expense or another product you must buy from PS Audio. It feels quite rigid and very well constructed. Amplifier 2020 ReviewDACFeaturedGainCellPreampPreamplifiers 2020 ReviewPSPS AudioStellarStellar GainCell. That means you get to try a “new DAC” every so often. I get it, keep it simple and pure, but why put the onus on the average music buff to find a way to get a DSD signal from point A to point B? My impressions were with the speakers set to full range, sans a sub. Certainly, there is not enough landscape on the OLED window to display everything in large digits, but a possible way to overcome this is to rotate the information displayed using large digits, for example by using a remote-control command. With a price tag of $1699, this seems to be a lot of product for the money and its multi-function nature can help reduce the clutter in one’s whole hi-fi system by reducing the number of component boxes in it. The blue logo light on the front left side of the panel lights up and serves as the on/off switch. Paul McGowan, the CEO, and founder of the company mentioned that PS Audio has always prided itself on providing high value in products. One 1/4″ headphone connector front panel, 20Hz – 20KHz +0/- 0.25dB These tweaks and upgrades are FREE to owners. The Power Plant 12 is a full $4000 on top of the recently reviewed AQ Niagara 1200. During his leisure time, he enjoys listening to his music collection and an occasional movie with his wife of 30+ years. All this for $1699! It’s awesome, and every audiophile cliché you can think of applies. As a digital preamp, the DAC in the GCD locks in and recognizes the bit depth and rate of the incoming signals swiftly. Yongki considers himself as an aerospace engineer by day and an audio/home-theater enthusiast by night. A right-click of the mouse gives a user the option to make the NuWave the default recipient of the audio signal. I connected a Morrow Audio digital interconnect from my OPPO UDP-203 to the digital coaxial input in the DSD, connected my network cable into the Bridge II and a USB from my Mac mini into the USB input. The coax can handle up to 192 kHz signals, while the optical can only handle up to 96 kHz signals. The review covers the feature and performance of this interesting product in more detail. In the setup mode, the volume knob also serves to navigate through the available setup options. For album covers to display on the panel, you’ll need to leave the data card in place in the back, which is fine, that way you don’t lose it. Just like a traditional preamplifier, one can just plug in the sources to the appropriate inputs, connect the outputs to a stereo amplifier, supply the power to the unit, and switch it on to make the unit operational. This is about as close to hearing that unicorn we call “analog sound”, and I don’t mean analog like the limited dynamics of vinyl. It took a few months but I was able to procure a BHK 250 for review along with the BHK Pre-amp. DAC can handle both PCM (up to 24-bit/384-kHz) and DSD music signals (through its I, DAC is capable of up to 384 kHz PCM and 5.6 MHz DSD signals. In general, the music seems more organic, and more, for lack of better description, musical. In any case, streaming DSD (single and/or double rate) music from my Mac to the DirectsSream via USB was nothing short of astonishing! PS Audio Stellar GainCell Preamp/DAC SPECIFICATIONS, © Copyright 2020 Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity /, Show Reports, Film Festivals and Concerts, Marantz SACD 30N Network SACD Player Review, MartinLogan Balanced Force 212 Subwoofer Review, Starke Sound A8.350 Multichannel Power Amplifier Review, STAX SR-007A Electrostatic Headphone Review, What We Are Watching Vol. The USB connection was needed to test the DSD playback capability of the GCD. It is also important to note that the signal transfer capabilities of the various digital inputs of the GCD vary depending on the capability of the connection type. Because of this, theoretically, it is the best digital connection to use. The intimacy of her voice and small ensemble players is wonderful. Album art is only displayed via the network bridge. The setup mode, which can be accessed by long-pressing the input-selector button next to the LED display, needs only be accessed for balance adjustment, phase setting, maximum analog and headphone volume limits, input name editing, home-theater bypass setup, DC trigger delay, and DAC mode setting. True enough, the GCD never failed to impress me with its strong all-around sonic performance, which was even more remarkable when its modest price tag was factored in. The I2S and USB inputs can handle up to 384 kHz PCM and 5.6 MHz DSD signals. It just has a smooth, detailed, and rich sound that your ears will never tire of. The PS Audio DSD has seven digital inputs; two I2S (pronounced eye squared S), and one each of TOSlink, coaxial, USB, AES/EBU, and a network input for the Bridge II module (which costs extra but came installed on my unit). After listening back and forth with these filters for a variety of music, I settled with Filter 1 during most of the listening