For headphone I used DROP + MRSPEAKERS ETHER CX with its XLR connection to THX 887 amp. Model specific 100VAC, 120VAC, or 230VAC 50 or 60Hz, I2S(2), Coax, XLR Balanced, TOSLINK, USB, Network Bridge slot, I2S, and USB — 44.1kHz to 352.8kHz 16bit, 24bit, DSD 64, DSD 128, 0.282VRMS, Balanced 0.141VRMS Single Ended, maximum: 2.818VRMS Balanced, 1.414VRMS Single Ended, 20-20kHz +/- 0.25dB, THD&IM @ 1kHz (full scale) <0.03%, Passive audio transformer, fed by high current, high-speed analog amps producing double rate DSD, 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz, 352.8kHz, Standard (2.8MHz) or Double (5.6MHz) DoP as well as raw DSD on I2S and USB inputs, effectively 100%, residual immeasurable. I highly recommend that anyone willing to spend $6000 on a preamp arrange to hear one. 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. 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. Noise is pushed into the higher frequency band and filtered out via a passive low pass filter. There were also a few PS Audio decals that reminded me of the ones I got when I bought my MAC mini. Above is a picture of their room at AXPONA 2019. In any case, why go to all this trouble? The separation among instruments in the track was portrayed excellently. 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. PS Audio is not an unfamiliar brand to me and most audiophiles. Phase and filter adjustments are also provided to tailor the DAC better to the rest of the system and the listener’s preferences. The I2S bus separates clock and serial data signals, resulting in simpler receivers than those required for asynchronous communications systems that need to recover the clock from the data stream. Perfect for any speaker. 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. All inputs can be renamed. (Electric Recording Co. 180g) Vinyl Review: Miles Davis â Jack Johnson (Mobile Fidelity 180g) Vinyl Review: Brahms â Sonatas for Cello and Piano Nos. Find what you like and then purchase and download the albums. For example, the song Those Sweet Words by Norah Jones from her Feels Like Home (2004) CD was presented in such lively rhythm and pace through the GCD, making me toe-tap. 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. PS Audio is trying to extract musical information that can be masked by off-the-shelf PCM DAC chips. It is an excellently built versatile preamplifier that can handle both the analog and digital signal switching equally well. Interestingly, many of todayâs PCM chips use sigma-delta modulation to get a DSD-like signal before analog conversion. The coax can handle up to 192 kHz signals, while the optical can only handle up to 96 kHz signals. Fortunately, I have a few dozen DSD music files on my Mac that I could play to my heartâs content. The review covers the feature and performance of this interesting product in more detail. The musical presentation of the GCD is well balanced across the audible frequency spectrum. Mandy Moore’s Forgiveness song from her album Silver Landings (2020) contains some deep-bass underlying-rhythm throughout. Most orchestras are recorded in very large halls with lots of open space (and empty seats). My CD collection was sounding like sonic wallpaper…. 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. Remember when we used to go to audio shows? Windom sounds more open, more 3D-like with better staging and air between the musicians. After processing, the signal is down-converted to double DSD, sent through a passive low pass filter and out as an analog signal. Naturally they recommend their premium power cables and outlets. Even my CD collection sounds refreshed. The GainCell varies the gain as the means of controlling volume without additional circuitry in the signal path, hence preserving the signal purity. PS Audio claims perfection there ("bit perfect") so I figured they can't complain about that. 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). The PS Audio DirectStream is a musically authentic, thoroughly engaging and ultimately compelling DAC that elevates the listening experience to an entirely new level. Diana Krall: The Girl in the Other Room – She has a great voice and it works with some of these off-the-beaten-track tunes (some written by her husband, Elvis Costello). 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. DoP on all inputs as well as raw DSD on I2S inputs, 14â x 17â x 4â [36cm x 43cm x 10cm], PS Audio, DirectStream DAC, DAC, DSD, DAC Review 2019. That means you get to try a ânew DACâ every so often. An awful lot has changed since then, including, in recent years, a shift of PS Audio's emphasis from audio amplification to AC-power regeneration. Music should transport you from your daily grind and make you just enjoy the sound. 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. The organ is treated as part of the orchestra and not just as a solo instrument. I actually enjoyed reading the manual and found it interesting, even though I can be a Luddite at times. Iâll talk about my sonic impressions of Snowmass vs. Windom later in my review. 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 really makes the DirectStream DAC so unique. 