The analog preamplifier is the heart and soul of any high-performance audio system. It’s the point in a system where music’s magic can be won or lost. For more than 45 years, PS Audio has been building preamplifiers that honor the music and preserve the magic. The Stellar Gain Cell DAC is no exception. It features fully balanced class A analog circuitry from input to output, along with a state of the art DAC that ensures perfect symmetry between analog and digital. Rediscover the wealth of music in your library, with Stellar. Rich, sweet, and always a musical treat, Stellar GainCell DAC is our best value in bringing life to music.
The idea of building a no-loss analog preamplifier with its own built-in cutting edge DAC was the basis of the Stellar GainCell design imperative. At this instrument's heart is the analog GainCell. Rather than using additional sonically-degrading elements inserted in the signal path to control volume, the GainCell eliminates this problem without additional circuitry in the signal path by varying its gain in response to front panel controls. Based on industry leading Sabre32 bit Hyperstream architecture, Stellar DAC features a fully balanced Class A analog output stage with multiple power supplies, independent jitter-reduced inputs, DSD, I2S, and asynchronous USB.
The Stellar GainCell DAC is a full function analog preamplifier featuring a state of the art built in Digital to Analog Converter inside. It is all you need as the basis of a reference quality music system. Add a power amplifier and a pair of loudspeakers and you'll be reveling in sonic bliss within moments. Connect a computer, CD player, or digital source to any of Stellar's multiple digital inputs, or a Stellar Phono Preamplifier to its analog ins, and you've just built one of the highest value music systems in the world.
- CLASS A BALANCED ANALOG PREAMPLIFIER
- FULL FUNCTION DAC
- CLASS A HEADPHONE OUTPUT
- FIXED OR VARIABLE DAC MODE
- ANALOG GAIN CELL STAGE
- BALANCED XLR OUTPUT
- HOME THEATER BYPASS
- DIGITAL LENS TECHNOLOGY
- THREE SELECTABLE DIGITAL FILTERS
- CPLD (FPGA) INPUT
- HIGH-CURRENT OVERSIZED ANALOG POWER SUPPLY
- ESS HYPERSTREAM
- NO CAPACITORS IN OUTPUT SIGNAL PATH
- HIGH CURRENT CLASS A HYBRID OUTPUT STAGE
- SINGLE AND DOUBLE RATE DSD
- DSD DIRECT THROUGH I2S
Unit Weight: 13.5 lbs [6.1 kg]
Unit Dimensions: 17” x 12” x 3”
Shipping Weight: 17 lbs [7.7 kg]
Shipping Dimensions: 23”x 18” x 9”
Input Power: Model specific 100VAC, 120VAC, or 230VAC 50 or 60Hz
Power Consumption: 20W
Mains Power Input: IEC C14
- 100V T250V-2.0AH (2A Slow Blow)
- 120V T250V-1.6AH (1.6A Slow Blow)
- 230V T250V-1.0AH (1.0A Slow Blow)
- US (NEMA 5-15P) (all versions)
- Schuko (CEE7/7) (230V version)
- UK (BS1363) (230V version)
RCA: 1 stereo pair
XLR: 3 stereo pair
Digital audio inputs
- PCM (384KHz max)
- DSD64 DSD128
- Compatible with DirectStream Transport SACD handshake for DSD playback
Coax: 2 PCM (192KHz max)
Optical: 1 PCM (96KHz max)
USB: PCM (384KHz max), DSD64 (DoP) DSD128 (DoP)
Format: PCM, DSD
Analog Audio Outputs
RCA: (Analog Unbalanced) 1 stereo pair
XLR: (Analog Balanced) 1 stereo pair
Headphones: One 1/4″ headphone connector front panel
Gain: 12dB +/-0.5dB
Maximum output: 20 Vrms
Input Impedance: 47KΩ single ended RCA, 100KΩ Balanced XLR
Output Impedance: 100Ω single ended RCA, 200Ω balanced XLR
Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20KHz +0/- 0.25dB, 10Hz – 100KHz +0.1/-3.0dB
Noise: 20-20KHz <-90dBV
S/N Ratio: 1KHz >110dB (max output)
Channel separation: 1KHz >90dB
Input separation: 1KHz >90dB
THD&IM: 1KHz < 0.025%, 20-20KHz < 0.05%
Output power @1% THD: 300Ω 300mW, 16Ω 3.25W
S/N Ratio 1kHz: >95dB (max output)
THD & IM 1Vrms out: 300Ω <0.05%, 16Ω <0.06%
Output impedance: <4 Ω
Volume Control: 0-100 (1/2 and 1dB steps, 80dB total range)
Balance Control: 24dB each direction in 1/2dB steps
Home Theater Mode: Assignable to any analog input, Adjustable (in setup) to any level
Polarity (phase) Control: Digital sources only
Filter Control: 3 selectable digital filters (PCM digital sources only)
Trigger output: (3.5mm 5-15VDC) 2
Remote Control: Yes. Infra Red
Michael Lawrance, The Shoestring Audiophile
The PS Audio Stellar Preamp and S300 Amplifier are a couple of the most musical components I’ve heard in a long time, especially in solid state, and especially in this price point. What we’re really looking for from our hard-earned dollar is the enjoyment of our music and if this were my current market, I would snatch these two components up in a heartbeat. PS Audio continues to impress me with their products, their service, and their attention to detail. The Stellar Gain Cell DAC has certainly forever changed my viewpoint on what a good DAC can do, and I encourage you to audition this for... READ MORE
Gary Alan Barker Headphone.guru
It matters little how well your DAC recreates the original analog signal, if the analog section isn’t able to pass that signal in a musical way…. The real test for a DAC is its performance with 16/44.1 kHz, so I began with that…. The musicality presented by the combination of the Digital Lens and PS Audio’s analog section was unprecedented, providing a laser flat, neutral tonal balance, with extension deep into the subsonic as well as the ultrasonic. The detail was such that it produced a huge soundstage with the individual instruments portrayed separately in their own space, with their own... READ MORE
Rafe Arnott, AudioStream
All PS Audio components I’ve encountered (or owned) are incredibly well-built and the Stellar line is no exception. They have a weight, look and feel that exudes quality belying their sub-$5,000 USD total cost and puts me in mind of gear I’ve reviewed costing double this price point.
