Just became part of the PS Audio family last night

Hello all,

My name is Charles and this is my first post. I’ve been lurking around here a few weeks and have been a subscriber to “Ask Paul” for the past year or so. Excellent information and stories in every video.

Anywho, I’ve been looking for a good preamp to upgrade to from my Parasound Halo P5. It’s been a great little preamp over the past 3 years, but I know I can do better. After about a solid month of researching, I decided on the Stellar GCD and ordered one last night in silver. It should be here either this Thursday or Friday. What a great way to start off the new year!

I chose the Stellar GCD for several reasons. The main reason is for the excellent analog Gain Cell volume control, but also because it’s fully balanced, has a far superior DAC than the Halo P5, and a little odd reason, it displays the volume level. One thing I hate about preamps like the Halo P5, you can not tell where the volume knob is at, during the day or at night unless you walk up to it and look.

But honestly, I decided on the Stellar GCD because of all the excellent reviews it has received, the fact that it performs to a higher price point that what it costs (which is a theme of my system), and because I now have a piece of PS Audio gear to go along with the gray Power Ports that I installed in the wall behind the system several years ago. LOL… And this is in an apartment!

The biggest reason I decided on this preamp is simply because I really like and respect Paul. From watching his various videos, even a couple of his cooking videos, listening to the stories he tells about his past and the jokes he makes, I feel like I know him like an old friend even though I’ve never met the man in my life.

Anyway, I’m very excited to receive this Stellar GCD and install it in my system. And speaking of my system, it’s a very modest one to say the least, but it gets the job done. In fact, it’s good enough that a local musician/friend (Christopher Satterfield) brings his music files over to “proof” them on my system. He’s bringing one more final CD over that he’s been remastering to proof one last time on my system before sending it off to New Jersey to have vinyl copies made. Who knows, maybe some of you have heard of him. He does classic southern rock, very similar to the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet.

As for the system, here’s a quick rundown of it…

Preamp | Amplifiers: Parasound Halo P5 | NuPrime STA-9 x 2
Sources: Bluesound Node 2, Roku Ultra, Oppo 105D, Crosley C10 (Pro-Ject Debut III) w/ Ortofon 2M Bronze
Speakers | Subwoofers: Sonus faber Venere 1.5 | JL Audio e110 x 2
Power Conditioning: Blue Circle Audio, APC
Cables: AudioQuest, Wireworld, Pangea Audio, Mojo Audio

The turntable is my girlfriend’s. I will eventually be upgrading to a Rega P2 in white, and the Oppo is already up for sale. I would like to find a single unit that plays discs and streams Tidal like the Oppo, but also will be able to stream Qobuz and possibly uses the I2S connection, but is also economically priced. There’s no way I can spend $3k to $5k on a disc spinner/streamer. The Bluesound Node2 is a great streamer but only has Toslink or Coax out.

Well, enough rambling. Here’s a few pics since everyone likes pics!


Welcome Chops! Happy New Year!

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Very nice setup. Is that the pro-ject on the top? It looks nicer than I recall. :).

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@brumtech - Thank you, and Happy New Year to you as well!

@timm - Thank you sir. The turntable is my girlfriend’s (she bought it off of one of my brothers), a Crosley C10 which is basically the same thing as the Pro-Ject Debut III, just rebadged. I replaced the stock Ortofon OM5e with my 2M Bronze, but I don’t think this tonearm likes this cart too much. No matter how I align it, I still get distortion and the overall sound is just flat and lifeless. When I had my Debut Carbon Esprit DC SB, it loved the 2M Bronze and I got excellent results from it, but not on this Crosley (Debut III).

But like I said above, this next time around, I’m going to go with the Rega P2. I’ll also have to buy a stand alone phono pre, most likely the Schiit Mani.

Yeah. The way he does business is good for business.

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Most definitely.

On another note, thinking about my 2M Bronze cart on this turntable, I decided to try re-aligning it with the paper protractor that came with the Crosley instead of the Mofi Geo-Disc. Man, the alignment was WAY off!

Now listening to Side B of Hank Mobley “Soul Station” and there’s no distortion anywhere on the album, including zero IGD. In the process, the “snap” and dynamics are back. At least for now, this will prolong the need to rush out and purchase the Rega P2.

Come to think of it, that Mofi Geo-Disc made a mess of my Carbon Esprit as well. Maybe it’s not meant for 9" tonearms.

Hi Chops, Welcome, I’ve also just recently become a member of the PS audio family . I was debating on the Stellar or the DSD at the time but they didn’t have a Steller to listen to, so I jumped on the DSD when the price dropped ( still sort of wish I could of listened to the Stellar, might of gone a different way), but alas, it is what it is. Either way I won’t be disappointed. but unfortunately I won’t receive it until the end of January or there about. I see you have the Nuprime STA-9, excellent, I also have a pair of Nuprime amps, driven by their CDP-9, until the DSD gets here. Then the CDP-9 goes into the DSD , and then that will directly feed the amps, which should be a major SQ upgrade. I’m finding the waiting is brutal.

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Welcome Charles. Happy New Year.

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Welcome Chops!

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Yes, what a great looking system. Welcome and let us know when the Stellar arrives!

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@840wolf - Thank you for the warm welcome. I was thinking about going with the DSD for a short bit until I looked at the rear panel and realized it has zero analog inputs. I very much dislike having to wait for something to show up in the mail, mainly being concerned it’s going to arrive safely.

