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


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.


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.