Stream High-Res PCM and DSD with Fingertip Control, Enjoy Pure Native Performance and 3D Sound: Fully Balanced PS Audio Stellar Gain Cell DAC/Preamp Touts Digital Lens, Analog Switching
PS Audio's fully balanced Stellar Gain Cell DAC marries a DSD-capable DAC with a complete analog preamplifier control center in a U.S.-built high-end component whose affordable cost belies its full suite of functions, features, and performance. Based on an upgraded version of PS Audio's NuWave DSD, and anchored by a 32-bit ESS Sabre Hyperstream DAC with passive analog filtering, Gain Cell accepts inputs from any digital source – including I²S and USB from computers. Able to asynchronously handle 24-bit/192kHz PCM and up to 2x DSD, Gain Cell doubles as a high-resolution server when paired with a USB cable and computer, operated with server software like JRiver, and controlled via a smart device. Every signal is accepted in native mode and without sample-rate conversion, then fed into a Complex Programmable Logic Device (CPLD) that utilizes proprietary Digital Lens technology to reclock the data, reduce jitter, and diminish propagation delay. Three digital filters provide even more options and flexibility with your current – and future – components. In laymen's terms: Gain Cell makes music sound incredibly three-dimensional, spacious, rich, and lively.
Gain Cell's analog preamplifier section matches the build and character of the DAC in every way via high-grade parts and boasting a novel solution to the classic volume-control problems associated with all preamps. Instead of inserting an additional level control in the signal path, variable gain cell topology lets the preamplifier's actual amplifier stage vary its gain in response to the user's front-panel volume control. This method requires no additional circuitry in the signal path and offers more than 80dB of attenuation. What's more, Gain Cell touts 100% analog input switching in the DAC so that no matter from where the signals emanate, be it the DAC or an external phono preamp, they are fully preserved and sacrifice nothing in translation. Balanced and single-ended outputs, a headphone amplifier, and a remote control round out a piece that is nothing short of Stellar. 100% Music Direct Guaranteed.
“Unboxing the sleek Stellars they felt more upmarket than your typical receiver, that's for sure. The Stellars quickly established their superiority in transparency and tonality…”
—Steve Guttenberg, CNET, August 2017
“With the GCD, everything is completely transparent. In fact, for me, that's its greatest strength: the Stellar Gain Cell DAC allows you to seamlessly, transparently switch between sources, increase gain, and make meaningful sound adjustments, all the while calling zero attention to itself.”
—Tom Gibbs, Positive Feedback
Asynchronous PCM and DSD Performance: High-Res Audio with Fingertip Control
The Gain Cell DAC features a high-resolution USB path based on the same XMOS technology found in PS Audio's DirectStream DAC. Asynchronous and capable of 24-bit/192kHz performance for PCM and single- or double-rate DSD, the Gain Cell DAC USB input makes digital sound sublime. Using a high-quality USB cable between the Gain Cell DAC and your computer creates an instant media server that can be controlled through any number of handheld devices (iPad, iPhone, Android) using a third-party controller program. Your entire music library can be managed by iTunes, JRiver, MConnect, Windows Media Player, Foobar, Pure Music, Bit Perfect, Media Monkey, Audirvana, or Ammara (to name a few) for ease of use. With the Gain Cell DAC and a USB cable, you can stream both PCM and DSD high-resolution audio using nothing more than your computer and a handheld device to control and play your entire music library.
Proprietary Digital Lens Technology and Tremendous Power Supply
All input signals are taken into the Gain Cell DAC in native mode, without Sample Rate Conversion (SRC), and fed directly into a simplified FPGA known as a CPLD (Complex Programmable Logic Device). The latter discovers sample rate and format, reclocks all incoming data, reduces jitter, wave-shapes data output to the DAC chip, and utilizes high-speed/low-gate count logic to reduce propagation delay for faster throughput. This proprietary technology is called the Digital Lens. Gain Cell DAC's power supply includes a large analog transformer, seven regulators, properly bypassed high-speed switching diodes, and a massive 15,000mFd of storage capacitance. The output stage is a unique Class A configuration, fully balanced and direct-coupled hybrid array (utilizing both discrete semiconductors and ICs), with an extended bandwidth of -3dB at60 kHz feeding directly into Stellar's Gain Cell.
I²S Input for Superior Data Transmission
I²S is the native format of all CD transports and many servers. I²S features a separate clock and data signal from the source. Typically, this clock and data signal are multiplexed together to be transmitted over a single cable in S/PDIF or AES/EBU. Once received in multiplexed form, the DAC input must untangle the clock and data and once again separate them. I²S solves the problems associated with unraveling data of S/PDIF and AES/EBU formats. I²S outputs are sent via an HDMI cable. The Gain Cell DACs I²S inputs are also compatible with PS Audio's DirectStream Transport, one of only a very few players to output pure DSD from the locked SACD layer of SACD discs.