The PS Audio Stellar ‘three-fer’ proved itself to sound far more captivating, powerful, lyrical, musical and possess a humanity to its sonic signature in playback of all types of music than I previously thought a preamplifier and mono blocks priced under $5,000 USD would be capable of. They would, without fail...
Guy Lemcoe The Audio Beat
“…I could not fault the sound of the Gain Cell DAC -- its neutrality and honesty were captivating, leading to compelling listening. During my time with it and the pair of M700s, I always felt they had total control over whatever music was thrown at them, in whatever format. From the understated nuance of an unaccompanied lute to the bombast of a symphony orchestra going full tilt, the laid-back drive of dub or the pulse of electronica, I not once felt deprived of any of the music’s emotion, rhythm, dynamics or detail. Whether using planar, stand-mounted or floorstanding speakers, I knew I... READ MORE
Michael Lavorgna, AudioStream
Speaking of price, there's nothing about the Stellar Gain Cell DAC/Preamp that says under $2k. This holds for the music it makes which is really great news. Based on my experience, albeit time-worn, I get the impression that PS Audio likes to make music sound highly listenable through its products. You know, the way we want it to sound. The Stellar Gain Cell DAC/Preamp commits no digital crimes against music. It is smooth, well-balanced, and eminently listenable… The preamplifier, as advertised, is very good sounding and there's no reason not to mate Stellar with your amp-O-choice. Again...
Steve Guttenberg C/NET
They sounded so good together I couldn't bring myself to try too many other speakers. The sound was rich with resolution to die for.
Magnepan speakers aren't known for their deep bass punch, but here with the two Stellars the .7 speakers' low bass was kicking with "The Legendary Skatalites in Dub" reggae album with really low, feel-it-through-your-toes bass. Austin Wintory's orchestral score for "The Banner Saga" sounded downright huge, and the low bass drums definition was truly stellar! READ MORE
Tom Gibbs Positive Feedback Magazine
that's its greatest strength: the Stellar Gain Cell DAC allows you to seamlessly, transparently switch between sources, increase gain, and make meaningful sound adjustments, all the while calling zero attention to itself. This unit is not merely a DAC with a volume control: it's the ideal analog preamplifier, and the fact that it includes PS Audio's idea of trickle-down engineering in the form of an affordable, nearly world-class, budget-friendly DAC is the icing. The GCD is a keeper—it comes very highly recommended!
John Grandberg Inner Fidelity
The headphone amp section of the Stellar DAC appears to build on that device. So let's call it an improved version of the GCHA (originally $999), with far lower output impedance for better compatibility. Then throw in a PS Audio NuWave DSD for the DAC section (which is still in their catalog at $1299), making sure to tweak a few things for improved performance. At this point we've already far surpassed the $1699 asking price for the Gain Cell DAC, and that's not even counting the superb analog preamp section designed specifically for this device.
Mark WiemanDaily Audiophile
Let me just cut to the chase. The Stellar exceeded my expectations for sound quality in nearly every respect. The digital inputs produced gobs of detail, great dynamics, proper soundstage, and wide frequency range. Ripped CDs and hi-res downloads sounded astoundingly good via USB input played by my player of choice, Channel D’s Pure Music, on my Macbook Pro. Plus, the analog inputs sounded clean, full, and lively. Exactly like I hoped they would!
There’s no way around it, this is one hell of a lot of value packed into a single chassis. And the sound is as good or better than you are going to.. READ MORE
Martin Appel HiFi Pig
The PS Audio’s Stellar DAC is a well built, quality component with excellent functionality (headphone jack, too) with solid performance at an affordable price. In other words, a true audio bargain. READ MORE
J. Loh Audio Fi
It is rather amazing to consider how much excellence PS Audio has managed to squeeze into this one product. Would you get better sound, say from a standalone DAC that costs as much as the Stellar? Possibly, but you’d still need to buy a preamp to go with it. And chances are, one with similar flexibility and performance as the Stellar’s won’t be available on the cheap. Factor in the excellent headphone amp section and it’s hard to argue with the appeal and value of the Stellar.
If your system already comprises top-notch gear, this may not represent a significant improvement over the existing.. READ MORE
2018 Stellar Gain Cell DAC Product of the Year from Headphone Guru
2018 Stellar Gain Cell DAC Greatest Bits Award from AudioStream
2018 Editor’s Choice Award from AudioStream
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