A Modern gear and PS Audio or virgin

Hello All
As the title states I am new to all modern advances in the audio world… that is to say, I never had a remote synced with a pre-amp or a DAC for example. I’ve always had a taste for the old school asthenic and warm musicality the C20, kit/factory built Dynaco Tubed gear or Silver/Champaign faced Marantz gear provided. I eventually began moving up the chain of time and landed on an ARC SP-11. Vintage to some, to me it is the most fresh-faced preamp I have ever owned. In comparison to my Mcintosh C20, I lost the romance and lushness, but gained an open soundstage, detail and accuracy in the music I do not know was present. So, it got me thinking, what else was I missing? So, as it goes, I am parting with my SP11 and on my way to ordering up a New BHK pre with a Stellar Phonostage as I listen to 60% Vinyl 40% AUX through my iPhone/iTunes-yes, I know it’s archaic… This leads to some questions and concerns; Am I better served to Keep the SP11 and buy a DAC, as the SP11’s phono is quite good and pair the two up? Or will the difference of the BHK + Stellar phono be that big an upgrade…? Either way, I am sure at some point I will get the DAC as it seems to be the way to go, I can not live life out of an AUX cord and broken iPhone. BTW-My amp is a Primaluna Prem HP with 8 KT150’s (I plan on at some point also going BHK250) Turntable Linn LP12 with a Linn Adikt MM Cart Speakers at the moment are Tannoy Arden Circa 1977 and at times AR3s… I hope to get some opinions and thoughts…
thank you

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Personally, I think your biggest gains would come from adding a DAC. Lots of great choices at varying price points.

Thanks net/ the DAC would need to go via my Current ARC preamp As I do not believe I can go direct to the PrimaLuna amp… if I am incorrect and in fact able to go directly into my amp, I guess I will not be able to use a phono.

Not sure why you wouldn’t be able to go direct. Many DACs function as a preamp. Should be able to run it to your preamp too.

My experience is DAC->Preamp->Amp beats DAC->Amp every time.


yeah, For some reason I assumed the DAC only had XLR in/outs which my amp does not have … I see the Direct Stream has RCA too. Still, I would need to buy an external Phono. so…Instead of the preamp first, grab a DAC + Phono…then bring in the preamp in once cash permits me to do so?

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that is what I’ve read, unfortunately, at this time I cannot purchase all three at once and still need to sell off some other gear

I’d run the dac to your preamp.

Damn, Just when I thought I had it figured out…So, DAC- my current pre and use that built in Phono for Vinyl.

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You had it right the first time. New dac to your SP11 and Stellar phono also to your SP11 which will be much better sounding than the built in phono, i guarantee it. I had ARC before. The stuff now is way better. When you save enough, get the BHK pre.

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okay-Let’s say I am looking at all PS Audio gear, considering I am on a PS Audio forum…I pretty set on the Stellar Phono, was set o the BHK Pre- and as far as DACs, there are the PS DirectWave, Direct stream DAC and I thought I saw some Jr DACS? There seems to be some deals on the secondary market for them… I assume the Direct stream allows you to stream from the actual component, while the Directwave loads another source, i.e. phone/computer? If that is correct, is there an upgrade to turn the Directwave into direct streaming and what are the differences in quality or is it mainly convenience? I appreciate your input and thanks for baring with any questions that may seem elementary.

or will any of the other more affordable dacs from PS Audio such as stellar gaincell dac be just as good?

No, they will not be, just as good. They are very good dacs though.

That will depend on how much you are willing to invest and how far up the ladder of sound quality. While the Stellar has excellent sound quality compared with others in the price category, the Direct Stream sound is up there beyond $10k IMO. As far as I know, the DS Jr is not far behind if you want to save a little. But you will need a source for the DS. PS has a cd transport upcoming that might be mind blogging and maybe the upcoming Octave server that I would be interested in when it comes out, or just find a good one from another company or use a Mac Mini for starters.

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I see. the way to go would be one of the newer versions. Saw a perfect wave MKii for a good price, but probabl better to spend the extra $ for a better product.

If you are a vinyl guy first then if all things were equal I would get the BHK preamp and the Stellar Phono first as there are plenty of good DAC’s available that can hold you over until you can save up for the DS Sr. My experience though and that of several friends that owned the BHK, though I’m sure others may have had a different experience, is that the BHK doesn’t always play nice with SE amps in turns of volume control noise. If you think that will bother you then keep your preamp and get the phono and the DAC and hold off on the preamp until you can get a balanced amp.


I’d go for DSD or DSDjr. Perfectwave is not on their level.

Run your DAC to your preamp, sources to your DAC, phono to your preamp. IMO, I agree with @aangen that DAC>preamp>amp is superior to Digital preamp DAC>Amp. I actually have it setup both ways with my headphone amps.


I own both the DSD and the DSDjr and I can tell you both please me very much. If you are on a longer schedule to build out your system there are great deals to be had on the Jr. . It’s very close to the Sr. In sound quality, it lacks some options of the big one but it is no slouch by any means.

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maybe check out the Forum’s “Marketplace”