Stellar Gain Cell DAC - Noise issues

Curious if anyone is having this problem, and I say this with the caveat that electricity in my listening room isn’t great.

With headphones the analog inputs are all fairly quiet, you have to turn it up to max to hear anything.

Digital inputs all have a loud hum, even at lower volumes.

Connecting it via balanced inputs to my Parasound A21 results in a lot of his at normal volume, almost sounds like the ocean.

Comparatively my Parasound P5 barely adds any noise to the A21, even cranked to the top.

Any ideas here? I’ve been slowly removing noise from my system via switching outlets and power conditioners, moving the internet router to a new room, etc., puzzled why the Stellar is so noisy.

Mind you, it sounds beautiful, just want to get rid of the noise so it will sound even better.

I recommend you contact PSA customer support. My GCD’s analog and digital (HDMI) inputs are perfectly quiet whether listening through headphones or the M700s. PSA customer support is excellent. They will work with you until the issue is resolved.

Wanted to reply to this as I just received my GCS and S300. I am having the same problem. I get a buzzing sound (mostly audible when volume is at about 30+) from only the left channel and only when using any of the digital inputs. All the analog inputs have no buzz, but all digital input buzz in left channel. This is confirmed in both speakers and headphones.

Also, is it normal to have a fair amount of hiss with this unit? The volume rises as I increase the volume of the GCD. If it was just noise floor hiss, shouldn’t that stay at the same level no matter the volume level?


I would contact PSA customer support as well.

I have to say, I too had a Parasound Halo P5 for the past 3 years and it was considered as being silent. Probably less than a foot away from the tweeters, you could barely hear a slight “hiss”.

Now with the Stellar GCD running the show, I can have my ears nearly right up against the tweeters and just barely hear any hiss. There’s zero hum or static or any other noise on any input, analog or digital, including Input #2 which I have my Schiit Mani phono preamp connected to.

All inputs are truly dead silent as far as I’m concerned.

Does this buzz happen with all the digital and analog inputs physically disconnected? Make sure your inputs and sources are completely disconnected and that the only thing plugged into the back of the GCD is the power cord and the output cables to the amplifier. Then, check for the buzzing you’re hearing.

If it still buzzes with all inputs disconnected then there’s something amiss in the GCD and we should get it fixed or replaced for you immediately.

Hi, thanks for the quick responses from all.

Confirmed, with all sources disconnected, there is still a buzz in the left channel when activating any of the digital inputs. Also, and I don’t know if this is normal either, but the hiss (which does seem high to begin with) definitely rises when i switch between any analog input and any digital input. That is, any digital input has much higher hiss than any analog input.

Setup is GCD via Balanced cables to S300. Speakers are Kef LS50’s.

I sent a note via the online form on Friday. Should I email support directly?


Hi all,

Thanks for the input so far. I reached out to support and was able to send a video clip of my issue. The response I received was that the buzzing I am hearing with digital inputs is normal. This surprises me and I would just like to confirm that other people get the same result, especially when others are saying “all inputs are truly dead silent.”

At the link below you can see a video clip. I have turned the volume on the GCD all the way up for the video, but I can hear the buzz easily at volume 70, and if I put my ear up to the speaker at 40.

I also separately tested an external dac (Schiit modi multibit) on an analog input and its silent except for the hiss, no buzzing, all the way to 100.


I can’;t play the audio file but I don’t believe there should be a buzzing noise on the output. Can you let me know whom you spoke with in service?

We’ll figure this out. It sounds (though I can’t hear it) like perhaps a ground loop. There shouldn’t be a buzzing noise when in digital.

Interesting, it tried to embed the video link. Gonna try to copy and paste without markup, so maybe you can copy and paste.


This link works fine when pasted into a browser address.

I didn’t disconnect all the other stuff, but I’m getting a slight buzz on the digital outputs too when I turn it up to 70. Doesn’t seem nearly as loud as yours, though. Normal listening for me is 14-20, so I had to change the volume limit to even do that :wink: I can’t hear it below 40.

The video clip definitively sounds like a ground loop. Given that it is on digital only and in left channel only, it may be a ground fault inside the GCD. Certainly is not an acceptable level of noise from what I heard.

Only when playing vinyl (only analog I have) do I ever turn the volume up to a max of about 35 or 36. All other times, I’m between 23 to 30 with digital inputs.

Just now, I started cranking up the volume. Once I reached 91 on the volume, I heard the very slightest, and I mean VERY slight hint of a buzz. And oddly enough, only in the left channel. But even then, I had to have my ear plastered to the speaker drivers to hear it, within an inch or so. Once I moved 6" away, I couldn’t hear a thing.

With that being said, with the volume cranked to 91, I can understand getting a tiny bit of noise.

OK, thanks for the link. That is definitely a ground loop of some type and not normal. Can you disconnect all inputs of any kind and then try that again and let us know the results?

Thanks for all the feedback everyone. That video clip is actually with all sources disconnected, both analog and digital.

For testing sake, I plugged my Marantz AVR directly into the S300 via the unbalanced pre-outs, turned the volume all the way up on the Marantz, and their was no buzz. Just the faintest bit of hiss which I assume is the noise floor.

Also, as per James I am working with in support, I plugged my external dac (Schiit Modi multibit) directly into the S300 as well. It was also silent with no buzz.