Stellar Gain cell DAC -- Clicking/Popping

When I turn the volume up or down using the volume knob, I get a popping sound coming through the speakers. Seems to be louder though the right speaker. Has anybody had this issue? Is it normal?


My SGDAC has a small pop sound with the increment/decrement of the volume, does not matter if vol is controlled by the actual knob or from remote. The pop sound is very light, usual I do not notice when I am in my sitting area.

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There is a very slight tick to the volume control with each up incremental increase or decrease. Should be so slight that you hardly notice.


I can feel it in the volume knob but I hear the pop in only the right speaker. It’s actually quite loud when the volume is up around the 20 mark… gets louder and louder.

OK, that isn’t normal. It shouldn’t increase as the volume is higher. I’d reach out to our service team and see what they suggest.

Thanks! I’m in contact with service now.

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Hey Perrypel. Any news on your gain cell dac popping? I just fired up my system tonight and had the exact same issue. Popping coming from the right speaker and it gets louder as you turn it up…not that I turn it up loud, even at volume 1, 2 or 3 it feels like my magnepan LRS are going to blow up.

The bias meter on my pass labs amp was pegging so hard you can hear the needle bottom out.

Hi Raygun,

I sent my gain cell back but I’m still getting the popping sound. They couldn’t reproduce the problem but it still happens the second I plug in my usb cable. I gave up debugging and have only listened to about 2 songs since i’ve gotten it back (about a month ago). At some point I will probably try a different USB cable and swap out my balanced connectors with RCA… The popping isn’t that loud at lower volumes but definitely doesn’t sound like it should be there. Try turning off the power from the back and see if it goes away. Sorry your having issues.

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Did this just start happening? This is by no means normal and if it sounds like your Maggies might blow, it should get resolved soon.

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Hey James! Hope all is well.

Ya it just started this. I turned it on last night and the popping was immediate. I shut it down and unplugged it. Seems like some kind of voltage spike or something. What concerned me was that the needle on the pass labs amp shot from zero to full (if that makes sense) I literally heard the needle make a clunk/clink sound when it pegged out. The speaker also made a loud popping sound. It was a bit surprising to say the least. I have never seen this happen before (and I used to work in a hi-fi shop with an in house tech).

I don’t think mine is source related. I changed inputs and it popped regardless on power up and volume change. I did not even try putting music through it. Something internally just gave up.

Shoot, sorry about that. I’ve had a similar thing happen to me and I nearly … myself. You should give our tech support guys a buzz today and if some trouble shooting doesn’t fix it, we’ll be able to bring it in and get her fixed up.

I’m new to this unit but have a question. I am finding a big difference in the volume level between the spdif and analog inputs on the GCD. I went through my Roon and Node front end and all settings are set at fixed I also tried all 3 analog ins with the same result. I also changed out ICs with cheap rca, Morrow and BJCs none made a difference in the volume anomaly. Is this normal operation for the GCD?

My GCD is feeding a pair of M700 monoblocks, into Warfedale 9.6s. No pops, no cracks, no death rattles. Silent except for the sweet music. Sources include NAD CD 515BEE via RCA coax, NAD FM tuner, and an iPad.

Instead of starting another thread, (mods feel free to do so) I just took delivery of a SGCD which was pre-owned but still under warranty.

My volume is dead silent when increasing or decreasing with analog inputs, but with the USB I also get a light pop/click sound in my speakers when adjusting the volume. The light popping sound will get louder as the volume is increased.

Yes, that’s normal. It’s quite a bit less than the BHK pre, but you can still hear it a little.

so I am new to this dac. My question is how loose is the knob supposed to be? I had an argument with someone stating it should not be easily to turn but I am seeing no issues with this. Please advise

Welcome @dlynch34 !

I do not have this piece so I cannot comment, but someone should be along before long. My expectation is everything is fine.

That’s a very difficult question to answer since the “feel” of a knob is highly subjective (unless you want to suggest a piece of test equipment that could determine how many ft-lbs of torque it takes to rotate it).

I’ll just say that I’ve had preamps that were more difficult to turn; this one takes a pretty light touch. But there’s nothing about the feel of it that suggests to me that anything’s wrong.

Mine is very easy to turn, free wheeling, almost! Most of the time I use the remote.