Sunday, 03 May 2020 17:40

PS Audio Stellar Strata – «just add speakers» Featured

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PS Audio has launched a compact device that addresses all your needs in the audio sector in one single unit. That is - the speakers you`ll have to supply yourself

A short distance north of Denver, Colorado, we find Boulder, and thus also the traditional Hi-Fi manufacturer PS Audio with the almost iconic Paul McGowan behind the wheel. PS Audio is best known for their amplifier designs in various variants. And then Paul also has a daily feature of Youtube videos where he answers questions from viewers who submit questions. This program is worth a visit.

Stellar Series

PS Audio's Stellar range is a slimline full-width series that lies at the center of PS Audio's hierarchy, between the BHK Series with Top Models and the compact Sprout models. In addition to the Stellar Strata, the Stellar range today consists of the fresh Stellar Phono Preamplifier, Stellar GainCell Preamplifier, Stellar S300 Power Amplifier and Stellar Power Plant 3.

PS Audio Stellar Strata

But this time it was the new compact unit Stellar Strada it was about. This is a compact all-in-one, or just add speakers , that PS Audio calls the category. In plain text it means you have an integrated amplifier, a DAC and a streamer onboard.

You also get an integrated headphone amplifier. If you want to play vinyl, however, you must have an external RIAA. Because at this level it is less likely to get peace of mind by using an RIAA integrated in the turntable.


The heart of the preamplifier is the volume control, and here we find PS Audio's concept GainCell. The idea behind this is to replace the usual auxiliary component that a traditional voilum control constitutes, PS Audio will simplify the signal path by operating the pre-amplifier with variable gain, with attenuation down to 80%.

The Stellar Strata preamplifier has 100% analog switching of sources, and PS Audio claims that the signals remain completely undisturbed throughout the chain, whether analog or digital.

HT Bypass

Stellar Strata has configurable inputs for HT bypass. Here you can configure which input to receive bypass and at what level.

Of course, Stellar Strata gets a place in our unique overview of amplifiers with HT bypass .


The basic component of the DAC is an ESS 9016 chip with ESS Sabre Hyperstream architecture, and its output is passively filtered to reduce transient distortion, according to PS Audio. This output is a Class A configuration that is fully balanced. The DAC module is a newer chip than the ESS 9010 used by PS Audio in its Stellar GainCell DAC, and according to Paul McGowan has been given an output step adapted to the rest of the topology of Stellar Strata.

Used with PS Audio's Connect mobile app for iOS or Android, or with server software, Stellar Strata can playback both PCM and DSD.

In Stellar Strata you can choose from three different digital filters, to adapt the sound grade to your personal taste or to other components of the system.

Digital inputs

The PS Audio Stellar Strata has two coax digital inputs, capable of playing PCM up to 192 kHz. In addition, there is an optical input that pads PCK up to 96 kHz.

The USB input is capable of playing PCM up to 384KHz, DSD64 and DSD128.

I²S entrance

In addition to USB, optical and coax digital inputs, Stellar Strata has an input that is compatible with the CD drive's original I²S format, where clock and data signals are separated before being merged into a wired S/PDIF or AES/EBU signal. This I²S input is compatible with I²S signal from PS Audio's DirectStream Transport.

PS Connect

PS Connect is PS Audio's newest module, and it is being used for the first time in Stellar Strata. It is a streaming module that works with the PS Audio Connect App. With this you can stream music from leading streaming services like TIDAL, Qobuz, Spotify, Napster, and iHeart Radio. But also from your own music library via DLNA in your local network.

Power Amplifier

Stellar Strata has a minimum output of 2x100 watts in 8 ohms, at 1 kHz and 1% THD. Typical power is stated at 120 watts.

In 4 ohms, the same numbers are 2x150 watts at 1 kHz and 1% THD. And with just one channel in operation, the 4 ohm output is rated at 200 watts minimum.

The amplifier operates in Class D.


The recommended price for Stellar Strata is NOK. 34.999, -

PS Audio is sold by Mala Audio

Read more about Stellar Strata at PS Audio


Last modified on Sunday, 03 May 2020 18:44
Karl Erik Sylthe

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