Stellar GCD or DL3 vs reference Direct Stream DAC


I was recently quite impressed after visiting my friend Pandy to listen to her stereo. She had the Direct Stream DAC and I really liked the warmth and timbre of piano which I feel most DACs don’t do well. But at $6K its not in my budget.

I’m considering two other more affordable PSaudio DACs. Stellar Gain Cell DAC or a Digital Link III. Which of these will have the warmer sound more like the Direct Stream DAC? What features am I giving up?

I’d also consider a B stock, open box, used, or refurbished Direct Stream DAC if I can get one for <$4K. Is there someone reputable who sells these?


Welcome Craig!

I would absolutely suggest a SGC DAC over the DL III. It uses a much more current DAC chip inside, and supports native DSD. Not to mention the much improved power supply inside. Though you’re likely just looking for a DAC, it’s analog gain control is very good. I listen to its headphone amp all day at my desk. It’s very warm and effortless, and incredibly quiet.

The Music Room is a great place to check for used PS gear. Prices and condition are great. Here’s a link to their website.


I would suggest you go for the DS Jr if you can swing it. Otherwise the SGCD will do well but I highly recommend that you convert your PCM music to DSD via Audirvana !

You might want to check with the sales team at PS Audio to see what they can do for you regarding b-stock, etc. They just might be able to help you out.