Last year I told my wife I wanted to put together a modest 2 channel system. I started with the idea of a decent integrated amp and a pair of good speakers. I read lots of reviews and auditioned a lot of gear. I started out thinking KEF LS50s and a good amp. I got it down to Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum, Peachtree Audio Nova 150/300, or Parasound Halo Integrated. I ended up going with the KEF Q900s as they were a good value at $1200 with great sound. I bought the Parasound Integrated. For a digital source I went with Bluesound Vault 2. It’s a good streamer plus has all of my CDs ripped to it. It also works as a Bluetooth receiver for when any or all of my four grown children are here. I went with various Audioquest cables for the interconnects. I was pretty happy with this setup. Last week I noticed that PS Audio had gone to a bundled price for the Stellar Gain Cell DAC and Stellar S300 amp for $2799. I walked into my wife’s office in our home and said I’d like to order the Stellar stack and try it out. She knows me well and understands that I get bored easily. She has watched me buy many cars over our time together. I’m a Porsche guy, but that’s another story.
I ordered the gear on Tuesday and it arrived today at 3:00. It’s 10:30 and I am still listening to it. Yep, 7 1/2 straight hours. I pulled out the Parasound and plugged the stack in its place. I used single ended cables for the interconnects for the first three hours as my XLRs did not arrive until 6. I’ve been listening with those since then. All I can say is wow! What a difference. The soundstage is bigger in every dimension. Detail and separation are much improved. I’m hearing detail in my music I’ve never heard before. I’ve listened to ALAC ripped CDs off the Vault 2 as well as CD and MQA streams off TIDAL through the Vault. I had a problem with glare on some tracks with the Parasound. That problem is gone. I expect it to get even better after the stack and new cables are burned in.
The Stellar stack at $2799 is a game changer. If you are looking at integrateds under $3000, or even more, you owe it to yourself to audition these products. It isn’t fair. Don’t get me wrong. The Parasound is a great integrated amp for its price. See all the great reviews. Maybe I got lucky and the Stellar/Q900 is a great pairing. The KEFs do require some heft at 4 ohms as Stereophile measured them at 3.17 ohms at certain frequencies. I am thrilled.
Paul, please build a Stellar phono stage so I can hook up my Rega RP6 and get the vinyl going on this rig.