As the team has been working on getting Stellar products up on the website (hopefully sometime next week) a thought occurred to me I hadn’t yet expressed.
Stellar’s Gain Cell DAC, the wonderful new piece designed by both Bob Stadtherr and myself, is really two products in one box. A cutting edge Sabre based DAC and an analog preamplifier. Bob designed the DAC and controls, I designed the Gain Cell which is the heart of the analog preamp.
Together these form the basis of the Stellar control center which we call the Gain Cell DAC. What I had neglected to write about was the design imperative we started with—build a single device that bettered the performance of either standalone component.
Readers of this blog will know that a few years back I relented my stance on DACs directly feeding power amplifiers. Once it had been demonstrated to me that an analog preamplifier inserted between the DAC and power amp improved sonics—a lot—I became a convert. With caveats. The main one being the quality of the analog preamp. Only a very small handful of analog preamps made the DAC sound more magical. Others of lesser quality clouded the DAC’s beauty.
The fact we were able to design and package two components together whose synergy bettered their standalone performance is a testament to a lot of hard work. That we pulled this off at anything less than a few thousand dollars is a miracle.
Fortunately for me, most of that work fell on Bob’s shoulders. Not my own, lazy bones.