PREAMP - Thoughts on PS Audio Stellar Gain Cell

Anybody have one and/or heard one lately?  If so:
  • What are your thoughts?
  • How would you rate it?
  • How did it compare to what it replaced?
I have one (and the matching stereo amp).  I also have a Parasound Halo P3 (and matching A23 amp) in anoter system going into a cambridge audio DAC/Streamer) and an NAD M12 Preamp/DAC and matching M22 amp in a 3rd system.  

I find the PS Audio Stellar gear to be an outstanding value.  To my ears, it is clearly superior to the Parasound gear.  It’s clearer, more detailed and just easier to listen to than the Parasound - which I also consider to be pretty good value.  

Is the PS Audio gear better than the NAD Masters gear I have?  No.  Is it a better value?  Yes as it’s almost as good but half the price.

So, I like the gear on an absolute basis, and I think it’s fantastic on a value basis.  It replaced an older Marantz high end A/V receiver (don’t remember the model but it was $$$).  The PS Audio gear is much, much better sounding than that particular piece. 
Hope that helps.

That is really good - I am currently using the Pre-Amp stage of a "classic" (1980's) NAD 7220 Receiver as my Pre.

It still seems pretty decent to my ears, but I am nearly certain that there has probably been some degradation (old Electrolytic caps / other grunge) that has happened, little by little, over the years.

Current budget limits prevent me from going SERIOUSLY high-end - but if the PS Audio compares favorably with relatively new NAD Masters gear, then in my less-than-optimal room, it should still be a noticeable upgrade (and I found a source where I can get one for a little over a Thou-US, so the Value could actually be even BETTER)

But before I "take the plunge" - I am still obsessing about other options such as the Emotiva XSP-1 and maybe geeking-out on building a VTA SP14 tube preamp kit...
I just got one on a trial basis with the M700 monoblock amps.  The amps by themselves are great and a solid improvement in clarity, depth, bandwidth, etc. over my Primaluna.  Where the Primaluna had to be cranked in order to produce realistic bass with my Spatial Audio M3 triode masters, the M700s do not have anywhere near the struggle.  

Adding the Stellar Gain Cell DAC/preamp into the chain made some noticeable changes for my system.  Some good, some bad.  Sense of space, apparent ease and flow of the sound improved and added lots of gain.  Too much gain perhaps as I can't turn it up past 20 without it getting almost too loud. 

Also, in quieter parts of tracks and when powering up, I notice that the amps produce almost no self-noise.  My Primaluna made a hiss audible at about 2 feet from the speaker.  Not a big deal for a tube amp.  The M700's by themselves, I have to really lean in and listen for any hiss.  As soon as I turn on the SGCD?  Hiss is audible clear from the couch.  Tried to isolate the issue - same noise on all inputs, active or not. Same noise using different digital cables.  Same noise using an outboard DAC and running interconnects to bypass the SGCD DAC section.  Tried isolating the power cable, using a different higher quality power change.  It's in the unit.  

Audio Science Review notes the presence of multiple spurious tones in the unit which they attribute to the use of the gain cell and a poor implementation of the DAC.  It appears that the gain cell has more to do with the hiss I'm hearing since it's there regardless of whether I use the DAC.  

I wanted to like the Gain Cell DAC since it could have simplified my chain significantly with a DAC and preamp in one with balanced in/out, same audio manufacturer (highest synergy of components), and a built in DAC.  Alas, the infernal noise of the unit is too cumbersome to tolerate even for the reduced price with trade-in.

Gonna have to go back...