Thinking about moving from Schiit separates to Stellar Strata. Downgrade?

Currently have Ascend Acoustics Sierra towers being fed with a Schiit Gungnir Multibit, Freya +, and 2x Aegirs in mono. I’ve been interested in PS Audio for a long time and wanted to check them out with the closeout sale with the Stellar Strata.

Any opinions on if and how much of a tangible down grade this could be? I would appreciate any insight and thoughts. Thanks!

I can’t answer your question based on experience.

That said, you might consider taking PSA up on their in-home trial policy and listen for yourself in your system.

I would not be surprised if you end up thinking the Strata sounds better.

But, personally, I also suspect giving up a pair of mono amps might be a step backward.

Good luck.


Welcome to the forum.


Nothing against PS Audio (I have a BHK Preamp, M1200 monoblocks and FR20 speakers and am a happy camper and frequently mention the musicality in my system), but once you have the imaging of monoblocks, it is hard to go back to a regular stereo amp, unless it is a significant upgrade.

I would stay where you’re at.

But if you were to say you’re looking into upgrading to the M1200’s, I would say they’re “nice” and definitely worth considering.

My Strata has served me well as my office system for over 3 years. I would say it’s weakest link is it’s streamer/bridge - it occasionally has trouble with Qobuz HiRes files at 192KHz, and there are a couple of buggie things between Stata and PS Connect.

Now that I’m turning my office into a listening room I’m going the other way, to separates. The AirLens that I just added is a much better streamer.

You don’t say what your sources are but if you can avoid connecting the Stata to your LAN/WiFi I would suggesst it - the DAC, preamp and amp are better.

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I use two pieces of Schiit gear in my system, a Freya+ and a Loki Max. Can’t see myself replacing either one for a long long time.

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Do you use any PS products?

Yeah, kinda getting the feeling it may not be an upgrade but still wanted to try their products. Seems like a good time to try with the discount.

Could I just keep the Aegirs and use the Strata as a preamp? EDIT: I guess it lacks the output to do so, unless I’m missing something.

Yes you could.

I think you should just order the Stellar Strat and take it for a spin.

If it doesn’t impress you enough to find a place in your system, just send it back within the trial period.



If push comes to shove, is your priority to improve the amplification performance or the preamplifier’s capability? If it is the former, I would consider one of the numerous mono blocs PSA offers to see if you can better the Aegis.

I believe the Aegirs need to be hooked up with XLR to run in mono. And to hook my subwoofer up, I’d need to use the two only analoge outputs from the Stellar?

I’m mostly just wanting to try PS Audio out at this price range and compare to my current system.

Edit: Doesn’t need to be XLR but not sure the Strata has enough output connections to accomplish my goals with the two amps and subwoofer?

@Chinookie: Just in case you have not seen this (good overview/review of the Strata) –

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The gain cell dac is also on sale, if you’re looking for some low dollar PS Audio gear this is a great bargain.

I saw that, unfortunately it’s sold out. Seems like it has the analog outputs I need to run the amps and a subwoofer.


For the a little more the price of a strata you could get a PS refurbished DSD Sr on TMR that could replace your dac/pre.

Otherwise maybe keep the money and get something better down the road.

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Found what you were mentioning. Considering hard now. Thank you for the idea.

EDIT: Damn, no analog input for my turn table…

It won’t help if you want to scratch a PSA itch but, if it’s any consolation, I doubt either the GCD or the Strata would offer much if any upgrade. Different maybe, but better depends on your definition.
I have a bit of experience with Schiit gear and PSA. I had a Ragnarok and Bifrost 2 piped through a pair of Salk Supercharged SongSurrounds. There was a bit of magic but I always thought it a bit bright, though that may have also been setup related.
My current system is in transition but is currently composed of a Lyr+ repurposed from the desktop setup, the same Bifrost, and a single Aegir playing through Spatial Audio M4. It has a nice sound but still lacking in some ways. It remains a bit on the bright side, particularly at relatively higher volumes. I can’t attribute much of the brightness to setup any longer, but I’m finding that I’m pretty sensitive.
Before this I had a GCD and a pair of M1200’s. The combo sounded good but it just wasn’t me.
I’d say the main differences were the PSA set up was a bit more effortless (1180 WPC difference!), and had better soundstage depth and layering. I liked and want to recapture some of that. That said, the soundstage had what I perceived and can only describe as artificial sense of separation. It was fun but didn’t sound natural to me. It was almost like being on stage but at a distance. Weird description I know but that’s how I perceived it.
Based in part on comments Paul made in at least one of his videos, I’d say this soundstage presentation is part of the PSA house sound. Many look for this in their systems so it is far more often than not perceived as a good thing. I’m still figuring out my preferences but for me it was a bit too much. If that is appealing, you may find a bit of that in the GCD.
There are many variables contributing to how a system plays in and is perceived in a space. You really have to try it to know for sure.
You’ve got a nice setup right now. Schiit gear is rock solid and the Sierras are wonderful speakers. Based on my experience (including Sierra 2EX) my guess is I’d perceive your system as really good sounding in my space with a bit of brightness. The Freya+, which I don’t have any experience with, may provide better layering?
The GCD would be an interesting experiment but I wouldn’t put any effort into the Strata unless you could borrow one. You’ll frequently find GCD at TMR in the neighborhood of $950. They seem to sell relatively quickly at that price (mine did). I believe TMR provides a trial period so you’d only be out shipping costs to experiment. For reference it cost me about $95 to ship my GCD to Boulder from NC via FedEx.
Good luck!

I have a pair of the M1200’s, and like them much more than a Mark Levinson No. 534 amp I had in my system. The Levinson sounded good, don’t get me wrong, but were also fatiguing. The M1200’s not fatiguing at all, but instead more natural sounding. I have had good luck with a Levinson No. 523 preamp, a BHK preamp and a Conrad Johnson tube preamp feeding the M1200’s, and while all 3 preamps are definitely different from one another, all sound really good with the M1200’s.


As to original question, highly doubt that’d be an upgrade. I think you’d have to go to m1200 in psa to get better than what you have. But that’s just a guess. You could always test. m1200 with freya probably pretty good, but way more $$ than what you’re looking at initially anyway. Even on these forums it’s hard to find anyone raving about the strata (at least if they’ve ever had other comparable stuff - if they’re coming from sprout (which most strata owners probably are) then sure). Strata isn’t intended to compete with separates, and that Schiit stuff is pretty good - you’d need to go up the PSA line a good ways to beat it I bet

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I appreciate all the input. I think I’m going to stick with what I have. Sounds like it would be a sidegrade at best, and most likely a downgrade amplification wise. Might be interesting to try the higher end stuff out at some point. Maybe I’ll try Yggdrasil instead of GCD.


Aegir 2 is just around the corner too and while the power is only up a touch… the internals are very different.

I went from Stellar separates to the Strata, then to Bifrost 2/64 / Freya+ / Aegir and wouldn’t think about going back. I have not found class D that sounds better than A or A/B and I much prefer multibit to delta-sigma.