When designing new products we always set high goals of performance, usability, uniqueness, affordability, and usefulness.
We're trying to build the best performing products possible.
But at the end of the day what markers do we have available to us? Yes, of course, we want to make sure a new DAC always sounds better than the older one—same with a preamp or amplifier. But just being better is a pretty loose goal.
How much better and how would that be quantified?
For some products like the new StellarGold Preamplifier, that question was easily answered.
Any new preamplifier from PS Audio would have to pass the "better with" than "without" test.
This is a challenge for any preamplifier and one I have written extensively about. In a counter intuitive way, the addition of an extra piece of gear in the signal chain has to make everything sound better—not worse—in order to be called a success.
Most preamplifiers I have had experiences with fail this test to the point that I'd prefer to use my DAC and its volume control without them mucking about the sound (flattening the image field, narrowing the space between musicians, and sometimes adding an unwanted glare).
But then there's a small and elite class of preamps that do the opposite. They open up the soundfield; they separate the musicians and give them ample space to play, and they bring added life to the music. Once heard, it's impossible to not want it.
Indeed, it's a tough goal that not too many products achieve.
I am proud to report the StellarGold Preamplifier wins with flying colors.