sessions, which to my ears, gave the best overall results in my system. Voices also seem a little more focused and forward in the mixes. I was loving my music collection again! That sonic life really improved with the last digital preamplifier I reviewed earlier this summer and I attributed that improvement (amongst other things) to the DAC. PS Audio sent me their $4999 DirectStream Power Plant 12, the conditioner (regenerator) of choice for two Audiophilia colleagues. The DAC section of the GCD is based on the 32-bit ESS Sabre Hyperstream architecture with a fully balanced Class A analog output stage. Perfect for any speaker. A unique feature is the ability to flip the phase of the incoming signal either from the panel of from the comfort of your couch via the remote. This brings out more details and improves imaging. This more price aware approach was one of the design goals for the new PS Audio BHK lineup: to offer true world-class performance at a significant discount to the prodigious prices found in ultra high-end audio today. Really, it’s a DSD world out there, but you have to look for it! The PS Audio GainCell preamp/DAC is a winner in every respect. There were also a few PS Audio decals that reminded me of the ones I got when I bought my MAC mini. The soundstage portrayal was deep and wide, and the underlying deep bass in the track was delivered with good authority. (Electric Recording Co. 180g) Vinyl Review: Miles Davis – Jack Johnson (Mobile Fidelity 180g) Vinyl Review: Brahms – Sonatas for Cello and Piano Nos. Full-range Speaker Systems vs. Satellite-subwoofer Combinations, Schiit Audio Freya+ Preamplifier and Vidar Amplifier Review, Andover Introduces Spindeck Belt-Drive Turntable, Astell&Kern A&norma SR25 Digital Audio Player Review, Audio-gd Vacuum HE1 XLR Tube Preamplifier Review, Audio Research LS28 Triode Stereo Preamplifier Review, Starke Sound A8.350 8-Channel Power Amplifier Preview, Introducing the DALI RUBICON 6 BLACK EDITION, Cambridge Audio doubles the power with new Edge M monoblock power amplifier, BLUESOUND ADDS NEW SURROUND MODE LISTENING OPTION, PreSonus Eris E3.5 Powered Speakers Review, Andover Audio Spinbase Turntable Speaker System Review. Everything just sounds alive, like being on stage with them when it was recorded. Even though the GCD might not be the best in all the things that it does, nor does it pretend to, it seems to do everything right. Up NextSchiit Audio Freya+ Preamplifier and Vidar Amplifier Review As the name implies, the PS Audio Stellar GainCell Preamp/DAC is both an analog preamplifier and a Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC) in one convenient and handsome package. Living on the longest stretch of sandy beach north of Boston offers him plenty of opportunities to take a relaxing stroll or soak up some sun. PS Audio has this week announced the imminent availability of two new products. Windom replaced its soul and life force by fleshing out the music into a more realistic 3D space and a more supportive low end. Campfire Audio Dorado 2020, Vega 2020 review (and podcast) November 24, 2020 Old’s kool: Dynaudio’s limited edition Heritage Special November 23, 2020 HELM’s Bolt is a $99 portable DAC for Spotify, MQA November 20, 2020 That means 64 times the sample rate of a CD (64 x 44.1kHz). The Stellar GainCell Preamp/DAC (GCD) is from PS Audio’s Stellar line, which is designed with affordability in mind for the budget-minded audiophile. 1 & 2, Janos Starker, György Sebök (Speakers Corner 180g) Subscribe Windom sounds more open, more 3D-like with better staging and air between the musicians. What other DAC can do that? As mentioned, the DAC can handle both PCM and DSD signals. As PS Audio says, it may be a gateway to higher end for some ;) The review sample has a matte silver finish with black side panels, which to me looks particularly classy. DSD256 would be four times that (4 x 64 x 44.1kHz). PS Audio came up with a solution to this problem long ago: completely regenerate the incoming AC power in an effort to minimize these issues. This is what the Dectet manual says: We strongly recommend the use of a PS Audio PerfectWave Power™ AC cable and a PS Power Port™ AC receptacle to feed the Power Center electricity. For headphone I used DROP + MRSPEAKERS ETHER CX with its XLR connection to THX 887 amp. First, a driver must be downloaded from PS Audio’s website and saved to the computer. My interest was piqued. Paul and Ted, thanks for pushing the envelope and trying to move the musical bar higher. prior to VAT and other country-specific fees CD isn’t really digital: Since 1982 when Philips and Sony introduced the audio CD, much water went down the bridge, not the least of it over the last few years. Used with low-power source components, pre and headphone amps, it can still be transformative Back in the late 1970s Bob Stuart of Meridian observed that an amplifier has more inputs than those labelled as such, others being 'output' and 'mains'. It is a versatile preamplifier that provides both pure analog and digital input switching. Yongki earned his Sc.D in aerospace engineering from MIT in 1999 and