Stellar Phono Preamp => NuWave Phono Converter

Don’t want to start a long thread on the sound quality (SQ) of the Nuwave Phono Converter (NPC), let’s just say that it’s an older design and some will be interested in the SQ of the new Stellar phono preamp. But it doesn’t have an ADC.

What do people think of plumbing the RCA analog out of the Stellar into the RCA analog in of the NPC and using the NPC as an ADC (only). Worth it to get the SQ of the Stellar into the FLAC files that the NPC chain produces?

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I too wished the Stellar included the a to d. Few users ever appreciated what the NPC could do. I am sure that it would work well via the unbalanced connections, after all the signal from the cartridge is unbalanced anyway.

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Actually, the signal from a cartridge is balanced. Not a big deal that we almost always connect via unbalanced interconnects.

I wondered about that. RCA connection from my phono to the NPC and balanced to the SGC.

That is why I said it is unbalanced. I have yet to come across a preamp with balanced connections from the cartridge. Not to say there isn’t one out there.

I had a Audio Research PH2, early 90’s design if I recall, which only had balanced inputs. No RCA input. I found a special junction box for my VPI that had XLR connectors so I could utilize. I think there were other phono stages with balanced in, but they are rare.

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I was also wondering about this the other day. If anyone would like to send me a stellar phono preamp I’ll make a few files and share :grin:

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I have a Stellar on order and it should be here just in time for me to go out of town. So I should be able to report results in a week or so. :smile:

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OK. The Stellar is in the system. :slight_smile: For now, I would say that it sounds like “I’m breaking it in”. So I won’t opine as to its SQ until I put enough hours on it. I’ll have to go to the mondo thread and see what people have been feeling is a suitable break-in period.

I will say that the chain I was building does work.

Playback:
Turntable => Stellar => RCA => Audio In NPC => I2S => DirectStream => AR Ref 75.

Recording:
Turntable => Stellar => RCA => Audio In NPC => USB => Surface Book (Vinyl Studio).

The recording level is decidedly lower than the TT => NPC direct puts out. I increased it some but the input levels in Vinyl Studio are fairly low.

But it does work, I can listen on this chain and record at the same time.

One problem I’m having that I didn’t have before I changed things around is when I start Vinyl Studio it doesn’t recognize the PS Audio Line In input. I keep having to unplug/re-plug to get the device to be present. This wasn’t happening on the turntable direct in to NPC setup I had before. And note: this is not a Vinyl Studio problem, Windows doesn’t have the device until I fiddle with the USB cable a few times.

I’m not going to post files until I feel the Stellar is broken in. But the primary question of whether you can use the Stellar to feed the analog in on NPC to record and playback is confirmed, it works.

-==-

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Not sure why it wouldn’t work, or, on the other hand, why you would want to put that quality of a phono pre output into a comparatively inexpensive ADC.

Not trying to be a Debbie Downer, but having recorded vinyl output for years…uhhh prolly decades now…it just never captures the experience of playing the record in realtime. Every time you spin the record, it is a “live performance” of a needle in a groove in a way. So even if you get a good one down to tape or bits (won’t even go into how much of a moving target that is), you are freezing THAT spin. Cool for the car and so on though.

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Uh, OK, not break-in. The above setup , in fact, doesn’t work. :frowning: There’s something about the gain in that signal chain that is not right. I don’t have a separate preamp at the moment so I’ve been driving the AR Ref 75 with the DirectStream. So I disconnected the speakers from the Ref 75 and plugged them into the LFD NCSE Mk II integrated. Then ran the Stellar into the LFD (you know, a traditional setup :wink: ). Sounds incredible. Peg from the original pressing of Aja (the good one mastered by Bernie Grundman) never sounded so good. I played side one of the Bowie anthology “Changes” and heard all kinds of stuff I never heard before. Soundstage depth, instrument, etc. separation and tonality are all notable for their exquisiteness. My wife is behind me in the kitchen dancing her bootie off. :slight_smile:

Back to square zero. Don’t have a signal chain that works from the Stellar to the NPC. I turned the gain on the Stellar all the way up and turned up the output on the NPC to 75 (max) and both the recording output into the PC and the playback output into the DirectStream were anemic.

Am I missing something obvious about how to use the analog input into the NPC? Feels like “I’m holding it wrong”.

P.S. badbeef - creating all these FLAC’s on the NAS is causing me to spin records I haven’t played in years. Nothing wrong with that.

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I don’t entirely remember, as its been a while since I owned one. Is the input on the NPC set to Line and is there any other option for setting output level? You would think that Line would be full level. And the Gain settings on the SPP are for the cart, not to increase output level. So unless your cart likes high gain, it’ll be a bit louder but sound worse.

Re: the USB - have you tried different cables? If you have to wiggle it to get it to work, that sounds like a cable issue.

Re: Listening to stuff you haven’t heard in years - that is definitely good. I guess I was talking more in an “absolute sound” audio-snob way, that even very good quality digital rips tend to suck the life out of good vinyl spins. If you’re just enjoying the music - that doesn’t matter a whole lot : )

Yeah, I knew that setting on the Stellar was gain for the cartridge but I played with it anyway, in the spirit of experimentation. The NPC doesn’t seem to have a setting for analog input gain so I think it is just a straight “pass in”.

I don’t have a good opinion on the SQ of the digital rips of vinyl versus the actual vinyl “spin”, I’m just getting started with the vinyl ripping business. Let’s just say I reserve the right to have my own opinion (when I have enough experience to have one).

I’m talking to PS Audio about this, I’ll report back when I have new/more info.

P.S. I do have a different USB cable, I didn’t have time to try it yet, but that’s a likely explanation. It’s just the flakiness coincided with the reconfiguration around the Stellar arriving.

I have made quite a few 24.96 recordings with my NuWave. I often listen to the LP then the recording. The LP wins, but I love having the 24.96 recordings loaded on my portable listening gear. I have also sadly discovered that in the last five years it has gotten so bad with recordings. The CD, which is capable of massive dynamic range is all too often compressed all to hell. The LP version of the same release typically has twice the dynamic range. Hence my purchase of the NuWave.