Not so stellar review of Stellar stack in Hi-Fi News

I don’t stick to the term „linear“…it should just mean „measuring perfect“ and sounding flat.

Which often don’t seem to intersect. Including in the design stages.

Correct, that’s what I’d also usually say…most important it sounds flat (sometimes not even that is the best way)…doesn’t mean it has to measure so.

This magazine just says it doesn’t measure AND sound flat…which (if true) can still mean it sounds great (or at least better than flat sounding and measuring Class D gear)

My argument was like for a bookshelf speaker, which never sounds good if flat in its spectrum…it usually needs more richness than neutral and sometimes calmer treble to compensate for its size and little acoustic weight.

It’s interesting how one reviewer can hear the SGCD’s high frequencies as “gritty” and another can label them smooth and too “sweet.” Obviously, different people hear things differently and a piece of audio gear interacts in unique ways with each system in which it is placed. The fact that I could change the imaging and perceived balance between low and high frequencies just by changing interconnects between my SGCD and M700s showed me that my system can take on different sonic characteristics simply by changing individual components in the system.

It’s surprising to me that some seasoned audiophiles still believe that perfect measurements lead directly to perfect sound. I thought that the measurement quests of the 1980s and 1990s had taught us useful lessons about the correlations (or lack thereof) between simplistic measurement data and musical realism. Oh well, I guess learning the truth is a life-long process.

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You learn and learn and then get to this time period where truth doesn’t seem to matter!


Actually I don’t argue in court on behalf of clients, I’m duty bound to the court to give my honest opinion irrespective of my client and here in the UK we have experts jointly appointed by both parties. I’ve given evidence when jointly appointed by three waring parties, which was fun.

Mr Amir puts whatever comes his way through a box of tricks and my only criticism of him is that he tends to accentuate the negative and sometimes things that don’t matter. Going by measurements alone is something I fundamentally disagree with - I consider them a starting point.

I got banned for “defending” Harbeth, which members of ASR consider a fail because they are passive, don’t have DSP and most of them can’t afford them, which they then slag off as being overpriced. Most have never listened to them either.

They are also obsessed with maximum SPL for speakers and rock solid bass at 120dB, which is fine for studio mastering, but not in most people’s homes where 90dB is considered very loud.

The tests do show that nCore and similar Class D amps and power supplies are really pretty good these days, measure very well, and can be considered serious hifi. I don’t think any of the reviews had and issues with the M700 amps or the choice of DAC in the GCD. The ICE are a bit old, they’ve been around 15 years apparently.

Colin’s NC500 amps are actually quite good as I owned one since 2016 that I just recently sold as it wan’t being used. They do benefit quite a bit by being fronted by a tube preamp. The ICE modules in the 300 are probably close to that old while the ones in the 700’s are newer at about six years. Even the 1200 modules are three years old as I have an amp based on them that is over two years old and it certainly needs a tube preamp to smooth out the rough edges. Even though the M1200s have Darren’s tube buffer stage I would still recommend using a tube preamp.

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Frank Zappa said “Shut Up And Play Yer Guitar”

I say “Shut Up And Play Your Stereo” !

I owned the SGCD/Pramp and loved and miss the thing. I heard no low level noise at low or high volumes whether it was my Speakers via M700’s or Headphones. A great Preamp and versatile. Just wish it had a second pair of XLR inputs (like the Schiit’s). Schiit Preamps no longer available in Black so I’m not buying one…period.


I’m very sceptical about attenuation. The only standalone preamp I ever owned had dual mono stepped actuators. Alps Blue suffice in many units that are quite expensive, and a motorised Alps Blue is under $100.
As far as I’m concerned, coherent sound at low volume is down to the speakers, not the electronics. I’ve listened to systems with $50,000 preamps, I just don’t understand it. I do know they shouldn’t be producing audible distortion.

I am struggling to see how a review that gives an overall ‘Highly Recommended’ can be viewed as anything but positive. Anyway, it will not affect my enjoyment of my SGCD and I would say to any potential buyer that they decide with their own ears.


It’s a great review full of praise. If they didn’t find some nits to pick it wouldn’t be right. To be expected. I for one am quite pleased with it.


The Stellar stack SOUNDS great


My ears don’t enjoy measurements, they enjoy Stellar sounding music😊