Half assed audio review of stellar combo

Not a word about the dac sound, about source used, about speakers used, called the usb port Ethernet, the I2s usb….

I guess there’s a reason he calls himself "Zero Fidelity":stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


I’ve been Trolling the comments section since this morning cause I got nothing better to do on this fine 4th of July day. I spewed niceties all over that YouTube review page including the midrange which he claims is a bit loud at higher volumes but nice at lower volume. I hate to admit it but I hear the same thing, My fix for that is one dial setting down on my Bose Dog’s Breakfast EQ.

I was being nice about the faux pas but I agree, a proper review of the DAC was an opportunity. The only thing I’d like to say here (cause I don’t have the Balls to say it i the YouTube comments) is :

PS Audio lent you the equipment for review. Even though I am not a reviewer, he should have reviewed ALL aspects good and perceived Bad.

So I did the DAC review for him in the comments section but it got buried within the comment replies. It’s nothing that I haven’t already posted within the PS Audio forum topics.

  1. USB input is a bit thin sounding but I blame my fanless PC’s Motherboad…not the SGCD

  2. Coax input has better Bass and Midrange while not messing up the Highs when played via the Coax output of my Sony UBP-X1000ES

  3. Haven’t tried the I2S input because I don’t have either Sonore or Matrix USB to I2S HDMI interfaces/boxes

  4. For now, I can only play DSD via theX1000ES’s Analog Out until I get either of the above boxes

He tried to save it at the end, but still came as a negative outcome.
It was as if he had the ultimate pair of speakers to test with. He was too certain and assertive in attributing his experience to the stack and nothing else. Poorly subjective. And the Sprout comparison, almost in jest. He’s a parasound fan, and that’s ok, but this was a hasty knee jerk review.

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I stopped watching this guy’s videos a while ago because of how inconsistent his reviews were.

I just watched this review and I can’t say that I agree with you guys.
I think he reviewed the stack in a quite fair and positive way and if I was in the market for class D monoblock amps with dac/preamp/headphone amp, I’d come away with a positive opinion. He suggested that the sound was very dynamic, transparent, lively, fast, and the build quality was excellent. All good.
He said that it doesn’t sound at all like solid state class A or tube-like and he’s right and one wouldn’t expect them to . He said that the Parasound is warmer and less dynamic and I would be suspicious of that translating to artificial and dull.
Finally, his pace gave the impression that he was trying to blurt out a review in as short a time as possible, which he did. (I don’t remember, did he take a breath during the review?).
But in the end, most YouTube reviews are worth what they cost you.

I own the Stellar Gain Cell DAC it brought my Yamaha MSP5 back to life. Middagje indeed is fantastisch and I do like the treble. Can’t really comment on bass performance, the MSP’s don’t go down deep, but the SGCD took out the artificial bass as far as it reached and replaced it by calm natural sound. For near field listening in my home office it is like night an day difference to what it was when I connected my sources single ended directly into those active monitors.

Is it Wort the money?

Yes it is absolutely the only solution at this price point (when I bought it) that is fully balanced offers a USB DSD (DoP) DAC, decent volume control and a very good sounding headphone amp.

I can not say it outperforms more expensive gear as I have no comparison, but it certainly gave me what I bought it for from a SQ point of view.

It looks very good, much, much better than the recently released, more expensive ELAC Alchemy alternative.

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The YouTube review seemed more positive than negative to me, but the reviewer repeatedly questions whether the Stellar stack is worth the cost. I view the stack as an incredible value, especially when you consider the “system” discount and take advantage of the generous trade-in option from PSA. I don’t know how you can get similar power and sound quality for the $2800 I paid for my GCD and M700s after trading in a component I was no longer using.

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My main issue with the review wasn’t it’s conclusions. It was how he got there, meaning it was hasty and unprofessional, especially considering the system includes a dac, a preamp and mono blocks .

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I may be completely wrong here but I thought I read something about his mom having health issues and him not sleeping recently due to that. He may have just rushed through this just to get something out. His other reviews appear like he’s done his homework and thought through his comments better.

