Why does the Stellar GCD have only an ESS9010?

It’s an older, lower end DAC chip for mobile devices. Shouldn’t a product at this price point have a higher end DAC chip, like maybe the ESS9018?

The circuit, especially the output stage, its vastly more important than the chip in establishing the quality of a DAC’s sound

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They have stated they listened to the chips and they preferred the sound of the 9010 with their implementation.

S/N and traditional DAC specs to my knowledge are completely non-informative regarding timbre, instrument separation, and dynamics.

There is much more at play then simply having a DAC with a few good measurements which by themselves only tell a small part of the story.

I’m skeptical, but interesting.

The proof is the end result. It is wonderful sounding DAC.

If all it took to make a DAC sound appreciably better was a simple chip substitution, don’t you think everybody would do it? Yet, there are many excellent sounding DACs using all sorts of different chips and topologies.


I replaced a Parasound Halo Integrated which has the ESS 9018K2M with an SGCD/S300 combo. The Stellar is far better in my system than the Halo.

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How does the sound of the Stellar GCD compare to the PWD mkII?

I’m replying to myself because I typed my original response in a hurry last night. To expand on my point. The Parasound Halo Integrated was voiced for the 9018 DAC chip while the SGCD was voiced for the 9010. I much prefer the sound of the PS Audio gear. Both are priced similarly so it seems a fair comparison. It reinforces, to me anyway, that DAC sq is far more than a function of the DAC chip. I have ordered a pair of M700s to replace my S300. I liked the S300 with my KEF Q900s but I am upgrading to Ohm Walsh SSC-4900s which are less efficient and like power. I spoke with John Strohbeen at Ohm yesterday. He reiterated what Paul has said, you really can’t have a too powerful amp.

The advantage to replying to yourself is you engage in an intelligent conversation.


Thanks for your input. That’s good to hear.