Preamp choice

Hello. Nubie here. I’m looking to replace my Parasound Halo P5 preamp. Would the PS Stellar gain cell preamp be a significant upgrade? Thanks

It’s an excellent upgrade with a kick ass DAC. Very flexible inputs/outputs.

Thank you Joe. Great advice.

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I don’t know if it would be a significant upgrade, but it is a very nice unit. I use it mostly as a preamp. I have a Chord Qutest DAC attached, and it feeds a tubed headphone amp. I also have a Sonore microRendu/Sonore Ultradigital attached and can utilize the I2s input. The headphone amp is pretty good for a built in and wont disappoint you (with most headphones). One quirk it has, the USB DAC display does not like being fed a signal (352.8k 8x 44.1k) and the display flickers. Hopefully a firmware update will fix that when conditions return to normal.

Parasound Halo P5 is a good preamp with a very nice Burr-Brown PCM1798 DACs capable of 24-bit, 192kHz. However, its early iterations seem to be configured to deliver 24/96 via the USB digital input.
Please cross check and if true, and your library comprises files at 24/192 or higher, then the GCD will have a much bigger advantage over the Halo P5. The analogue section in the GCD is also remarkable, and if you live in an area where you can try it, or listen to it, please do.

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Are you using the P5 phono stage?
Are you using the P5 as your DAC?
Are you using the sub output/crossover on the P5?

It would be helpful to hear a little bit about you system, what you feel is lacking in the P5 (if anything) and what your goals are…

Welcome to the forum, lot of good minds here!


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Thank you for taking the very much needed logical approach John :blush:

I would hope the GCD is an improvement on the P5, which is now quite an old unit (reviewed in 2013) and has been superseded by the P6, which now uses the same DAC chip as the GCD, has a new ladder volume control, much better digital input specification, better headphone amp, etc. Digital has moved on a lot since the P5 came out, I think DSD was a rarity in those days, now most units have it, the P6 does DSD64, DSD128, DSD256 and DoP DSD.

I agree entirely with @john2213, with these jack-of-all-trades boxes, it’s best to list the functions that are critical to you and find a product that does those best. For example, the quality of the phono stage is irrelevant if you don’t use a turntable. Most people are looking for value for money in a single box, there are lots of options and there’s no point paying for functions you won’t use.

I use one-box products and changed one last year because I wanted a single box with better streaming. I compromised on a slightly inferior power supply to the box I was using previously. I just balanced out the functions that were important to me, that will be different for other people, so for one box products I don’t think there are universal winners and losers.

Definitely try and get a demo unit, PSA have a 30-day return policy I believe.

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I don’t have any experience with the Parasound, but I’ve been using the SGCD since last November, and I love it. It replaced an old Adcom preamp and ModWright-modified Channel Islands DAC, and I couldn’t be happier. It has the flexibility and number of inputs I need for my sources, and the DAC is a big improvement over that 1st-gen Channel Islands/Dusty Vawter unit. Its analog circuits are killer, too. I use them for my Bluesound Node 2i (to get complete unfolding of MQA files) and my Marantz SACD player (because using its digital outs disables DSD reading). Its overall sound seemed a tiny bit dull to me at first (as in very slightly rolled-off highs), but in short order, whether because of break-in or my ears adjusting, I came to find its sound to be very “real” with accurate tonal balance, and very detailed in presenting low-level information.

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