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. PS Audio from Boulder/Colorado/US is an established company for Audio and Power components, and digital products not only with the Direct Stream series, but since 2017 it offers the Stellar series of DAC/Pre and power amps, from which the S300 is the "cheapest" device. I read somewhere that I might be able to rip DSD from my SACD collection with a software utility, but that is out of my range for this review. It was there that he first became interested in classical music. I absolutely loved what I heard. I am not so much of a headphone guy, but from my brief tryout of the headphone feature of the GCD using my son’s V-Moda Crossfade Wireless 2 in wired mode (which is Hi-Res certified), I was quite impressed by the clarity, details, and natural sound of the music I listened through it. 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. As an analog preamp, the GCD behaved as a good preamp should be. For $1699, you get a product that can serve as an analog preamplifier, a full-featured DAC, and a headphone amplifier. 6: November 2020, What Weâre Listening To. The CD transport was connected through the coax cable, while the Aries G1 streamer was connected through the XLR and USB ports. Going the DirectStream route, the signal goes PCM>DSD>analog. In fact, I also found that the GCD’s headphone performance even bettered that of my Auralic Altair DAC/preamp/streamer (MSRP $1899 as reviewed 3 years ago). I noticed a few differences between the two firmware packages. A community of music and high-end audio lovers. The improved bass gave the music more authority and muscle. I recommend going to their site and downloading as many free samples as you can. PS Audio also manages to squeeze in the proprietary technology called the Digital Lens, which is derived from its higher-end DACs. I was loving my music collection again! Are Expensive outboard DACs a waste of money? John Mauceri): Hollywood Dreams. As complex as the DirectStream is, itâs very user-friendly and I had it hooked up and ready to go in about 15 minutes. This chip is used in many different electronic devices. Two mini mono-RCA DC trigger outputs are provided in between the left and right outputs. The GCD has a pair of unbalanced and a pair of balanced analog outputs. Vol.11 – November 2020, A Collection of New Vinyl for the Audiophile: November 2020, The Smallcombe Home Theater II â Part 1, What We Are Watching Vol. Only these two types of inputs can be used to process the DSD signals, while the others can only process the PCM signals. The review sample has a matte silver finish with black side panels, which to me looks particularly classy. Not only that, but it can also serve as a very capable headphone amplifier. Iâm looking forward to the view from the next mountain top. 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. For orchestra, I chose The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra (Dir. It just has a smooth, detailed, and rich sound that your ears will never tire of. This is great music to turn up and relax with on a Saturday while watching football with the TV sound turned off. The possibilities are endless (hyperbole, yes). The digital inputs include one I2S, two S/PDIF coax, one optical, and one USB. We don't share that view, but â¦ A master switch on the back places the DSD into ready mode. First off, let me start by saying that reviewing the GCD has been a joy. 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. There have been several of these offered since the DirectStreamâs inception, some five years ago. For example, even though the bass response of the GCD is in general quite satisfactory, it does not have the same attack and slam as that of the PerfectWave DAC II. The GCD is rather heavy for a preamp. Its audiophile quality is obvious in every aspect of its sonic performance. Don't look down your nose at PS Audio's cheapest mains regenerator. When new firmware is ready, you can go to PS Audioâs website and download it onto the provided SD card. 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. The Stellar line represents the entry tier to the company’s plethora of separate hi-fi components. The PS Audio PerfectWave DirectStream DAC lets me hear more into my music and has me enjoying and exploring all different genres. That experience got me into pursuing better quality DACs in my continuing quest to reach that mythical sonic Nirvana. The Stellar line represents the very realization of this company’s mission. It is this continued passion for audio that has brought him once again to the SECRETS team. 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'. On its website, the company claims that the GCPH phono stage is the best available, at any price. It took a few months but I was able to procure a BHK 250 for review along with the BHK Pre-amp. In those aspects, it handily beat out the Audiolab P-DAC portable headphone amplifier (MSRP $199) that my son normally used. That was then or what would become the MK1. Inside the carton were a pair of white gloves, power cable, aluminum-faced backlit remote control, a PS Audio catalog, and a very interesting, in-depth ownerâs manual. 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. Review: PS Audio Windom DirectStream DAC with the Innuos Statement Posted on July 17, 2020 October 23, 2020 Author Jack Leave a comment If there has ever been a product that didnât need another review or award it is the PS Audio Windom DirectStream DAC available in black or silver that retails for $6,000. Hence, it is honest in its presentation and never tries covering its shortcomings with some unnecessary artifacts. The blue LED display of the GCD is sufficiently bright and displays volume level in relatively large digits that can easily be read from 10 ft away. Campfire Audio Dorado 2020, Vega 2020 review (and podcast) November 24, 2020 Oldâs kool: Dynaudioâs limited edition Heritage Special November 23, 2020 HELMâs Bolt is a $99 portable DAC for Spotify, MQA November 20, 2020 By contrast, the GCD bass presentation of the song, while still conveying the overall bass energy, was not as authoritative. 