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PS Audio Stellar Gain Cell Preamplifier (DAC)

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This product is brand-new and factory sealed PS Audio Stellar Gain Cell DAC  Available 2499
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The Stellar GainCell DAC combines the benefits of an exceptional analog preamplifier and a full-featured DAC. It's affordable excellence.

The analog preamplifier is the heart and soul of any high-performance audio system. It's the point in a system where music's magic can be won or lost. For more than 45 years, PS Audio has been building preamplifiers that honor the music and preserve the magic. The Stellar Gain Cell DAC is no exception. It features fully balanced class A analog circuitry from input to output, along with a state of the art DAC that ensures perfect symmetry between analog and digital. Rediscover the wealth of music in your library, with Stellar. Rich, sweet, and always a musical treat, Stellar GainCell DAC is our best value in bringing life to music.


The idea of building a no-loss analog preamplifier with its own built-in cutting edge DAC was the basis of the Stellar GainCell design imperative. At this instrument's heart is the analog GainCell. Rather than using additional sonically-degrading elements inserted in the signal path to control volume, the GainCell eliminates this problem without additional circuitry in the signal path by varying its gain in response to front panel controls. Based on industry leading Sabre32 bit Hyperstream architecture, Stellar DAC features a fully balanced Class A analog output stage with multiple power supplies, independent jitter-reduced inputs, DSD, I2S, and asynchronous USB.


The Stellar GainCell DAC is a full function analog preamplifier featuring a state of the art built in Digital to Analog Converter inside. It is all you need as the basis of a reference quality music system. Add a power amplifier and a pair of loudspeakers and you'll be reveling in sonic bliss within moments. Connect a computer, CD player, or digital source to any of Stellar's multiple digital inputs, or a Stellar Gain Cell DAC to its analog ins, and you've just built one of the highest value music systems in the world.


Think of the Stellar GainCell DAC as a complete analog control center with an exceptional performing DAC at its heart. All the features and functions you'd ever want in an analog preamplifier and modern DAC are right here in Stellar. A zero-loss, fully balanced, pure, analog signal path combined with DAC features rarely found at any price level: pure DSD, asynchronous USB, Digital Lens technology, I²S to connect to our best transport, balanced throughout. Replace your preamplifier, your DAC-or both-and be stunned at the level of improvement when the full and rich tapestry of music surprises and delights your senses. Together, or separately, they create an extraordinarily rich, full-bodied musical experience few standalone products can match. The Stellar Gain Cell is the perfect foundation for those unwilling to compromise sound quality. Rich. Lush. Powerful. A music lover's answer to spiraling cost-no-object equipment without sacrifice. In the more than forty years of PS Audio's design innovations and breakthrough products, Stellar's groundbreaking level of performance as our gateway standalone DAC and preamplifier is unmatched for price and performance by their standalone competitors. Taken together, we're willing to bet you've never heard anything quite this good at anywhere even remotely close to this price.

The Preamp

At the heart of the Stellar Gain Cell is its analog preamplifier section called the GainCell, a unique approach to solving a classic problem for preamplifier designers, the volume control. All preamplifiers must provide a means for the volume level to be turned up or down. Typically this is accomplished by inserting a mechanical or electronic element in the signal path which degrades the musical signal to some degree. PS Audio's unique GainCell solves the sonic losses associated with classic volume controls by using a different technology known as a variable gain amplifier. Instead of adding additional circuitry to the signal path to vary loudness, the preamplifier's actual amplifier stage varies its gain in response to the user's front panel volume control. This method requires zero additional circuitry in the signal path, thus eliminating the need for additional circuitry that loses musical information. Stellar's GainCell's sound is rich, full and engaging in ways few preamplifiers can claim. From the quietest micro-dynamics to the loudest macro-dynamic passages, Stellar's GainCell outputs gorgeous music through either its balanced or single ended outputs or its headphone amplifier. Music takes on new life through the GainCell.