Possible and he does these Video’s for free. But even with personal issues, I would have just sat on it for a couple weeks and not even put the “Teaser” prior to the review a few weeks ago. Again, I trolled the comments page, but kept my comments positive. I even agreed with his observation about the midrange being harsh at high volume. I live in a apartment so my volume levels are not leas breaking. I do not find the Stack fatiguing by any means. I listen to them for hours at time. While I work from home and when I’m not working from home. But, I have the advantage of dialing back my Bose EQ one position to compensate. I just wish he’d reviewed the SGCD and tried several different speakers with the Stack. The Parasound comparison was not valid IMHO.

From the minute I first powered up my Stack, I knew it was worth every Penny ! I dare even call them McIntosh killers at half the price with double the features.

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I think the review was fine and typical for him - they are always very short.

What you need to take into consideration is that most of the stuff he reviews is sub $500 and from brands which most of us would not consider audiophile.

I don’t think his channel is aimed at people like us, it is aimed at people who are starting out (e.g. teenagers) with budget equipment.

They are not going to have expensive speakers and the price of the Stellar system is way out of their league - hence why he concentrated so much on the value.

(If I was starting out and I had 3-4K as a teenager I would not be spending it on hifi I would be getting a cheap car even as someone who was always into hifi!)

These things are all relative and when you have $500 speakers something like the Stellar is not good value, it will be completely wasted - even the Parasound is a stretch.

The thing that puzzles me is why he reviewed the Stellar Stack in the first place.

I know he has done the odd higher end review - like Tekton Audio speakers but they are the exception rather than the rule and it was quite some time ago.

These kind of reviews are of no use to his typical audience and they probably aren’t appropriate for most of the people here, so not really sure what the point is.

He’s a decent guy though so I’m not going to get annoyed with him. He gave his opinion and even a short video takes a hell of a lot longer to put together and edit than a text review. There’s also wisdom in keeping videos short on YT - attention spans are getting ever shorter!


rajugsw, high end audio magazines offer their reviews on line for free, like the stereophile review on the M700, and they don’t use that fact to half ass their job…

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I agree, Sean is a good guy who I know from a couple of other forums and he has a general target audience. He did give a couple of very good reviews to speakers from Michael’s friend at Buchardt Audio.

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I read both Steve G’s CNET on the SGCD/s350 stack and Stereophile for the two m700’s. And there are several reviews online about the SGCD. Upscale Audio paired one with a Prima Luna on their YouTube channel. I started watching Paul’s video’s by accident on YouTube about month after he started them with the Reel to Reel and Nipper in the backdrop.

Shortly after I’d purchased a Marantz SR5011. Not exactly “Audiophile” but it was a step up from my ancient Denon AVR-1802/Adcom GFA-555II setup (the Adcom caught on fire - long story).

Several months later, I bought two McIntosh MC50 Transisitor amps. I’d rebuilt them both with lots of mods. Now that’s a Rabbit hole I wished I’d not fallen into. Both amps sounded great pre the rebuild and even better after I’d swapped out all caps/resistors/diodes. But they didn’t have enough juice to drive my 901’s. From what I’d read, you could drive them with 50WPC only if they are Series 3 thru Series 6 with the rotting surrounds and the funky ports that I never liked. Series 1’s and two’s need a minimum of 100WPC. Mine are Series 1’s.

Fast forward a few months and I and I had my heart set on a SGCD/s300. Then HiDef Lifestyles had a sale for two m700’s with the SGCD at $700 off. No discount if it was just the s350. So I pulled the Trigger and a day later, I saw them on PS Audio’s website for the same price. Now, I could have screwed the dealer, got my money back and went on PS Audio’s site and been able to trade in the rebuilt Mac’s and the Marantz AVR for whatever they’re worth. But my conscious said NO. The dealer instead gave me a very nice credit in lieu of a trade for future purchases online through their website and store up in Harrisburg, PA.

In the end, these are the best amps I’ve ever owned. The SGCD is my first foray into the the world of external DAC’s. The preamp/amps are as quiet as a mouse. Class D done right !