Stellar Stack


#1

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.


#2

Thanks, Terry! We’re on it.


#3

You can buy a PSA NuWave phono preamp right now for $999, which is a $900 off closeout price, includes an ADC, so it is great for digitizing LPs.

I don’t know about direct from PSA, but if Music Direct still has them, I am pretty sure they allow returns. If they had been that price when I was looking for an ADC, I would have bought one and sold my Camelot. If you have any old gear that works, they might even give you something off with a trade in.


#4

The Nuwave phono preamp is excellent. I bought one when they first went into closeout and I have never regretted it. I use it via the digital connection into my processor, which I realize might offend some analogue-o-philes. Nonetheless, it sounds outstanding. I cannot recommend it more highly.

I am surprised it’s still available after 18 months on closeout. I wonder whether PS Audio had an unexpected surge in orders due to the new price and decided to continue to produce them for awhile longer.

Since I’ve got it connected digitally, one thing I have played with was the word length and sampling rate. I normally use the recommended 24 bit sample and 96 kHz sample rates. However, when I gradually change it down to the 16 bit sample and 44.1 kHz sample rates, the soundstage loses width and more noticeably, depth. Instruments lose body and a sense of fullness, and the same thing happens with vocals. It’s pretty interesting, and shows me how much the larger bit samples and sampling rates add to the listening experience.

Best of luck with your new system!


#5

And in answer to Jeffstars comment about returns, everything we sell direct on our site comes with a full hassle-free money back guarantee. And, on top of that, free shipping both ways. Whatever you purchase from us you get sent to your door by FedEx at our expense. Try it for a month and either keep it or call or email us and we’ll pay the return shipping by FedEx as well. Couldn’t be a whole lot easier.


#6
RJ said

The Nuwave phono preamp is excellent. I bought one when they first went into closeout and I have never regretted it. I use it via the digital connection into my processor, which I realize might offend some analogue-o-philes. Nonetheless, it sounds outstanding. I cannot recommend it more highly.

That's a great suggestion. The Nuwave just went to the top of my Christmas list to my better half.

#7
Paul McGowan said

And in answer to Jeffstars comment about returns, everything we sell direct on our site comes with a full hassle-free money back guarantee. And, on top of that, free shipping both ways. Whatever you purchase from us you get sent to your door by FedEx at our expense. Try it for a month and either keep it or call or email us and we’ll pay the return shipping by FedEx as well. Couldn’t be a whole lot easier.


I knew about the policy, I just didn’t know if it applied to closeouts. Some companies don’t allow returns on b-stock, refurbished, or closeout. I should have known PSA, would always allow returns.

#8

Gottcha. Yes, of course it does, in our case. The reason’s simple. We want people to like what they buy from us because when that happens they tend to help us spread the word and that’s good for us. Imagine buying a closeout and then not being happy over time. The opposite happens and while some companies might say, “well, the products gone now so who cares?” we just don’t operate the same way. We’re in it for the long haul. It all matters, all the time.


#9
Paul McGowan said It all matters, all the time.
A perfect servicemark for PS Audio. I like it.

#10

Mine was sent out on yesterday and I can’t wait for it. I have been talking to my dealer about one and even though he had one in stock it was silver. I wanted black, so I sit here anxiously waiting for the combo. Reading your post makes me even more anxious!

Scott