Buying Advice appreciated please: NuWave Phono or Stellar Phono?

Hi all, looking for some help/direction please. My current setup for stereo (as part of a wider Cinema setup) is an Anthem STR > JBL Synthesis SCL4. With a Technics SL1210 GAE for vinyl and a DirectStream DAC for the sources.

I absolutely LOVE the DirectStream - whether there are better or worse things out there, I’m not interested in, I simply love what it does and the sound it gives. Reason I mention this, other than the obvious, is that because of the performance of the DirectStream my first port of call for a Phono stage is now PS Audio :slight_smile:

For my Cinema setup, I’m moving to put in a dedicated processor and with it remove my Anthem amplifiers. I’ll end up with a Storm Audio ISP MK2 processor and 2 x Storm Audio PA 8 Ultra MK2 Power Amplifiers.

Now, it’s been suggested I then won’t need the DirectStream but frankly I’m not sure and everything I’ve seen/read/heard to date suggests otherwise. Obviously the proof is in the listening personally but I guess that’s a separate thread :slight_smile:

So my question: I’m going to need a phono stage for my Technics SL1210GAE.

Would the NuWave Phono Converter, as a pure Phono stage, cut the mustard or would the recommendation be the Stellar Phono?

I’m well over budget on the Storm… and I can pick up a mint NuWave for <£1000. The Stellar though is still retail £2500 and no trade in option in the UK from what I can tell.

Any thoughts or pointers please? My dealer has also recommended the Primare R35 but as I said, going on the performance of the Directstream I can’t see that moving on and I’d think the PS Audio phono would be as mint - plus in keeping cosmetically :slight_smile:

Thanks in advance!

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I’m using the NuWave into the DirectStream via I2S (as well as also connected via analog balanced output) and I think it is a fine phono preamp and the sound through the DirectStream is very good. I’m sure the Stellar is a great phono preamp too, but I haven’t heard it and can’t afford it now. I can just say that the NuWave is a worthy investment, punching above it’s price point, and the ADC to DSD produces very satisfying sound (which surprised me).


Great! Thanks for the input and that’s awesome to hear too. I hadn’t considered putting the NuWave into the DirectStream as I just had seen the DirectStream as Digital > Analog item but if that is an option too, I guess that applies the DirectStream magic to Vinyl then?

I’ve purchased the NuWave in the meantime as I didn’t want to lose out and the chap said I can test it out and return it if I don’t like the sound. My only niggle is it’s black and my DirectStream is silver but hey ho LOL



Correct. . . the NuWave has an ADC within and you can output digital via coax, USB or I2S. Using I2S into the DirectStream allows you to stream a DSD signal to the DirectStream and the output from the DirectStream sounds really good. I think you’ll be pleased; really nice that you get to audition it and return if you don’t like it. I bet you really will enjoy it.

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Excellent, rather excited to try it out now :smiley:

Good to hear the quality of the phono stage is decent too, certainly plugs my gap in that regard. If the Stellar is worth jumping up to then I can consider that at a later date but in meantime bonus I get to “play” with standard phono stage and via DSD :

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Congratulations! I once listened to a Koetsu Black Goldline through NU Wave and it was fabulous. You will fall in love with it.


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If he can return the NuWave which he purchased, Stellar is definitely an upgrade.

I agree, if he wants/needs the AD converter, the NuWave is the way to go. Otherwise, the phono stage in the Stellar is far better!

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My journey started with a turntable and after all this time, I’m still turning to my turntable as the source I turn to when I settle down and just want to enjoy the best sound possible. Go with the Stellar, then forget about upgrading since the Stellar is just about the best sound you can get for the money. Use a good preamp or bypass if your preamp has this feature, and get a respectable cartridge. There’s nothing like good vinyl.


That’s the US$ 1500 question.

If you can pick up a NUWave for US$ 1000 it’s a no brainer. You won’t find a more versatile phono stage anywhere for any prize.

Imagine not only listening high end, but it even allows you to rip LP‘s in high end tech to digital for listening on the road or convenient background music.

You can utilize it in any system too, whether pure Analog (it even has XLR out) or digital minded.

It also looks much better with your direct stream DAC.

Why PS Audio put the New Phono PreAmp in a Stellar enclosure while it’s supposed to perform on BHK / Direct Stream / Perfect Wave Level is still a riddle to me.


I use the NPC to archive my records. It works great for that purpose. I bought it so I could play my records when I was running my system Sans preamp. The Stellar phono has no A to D built in. I am not willing to give up the ability to make great sounding recordings of my records. When used with Vinyl Studio you can. Remove ticks and pops without hurting the sound quality.

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Thanks all, truly appreciate the input. I nabbed the NuWave just so I didn’t lose it to someone else, it’s due today or tomorrow so I haven’t seen/heard it yet but its meant to be in mint condition and boxed as new etc. That was £900.

I’m definitely keen on the Stellar Phono, somewhat for the form factor too as well as likely keeping it silver to match the DirectStream rather than the black the NuWave is, but I’ve not seen it less than £2500 and I don’t think the trade in option that you can do in the US is available in the UK.

In the meantime though, the NuWave keeps my vinyl up and running and saves me £1600 up front - I’m guessing I shouldn’t lose much more should I need to sell it on.

On the A to D capability, I’m not sure I’d have much use for it but you never know! It wasn’t something I ever thought about and given the suggestion of using the NuWave to put Vinyl through the DirectStream is another possible benefit - bonus! :slight_smile:

Will let you know how I get on. The Storm Audio equipment is unlikely to be here and installed until back end of October.


I have owned both and would tell you in my dedicated two channel system they are miles apart. The Stellar is much more in line with your DirectStream experience and would be more representative of PS Audio’s sound. Especially when you consider that vinyl really isn’t about convenience or savings these days. It’s all about the sound.

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Quick update: because I can’t help myself (someone needs to take my CC off me, LOL) and because it would have happened sooner or later anyway… I sent the NuWave back and grabbed a Stellar Phono! :smiley:

It’s black rather than the silver but given it will sit in a cabinet anyway, was a solid 35% less RRP and immaculate 6 months old, then it was just too good to turn down :smiling_imp:

Waiting for it to get up to room temperature and then will give it a whirl with my Technics SL-1210GAE :star_struck:

(I’m connecting the Stellar direct to my AMP via RCA and the DirectStream via XLR - would anyone recommend switching those around? Presume you can NOT put the Stellar through the DirectStream like you could with the NuWave?)


The NuWave phono stage/converter is still very good. No doubt that the Stellar is an amazing phono stage (no personal experience, yet…), but the NuWave is in my system and is doing quite well. I’ve tried some other mid-level phono stages, but the NuWave is still my go-to.


@audiojan Yep, no reflection on the NuWave Phono at all - that was mint. I may yet wish I hadn’t let go of the A to D converter but I’ll cross that bridge if it ever comes up.

Congratulation. I own the stellar phono, I love it. With the right setup, it could deliver great results. Testing is the best route to selecting your connection. In my experience, XLR showed better timbre and soundstage.

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WOW! :flushed::smiling_face_with_three_hearts::smiling_face_with_three_hearts::sunglasses: It is a whole other level! Amazing


I just swapped out the Nuwave for the Stellar and F#$$% me the Stellar is a whole new level. I was already blown away with the Nuwave compared to my Emotiva TA-100 built in stage . I didn’t think u could get better but yep, it got better.
no badly priced either.

if you don’t need AD converter then go Stellar.

@Paul how did you make this thing sound soooo good?