Is Stellar the Way to Go?


I’m looking to upgrade from my receiver to separates. I currently have a Cambridge Audio AXR100 that I’m not thrilled with. My main issue is a lack of drive and momentum that makes upbeat music feel a bit lifeless. I came across PS Audio via Paul’s videos on YouTube and am now interested in the Gain Cell and S300. It seems like it has exactly what I need (RCA input for my phono stage, DAC with optical input for the TV, preamp, and power amp) and nothing I don’t (tuner, bluetooth, streaming). They also look nice to my taste, which can’t be said of a lot of audio gear. I’ve also been intrigued by offerings from Peachtree and Devialet.

My main hesitation is that a lot of reviews and comments on forums seem to be from people who listen mostly to classical and jazz. That’s not only for these units, but most equipment at this level. I understand that these are good for testing, but it makes me wonder if this setup would be overkill or even not as good for my music taste (post punk, post rock, indie, experimental). The worst case scenario for me is a system so revealing that I can’t enjoy the music I love because the pressings aren’t 100% audiophile grade.

I’m also relatively new to buying more quality gear. I’d rather buy something of greater quality like the Stellar system now and have it be able to keep up with upgrades elsewhere in the future, than need to keep going up in small increments over time. My speakers are KEF LS50 Metas and I’m thinking about getting a pair of Buchardt S400 MKiis at some point in the future as a second pair.

Some artists I love, if that’s helpful: Talking Heads, LCD Soundsystem, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Brian Eno, Leonard Cohen, Destroyer, The Modern Lovers, Black Country New Road, The Kinks, The Velvet Underground, Nick Drake, Ought, Sufjan Stevens

I’d appreciate any thoughts or advice. Thanks!

I’ve had the SGCD for over two years and M700s for over a year and I’m happy as a clam, on all the music I play, which ranges from classical of all scales to old rock, new(ish) rock, jazz, and folk/bluegrass, all through Maggie .7s. Sources are vinyl (through a Channel Islands phono preamp), a PST transport, and an Aurender streamer. I can’t imagine a type of music that would throw the Stellar equipment for a loop. And if the sale is still on, now’s the time to strike.

One other quick note - no question there are some less than wonderful recordings out there. But I can’t say I’ve ever run across one that didn’t benefit, at least a little, from the best equipment your circumstances allow you to throw at it.


Yup - the OP might want to consider the M700s at the current price…


I started out with the a Stellar stack of the SGCD and M700s, and am still using the M700s. I have very similar tastes in music as you and I can definitely say the Stellar equipment made all that music I’ve been listening to for years sound so much better. There were a couple of times that they showed just how bad the recording was (the uber compressed remastered Raw Power), but for most part there was more clarity, better separation of instruments, better sound stage, and more precise bass. And there were a number of albums that I used to like only part of the album but now I enjoy the whole thing. And with the 30 day test period, you can always change your mind.

Keep the KEF Metas, hard to beat at the price point, and may be supplemented with REL subwoofers if you like. The Stellar stuff is fine, but I’d strongly suggest a SImAudio Neo 340i, or to save a bit a SimAudio 240i integrated. New SImAudio carries a 10 year warranty. If you are open to the used market either can be had for 50-60% of MSRP with some patience. Personally I recommend new.

Entry level separates are not always the be all and end all that some profuse. I have heard the SimAudio KEF LS 50 Meta combination, sweet and well suited to your musical taste, IMO.

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Thanks! I appreciate the recommendation. I didn’t realize that they’re Canadian. That’s definitely a plus for me. With the current sale, the 240i is more than $1,000 more than the Stellar stack, which is already an expensive purchase for me.

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