Beta Test Impressions for New Stellar Phono Preamp!

“If you’re looking for an insightful and exciting high-end phono stage, this Rega is a brilliant place to start”

“Terrific clarity and detail resolution”

“Clean, crisp, articulate”…“Sparkle”…“exciting”

If you are NOT looking for these qualities, and I’m not, for the most part - it would possibly be a good one to pass up. And why would it be a place to START rather than being a best, last-one-you’ll-ever-need at that price? Or perhaps that is just intended as a figure of speech.

The choice of descriptors are not things I’m looking for in a phono stage. They sound more like words a reviewer is using to politely emphasize in a positive way that the things that stick out on this device are things that may lean away from naturalness of presentation. They are terms I associate with “hifi” sound rather than the sound of actual music.

But all this is just my impression reading a review - I’ve not heard it. Have owned two Rega TT’s and a CD player. Like their stuff, and those are not descriptors I would normally associate with their sound.

US and UK English are the same language but they utilize different way of communication.

I have never heard REGA but do like their steadfast development and loyalty to their technical concept.

What REGA does offer is system synergy as everything from turntable, through cartridge, tonearm, motor and drive till amplifiers and speakers is developed and produced in house ans must be perfectly matched.

Thanks BB,
know what you meant now.

I’ve heard it and it sounds good, but obviously would prefer to spend less money if I could get the same involvement with my LPs with the Stellar.

I will say, that if those sorts of descriptors are appealing, the Stellar is not lacking in that regard. Frankly, vs. the beta, I think the finished product leans a bit more that way than I like. You could also argue that it is simply revealing the nature of my Soundsmith cart. Whatever.

The key is that, as Mikey points out, it gets the midrange right. Something many much more costly pres do not.

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And the midrange is where the music is and our ears are most sensitive. Midrange is king.


27 posts were merged into an existing topic: Turntables

Quick question for PSA @DarrenMyers, rega suggested capacitance be set to 1000pF, however the SPP doesn’t have capacitance setting, how would thos affect sound quality, if any? What is the factory capacitance setting for the SPP. Thanks

On the MM it is 100pF, plus your cables.

Thanks BB, do you know what is the MC spec? I didn’t see that listed in the spec sheet. Also what’s the sonic characteristic changes between different capacitance settings?

They vary from cartridge to cartridge. Each cartridge has a recommended setting from the manufacturer and as you can guess, they have some idea what they are talking about. Changing the settings does affect the sound, and some people find they prefer a different setting than the recommended. You won’t hurt anything by trying different settings.
I was at a friends house and we tried different settings on his SPP. I believe you can select 1000pF on the back of the SPP on the moving coil side. Someone who actually owns one should know better. I don’t.

Sorry - Settled My Brains For a Long WInter’s Nap. I will bounce it off Darren this AM (still early here) re: the pF values on the MC side. It is both a weekend and a holiday here.

It is fine to run the Gain setting on the SPP higher than the cart’s spec for what I would call a “fuller-ish” sound, much like what you would associate with raising the gain at any point in a given audio chain (lowering the level of a subsequent stage to compensate). For example, the cart aangen and I have is Medium Gain, but on certain types of music, the High setting can be subjectively better.

I meant to add that I guess I’m maybe a bit confused @falling_leaves, if when you refer to capacitance, you are actually referring to that, or what aangen refers to - the resistance settings (in ohms) that are possible on the SPP.

The manual mentions the 100pF capacitance of the MM input, as MM carts can be more reactive to the input capacitance, and the way to make it higher is with additional capacitance of a given cable from TT to Phono Pre. Not sure if it is also 100pF on the MC input or not, and how much that matters.

For the resistance settings, as with most Phono pres, the MM is set at 47k ohm, and for MC, the SPP has a broad range of settings via presets on the remote buttons, including “Custom”, which enables the pots on the back at the MC inputs, which vary between 0 and 1,000 ohm, if memory serves.

To take the Soundsmith MIMC Star as an example again, as I recall it wants 500 ohm, and I’m running it Custom, with the pots at around 2 o’clock, which is prolly somewhere around 700. THEN, there are the three Gain settings to choose from. This cart wants Medium, but sometimes I run it on High.

I meant capacitance, since Rega is recommending 1000pF for their MC carts, I like to learn more about the effect of not having adjustable capacitance on SPP do to sound? Can we use capacitance plugs to match recommended spec?

I’m sorta guessing that the 1kpF is a maximum rather than a minimum or a specific requirement, as the tendency seems to be “the lower the better”. But we can just wait to hear from Darren.

Moving coil cartridges have much lower amounts of inductance, hence the low output, compared to MMs. This means that at high frequency they present a fairly low source impedance and therefore the capacitance is not as critical as a MM.

The large role of capacitance with MCs is filtering RFI out so that it doesn’t get into the phonostage and intermodulate. The SPP has around 100pF of input capacitance on the MC input which I believe is on the lower side compared to other stages. This was a result of listening to Ortofon and Lyra MCs and the sound simply improved when I reduced the capacitance. After a few discussions with Michael Fremer, he seemed to also favor minimizing loading capacitance with low output MCs.

In my experience, a lot of the recommended MC loading capacitances are based on a bandwidth calculation and is more about RFI rejection than frequency response or SQ. You can always increase capacitance using a highly capacitive cable between the turntable and phono pre but I suspect the sonic differences will be minimal.


Thanks @DarrenMyers . I will need to let that sink in… but it’s reassuring to know you and team have thought about this and decided to stick to the lower capacitance.

If we were to try to increase capacitance, just because, out of curiosity, but without using cable, since the cable is fixed on the Rega, do you know other methods?

Finally, also out of curiosity, did you tested with Rega carts during SPP development?

Having owned Rega carts and TT’s, I would gently suggest trying another brand, like those mentioned ; )

Haha … Suggestion noted :slight_smile:

Longer time ago I had a vdH Grasshopper III cartridge that had a too steep and strong increasing top end (from the point most MC‘s have this, I guess from 10-12kHz up). The vdH a bit more than others and at least with the Gryphon Orestes at the time it was too much. I then used capacitors at the phono termination to tame this (which is a bad thing as it means phase shifts afaik etc.). But I had to make a compromise. I don’t remember the values, if it was something around 1400-1600pF…at least it needed quite high values…when there, every small change has big implications to top end frequency damping.

So I’d say unless you don’t have a problem with your cartridge at the top‘est end of the frequency spectrum, forget it and be lucky capacity is as low as possible, as this means a more open top end.

Please count this as a practical description without technical knowledge.

Edit: I should add that the capacity value I had to deal with, which really influences audible top end, was clearly higher than what’s used in any phono stage or the affect of a high capacity cable. Just the Manley Steelhead to my knowledge offers selectable capacity up to 1100pF.

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