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. This was equipped in turn with a selection of cartridges, including an Audio-Technica AT-OC9 ML/II and EAT Jo No5 [HFN Dec '18] â both MCs â and the Pro-Ject Pick-it S2 MM [HFN Aug '19]. 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. These tweaks and upgrades are FREE to owners. Everything just sounds alive, like being on stage with them when it was recorded. 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. I did not notice any specific emphasis on certain frequency ranges that might detract musical enjoyment experience. The bass has depth, the brass is rich, and the strings sound natural and never strident. Currently he is the director of Nuclear Medicine at the North Shore Medical Center, located just outside of Boston. I first knew of PS Audio when they were best-known for amplifiers which they, of course, still design and produce. Never have I seen this kind of value in a HiFi Integrated Amp and yes this amp does give you a small taste of what the high end is. The I2S and USB inputs can handle up to 384 kHz PCM and 5.6 MHz DSD signals. How Much Amplifier Power Does your Home Theater Need? My impressions were with the speakers set to full range, sans a sub. It is a versatile preamplifier that provides both pure analog and digital input switching. 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. 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. 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. All this for $1699! The DirectStream is a fully balanced design. Most of the time, this information is not really needed during the operation of the unit, but sometimes I do wish to be able to tell easily the sampling rate of the digital signal fed or which DAC filter is being used without getting up from my seat. Try getting a free Dirac upgrade. 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. He also serves as an adjunct professor for Salem State University where he teaches a course in nuclear instrumentation. What I love about this recording is the fact that you can hear the venue they play in. The level of the fixed volume is adjustable and if a unity line-level gain is desired, the manual states that the volume level should be set at 76 (out of 100 scale). Find helpful customer reviews and review ratings for PS Audio Stellar S300 Stereo Amplifier (Silver) at Amazon.com. PS Audio has been around for a while and the company’s reputation among hi-fi stereo connoisseurs is rock solid. 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 USB connection was needed to test the DSD playback capability of the GCD. The GCD is very adept in navigating through a dynamic piece of music like Steps of Maya from Keiko Matsui’s The Ring (2002) album. The Power Plant 12 is a full $4000 on top of the recently reviewed AQ Niagara 1200. This sounds like a bargain if the product can deliver the crux of the matter, which is high-fidelity sonic performance. Read honest and unbiased product reviews from our users. …and did I mention itâs FREE? Overall image presentation had good focus and tended to be slightly laid- back. Even the PS Audio Dectet owner's manual advises using a premium power cable. I expect PS Audio components to be well designed, with excellent fit and finish, innovative circuit design, and tangible value for the dollar being asked. A black finish is also available. 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. The front panel of the GCD is clean and uncluttered. My analog outs were balanced out with the unbalanced input into my Emotiva UMC-200. With my subscription to Qobuz, I have changed my music listening paradigm. 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). It features music from famous movies such as Dances with Wolves, E.T., Carousel, and my favorite, the suite from The Wizard of Oz. JBL Synthesis SDP-55 & SDR-35 Q&A Nick Clarke – Senior Director of Global Engineering, Thank You To All of Our SECRETS Fans and Supporters, RIAA Vinyl Sales Q&A with McIntosh Group CEO Jeff Poggi. In general, the music seems more organic, and more, for lack of better description, musical. Audio researcher and consultant Ted Smith is the guy who has handwritten the programmed architecture of the FPGA from the digital inputs to the passive output stages. I started out with Snowmass and got to experience the new update called Windom. Yongki considers himself as an aerospace engineer by day and an audio/home-theater enthusiast by night. Thus, you need a device that can put out I2S, and that is another expense or another product you must buy from PS Audio. The turntable used for the review was a Michell GyroDec with Gyropower QC supply and SME Series IV tonearm. So when I found out there was an updated and upgraded Sprout100, naturally I was intrigued. The I2S input uses HDMI cable for parallel data connection consisting of separate clocks and data. 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. It is a versatile preamplifier that provides both pure analog and digital input switching.
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