Hypothetical use of $4k

Better choice to buy a DS Jr or a Stellar Gain Cell DAC and the Stellar 700 monoblocks? Given that my current amp is a Peachtree 220SE (single ended inputs) feeding LS50s and a KEF Kube subwoofer. I’m just starting to think right now but… I’m starting to think right now.

SGCD and M700, never look back. DACs comes, DACs go. Preamp lives on. Sell everything else but keep cables, get Dynaudio X44, enjoy next 20+ Years with all sources to come. Else, the experiment never ends.

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Shoot. The S300 would be adequate for what I have. Hmmmm

I think Underwood HiFi has the DS SR on Presidents Day sale for $4K.

I’ve never owned PSA Stellar amps, DS Jr or SGCD. I have the Perfect Wave DAC and it’s lovely. but i’d say the priority would be to upgrade your amplifier situation. once that’s done, then upgrade DAC, and/or preamp. BTW, the PerfectWave can be found for good prices on the used market - and can feed direct to your amp. works great!

I must say, it is impossible to give any sound advice without knowing why you want to spend $4K on your audio system in the first place. What is it that you feel is inadequate? Knowing the shortcomings of your existing system (or simply the reason you believe there is more to be had) is the ONLY way for any of us to offer any kind of prudent advice.

What is your current line up of major equipment components?

I could not ask this without also asking about your room situation and if any acoustics are applied?

Excellent point. Well, I’m all out of matches and I was trying to figure out how to make that money disappear quickly, so…

No. Seriously, thank you. I have an answer but it will take a little bit. Thank you very much.

Noodle around on their site. Lots of choices.

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Some amazing prices in that shop. You could spend the $4,000 on one of a pair of JeffRubin’s Burr Walnut Raidho D1 and then save another $4,000 for the other one. Or just sell the car and get both at once.

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Ha!! That is the very best position to be in as an audiophile :money_mouth_face:

What I have:

I have a Peachtree Audio 220SE integrated amplifier that feeds a pair of KEF LS50s seated on Target Audio stands filled with lead shot and a pair of IsoAcoustics Apertas with the 3M version of BluTack to keep them from being tipsy given that kids occasionally pass through that room. I have Zu Audio speaker cables thanks to Brett’s generosity. And additionally I have a KEF Kube 1 as a subwoofer. Cables are mixed, either Audioquest or WireWorld but I’m not sure the models (Golden Gate maybe?). Power is through an Audioquest NRG-2 from a Tripp Lite ISO-Bar surge protector with a Noise Harvester plugged into it.

Sources: I have a Yamaha CD N500 player attached directly via toslink. I have an older Oppo DVD/SACD player as well but don’t use it because the Peachtree doesn’t decode DSD.

I have a Pioneer PLX-1000 with Ortofon Blue fed through a Bellari Phono stage with an Electro-Harmonix tube.

My primary source is a NUC running Rock for Roon, connected via USB through an Audioquest Jitterbug filter and a WireWorld USB cable.


The room is small; basement with drywall over concrete, unfinished ceiling (joists). I have the speakers pulled out of the corners and one bung in each of the bass ports because the room is small enough that “out of the corners” means a couple feet forward and centered.

Okay. What I’m looking for.

Imaging. I don’t have any real sense of depth when I listen to music. The side-to-side imaging is fine, good actually. When I listen to something like “The Trinity Session” by Cowboy Junkies, I can close my eyes and pinpoint where the performers are around the one microphone they used for that record. But when I listen to classical works, there is no sense of front-to-back imaging. An orchestra feels smushed all from the listening position, it’s not like the violins are close and the timpanis are far. Left to right? No worries. Front to back? Nothing much.

So. That’s my story. Where do I go from here? Maybe nowhere. I recognize that the Peachtree is in the Mid-fi range of things. It’s also a few years old from a DAC perspective. I also have a Schiit Bifrost Multibit that I use for headphone listening (through an Asgard 2) that is frankly just much more exciting to listen to. I don’t use it on my main system because I have only one analog input and that’s used by my turntable.

Thank you for any advice you may offer.

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At this point, I’m not sure my car is worth $4,000.

“One almost never sees voluntary self-restraint. Everybody operates at the extreme limit of the legal frames.” - Alexander Solzhenitsyn

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Excellent information!

With $4000 you have a few options. But first, are you looking to create a system (between the range of 1 through 10) capable of reaching the 8 to 10 range, with plans to make future upgrade investments in order to get there? Or, are you perfectly happy if you can get to the 6 to 8 range with this $4000 investment?

There is no question that a DAC and AMP upgrade is needed, but I also question the ability of your speakers to create the soundstage that you are looking for. I have gone through quite a few speakers and know how impactful they are in the grand scheme. I know others have heard your speakers so I would be interested in their opinion on the ability to create the front to back soundstage depth you yearn for.

I think The Music Room DS Sr. deal for $3999 brand new with warranty is a steal. You can’t do better with your $4000 - but with an understanding you can’t stop there as your amp is in need of some upgrading.

I would refrain from the DS Jr. at this time since that iteration is being discontinued and the new Jr. will be manufactured with some hardware changes.

Quintanilla’s suggestion of the SGCD and M700 is sound. You mentioned the S300 would be adequate with what you have. Were you basing that off of your speaker specifications? I’m not disputing that but remember, having some headroom in the amp can be a great thing even if that power isn’t needed to create adequate SPL in your listening environment.

Your room may be highly reflective. If you have lots of flat, rigid surfaces, modes or comb filtering could be messing with your soundstage. Applying $1000 toward some room treatments could end up having a profound impact if there are acoustic issues.

If it was me, my upgrade path would be: DAC > Loudspeakers > Amp

If your room is reflective: Room treatments & DAC > Loudspeakers > Amp

The problem with upgrading the Amp and Speakers is they are so interdependent. Unless you purchase them together, you will have to take a leap of faith with either component as the speakers you demo will never be at their potential with that AMP or the AMP will never be at its potential with those Loudspeakers. If you can attend an audio show, that would be incredibly helpful. If not, is there a multi-brand dealer in your area? Otherwise, forums such as this can be very insightful.


Thank you greatly. That’s all good information. I’m looking to build over time. But I may wait for a bit and see. I am HOPING to attend AXPONA this year, but I don’t know what family obligations I have that weekend. We do have a multi-brand dealer here, but they don’t carry PS Audio stuff; they’re heavily into McIntosh and SimAudio.

I’m not in a rush; I’m still planning, so reading your advice, I may just slow down some and hear and listen. My biggest fear is that I’ll end up focusing on the margins (cables, power (?), etc) when the investment that has to occur is at the center of things (electronics, speakers).

Thanks again for you sharing your time and expertise.

Or get a dsd sr for $4k

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The DSD Sr really sounds THAT GOOD?

Frankly, with KEF LS50, which are OK, and $4,000, I’d plan a system around a better pair of speakers.

It might be a good DAC at a good price, but I’ve yet to hear anyone say the DAC is the most critical part of a system. I doubt you would have to spend more than $1,000 on a DAC to max to the performance of KEF LS50.

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Yes indeed. I got one this year and it makes me smile every time I listen.

Well it doesn’t matter at this point in time anyway because I hypothetically got nailed with a hypothetical car repair today that spent most of my hypothetical budget. Thanks for the advice all. Talk to ya next year.