New Stellar Gain Cell DAC--does it need to "break in"?


#1

Hi all, I just installed a Stellar Gain Cell and have been comparing the sound quality between listening to CDs and DVD-Audio disks on my Oppo 203 via the analog input from my Denon AVR vs. the direct coaxial digital connection from the Oppo to the SGC. The Oppo 203 is connected to the Denon AVR via HDMI cable. The SGC is connected via XLR cables to my Krell FPB 400cx power amp.

I’m having a hard time telling any difference. My main reason for getting the SGC was to take advantage of its superior DAC and analog stages, which I assume to be better quality than an AVR. However, when I switch back and forth from input 2(analog) to input 5(coaxial), I’m not hearing much difference. I had hoped to hear a more broad and deep sound stage as well as a more open and dynamic sound by using the coaxial digital connection, compared to the analog input, especially since that would be eliminating one set of interconnects. I had hoped to hear more refined and natural high frequency instruments such as cymbals.

So, at this point, my question is, does the SGC DAC need to “break in” for some period of time in order to achieve its best sound? I’ve generally been skeptical of “break in”, but am willing to learn.


#2

Can you list what components are plugged into where and what - power strip/conditioner.
Include other devices like video game systems, , routers, tv, anything electrical.

Also, consider that because you are using Coax, the electrical noise generated by the Oppo switching supplies are transmitted to the Gain Cell Dac.


#3

Thanks. The power amp is plugged into a wall outlet socket. Everything else is plugged into a Furman Power Station(not expensive). This would include the cable DVR box, Oppo UDP-203, turntable, Denon AVR-X5200 AVR, Sony 75" 4K TV, and the Stellar Gain DAC. The cable modem, router, and printer are plugged into outlet strips on the other side of the room, but I do believe they are on the same circuit.

With regard to the coax connection, I used coaxial because of being advised that coax was better than optical. I could use optical if that is better. I was advised to get at least a 6 foot run of coaxial, so as to reduce reflections back into the Oppo that might occur with a short cable.


#4

Yes. Indeed it does.


#5

So, would the DAC section itself need to “break in” by being used? Or does the unit, in general, just need to be used? IOW, if I use the unit in Home Theater mode while watching TV or movies, will that sufficiently break in everything?


#6

Heat probably does most of the “break in”, so using anything is probably helping everything. The biggest part of the DAC break in can be done just by having the selected input having an active signal (non-paused) it doesn’t matter so much if you are listening to the DAC. For the active digital input It wouldn’t matter if it’s some digital output of the home theater, a disc player in repeat or a computer playing files, etc.