Stellar Phono Pre John Atkinson recommendation

In John Atkinson’s measurements of the Stellar Phono Pre in Stereophile, he states at the end:

“The way in which its measured distortion and overload margin vary with the gain setting suggests that its owner use the lowest gain setting that will give acceptably loud listening levels with their preferred cartridges, both moving-magnet or moving-coil types.”

I find this somewhat misleading due to the cited performance and overload measurements which well exceed the output (10+mV) of the vast majority of cartridges that will be used with this preamp. With my 2.14 mV output Soundsmith Carmen ll ES, I cannot detect the slightest bit of overload distortion added when running the high vs. medium setting. Could Darren chime in here? This seems like a nit pick of a comment. Of course, it is wise to run the lowest acceptable gain setting, but to intimate that there is added harm by running at a higher setting, given the data, seems somewhat superfluous. Anyone agree/disagree, or care to comment?

He’s just thinking in terms of limiting/optimizing the amount of distortion at high frequency. I don’t see it as a nitpick, more of just a recommendation. One thing is for sure, you have a lot of headroom! Set the gain to what sounds best to your ears and setup. :grin:


One last thing: I just want to confirm that you have that going into the MM input correct? Just wanted to clarify because what I said would not hold true on the MC input due to the high gain of the SPP.

Thanks Darren! Yes, Carmen into the MM input; Lyra Delos is conneced to the MC input (medium gain, 100 Ohm) with a second table.

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Great! Sounds like an amazing setup! The Delos is incredible.