Beta Test Impressions for New Stellar Phono Preamp!

Tell Darren:
Purifi moldules

With his new discreet op amp!


Thanks for letting us know. That’s always fascinating to me.

Me, too. Fuses are intriguing and mysterious.

I always wonder if it is the fuses that are mysterious, or that if one were willing to risk protecting your gear and simply soldered some nice wire in between…?

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Having some odd behavior on the MC side.

I’d moved my Thorens TD-126 with Ortofon MC20 into the office to test it with the beta Stellar Phono.

Getting all kinds of feedback and hardly any output, regardless of what loading I try.

And the amp wants to shut down, or go into protective mode or whatever. (This is when muting is off. Muting on, no shutdown.) Grounds all appear a-ok.

MM side sounds great.

Moved the MC turntable back to the other system (with the Sprout), and it sounds fine.

Not sure what’s up. :thinking:

EDIT: Tested again with no turntable plugged into the MC inputs, but MC selected on the SPP. Same behavior, so I know it’s not my turntable!

I have suggested this many times. But I have yet to find a specialty fuse fan willing to connect the ends of a fuse holder with a short bit of quality wire - even for a single test. They are convinced this is the one time their piece of equipment will need the fuse for protection even if they have used the unit for years without ever blowing a fuse.

Some designers, such as John Dunlavy, hate the sounds of fuses and simply do not use them.

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Makes total sense to me - we lavish bucks on the wiring everywhere else (which is/can be audible), then it goes through a filament. I guess it would be fear of that one Lightning Strike…

I recall reading a while back that the truly insidious thing in this regard, independent of what you do with the Power Stuff, is that nearly everything is now Ethernet-ed up to everything else - and the Rogue Lighting strike will follow that path in any case…:man_shrugging:t2:

I understand the fear, but trying it once and then reinstalling the fuse would be a worthwhile experiment.

Anyway, back to the preamp!

Told my audio tech pal that I was testing the Stellar, and he gave me this to test. Van Alstine Vision Q Phono Pre.

Handmade locally by Frank Van Alstine here in Minnesota. Really nice. $500.

Handles MM & MC, but not together. Cartridge loading possible, but inside the box, via dip switches. So, not as convenient as the Stellar. But I gotta say, sounds really good with my Shure V15 III.

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He makes good stuff.

I have met Frank. Nice products, no nonsense.

I’ve had the SPP for almost 4 weeks. It continues to improve. The gap between it and the NPC continues to widen.

I am hearing differences I wasn’t hearing before. Small, subtle elements in the mix are more distinct. I’ve noticed this when I’m not even actively listening. I’ll be reading something while I’ve got an album on, and something different will catch my attention. Very nice.

There is also more fullness to the sound, and more impact. On Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight, the drum that starts off the song has real impact. I can feel it in my gut. Then later, when the big drums come in, they sound so much better than with the NPC. Almost room-filling. At the beginning of the next track, the congas(?) sounds very impactful and three-dimensional.

I am very happy with how the SPP is settling in. I suggest that anyone who purchases one should give it plenty of time to reach its potential.

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As I continue to listen to the SPP I found that I enjoy its better than the Rega Fono MC, and unfortunately I can’t go back to it, even though the Rega sounded pretty good. Ignorance really is bliss in this hobby. SPP bested the Rega in sound staging, instrument separation, imaging. The only thing I slightly prefer the Rega is vocal “sweetness”, which I found the SPP to be a tag dry. This isn’t unexpected as Rega is much cheaper than the SPP, I’m on the look out for Rega Aria for later comparison, I’m keeping the SPP, it’s just an overall more musical experience compared to the Rega Fono MC.

I briefly compared it to the NPC before selling the NPC to fund this purchase. NPC is not in the same league, even the $500 Rega Fono MC beat out the NPC in all aspect imho. Lucky for the NPC it got the recording capability.

Congrats PSA and Darren on a great product. I’m looking forward to my listening sessions with the SPP, and that’s all that matters.

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Thanks! So happy you’re enjoying the SSP. Fremer sure loved what he heard at our room and that made me pleased as well. Thanks for sharing.

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I was able to listen to six album sides yesterday after installing the SPP. It replaced a NPC with a Bob’s Devices ‘Blue Cans’ SUT amplifying an Ortofon Rondo Bronze (only 75 albums through the Rondo to date, not been playing much vinyl lately). The gain settings on the NPC combined with the Bob’s Devices SUT gave good control on recording.

