PS Audio Stellar Phono Pre vs. Parasound JC3 Jr. / 3+

I’m currently using a Parasound JC3 Jr. to great effect, but would very much like to hear from anyone who’s heard / owned both the PSA Stellar Phono Pre and a Parasound JC3 Jr. or 3+. It may be that time (again) for upgrades.

My analog front end is as follows:
Rega RP-10 with Rega Apheta 2 cart (and the aforementioned Parasound JC3 Jr.)
This feeds a PSA BHK Pre into Sanders Sound Systems Magtech Amps and electrostatic model 10e speakers. A very revealing system by my estimation.

Any first-hand experience and impressions of the Stellar compared to the Parasound or something similar would be most appreciated.

Darren and I made the comparison some time ago, when Stellar Phono was being designed and we bought one for a reference. The Stellar definitely was more open, lush, and a better midrange. Which is why Fremer gave it such a rave as the best midrange he’d heard
at any price, I imagine.

@Paul thanks for the feedback and direct reply. I re-read lots of beta test impressions yesterday and noticed at least one forum member also had the JC3 Jr. He had lots of positive things to say about the Stellar as well. In any case, I already pulled the trigger late yesterday. Decided there’s very little risk given your in-home trial period and reasonable trade-in allowance. Very much looking forward to the at-home audition in the near future. Will definitely provide feedback after I’ve had some time to experience and absorb.

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@Paul just curious. Did you compare to the JC3 Jr. or the JC3+? Seems that the + would be a better target / similar price.

Thanks, Kurt. Please let us know your thoughts after break in (it takes a week or so of constant use to really hear what it’s doing). I am excited for you. Let us know!

It was the regular 3 as I recall, not the Jr. Darren brought it over here back then. No contest in my mind.

Edit: Had not heard the 3 referred to as the Plus. It was the Plus.

Just curious @badbeef what are you using for a phono pre these days?

What else?:cowboy_hat_face:

SPP in the main system, and the VTL moved to the 2nd system.

I have had the JC3 Jr for 1 year and love(d) it. I was skeptical that the Stellar Phono could be much better but figured with the trial option I couldn’t go wrong so I took the bait.
Let me tell you, the bait was very tasy, and I was hooked!
I’m not going to try and ‘verbalize’ my listening experience. Let’s just say it exceeded my expectations and sounds phenomenal in my system.
I currently have an MA5200 McIntosh, Stellar Phono, Rega P8 / Apheta 3 and KEF R5 (the ‘R’ series, not the Reference).

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Have been using the SPP now for a couple of months with great results. I still think the Parasound products are very good value and would recommend the JC3 Jr. to anyone looking for a versatile phono preamp at a competitive price. However, the SPP does sound more refined and the mid-range and transient response is better. Lots of vinyl has passed under the “needle” and I never thought “oh what a mistake the SPP purchase was”.


What’s a SPP

@huang it’s short for Stellar Phono Preamplifier SSP. I have owned the SSP for over a month now, it is still breaking in, that being said it replaced a Parasound JC3+ which sounded very nice with my Clearaudio turntable, I prefer the new SPP which has a smooth sounding midrange, clear high’s and a solid low end. The only thing I miss with JC3+ is the mono feature,.but it’s not a deal breaker. For me it’s a keeper and another great design from Darren!!!

Thanks, I’m just dipping my toes in two channel analog… and have a “SPP” on order.

Hi @fishingdude and @kcleveland123, I’m also in the market for a new phono preamp, and have been thinking about Parasound JC3+, and the PS Audio SPP. I’m a big fan of Parasound. Currently own JC-2, JC-5, and A31. But I’ve never own anything from PS Audio yet. My current phono stage is Vincent PHO 701.

I do have one question on the SPP. What is your impression of the noise floor as compared to the Parasound? One of the biggest strength of many Parasound units is their low noise floor, and that’s what attracts me to their product. Would you say the SPP is as quiet as the JC3+ or JC3 Jr?


I owned the JC3 Jr. which is great value but the SPP sound quality overall is superior and it’s dead quiet in my system.

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Thanks @kcleveland123 for your response!

XCOOL, I had the Parasound JC3+ for about a year and a half. I was very happy with its performance and it was dead quite in my system, wonderful midrange and smooth upper end. I decided to sell all my Parasound gear, including my 3 JC1 mono blocks, A21 and multiple A23’s mainly due to the amount of heat the mono blocks produced in my room. They were like having heaters in there, then I decided to try the PS Audio gear, I upgraded to the Stellar amps M700’s and M1200’s as well as the Stellar Phono Preamplifier. I found the SPP to be a great performer against the JC3+ with a nice sounding top to button, and felt that the midrange similarities were very close to the JC3+. I have since upgraded again, and I am now using a McIntosh C53 preamplifier. I think you would be very happy with SPP results, they offer some great trade in options towards the final price and you get a 30 day no questions asked return policy.

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SPP is my first Phono Pre, so with no other reference point. The SPP sounds phenomenal and is dead quiet.

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Thanks again for your replies. I might give the SPP a try, especially with the trade in and 30 days trial.

Hey @fishingdude, it’s interesting to see you moving from Parasound gears to PS Audio. I hope you are liking the PS Audio sound. Thanks again.

I auditioned the Parasound JC3 Jr. for a month. I burned it in quite well before any serious listening. To make a longer story short, I still preferred my old reference the Monolithic PS-2 with its external power supply. Then 2 weeks ago I decided to audition the PS Audio Stellar Pre. After some burn-in time I will say categorically that in my system this PP is a clear winner. It is quiet, dynamic, smooth, detailed, and transparent. It is a significant sonic improvement over my Monolithic and the Parasound that I auditioned. Purchasing this level of quality for 1749.00 with a trade-in for me is a “no-brainer.” My compliments to the chef and his boss!