Upgrade audio components

Dear Paul,

I am a happy owner of Nuwave DAC. I use it with the Creek Evolution 2 integrated amplifier.

Over time, I want to improve my system more and more and I wonder what growth in sound I can expect.

I intend to purchase a bundle of Stellar GainCell Preamplifier and Stellar S300 Power Amplifier. This is what I can afford within my budget. Can you comment on this?



I can comment on the NuWave DAC but I’ve never played with the Creek. The Stellar Dac inside the SGCD (and out upcoming Strata Amplifier) is far better than NuWave. The differences will be in imaging and tonal balance. The SGCD DAC is much more open with greater
depth and a wonderful sense of space between instruments and voices. The NuWave’s good, but closed in sounding compared to Stellar.

It’ll be a great move for you.

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Hi Paul,

Thank you for prompt reply. I understood the difference in DACs. From other hand I confused a little bit. You mentioned new device Strata Amplifier, which as I understand is all in one streaming device (includes stellar dac, amplifier and streaming capabilities). The question is what to prefer: bundle of Stellar GainCell Preamplifier and Stellar S300 Power Amplifier or instead better to get the Strata Amplifier) I understand the streaming pros. (not so important for me) of the last one, but from the point of view of sound — can you advise which option is preferable (I guess the price difference could be about $200).

Thank you



Interesting thread on the Strata here. Your inquiry on Strata vs Stellar is

Paul, I just thought I’d mention that the SGCD I bought several weeks ago is often performing standard Redbook CD conversion better than my Marantz SA8005 does SACD. I have an old Rega Planet I’m using as a transport, outputting its signal by coax to the SGCD for conversion there, while the Marantz has to connect via analog or else it won’t read the DSD layer of the disc at all. Set up that way, I’m happier with the sound I’m getting from many CDs on the Rega/SGCD than comparable SACDs on the Marantz.


I upgraded from the NuWave DSD Dac to the GCD / S300 combo, so I can offer a bit of perspective.

Granted, as always, it’s all system dependant, but my system saw a healthy improvement. Prior to using the “stellar stack” I ran the NuWave DSD with a NAD 326bee…using the NAD’s amp section with the NuWave DSD and digital volume control. Upgrading to the GCD was definitely better, and when I added the S300 I saw another level of improvement over the NAD’s amp section.

As far as considering the Strata - I obviously can’t speak to that. Though if you keep separates at least you have a bit more control about what kind of avenue you want to pursue…albeit at the cost of extra cables, shelf space, etc. All a give/take obviously.

All of that being said, I love the GCD / S300 combo. Upgrading my source has only pushed this combo to other levels. My current setup is Monitor Audio Silver 300’s, GCD, S300, SOtM SMS 200 (upgraded PS), Matrix (upgraded PS), Audirvana is running SOtM SMS 200 upsampling to DSD from Tidal, Bluesound Node 2 (casual listening vs. more serious with SOtM), PS Audio Duet, and cabling is PS Audio and Audioquest. Hope this helps. If you have any specific questions I might be able to help out with please reach out.

I echo Paul’s sentiments. I asked him the same question a while back when I was considering the same upgrade, and it was a clear improvement.

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Thanks for your input. Always very helpful for others! Glad you’ve been enjoying the Stellar stack. Bob and Darren can knock it out of the park when they get together.

My privilege! The quality of my system is no-doubt a culmination of a lot of the knowledge/wisdom I’ve learned from others on these forums. Plus, of course, quality PS Audio products playing a major role :wink:

gold01 - Give the upgrade a shot…I don’t think you’ll be disappointed one tiny bit, I sure wasn’t. Especially coming from the NuWave which is already a good sounding DAC (I know). And if you buy from PS Audio you have nothing to lose anyways. Cheers.

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Awesome! Yes, the SGCD is a wonderful performing product and CD performance was something we worked hard on. Always great to read when it’s confirmed. Thank you.

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A dream come true - I am a happy owner of a bundle SGCD-S300.

Already feel the difference!

Now the amateur question - balanced cable, which to choose so as not to sell the house (I suspect these are symptoms of a disease called audiophilia)

Seriously, I appreciate any practical advice which pair of XLR cables worth to purchase (let say below 50$ - I saw numerous at https://www.bhphotovideo.com/).

Thank you,



You might want to check your local hi end audio shop (if you have one) and ask about used XLR cables. I got a really nice set of Furutech XLR interconnects for under $200 that were much more than that new.


Studiospares, or equivalent if you’re in the USA:)
For 10 or 20 quid you can get a pair of cables (neutrik connectors, nice low noise cable), if not happy get some of the more expensive ones, then compare them and report back here :slight_smile: ).

Note - others in here may disagree. Just don’t get cheap moulded microphone cables, but proper made up ones. Studiospares in the uk has a large range of cables, many of then made in-house. They sell some cheaper moulded ones as well, guess they help pay the rent, but make a lot of the rest in-house.

Thank you for input



Congrats on the new stack and glad you’re already enjoying the differences! I’ve mentioned it a lot, but I’m quite partial to Anticables. Great value and works really well with our gear, specially the Stellar gear.

Have you tried any anticables speaker cables with the Stellar gear? If so, with what speakers?

Yes, I ran them between the M700s and a pair of B&W 600 series. The sparkle was there without the glare B&Ws tend to have. Mids were great and full but their bass response is embarrassing. Paired them up with a REL and all was good!

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Thanks for offering your perspective…which specific speaker cables of theirs are you using?

Interesting on B&W speakers is that most people, including myself, find them too bright, you’d think they would adjust for that.
Sorry, off topic…

My current dac the NAD M12 it had a TCXO 24.576Mhz masterclock. I think this must be a nice clock because the sound of the M12 is quite remarkable for it’s price. I think it’s pretty simular to the directstream, because it has a networkbridge as well. It’s not to discussion which is better, but I’m curious about the masterclock of the directstream, maybe also a TCXO?

What I did to my M12 is I replaced the TCXO by a so called Ultra OCXO master clock. On the network bridge (BluOs) I replaced the 24Mhz crystal for an OCXO clock. Both clock’s are at least two steps up compared to the old clocks.

Because both clocks need to be fed by 5V and need to stay between 70 to 80 degrees Celcius I placed a very special ultra low noise external powersupply. The powersupply has a noiselevel of 140dBV up to 1 Khz and 130dBV up to 50Khz

The ultra OCXO clock has a phasenoise level better than 130dBC / HZ at 10Hz and better than 153dBC / Hz above 10MHzThe normal OCXO is very good as well.

Well with the first tunes, both clocks were complete cold and the sound was very booming. After a few minutes the balance was restored, the M12 sounded different then before, but I was not sure if it was better. After 10 hours it was clear the M12 reached another level and now after 20 hours I just can’t believe the difference. The refinement, the dynamics, the reality it’s not normal for an audio reproduction. Wow!

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