PS Audio launch the Stellar Gain Cell DAC

Review - PS Audio Stellar Gain Cell DAC

PS Audio Stellar Gain Cell DAC

PS Audio launch the Stellar Gain Cell DAC
T he PS Audio Stellar Gain Cell DAC retails for £1,700 so is PS Audio’s new entry level DAC. It is a Hi-Res Audio DAC, headphone amp and analogue preamp with both balanced and RCA analogue inputs. PS Audio describe the Stellar Gain Cell DAC as a redefined and improved NuWave DSD DAC, offering Pure DSD, asynchronous USB, Digital Lens technology, I²S and a Gain Cell analogue preamplifier, offering balanced throughout, analogue volume control, all in one chassis. I²S can be used to input an SACD digital stream from a transport with an I²S output.

All digital inputs into the Stellar DAC are fed directly into a simplified FPGA known as a CPLD (Complex Programmable Logic Device), which discovers sample rate and format, re-clocks all incoming data, reduces jitter, wave shapes data output to the DAC chip, and utilizes high speed/low gate count logic to reduce propagation delay for faster throughput. This proprietary technology is called the Digital Lens.

The DAC chip itself is the acclaimed 32-bit ESS Sabre Hyperstream architecture, the output of which is passively filtered to reduce transient distortion.

The output stage is a unique Class-A configuration, fully balanced and direct coupled hybrid array (utilizing both discrete semiconductors and ICs), with an extended bandwidth of -3dB at 60 kHz feeding directly into Stellar’s Gain Cell.

The Gain Cell DAC features a high-resolution USB path based on the same XMOS technology found in their DirectStream DAC. Asynchronous and capable of decoding PCM (384 KHz max) over USB (according to PS Audio’s specs page) and single or double rate DSD, the Gain Cell DAC USB input sounds every bit as good as the best digital audio is capable of. Using a high-quality USB cable between the Gain Cell DAC and your computer creates an instant media server that can be controlled through any number of handheld devices like an iPad, iPhone or Android using a 3rd party controller program.

The Stellar Gain Cell DAC offers the choice of three digital filters for users to select from. Each digital filter has a different sonic character and the choice of filters offers an excellent means of improving system synergy. No filter choice is wrong or right. Instead, each filter can be selected and auditioned by the user to more perfectly match their chosen collection of the amplifier, source, and loudspeaker, as well as personal tastes and biases.

Finally the Stellar DAC is remote controllable via an IR remote.

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