Which Upgrade? GCD->DSD DAC as a Pre vs. m700->BHK 250

Hi All,

I may have an opportunity to upgrade my Stellar system. Which component upgrade would have the most positive impact?

GCD to a Direct Stream DAC used as a USB DAC and Pre,

…or swapping the m700s for a BHK 250?

I know similar “ upgrade” threads have been posted, but none relative to each other!

Here’s a pic of my system for reference. I’m using Magico A1’s as speakers, and a hidden Aurender n100h as the source.


I was running the DirectStream Sr. DAC directly into two m700’s for a long time.

How did it sound? Which upgrade do you think I should go for?

The other part of this that may factor into your budgeting for the upgrade is the regenerator. It looks like you’re using a Stellar P3 with the M700s right now which is perfect. But if you decide to move into the BHK 250 then you may need to look at going with something like the P12 in order to adequately power it. Personally I’d opt for the DirectStream DAC. The M700s can take you pretty far through your audiophile journey but the difference from the GDAC to DSD DAC is a pretty good leap.


^This is an understatement in my experience. @ahsu7, depending on your long term budget and system goals, the DS DAC could be a digital source endgame for you.

The only two components that have had as much or, arguably, more of an impact on the musicality and enjoyment of my system over the years (room set up aside) are my speakers and Anthem Room Correction software/my Anthem Pre-Pro.

Based on what you have noted so far, I suggest you grab a DS next.

Have fun and please do let us know what you ultimately decide and how your experience with the upgrade turns out.





You NEED the DS DAC as a starting point. You can build around that. If you want to take it to another level, you will buy a preamp (not necessarily a BHK ). Amp(s)? Depends on your individual needs.

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I have SGCD/M700 first, then added DSDAC.
After that, I never go back to the DAC part of SGCD, only use SGCD as pre. I added PST recently, PST and DSDAC are perfect. If you don’t need any analog input, I second with others that DSDAC is a good upgrade path.
As for my own upgrade path, my target is to replace my SGCD by BHK pre in the future.
Of course, all my gears are powered by P12.

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I currently own the SGCD, BHK Pre, and M700 amps. My next upgrade will be a new DAC, probably the DS DAC or an upgraded MkII version of the DS.


Kevin is correct. Going from the SGCD to DSSr. will be the biggest leap in sound quality. I did this back in January.

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I agree with Kevin the leap from the Stellar to the DSD Sr is huge and the fact that you can run it with your current power plant is another money saver!

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Thanks everyone! Its unanimous then! The DSD is the way to go! I’ll be sure to share my experience once I get it!


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Let me know when you’re ready and I’ll make sure we get you taken care of. Feel free to give me a call on my direct line, 720-402-3924 or shoot me an email when the time is right for you, kevin@psaudio.com

Errr, I just bit the bullet and went against everyone’s advice here, and upgraded to the BHK250 from my m700s. I thought this power amp upgrade delivered more punch/slam and a bigger sound.

To my ears, it was the bigger incremental upgrade, but I might attribute this to me being new to the hifi game? Maybe I just opened up a can of system upgrade worms though…

I also like the look of having a huge power amp!

In any case, will give impressions compared to the m700 after a few days of burn in!


Excellent choice!

I find amplifiers to make a tremendous difference, even though they are a bit dull with just a couple of inputs and outputs.

There is typically nothing sexy about amplifiers, but they have a greater impact on the sound they most like to admit.


The heart wants what the heart wants. :slight_smile:

I don’t think you could have made a “bad” decision, given the choices you were considering.



Sexy? Yes! Impractical? Yes!
Heard them a while back at a local dealer, Sonare Coeli. I liked the sound, but totally impractical. 170 Watt SET utilizing a Russian transmitter tube.


I need one! I have not seen this before. Thanks!

I should have mentioned I was thinking SS amps. My tube amps are wonderfully pretty and even have settings to play with.


Good for you.
I just saw this thread now, and yes, getting tubes in the signal path and having one of the best amps out there is a wise choice. Your system should be dramatically improved (I have and love the BHK Pre/M700 combo). Vocals should be much improved. Instruments like violins, piano, saxophone should all sound more real.

I’m sure I’m not alone here but I’ll share my experience. I started with the SGCD upgraded to a DSD Sr and was still using the SGCD as my preamp/ht bypass. Once I removed the SGCD and used the DSD as my preamp there was a significant improvement in sound quality. I eventually went from the DSD to the BHK preamp/DSD and again another significant improvement all with the M700 amps. I recently upgraded to the M1200’s and I’m still waiting to get them into the system. It’s hard to go wrong with the BHK/DSD combo.