Stellar Phono - MC with step-up transformer thru MM input or MC w/out step-up thru MC input?

Seeking opinions of the Stellar phono using a low output moving coil using a step-up transformer thru the moving magnet input or using the moving coil input without the step-up transformer. I guess what I am wondering is if the moving coil circuitry is any lesser quality than the moving magnet section. My first impression, albeit short listening session, was the step-up transformer through the moving magnet section sounded more musical, less sterile.

first-hand experience on this…

The only right answer is this: Whatever sounds best is what sounds best.

If you have a step-up that’s made for the cartridge, I’d definitely use that as the default and then send the signal through the MM side. (I have an ortofon MC20 with an ortofon MCA76, and they were made for each other.) Brilliant.

That said, no harm experimenting. If you like the cart naked through the MC side, that’s cool, too. Try setting different loading options on the back of the unit, too. Can’t hurt anything by testing.

On the occasion of the arrival of my SPP, I experimented with step up versus no step up. At first, I didn’t notice that much of a difference, but ultimately preferred the step up sound (just a bit more bloom with the step up).

The preamp the SPP replaced was lifeless without the step up. The SPP is much better direct; however, I discovered that my cartridge actually has different loading recommendations for step up versus direct. I was using the same loading for both.

Long story short: recommended loading for step up transformed the sound. My vinyl now sounds absolutely spectacular.

Makes me want to tweak my digital setup. Vinyl now puts it to shame.


Yes one needs to calculate the effect of the step-up transformer in determining the impedance. With my combination of a .2mv output of the cartridge, I needed the highest 72dB gain of the MC section but the highest gain had more noise than I wanted. With the step-up through the MM section I had the proper gain but I could not add the correct impedance. The best of both worlds would have been the correct gain with the ability to adjust the impedance.