Just curious which Nuprime amps you have. I love mine. They sound great. I have mine bridged mono, so they’re ready to dump 290 watts into my little Sonus faber’s, which of course will never happen, or at least it better never happen. LOL

I’m thinking running the coax digital out of my Node 2 into the Stellar will probably yield better sound than the fully unfolded MQA coming out of the Node 2’s own analog outputs. Even using this way, the Node 2 will unfold the first half of the MQA file and send up to a 96kHz signal to the DAC. If I turn off the Node’s internal DAC, all it send to an external DAC is a max of 48kHz.


Thanks guys for the warm welcome! And Happy SAFE New Year!

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@Paul - Good morning sir! Thank you very much for the wonderful compliment, and it’s an honor to hear from you! Happy New Year! They “ain’t” IRS V’s, but they do alright. :wink:

Trust me when I say, you guys will be the very first to know when the Stellar arrives. I always post pictures because that’s part of what forums are for, and everyone loves pics.

And I’m sure you noticed… Stereo subwoofers! They’re just tuned by ear at the moment. When I get the Stellar up and running, I’ll connect the mic to my laptop and run REW to really get the subs dialed in. I’m running the Sonus faber’s fullrange and have the subs up around 50Hz with phase tweaked independently on each.

See? I pay attention to your videos. :stuck_out_tongue:

Chops - At the time I debated all the Nuprime amps, each offered something over the other , and Jason suggested to wait til the Evolution Ones came out and add that into the equation. I ended up with those when my Dealer offered them at a price I could live with . I do have an old Audio Research, all analog pre amp, which is out for repair and want to try the DSD into that. I think that should be a revelatory experiment, one way or the other. One thing I found out is that the i2S connection is compatible . I can hook up the CDP-9 that way. As for streaming, I don’t know. I don’t want Roon and did’t like Tidal, I’m using Audirvana, which I do like, and they do stream Qobuz (which is not yet available). So…I’m just using my laptop with USB and streaming Deezer. It’s not high res, CD quality only, but they have a great selection.

@840wolf - I read somewhere the other day that the NuPrime disc spinners were compatible with PSA’s i2S, which is a good thing. I’m sure more and more companies will come out with compatible spinners/streamers as well after a while.

I’m not too thrilled about Tidal either. Too much music that I couldn’t care less about, and not enough releases on the music I do want, and I sure as heck don’t want to pay extra for Roon. Once Qobuz is released here in the US, I’ll most likely ditch Tidal and go exclusively with Qobuz. And the nice thing is, the Node 2 is Qobuz ready.

Welcome Chops! I think you’ll definitely want to run coax out of your Bluesound Node 2 into the SGCD. I also have a Bluesound Node 2 and use it this way, and the sound is much better bypassing the Node 2’s DAC.

Like you said, you’ll lose the full MQA benefits, but this doesn’t matter since the SGCD’s DAC implementation is noticeably better than the Node 2’s…but it should be:)

As a side note, you may want to consider upgrading your power cable to your Node 2. It adds an improvement to the sound over the included power supply cable.

Lastly, if you’re considering future sound upgrades you may also want to look into something like a SoTM SMS-200. I use it as another source, using my laptop running Windows 10 - running AudirVana and played through my network. CXP helped make me aware of the soud upgrade doing this. The sound is definitely better than my Bluesound Node 2 with upgraded ps cable. This would run you about $500, and further improvements can allegedly be had using an upgraded power supply for the SMS-200 which I hope to find out about soon.

Lots of options…

@dbanker - Thank you Doug.

I plan on running the coax to the GCD, as it is right now to the Halo P5. And as an added step, I use an iFi SPDIF iPurifier as well. I also have a Wyred 4 Sound Recovery USB Reclocker, though can’t use it since I have no USB streamer.

As for the power cable upgrade, I did that about a week after I received the Node 2 several months back, with a Wireworld Aurora 7 cable and Pangea cryo treated IEC to C7 adapter.

Nice! I’ve noticed on my system the power cable upgrade was indeed an improvement (not surprising). You may even want to play around with running optical vs. coax. I noticed a difference in sound between these two also when run to my SGCD.

Though like I said, if I were you (just based on my experience) I would definitely consider something like an SoTM SMS 200, ultraRendu, or the like. Quite an eye-opening improvement for my system at a relatively affordable price (about the price of the Node 2 in fact).

Regardless, enjoy the SGCD! You’ll love these forums too. I’ve been around for a little less than a year and have learned A TON. Lot’s of fun here… Cheers.

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@dbanker - Thank you! I noticed an immediate improvement when swapping out the power cable. I also did a side-by-side test with the digital outs (without and with the iFi on the coax and on the Toslink), using a Pangea Premier SE coax and Wireworld Nova Toslink… You see which I decided to stay with. :wink:

I’ve briefly looked into the SoTM SMS 200 before and probably will go that route, hence why I have been holding off upgrading to the Node 2i. Not sure what all is needed to get one up and running for my NAS, Tidal and Qobuz though. Will probably go with the upgraded power supply as well since I don’t like having a bunch of wall warts laying all over the floor behind the rack.

Pretty impressive what power upgrades can do! I’m not sure what you’d need to do either, but if you check out Hans Beekhuyzen videos on Youtube he does a very good job explaining what would need to be done. He’s reviewed multiple streams, talks about running NAS, and integrating various services.

I am currently subscribed to Tidal and Qobuz and play them both through AudirVana (about $75) on my laptop. This is played over my network to my SoTM SMS 200 which is plugged in via Ethernet straight into my router. Then, the SMS too goes into the SGCD USB. I also convert PCM to DSD using Audirvana and also think this brings an improvement in sq.

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Looks like I have more research to do! LOL