The DAC inside the Stellar GainCell will transform your expectations of what's possible in resolving all of music's nuance and splendor without a trace of digital harshness. The DAC itself is based on the acclaimed 32-bit ESS Sabre Hyperstream architecture, the output of which is passively filtered to reduce transient distortion. The DAC's output stage is a unique Class-A configuration, fully balanced and direct coupled hybrid array, with an extended bandwidth of -3dB at 60 kHz feeding directly into Stellar's analog GainCell. The GainCell DAC features a high-resolution USB path based on the same XMOS technology found in our DirectStream DAC, as well as our exclusive I²S inputs featuring a separate clock and data signal from the source. I2S outputs are sent via an HDMI cable and I²S compatible sources can be purchased from PS Audio as well as other manufacturers. We believe that one audition of a simple CD, played through the Gain Cell DAC, will open your eyes to the magic these design efforts have brought. And once you hear what the Gain Cell DAC does on ordinary CDs, we can't wait for you to hear what the Gain Cell DAC can do for higher resolution PCM and DSD.


  • Class A balanced analog preamplifier
  • Full function DAC
  • Class A headphone output
  • Fixed or variable DAC mode
  • Analog gain cell stage
  • Balanced xlr output
  • Home theater bypass
  • Digital lens technology
  • Three selectable digital filters
  • CPLD (FPGA) input
  • High-current oversized analog power supply
  • ESS hyperstream
  • No capacitors in output signal path
  • High current class a hybrid output stage
  • Single and double rate dsd
  • DSD direct through I2S


  • Unit Weight: 13.5 lbs [6.1 kg]
  • Unit Dimensions: 17" x 12" x 3"
  • Volume Control: 0-100 (1/2 and 1dB steps, 80dB total range)
  • Balance Control: 24dB each direction in 1/2dB steps
  • Home Theater Mode
    • Assignable to any analog input
    • Adjustable (in setup) to any level
  • Polarity (phase) Control: Digital sources only
  • Filter Control: 3 selectable digital filters (PCM digital sources only)
  • Trigger output: (3.5mm 5-15VDC) 2
  • Remote Control: Yes. Infra Red

Power Requirements:

  • Input Power: Model specific 100VAC, 120VAC, or 230VAC 50 or 60Hz
  • Power Consumption: 20W
  • Mains Power Input: IEC C14
  • Fuses
    • 100V T250V-2.0AH (2A Slow Blow)
    • 120V T250V-1.6AH (1.6A Slow Blow)
    • 230V T250V-1.0AH (1.0A Slow Blow)

Analog Inputs:

  • RCA: 3 stereo pair
  • XLR: 1 stereo pair

Digital audio Inputs:

  • I2S
    • 1 PCM (384KHz max)
    • DSD64 DSD128
    • Compatible with DirectStream Transport SACD handshake for DSD playback
  • Coax: 2 PCM (192KHz max)
  • Optical: 1 PCM (96KHz max)
  • USB
    • PCM (384KHz max)
    • DSD64 (DoP) DSD128 (DoP)
  • Format: PCM, DSD

Analog Audio Outputs:

  • RCA: (Analog Unbalanced) 1 stereo pair
  • XLR: (Analog Balanced) 1 stereo pair
  • Headphones: One 1/4" headphone connector front panel

Analog Performance:

  • Gain: 12dB +/-0.5dB
  • Maximum output: 20 Vrms
  • Sensitivity: 5.3Vrms
  • Input Impedance
    • 47KΩ single ended RCA
    • 100KΩ Balanced XLR
  • Output Impedance
    • 100Ω single ended RCA
    • 200Ω balanced XLR
  • Frequency Response
    • 20Hz - 20KHz +0/- 0.25dB
    • 10Hz - 100KHz +0.1/-3.0dB
  • Noise: 20-20KHz <-90dBV
  • S/N Ratio: 1KHz >110dB (max output)
  • Channel separation: 1KHz >90dB
  • Input separation: 1KHz >90dB
  • THD&IM
    • 1KHz < 0.025%
    • 20-20KHz < 0.05%

Headphone Performance:

  • Output power @1% THD
    • 300Ω 300mW
    • 16Ω 3.25W
  • S/N Ratio 1kHz: >95dB (max output)
  • Noise: <-80dBV
  • THD & IM 1Vrms out
    • 300Ω <0.05%
    • 16Ω <0.06%
  • Output impedance: <4 Ω

PS Audio Stellar Gain Cell Preamplifier (DAC)
PS Audio Stellar Gain Cell Preamplifier (DAC) Shipping : FREE in Canada
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