Stellar Gain Cell DAC Subwoofer very low

Running the Stellar Gain Cell DAC with two SVS SB16 subs…

M700s connected via XLR… Subs connected with RCA outs into the LFE input on the sub. The output seems VERY low. I have to turn these subs up to at least -10 to -0 db! I’ve never had to turn them up so high. With my Anthem STR, I can keep the subs around -20db via the subwoofer outputs.

Is the line output of the SGCD that low that I have to crank the subs that much?

RCA signal is lower level then XLR signal. I had the same situation. Benchmark pre-amp, XLR to power amp, RCA to SVS subs. Had to turn subs up to -3 DB to match. Now using XLR Y-splitter from the 3rd XLR our that the benchmark has, and subs are back to -29, much closer to pre-amp level. Believe SGCD has just the 2 XLRs though. Maybe try Y splitters.

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I really don’t want to split my XLR outs from the SGCD thinking it adds unneeded connections and wires into the equation. So did PS Audio just think no one should add subs? Doesn’t sound like them.

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I use a McIntosh splitter from my BHK pre, it has no noticeable impact on SQ.

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You could give it a try, and see how you like it, Hosa XLR y splitter is less then $10 on Amazon.

I use Emotiva XLR splitter box with Mogami Gold patch cable to split my subs, works perfect.

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Well yeah I could try a $10 xlr splitter on my multi thousand dollar investment and it might be fine, but I wouldn’t believe it’s fine until months of critical listening. I’m not a cable whore but I also don’t know that splitting the signal is a wise thing to do considering the engineering that went into making the DAC/amp. If I’m wrong then there’s little to no reason to spend so much money on PS Audio equipment.

I just want to know if it’s a well known issue up front… The RCA outs don’t provide a lot of oomph to subs… at least compared to my Anthem STR. I’ve never had them cranked so high in any system.

What I learned is that the signal over XLR is much stronger then over RCA. Can get up to 20v versus around 3v in my case. So when I used both at the same time, the XLR to my power amp, and the RCA to my subs, I had to really dial up the subs to match, like you. Don’t see the voltages of the SGCD in the manual but when I later on used XLR split I was feeding the same strength signal to power amp and subs and I could dial sub gain back to normal level.

Is that really true? Typically, XLR is twice the voltage (6dB) more than RCA. Rarely (if ever) have I seen the difference as high as you suggest.

Yes indeed on the interwebs I see mentioned by Chord that XLR is around 4v and RCA 2v. When I looked at the specs of my Benchmark HPA4 pre-amp however it lists:

  • Balanced Analog Outputs: Maximum Output Level: +28 dBu, 19.5 Vrms

  • Unbalanced Analog Outputs: Maximum Output Level: +12.2 dBu, 3.2 Vrms

That might be something unique with this Benchmark however. I initially ran my subs from the RCA and amp from XLR so I recognized the signal imbalance described in the post above, I also had to crank up subs to their max. When both came from XLR with a splitter setting was back to normal.

I see SGCD has 2 XLR and 2 RCA and no sub out. Ideally for us audiophiles, preamps would have two full sets of XLR outs, 2 for power amps, 2 for the subs. :slight_smile: Not all subs can use speaker-out like REL.

I have the same setup except only 1 pb16.

XLR splitter works great and was recommended as a better approach from someone on the PSAudio email support team, when I emailed.

Picked up a decent splitter fro sweetwater (after a $12 amazon selection). I have a large room approx 18x22, -4db volume seems to do the trick.

Yes, the sound output on the rca’s is at a lower volume than the xlr’s. And yes, I had to adjust the volume level of my SVS subs to approx. -6 to -3, depending on the music source. I don’t have any issues with this.

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I’ve had the same issue with my SB-2000s where the gain was set way up there. Since it doesn’t have xlr inputs it ended up installing a line converter on the output of my spare S300 output terminals and the results have been great. No huge discrepancy between the main speakers and sub volume. And the gain knob dropped almost half of its travel.

So, did PS Audio just expect people to NOT put subs with the Stellar Gain Cell Dac? The out put is so low, comparatively speaking, I’m guessing this had to be intentional. No one, at at this price point especially, would have totally neglected this. What about folks with subs of lesser power? SOL?

@Paul is the SGCD’s output stage sufficiently robust to drive both the monoblocks and the sub pair in parallel along with their likely long cable runs? And is the output impedance low enough?

PSA’s implementation in a product in this price range is pretty much standard as is the 6 db difference between the SE and Balanced outputs. This has been explained to you multiple times along with several methods to resolve the difference if it is that big a deal to you even though your subs work fine by turning up the gain like everybody else does. Continuing to complain about a non-issue that is not going to change is serving no purpose.

Those several methods seem like degrading methods. Idk for sure, but my hypothesis is this… Any time you split a signal, it degrades the signal. Especially if using cheap splitters. Most people who buy any PS Audio equipment don’t like the idea of splitting the output signal. Keep it pure as possible.

If you are getting an appropriate volume level on your subs by just turning them up then you don’t have an issue that needs solving. If you want a preamp with multiple balanced outputs then be prepared to open your wallet a lot wider than you did for the Stellar. What you are describing is normal.

My Anthem STR integrated amp does not have this problem. That doesn’t require me opening my wallet very much more if any. Idk about the prices. I’m totally sold on the PS Audio sound… But you sound like a blind homer.

Far from it and I suspect I own more gear by more varied manufacturers than you do across the three systems in my house. The only piece of PSA currently in use in my systems is a Stellar P3. The settings on an AV based piece of gear have nothing to do with those on an audio only preamp. The Anthem STR gear starts at $4000 so that part of our argument about cost is not true.

If you don’t own my same equipment, or have experience with it, then why are you weighing in? I’m looking for informed and educated responses. Turning my subs way up, almost to their max, is not an educated or even intelligent response.