The new PS Audio “Stellar” range

Written by on January 5, 2018 in Latest Auditions - No comments

The brand new and quite affordable “Stellar” range of high-end electronics from PS Audio does it’s name proud. These units simply offer stellar everything. Value for money, superb sound and great looks is but the tip of the iceberg.

We are very fortunate to be the 1st in South-Africa to have received these for review and introduction to a select group of our clients. The burn-in faze is just about done, but even straight out the box they showed the promise of genuine high-end character far exceeding their modest asking prices.

The Stellar mono block power amplifiers produce a whopping 700W RMS into a 4ohm load from a sophisticated implementation of class D technology. Forget the sound associated with now old school class D, because these sound as good and better in overall terms than similarly priced class A/B offerings without the operating limitations of high heat and power consumption.

These mono blocks are equally at ease gripping my B&W 802’s by the scruff of their necks as they are driving my rather inefficient AE P3.1 electrostatics with finess and nuance. Compact and highly capable, PS Audio have out done themselves yet again.

For me personally however, the Stellar Gain Cell DAC is the unmistakable star of the show. This little DAC exceeded all expectations. Compared to the megabuck digital systems I’ve had the luxury of owning and testing, including some highly respected mastering units, this little DAC does so much so incredibly well, I just had to keep it.

A few of its characteristics that is standing out includes an analogue-like way of keeping complex musical passages nicely separated and all elements within the whole well defined. It also throws a wide and deep soundstage with excellent layering. And it just loves playing high-res and upsampled data rates.

I found upsampling redbook rips to 352.8kHz in Roon very entertaining to the extent that I’ve become quite spoilt hearing my beloved rips this way. MQA files from Tidal benifit equally well with them pulling a clearer lead over the otherwise impressively upsampled redbook files.

The Stellar Gain Cell DAC also seem to enjoy receiving it’s data from my resident Bryston BDP file player. Having compared the USB out of both my laptop with custom PS Audio drivers and that of the Bryston as Roon end-point made for a clear winner. The Bryston does a far better job, again underlining what I’ve been maintaining for some time. It’s benifit in this particular type of system context is invaluable.

The Stellar Gain Cell DAC can also function as a line stage for analogue sources and in total there are eight inputs of combined analogue and digital sources all selectable via remote control. The completely transparent volume control has a range of 100steps, but can be defeated in ‘DAC mode’ when connected to an existing line stage.

I prefer passing the Gain Cell DAC’s output through my Conrad-Johnson linestage, but it sounds equally competent at driving the matching M700 mono blocks or my resident Audio Research stereo power amp.

Both balanced and single ended outputs are offered making compatibility so much easier. We will have the new Stellar Gain Cell DAC on permanent demonstration from now and into the foreseeable future. Feel free to book a listening session anytime soon.

Estimated SA list:

DAC – R25K

M700 mono blocks – R75K (pair)


 

About the Author

Audio Engineer, Critic & Retailer twenty-seven years in the making.

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