DAC Advice

I am considering purchasing the Stellar M700s with a Direct Stream Junior . I have read many of the post and comments here and it seems that the use of a pre amp with a DAC connected could improve the sound quality and any possible “hiss” coming from the speakers. I know the Stellar Gain Cell is both a pre amp/DAC. Would purchasing both DSJ and SGC using the SGC as a pre amp be overkill. My speakers are Focal 1028Be

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From what I heard it was recommended to use a preamp with the DSJ hence I got a gain cell dac and preamp. At some point will add a DS! My issue is cabinet space in my living room

Good luck with your quest

I’ve had the M700’s paired with the DSJ for about a month. Fantastic sound and a big step up from what i had previously. The gain related noise is not a major for me as i sit around 5m from my speakers ( i use rca cable and have ordered inline attenuators to try and tame the gain by 10db).

The DSJ appealed over the GCD due to the higher quality and upgradeable dac plus the bridge streamer. Having said that i’m getting great sound over USB also!

I always cringe at the thought of overkill because it’s something rarely in my vocabulary. The DSJ is quite a lot better DAC than what’s in the Stellar and more than a number of people have and do use the GCD as a preamp. After all, it is a preamp first and a DAC second. When we first designed the SGCD we thought long and hard about not including a DAC because folks would struggle to think of it as a pure analog preamp. But that’s at its heart. Go for it.


Hi Paul. Happy to know this design philosophy - preamp 1st. Its a great piece of gear and my 1st PSA and my 1st experience with a good non resistive analog volume control … am really enjoying the output, especially at lower volumes. I see a lot of empty space in the SGCD and maybe one day you can stick an Ice module too!

Indeed it’ll serve as an integrated chassis someday.

I have the M700’s and the SGCD. Since acquiring them I have been enjoying music on a much different level. They are paired with Focals 826V. Shall be adding REL subwoofers soon.

However, the bug to upgrade will set in at some point. I have heard very good things about the DSJ and am wondering about possible upgrade paths in the future. DSJ followed by BHK Pre or the other way around.
Which path would be the better option?


I can’t speak to the potential impact of the DSJ or a BHK Preamplifier. I can tell you that adding the DirectStream DAC (Sr.) to my system was the most impactful (upgrade wise) change in my system to date, short of getting what I consider to be my first real high performance/Hi-Fi kit (my Anthony Gallo Reference 3.1 speakers). The DS DAC’s performance is extraordinary, especially via the Bridge (I or II). Again, I have never auditioned the DS Jr. or the BHK preamplifier - but Sr.! Given your current kit, I think you should consider skipping straight to PS Audio’s best DAC. I use an Anthem AVM 50v with Anthem Room Correction as a pre-amp, but the Sr. is a great performer direct to amplifiers as well. And, I suspect you could live with the SGCD as your preamp. while you save up for the BHK preamp and be quite satisfied if you chose to go that route. FWIW.

Thank you for your reply. The DS Sr. is PSA’s best DAC (I know I would be quire satisfied - in fact more than satisfied) but I prefer the minimal aesthetics of the DSJ. And given what others have said, it would be a significant improvement over the dac in the SGCD.

I have read much about making a server with a Mac Mini using USB cables. Can an eithernet cable be connected to the DSJ bridge from the Mac Mini’s eithernet port or the Thunderbolt port(using an adapter)? If so, would this produce better sound qaulity than the USB connection coming from the Mac Mini? Most of my music are in Itunes either downloaded or ripped from CDs. Would a NAS be a better option with Roon instslled as the server but possibility sacrificing sound quality?
Sorry for some basic questions but I am somewhat new to this and just need some good direction. Thanks!

I can’t help with the Mac side but I run a Qnap NAS with a Roon core installed. Properly implemented you shouldn’t impact your sound. The NAS will deliver your music but it can’t be responsible for poor quality files. It will deliver what you’ve loaded on it.

Indeed it would be a significant improvement over the GCD and a great choice (though I won’t argue the Sr.’s better). I’d likely go with a Jr. before I went for the BHK preamp - because I am always in favor of getting the basics firmed up first. Another thing you’re going to want to put on your wish list is the new and upcoming Stellar Power Plant 3.

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That is my inclination as well. I am sure the Sr. is better though the law of diminishing returns sets in. Besides the money saved could be utilized towards an upgrade of another component or the purchase of a “Stellar Power Plant 3”

I am on the path you are considering. The SGCD was first (I was a beta tester)…then, I traded my old PSA 200C for a pair of M700s and was amazed. The DMP was next to do the best job on my large collection of CD/SACDs…and further amazed! Ok, I was hooked and went for the DSJr. The synergy of the DMP with the DSJr was super amazing through the I2S interface…and I got the BridgeII in the DSJr. Interesting that Paul suggests an upcoming Stellar regenerator next…I had the same impulse and got an outgoing P5 Regenerator for a decent price…the P5 has all the capacity I need with the efficient M700s…AND, it makes a Big, Big difference to my kit. My AC is not great and varies throughout the day and with other AC consumers on the circuit. With the P5, my whole system just seems “happier and more relaxed”. That’s a weird way to describe it, I admit to being unconvinced about regenerators until the P5. Good, clean AC out of a regenerator really makes a difference. Have fun!

I am somewhat unconvinced as well about the AC regenerators but I am intrigued as so many people swear by them. Part of the fun is in the research and anticipation of upgrades.

Well it has been a month since I posted my original question and I am intrigued with all the response.
Of course with all the comments and reading on the other posts I am somewhat overwhelmed with information overload!( a good thing). Knowing what know what I want to purchase…M700’s, SGCD , DSJ , Detect AC.

I have an Alienware 17 R4 and Ailenwar X51 running Win 10 with ITunes loaded on it. All my CDs have been ripped on ITunes and I have purchased music on ITunes.

What I need to figure out is the cabling USB or Ethernet? Brand of cable?
What to do improve the SQ of my PC. Or consider a different approach.
I tried the Roon on a trial running a Schitt Magni Amp & Modi Dac listing through a pair of Sennheiser HD700 cans…sounded great.
I have heard that a software program called Fidelizer can improve the SQ of a Win 10 PC.

Bottom line is I have a pair of Focal 1028BEs and want to run them at their potential.
As I am a novice I welcome any and all advise as I move towards Hi End Audio.

Ethernet into the DSJ and then XLR from the DSJ to the SGCD then XLR to the 700’s. The Bridge II card in the DSJ should see the Music folder on your computer as long as they are on the same network. As to cable brand that is up to the limits of your wallet.

To use the Bridge you would need to use server software other than iTunes since iTunes is not UPnP compatible. You could use something like minimserver or foobar2000. If you want to use iTunes, you have to use USB. Roon works with either the Bridge or USB. Any of these programs can work using your iTunes music library.

Any recommendations on the cables?

I installed Foobar2000 on this laptop with the Fidelize software… I can certainly hear a difference in SQ compared to just running ITunes. Sounds somewhat crisper.