My conceit in progress is to upgrade my vinyl recording system, and then get crazy recording during the winter months to come. My DIY kit “Teres” brand turntable has two tone arms on it: the Infinity Black Widow (super modified, with silver wire and Pete Riggle’s VTA On-the-fly VTA adjuster) has a Denon DL-160 high output MC (for the MM input); and, the other tone arm is -well - different. It is a highly modified Jelco (by TWW Canada - out of business) with a large stainless steel assembly surrounding its bearing area to provide on-the-fly VTA adjustment.

On-the-fly VTA adjustment does produce changes in the cartridge’s sound that one can hear - in real time. At first approximation the Rondo seemed to like the 60 ohm input resistance using medium gain on the MC input.

The sound quality change to the SPP from the NPC-SUT combo for the Rondo was large! Yet there were two anomalies heard while playing the Rondo - something got weird for two separate instances of a room pressurizing ‘womp’ sound. The first instance occurred Mickey Hart’s “Diga Rhythm Band.” My records are pretty clean, I have both the Project cleaner and an ultrasonic cleaner setup. The ‘womp’ didn’t sound like a ‘pop’, it sounded more like someone knocked over a microphone. I’ve played the album many times over the years, and never heard anything that loud and room pressurizing.

The new recording ADC is the German RME ADI-2 Pro FS combo DAC/ADC. Archimago (my favorite objectivist) loves his. The unit is unbelievably flexible (and complicated) with an astonishing little miniature video display. Its bandpass Real-time frequency analyzer must be seen to be appreciated.

As I understand both the SPP and the ADI-2 have capacitorless output stages. With the ADI-2 the bass quality in my system dramatically improved … but the SPP seems to have even more bass? The bass transients were getting into the ‘slam’ range, really different from the NPC-SUT combo. My DIY line array woofer system (currently) is a pair of 12 x 6.5" woofer arrays, each computed to have approximately the same area as an 18" driver would have.

I don’t remember the source of the second ‘womp’, but it was on another album side. Obviously I’m in shakedown mode with the SPP (and boxing up my NPC to ship back to PS Audio). It sounds really good with my hardware. Hey anyone out there have experience with the Soundsmith Zephyr MIMC Star or if I break open the piggy bank the “Paua Mk.II”?

I am very curious on how the ‘bass warmth’ aspect is going to play out? Last night as I listened to the five album sides with the Rondo Bronze I kept asking myself “Is there too much bass”? Then again how much bass was the Bob’s Devices SUT cutting out? For sure I’m entering into my affair with the SPP (given its bass output so far) evaluating from an apparent ‘bass deficient’ prior conditioning with the NPC-SUT-Rondo Bronze system.

Looking forward to getting further acquainted with the SPP this evening.

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I think I have them in about 10 of my components :slight_smile: that’s how dramatic a difference they can make. I consider them a component as they have made a bigger difference for the better in my rig than some component swaps. Nice, someone else hears what I hear but I will say if your system is not resolving there is no need to apply.

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@dnance. I missed the thread of who you replied to T? Are you you talking about SR blue fuses on a SPP forum? Really should start a new thread for this…but while I’m here…I just installed 6 fuses in a P5, P10, DMP, BHK pre, DAC jr and BHk 250 (1 fuse, 5 to go)
Not sure if I have the correct direction. I am assuming the power flows outside of fuse holder into unit? Unfortunately I noticed an immediate improvement in definition, spacial clarity and a bit deeper stage. However I don’t know which change out was the factor as I did them all at once. Probably mostly the regenerators??? Sometimes i think having a revealing system is a curse. I’m going to insert a Behringer EQ and knock it down…this is bullshit. Stupid $160/ fuse improving synergy enough to want more…God i love this hobby. Cheers Simon

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Let’s limit fuse discussions to reports of trying different fuses in the new phono preamp.


SPP did for my system what the Hubble did for astronomy!

I got mine a few weeks back. However, as hard it has been, I had to wait till this weekend to really set it up and give it a try. It has been installed and turned on for all this time, so the break in time has passed.

This morning, I spent a good few hours listening. WOW! is all I can say. So much clarity, so much space, so much separation and resolution. My main table is a Clear Audio with MC Clear Audio cart. My secondary table runs a Grace F9 Cart MM. The CA MC by far outperforms the Grace F9 MM. However, they are both become stunning in their own rights.

Granted that I didn’t have a hifi phono preamp before this (Schiit Mani), but I have to say I was very satisfied with this Mani for a long time. I guess, I didn’t know what I was missing.

Like others have said - I now have a new collection of 2k+ LPs to listen to. Thank you Darren, Paul and other folks in PS Audio to help make this happen. I love your philosophy in audio and your support of the young free thinkers.

This product is simply Brilliant!

Warmest Regards,


Welcome, Hooman!

Great first post.

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