It sounds like a large soundstage and you get just enough reverberation from the space that you can almost feel like you are there. In any case, streaming DSD (single and/or double rate) music from my Mac to the DirectsSream via USB was nothing short of astonishing! Album art is only displayed via the network bridge. The separation among instruments in the track was portrayed excellently. The two products that came in for review, however, are completely different animals. This product would definitely pique my interest if I were in the process of building a modestly budgeted hi-fi system. The Digital Lens technology discovers the sample rate and format, reclocks all incoming data, reduces jitter, and reshapes the data output to the DAC chip. Currently he is the director of Nuclear Medicine at the North Shore Medical Center, located just outside of Boston. 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. I actually enjoyed reading the manual and found it interesting, even though I can be a Luddite at times. It is an excellently built versatile preamplifier that can handle both the analog and digital signal switching equally well. It was neutral and transparent, or in other words, it did not get in the way of music. I absolutely loved what I heard. That was then or what would become the MK1. Your taste and system may dictate otherwise. It feels quite rigid and very well constructed. There are differences among the three DAC filters provided in the GCD (Filter 1: slow roll-off linear phase, Filter 2: fast roll-off minimum phase, Filter 3: fast roll-off linear phase), but for most music, I found these differences were subtle. With the promise of more free firmware updates in the future, I feel confident that those who own PS Audioâs PerfectWave DirectStream DAC will be glad they invested in it. This design offers the listener extremely low jitter as it uses one master clock for all incoming signals. PS Audio has a long-standing reputation of building quality products, although it seems to me their latest offerings reveal that the folks in Colorado have taken their products to the next level. Paul McGowan, the CEO, and founder of the company mentioned that PS Audio has always prided itself on providing high value in products. My impressions were with the speakers set to full range, sans a sub. Using the front panel touchscreen is intuitive; allowing you to select inputs and change the volume (which can also be set to Fixed). Don't look down your nose at PS Audio's cheapest mains regenerator. 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. With my subscription to Qobuz, I have changed my music listening paradigm. The Stellar GainCell Preamp/DAC (GCD) reviewed here is from the PS Audio Stellar line, which represents the company’s affordable-tier products. This success is not only garnered by the quality of the products PS Audio produces over the years, but also by the company’s willingness to stand behind its products, offering support for service, repair, and product updates that are above and beyond the industry’s best practices. 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. In general, the music seems more organic, and more, for lack of better description, musical. The review sample has a matte silver finish with black side panels, which to me looks particularly classy. The PS Audio Sprout is one example of this and a fine one indeed. Outputs are either balanced XLR or unbalanced RCA. I knew the DirectStream was special when it was able to place the orchestra in the fore and the organ behind and slightly above the stage. The sound had more dimensional energy, impact, and just sounded more alive. The master clock in the DirectStream helps reduce jitter from all inputs. What I love about this recording is the fact that you can hear the venue they play in. The PS Audio GainCell preamp/DAC is a winner in every respect. I was loving my music collection again! 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. With PS Audio's Stellar M700, I knew at first turn-on that there was no problem with noise. How Much Amplifier Power Does your Home Theater Need? There are three unbalanced analog line-level inputs as well as one balanced XLR input. 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. Yongki considers himself as an aerospace engineer by day and an audio/home-theater enthusiast by night. The review covers the feature and performance of this interesting product in more detail. Analog preamplifier with DAC functionality in one chassis. Because of this, theoretically, it is the best digital connection to use. 6: November 2020, What We’re Listening To. 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. I knew from the first time I fired up the GCD that I would be in for a treat. To get the purist effect, youâll want to go direct when using a preamp. DACDAC Review 2019DirectStream DACDSDFeaturedPS Audio, Jim Milton has been interested in high fidelity since his college years in the late 70's. PS Audio should be applauded. Amplifiers, CD players and transports, DACs, and preamplifiers. Iâll talk about my sonic impressions of Snowmass vs. Windom later in my review. Paul McGowan, the leading man at PS Audio of Denver/Colorado, thinks of himself a bit like a rebel; a rebel with a cause that is. Enter the PS Audio PerfectWave DirectStream DAC, which is a state-of-the-art-DSD digital-to-analog converter, preamplifier, and media center designed into a large, slick-looking aluminum and polished blackwood designed product with no discernable knobs or buttons on the faceplate. With no music playing but the volume set to a normal listening level, I had to go up to one of the speakers to hear even the slightest buzz or hum. The front of the unit has no buttons or knobs. The Mcontrol App works well, but it does seem a bit clumsy and not in step with the quality of the DirectStream. 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. 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). 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. Two mini mono-RCA DC trigger outputs are provided in between the left and right outputs. You can hear her take in a breath on some songs and you are immediately struck by the close placement of the microphones and the tiny details they have captured. A right-click of the mouse gives a user the option to make the NuWave the default recipient of the audio signal. 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. During the review, I had a chance to compare the DAC performance in the GCD with the PerfectWave DAC II, which used to be PS Audio’s top-of-the-line DAC before being superseded by the DirectStream DAC. 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'. I have been using an NPC for some months now, eve It also displays other information, such as the input name, DAC filter, the type of signal (PCM or DSD), and the DAC sampling rate, but it is in much smaller digits, and thus it is visible only from a close distance. Overall image presentation had good focus and tended to be slightly laid- back. 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. PS Audioâs BHK Signature preamplifier is a statement product that produced beautiful music. But convenience is one thing and performance is another thing. Everything just sounds alive, like being on stage with them when it was recorded. Obviously, it is not a fair comparison, as the PerfectWave DAC II carried more than twice the price tag of the GCD. Single rate DSD is DSD64. Audio bliss awaits me, so letâs get into the listening session next. As a nuclear medicine technologist, I know there are some inside the gamma camera that I use every day at the hospital. This last point, however, is not a clear cut and only detectable from a careful A-B comparison. This sounds like a bargain if the product can deliver the crux of the matter, which is high-fidelity sonic performance. PS Audio isn't short of confidence. Hence, it is honest in its presentation and never tries covering its shortcomings with some unnecessary artifacts. 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. Even my CD collection sounds refreshed. The CD transport was connected through the coax cable, while the Aries G1 streamer was connected through the XLR and USB ports. It may not be perfect, but its design is unique, even amongst the other few DSD based DACs out there. The really unique aspect of the PS Audio DSD (DirectStream DAC) is that the core processor is not an off-the-shelf DAC chip from Burr-Brown, Wolfson, or Sabre, but a field-programmable gate array (FPGA). At the time of this conversation, Snowmass, the 8th major firmware update, had just come out and was garnering positive attention. The GCD was able to convey the minute details in the soft and loud passages of the track articulately. The final matching was 0.3 dB difference between the two. Mandy Moore’s Forgiveness song from her album Silver Landings (2020) contains some deep-bass underlying-rhythm throughout. PS Audio also manages to squeeze in the proprietary technology called the Digital Lens, which is derived from its higher-end DACs. There have been several of these offered since the DirectStreamâs inception, some five years ago. Even my CD collection sounds refreshed. The intimacy of her voice and small ensemble players is wonderful. The GainCell varies the gain as the means of controlling volume without additional circuitry in the signal path, hence preserving the signal purity. 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. The sound of the musical instruments accompanying the singer seemed to emanate steadily from the stage-space surrounding the singer with believable width and depth. I think of this chip less like hardware but more like a programmable software-type device. Vacuum tubes and 1200 watts The M1200 monoblocks combines rich warmth with jaw-dropping power and seemingly infinite headroom. The I2S inputs on the DirectStream do not accept regular HDMI signals. Even the PS Audio Dectet owner's manual advises using a premium power cable. 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