pursued a career as a professor in Singapore and later on in the US before deciding to change path to join the aerospace defense industry. The enabling of the DAC mode will bypass the analog preamp section and the GCD will function only as a DAC with fixed volume output. As a DAC, it is capable of handling both PCM and DSD high-resolution music signals, which adds to its repertoire of capabilities. This is what really makes the DirectStream DAC so unique. Other features of the preamplifier include selectable DAC filters, home-theater bypass, and DC triggers. Based in Boulder Colorado, Paul McGowan and company have been producing high-end audio equipment for over 40 years. One quick look at the GCD’s list of functions gets you the high-value sense of the product. It features music from famous movies such as Dances with Wolves, E.T., Carousel, and my favorite, the suite from The Wizard of Oz. Its shortcomings were not at all obvious or objectionable, and in most cases, the GCD made up more on the other aspects of its performance that was more crucial to the overall musicality of the presentation. Although his field of expertise is in aerospace control systems as exemplified by more than 80 technical articles in various aerospace-related journals and conferences, his passion is always in hi-fi audio reproduction. The Stellar GainCell Preamp/DAC (GCD) reviewed here is from the PS Audio Stellar line, which represents the company’s affordable-tier products. Its treatment of any digital material, regardless of format, is quite astounding — even MP3s and Internet radio sounded vibrant and exciting. PS Audio also manages to squeeze in the proprietary technology called the Digital Lens, which is derived from its higher-end DACs. That experience got me into pursuing better quality DACs in my continuing quest to reach that mythical sonic Nirvana. Above is a picture of their room at AXPONA 2019. In the US, the company relies on the direct-sales approach for its business, offering the purchase of its products with 30- day return privilege and all shipping costs covered. As indicated by its name, at the heart of GCD is the analog GainCell, which is used to eliminate the sonic degradation problem associated with volume control. The San Francisco Symphony with Michael Tilson Thomas playing Ives and Copland – This SACD has an astonishingly good sound quality and the Copland Organ Symphony is made up of devilishly syncopated rhythms and heavy jazz influences. The input/output connectors of the GCD on the rear panel are nicely laid out. The display brightness is adjustable (Bright or Normal) from inside the menu. It is this continued passion for audio that has brought him once again to the SECRETS team. Find helpful customer reviews and review ratings for PS Audio Stellar S300 Stereo Amplifier (Silver) at With my subscription to Qobuz, I have changed my music listening paradigm. At the time of this conversation, Snowmass, the 8th major firmware update, had just come out and was garnering positive attention. "Remember, acquiring good A/V gear takes lots of time...but doesn't necessarily take lots of money.". How Much Amplifier Power Does your Home Theater Need? It was neutral and transparent, or in other words, it did not get in the way of music. Considering that this versatile great-sounding product can be had for only $1699, the GainCell preamp/DAC truly represents a great bargain in the hi-fi world. The GainCell varies the gain as the means of controlling volume without additional circuitry in the signal path, hence preserving the signal purity. That means the PS Audio DSD is upsampling the incoming PCM to 20 times the nominal DSD rate (20 x 64 x 44.1kHz) which is 56.488MHz (as in million). The final matching was 0.3 dB difference between the two. The volume level of one of the analog inputs can be set fixed for home-theater passthrough input, which is a convenient feature for home-theater integration, allowing the surround processor to control the volume of the two front channels when this input is selected. PCM (384KHz max), DSD64 (DoP), DSD128 (DoP), (Analog Unbalanced) 1 stereo pair (Analog Balanced) 1 stereo pair Blue Coast records offer free jazz samples, and in spite of OPPO’s withdrawal from audio world, they still offer free samples as well. Are Expensive outboard DACs a waste of money? …and did I mention it’s FREE? The DirectStream is a preamp too, so you can go directly (analog) out to an amplifier and control the volume with it (the lossless volume can be set to Fixed or Variable, so in this case, set it to Variable). I highly recommend that anyone willing to spend $6000 on a preamp arrange to hear one. PS Audio has been around for a while and the company’s reputation among hi-fi stereo connoisseurs is rock solid. I threw in various music files in various formats (PCM and DSD) and bit depths/rates to the GCD, and as long as they were within the signal specifications that the GCD could handle, it played them fine. How Much Amplifier Power Does your Home Theater Need? Most orchestras are recorded in very large halls with lots of open space (and empty seats). This design