Beta Test Impressions for New Stellar Phono Preamp!

…and previous phonostage it is compared to…

Hi weedeewop,

All detailed in post 19.


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Jazznut, see #19 - Jolida JD9

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Yep, and I read your review after composing mine! It will be interesting to see if others find the same (or maybe preamps 1&2 that left the factory had some magic pixie dust :wink:)

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Boing! :blush:

Anybody able to AB test the Stellar Phono Pre Amp with other top Phono stages at the same price rang or with comparable features?

Contenders in mind:

  • Linn Uphorik
  • Lehmann Decade
  • ELAC Alchemy PPA-2
  • Bauer Audio MC Phono Pre Amp
  • Moon Neo 310 LP
  • ClearAudio Balance V2

To all who enjoy a new phonostage:

this record (the Analogue Productions reissue mastered by Ryan Smith) is a must, music and soundwise! You will be pleased hearing such a nice holographic voice even if quite directly from the left speaker of this old stereo recording. Resolution and ambiance is fantastic and it‘s her best recording musicwise.

If your setup doesn’t track perfectly (one track has a loud piano part strong left), buy the AP 45 RPM version. I have both and several other versions of this one. This AP one rules, you need it!



I picked up my Stellar Phono Preamp this morning and had some time this afternoon to do some listening. I approach new equipment cautiously, but admit I was excited to hear this unit. I’ll try to not let my excitement cloud my judgement. Here are some of my initial impressions.

First, my equipment: VPI HRX turntable, Benz LP-S cartridge, Bob’ Device Cinemag 1131 step transformer, PS Audio NuWave Phono Converter phono pre, Benchmark DAC3 HGC for pre/dac, Benchmark AHB2 amp, Audio Note AN-E SPe HE speakers. Wires are basic pro spec wires.

I replaced the NPC with the SP directly. The step up was input to the MM input, low gain. First up was Dire Straits “Brothers in Arms” (Warner Bros 49377-1). No warm up period. I am cautious, not patient. Anyway the first cut “So Far Away” had more weight than before. “Money for Nothing” sounded full, drums more distinct, vocals were present and filled out. Next up as Grey De Lisle’s “The Graceful Ghost” (Sugar Hill SUG LP-3985), an excellent record and worth locating one if you don’t have it in your collection. Again, there was more weight and presence. Listening to the entire first side was a pleasure. On the song “Sweet Savior’s Arms” the male vocals on the chorus were more clearly resolved. I is buried in the mix and almost a whisper.

It was at this point I realized it was fairly loud and maybe a little forward. The step up adds about 26 db and on the MM, low gain, the gain was around 70 DB. I thought it was a bit much and decided to run the cart into the MC input. I set the loading to 1000 ohms and picked medium gain since output on cart is .35mV. I listened to side one again. The 4db and different loading made a huge difference. The whole presentation became more detailed and pleasant. Not that the MM / SUT combo was harsh, but the MC without the SUT was more relaxed and extremely enjoyable. The afore mentioned male vocals were even more resolved. Grey De Lisle’s voice was nuanced and present. All the instruments were clearly defined and placed on a nice soundstage.

I then listened to The Beatles “Let it Be… Naked” (EMI 07243 595438 0 2). I always listen to side two for some reason. I suspect lots of audiophiles have a large number of records with one side or a couple songs wore out. Anyway, John’s voice on “Across the Universe” stunning. Paul’s “Let it Be” was the same. I might have said wow out loud at this point. All the instruments were placed in a clearly defined soundstage. I was loving it.

I listened to a number of other things, complete sides! Jenny Lewis and Watson Twins “Rabbit Fur Coat” (Team Love 08), Tom Waits “Mule Variations” (Anti 86547-1), Violent Femmes (Rhino R1-79951), Steppenwolf “+Fours” (ABC 12908). The last record is a 45 max single in a series of records called +Fours. I have only have two of the series and both sound great. “Magic Carpet Ride” truly rocked, had slam and impact, but also resolution. You could hear what is going on. On each of these, the instruments and vocals were resolved and present in my room. Everything sounded real and had a real weight. I have said weight a lot, but I listened to rock today. Rock needs weight. I will listen to jazz later and will have a jazzier term. (Most likely weight.)

Overall, the Stellar Phono Preamp is stunning. It better my NPC in all areas but one; it cannot digitize an analog source. One caveat worth noting. At one point, when switching the sut out again, I got some really annoying noise. Not a hum, it was grunge. When I disconnect the ground wire, I go radio. I carefully re-cabled, verified the ground was connected well at both ends, and presto, the noise was gone. Pay attention to your connections.

Hope this helps. More to come.


@Paul send that guy one of everything to test.

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There was no hint of bad or even medium reviews for any newly launched PSA product so far as far as I observed…so he seems not to be special :wink:

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Thanks for the review. I am surprised the cinemag SUT was beaten by the in built MC stage. I recall that Darren said that the SUT approach was not used due to keeping costs down.

So that’s two of us where the preset settings on loading are lower than the recommended loading. I did try preset 200 ohm loading but the custom at 400 ohm sounded better. I wonder if future versions might want to have a higher value preset.

Is that you being serious, because it was a good review, or joking because you found it too positive?

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Serious. He did a good job. Give him another box to test.


When is the manual for the phono preamp going to be available? Perhaps I missed this…

Should be in the box.

Should be available to download!

One bit of UX feedback: when changing the loading the manual says “CAUTION: mute your Stellar phono preamp before changing the loading setting”. Would it not be possible that the mute / unmute actions could be put into the software so that pushing the load button on the remote mutes, changes loading, and unmutes? This would save someone accidentally changing the load button while unmuted and make it simpler to operate.

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I don’t see why - what if there’s a change in how it operates prior to general release? You don’t want old manuals circulating with incorrect information.

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The manual is now available for download! Thanks PS Audio!

Great idea! Let us discuss.