3 questions: all Stellar - phono pre and M700's

Hi all,

My first PS Audio forum post - stoked to be here!

I’m hoping for some experienced input/insight…

Let me preface by saying I’m not new to higher end audio per se, I have a solid handle and history with HiFi, but admittedly I’m relatively green with regard to vinyl - higher-end record listening is something I’ve just in the last year or so started dipping my feet into…

My current system consists of:

  • NAD M10 masters series streaming integrated amp (acting as front end/preamp, with pre-out’s (RCA) feeding a pair of):

  • PS Audio M700 monoblocs

  • Focal Aria 948 floor-standing speakers

  • PSAudio Stellar Phono preamp

  • MoFi Ultradeck turntable with Ortofon Quintet Black

  • Marantz SACD/CD/BluRay

  • Audioquest NRG Edison

  • Audioquest Niagara 1200 w/ NRG-4

  • Audioquest and Pangea cabling throughout

So, first two question are regarding the Stellar Phono Stage…


The array of (blue) internal biasing LED’s… are these meant to be ‘always-on’ ?

I understand the function, not to mention I think they look killer glowing through the vents from the inside. But even when the unit is put into standby (idle), these remain lit. Assuming these are indeed meant to remain illuminated even when unit is ‘idle’ - any worry of unnecessary LED’s wear/fatigue? They also produce some heat - sure, not hot, but definitely some temp coming off of them. Certainly doesn’t bother me to have them on if no consequences, I was just surprised to see them remain constantly on.


Gain…. I’ve always been advised that less-is-more with regard to gain on a phono cart, just ‘what’s needed’. Higher gain equals more noise, etc., and even the Steller Phono’s manual seems to agree with this…

That said, is there any worry of any kind damage to anything by increasing the gain, even if the recommended setting does, in fact, coincide with my cartridges specs?

So far, with about 25-30 listening hours on the Stellar Phone, I absolutely LOVE it, and the low gain is fantastic on most recordings. That said, on a handful so far, mostly hard rock/metal, I’ve found the next step up gives me more ‘punch’, things just seem to come more ‘alive’ (even volume-corrected), and watching the M10’s meters, it doesn’t appear I’m over-driving anything.

So, aside from the possibility of audible distortion, is there any other reason not to up the gain when doing so seems to enhance the listening experience?

And finally, third,…

on the M700’s

I’ve put a couple hundred hours or so on these now and I have to say, man, I just adore them, they are simply awesome - I really can’t praise them enough. I’d go so far as to say, if you can listen to these, and still believe Class-D equals sterile, or dry, or cold, blah blah balh… pfff… perhaps you need an ear exam. These are anything but - they’re just fantastic. (And now there’s the M1200!?!? Good Lord I want to hear those!!)

So, my question… until just recently I’d always left the main power (rear) switch on, but when not in use, I put them to ‘sleep’ with the front panel power button. But reading through a few threads here, it seems to be a pretty popular recommendation that the M700’s be left fully powered ALL the time. To NEVER turn them off - leaving both back and front power left in on-position. hmmmm.

These don’t produce excessive heat, even when pushed hard for extended periods of time, and when idle, even when left on, they remain only slightly warm - it’s not heat I’m concerned with. Like my first question with the Phone Stage, I just wonder if I’m prematurely aging/wearing anything component-wise by leaving them powered 24-7?

Is this, in fact, good practice? Or should I, like I’d done before, be putting them into the ‘standby’ (front switch off) state when not listening?

Thanks in advance for your insight and suggestions! :slight_smile:


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Both phono and amps always on especially the M700’s.

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What @dawkinsj said. I keep the back and front switch/button of the M700 on 24/7 for best sound quality.

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It depends on preamp!!!
This method can also be very dangerous for your system if you don’t have a preamp that will allow the amp to stay on 24/7. For instance, if I was to connect my Conrad Johnson tube preamp to the M700, I would have to turn on the CJ preamp prior to turning on the M700’s front power button (still leaving the back switch of the M700’s on 24/7). When turning the system off, I would have to power down the M700 (front button) prior to powering down the preamp, otherwise a LOUD boom or pop will be heard from the speakers. And since a loud boom would be heard through the speakers, perhaps that could also affect the M700 and maybe safer (in this scenario) to turn off the M700 at the switch on the back also prior to powering down the tube preamp. Same goes with the powered subwoofers. Those need to be turned off prior to turning off the tube preamp to prevent a boom in the subs.
But with the BHK Preamp and my now-traded-in SGCD, no booms/pops in the speakers when powering down the front button of the preamp with the amps/subs on, so I am able to leave the M700 monos and the subs powered on 24/7 for best sound quality.

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Thanks for the input!

The M10 is set to go into standby automatically, and does so nice and silently - no audible evidence at all - and I’m pleased to say, ‘wakes up’ just as gently. No speaker pops or any other worrisome noises, just a little internal relay 'click from the unit itself, along with the screen illuminating, indicating its back up and ready to play. So I’ll continue with the always fully on practice with the M700’s. I accept there is probably some placebo to these things, but I do agree that the M700’s just seem to have a little extra ‘honey’ to their character when they’re nice and warm, and there is NO question they’ve improved with time, of that I’m certain.

How about the Phono Stage - any insights there? Really curious on the internal LED’s…

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Good to hear the NAD works smoothly with the M700. I’ve always liked NAD and had a NAD receiver at one time years ago, and enjoyed listening to music with that in my system.

I do not have a turntable, so cannot comment on any phono stage equipment.