Anyone compare the GainCell preamp / DAC to anything else?

I must admit I’m tempted to consider this for a secondary system, where I’d like a simpler setup. But I haven’t found too much by way of comparison to anything else.

I just purchased one and received it this week for my office system. It’s paired with a new tubed headphone amp. Works well.

At $1000 for the device (on sale and with something to trade in) its a good deal. The built in headphone amp is decent.

I purchased this to replace an old Schiit Bifrost 4399 DAC. I have several DACs at various price ranges. I don’t think you would be disappointed in it. One quirk I found was difficulty locking in 352kHz signal (44.1kHz x 8). PS audio is looking into it.

1 Like

Thanks. As a preamp how does it sound? Maybe hard to say, as it’s brand new.

1 Like

Still pretty new. Strictly analog, all I have running through the preamp section as an analog source is the Schiit Bifrost 4399 DAC. I didn’t spend a lot of time listening to that, but it sounded good. Imac Desktop (Roon/Audirvana) is connected via USB to the Stellar Gain Cell DAC. Just installed my new Ampsandsound Kenzie headphone amp today. (great company BTW)

Pretty good so far via USB.

1 Like

I’ve had one since last fall, and I like it very much. It replaced an Adcom GFP-710 (which had replaced a failed Apt Holman, which had replaced a GAS Thalia). At first, I thought it sounded like it didn’t have as much high end extension as I wanted (or at least as much as I was used to), but over time that opinion has changed, though whether that’s due to burn-in or my ears adjusting, I can’t say. Now I’d describe it as detailed but not etched. The sounds I hear have a more natural , very slightly “rounded” effect, decreasing the tendency toward fatigue, and increasing the aural “weight” of instruments and voices. In short I think it sounds very musical and natural. I also like its DAC very much, which replaced an old Channel Islands Audio unit, modified by ModWright. As much as I loved the little CIAudio DAC, I think this one retrieves detail slightly better.

For reference, associated equipment includes:

  • VPI Aries Scout with Sumiko BPS EVO III and Ortofon 2M Bronze, through a Channel Islands Audio PEQ-1 MkII phono preamp
  • Bluesound Node 2i (analog out)
  • Rega Planet CD player (digital coax out)
  • Marantz SA8005 SACD player (analog out)
  • Emotiva BasX A-300 amp
  • Magnepan .7 (Kimber 8PR cable)
  • Hsu VTF2 MkII sub
  • Misc interconnects by LAT Intl, Kimber, Morrow
  • PS Audio wall receptacles on a dedicated circuit, with P500 regenerator, Ultimate Outlet and Juice Bar

Thanks Craig! This helps a lot.

Yep. Mentioned that it doesn’t display and lock to 352kHz in the past but nadda. Ha
But it does still play

1 Like

Thanks for the reply Danny. I’m presently about two weeks into my 30 day trial. I use that setting frequently and if it plays it should lock. The flickering 352.8 on SGCD screen on is certainly annoying. Should be correctable via firmware fix. They are checking into it. @jamesh @Paul