offers the listener extremely low jitter as it uses one master clock for all incoming signals. The improved bass gave the music more authority and muscle. it’s there, but not very emotionally engaging. I have had and still have PS Audio hi-fi components in my systems. Phase and filter adjustments are also provided to tailor the DAC better to the rest of the system and the listener’s preferences. The higher sample rate does not create new information from the original signal but allows for better filtering algorithms which allow for more of the detail of the original signal to come through. Now, if you have a few SD cards on hand, and you are really geeky into this, you could load a software from a previous release and re-load it for comparison and keep the one that you feel sounds the best on your system. I absolutely loved what I heard. 6: November 2020, What We’re Listening To. He was a member of the SECRETS Team in the early years, before moving to Singapore for a number of years. Our magazine, which began with the publication of the SECRETS Primer, is available exclusively on-line and offers to our readers an extensive information resource about home theater and high-end audio. Are Expensive outboard DACs a waste of money? I noticed sonic improvement with the time I spent recently with a powerful Class-D amplifier that really added punch and body to my system. PS Audio Stellar Gain Cell DAC Review; Vinyl Review: Jackie McLean – Lights Out! Review component retail: €3.000/ea. With me so far? 5: October 2020, Setting Up a Bryston BDA-3.14 Streaming DAC and Qobuz Streaming Service – A How-to Series, Part 2, Setting Up an AURALiC ARIES G1 Streamer and Qobuz Streaming Service – A How-to Series, Part 1, DCI-P3 Color – What It Means in Today’s Ultra HD World, AVR-Audio Video Reciever-Build Quality: Part V. Does Your Projector Display Accurate Color, and Why Is That Important? By contrast, the GCD bass presentation of the song, while still conveying the overall bass energy, was not as authoritative. Amplifiers, CD players and transports, DACs, and preamplifiers. DoP on all inputs as well as raw DSD on I2S inputs, 14” x 17” x 4” [36cm x 43cm x 10cm], PS Audio, DirectStream DAC, DAC, DSD, DAC Review 2019. We learnt a bit more about his motivations and mind set in an interview we conducted with Paul at the eve of introducing their Network Bridge, an add-on to the PS Audio PerfectWave DAC or PWD for short. Vol.11 – November 2020, A Collection of New Vinyl for the Audiophile: November 2020, What We Are Watching Vol. This allows the customers to try out the products for free in their home environment for 30 days, which is the best possible audition scenario. Even my CD collection sounds refreshed. As a nuclear medicine technologist, I know there are some inside the gamma camera that I use every day at the hospital. Located on the front panel are the round volume-control knob, the LED display, the input selector/setup button, the 1/4″ headphone jack, and the PS Audio square logo button, which also serves as the standby/on button. I also subscribed to Qobuz, so I have virtually unlimited hi-res music at my fingertips for this review, up to 24/192 resolution. The Stellar M700 … Only these two types of inputs can be used to process the DSD signals, while the others can only process the PCM signals. Will all these nice attributes, the GCD never failed to convey the emotion in the music, allowing me to get more involved in its presentation. At every audio show, the PS Audio room is always a can’t miss and requires more than one visit. Full-range Speaker Systems vs. Satellite-subwoofer Combinations, Auralic VEGA G2 DAC and LEO GX Master Clock Review, HIFIMAN R2R2000 HD Streaming Audio Device and DAC, Sonus faber Olympica Nova I Loudspeaker Preview, JBL Introduces L82 Classic Bookshelf Loudspeakers at CES 2020, Black Ice Glass FX Tube DAC DSD WI-FI Review, Topping D10 USB DAC and USB SPDIF Converter Review, Chord Electronics Mojo DAC and Poly Streamer, Starke Sound A8.350 8-Channel Power Amplifier Preview, Introducing the DALI RUBICON 6 BLACK EDITION, Cambridge Audio doubles the power with new Edge M monoblock power amplifier, BLUESOUND ADDS NEW SURROUND MODE LISTENING OPTION, PreSonus Eris E3.5 Powered Speakers Review, Andover Audio Spinbase Turntable Speaker System Review, FPGA (field-programmable gate array) core processor chip, Digital input is up-sampled to 20 times standard DSD rate (2.84MHz) before processing, Post-processing signal is converted to double-rate DSD (5.6MHz) then to passively filtered analog output, Handwritten FPGA code by Ted Smith, voiced by Paul McGowan and the late Arnie Nudell, The FPGA code has been tweaked several times and those upgrades are FREE, Resolution perfect volume and balance controls built-in, Simple, direct signal path with one master clock which is immune to incoming jitter, Free FW updates that tweak the sound quality, plus, you can go back to prior versions if you like them better, Solid construction and a pleasing aesthetic design, Intuitive touchscreen with informative display.

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