Stellar Phono Preamp vs. Rega Aura Phono Preamp

Hey All,
I just took the plunge and traded my beloved Stellar Phono Preamp for a Rega Aura Phono Preamp. Wondering if anyone has direct experience with this change in their system especially if you have a Rega analog frontend similar to mine (RP10 TT, Aphelion2 cart.). Would be most interested in your perceived changes/improvements in sound quality.
Thanks,
Kurt

Jason Kennedy, who is perhaps the best audio reviewer in the UK and possibly Europe, used your front end and showered it with praise.
https://www.the-ear.net/review-hardware/rega-aura-mc-mc-phono-stage
It is a lot of money for a Rega component and was obviously designed to complement the PR8 and RP10 turntable packages, hence also lacking some of the frills needed to keep some people happy, but over-complicates the circuitry.

The Stellar is highly regarded in the UK, but there is a lot of competition from the likes of the Cyrus Signature, Vertere Phono (owned one), Ear Phonobox (own one), Primare R35 (would like to own one).

Have owned both. The Aura is my current SS reference (I also have a Modwright PH-150 hybrid tube phono pre). Sold the SPP to fund it. My front end is SOTA/SME/Sumiko, but still think I can intelligently weigh in. Keeping in mind the Aura is designed only for low output MCs (the SPP is general purpose MM/MC), my first impression was silence. If there is any area that distinguishes phono stages when using low output moving coils and high gain, it is noise. Used balanced (which is what I do), the Aura’s command of micro-dynamics is a revelation. That is what a truly quiet phono stage brings home at first listen. I’m talking about absolute silence, no hum, no white noise or pink noise, completely black background with zero effort needed to achieve that (no grounding heroics). The SPP is also noticeably voiced for midrange warmth, not knocking that one bit can be a real boon depending on your system and taste. The Aura is neutral - I can hear no obvious voicing emphasizing any part of the aural range.

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Kurt, considering you just went through with the phono stage change what has been your impression of the differences between the two phono stages. Seems the price difference is considerable, $5999 versus $2499.

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A great summary, lower noise floor and apparently more neutral in comparison to the SPP. Adding a touch of warmth in the midrange would not be my first choice preferring neutrality in a phono stage. Not necessarily knocking the PS Audio unit. Seems the Rega is in SimAudio Moon 610LP territory based on MSRP. A comparison of the two would be interesting as well.

SimAudio Moon 610LP

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Due to receive the Aura tomorrow and will listen as much as time allows this weekend for sure. Will report back.

And, thanks all for the great feedback. I think the SPP is an excellent choice especially considering the cost differential and the flexibility of the SPP. I’m a Rega guy and have experienced exceptional customer support from this company (as well as PS Audio). My RP10 had an issue with the motor controller and was essentially replaced at no charge despite my being at least the second owner. Outstanding.

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One of my turntables is a Rega P8 with the Apheta 3. While it does not see as much action as I had intended it is a fine turntable. I am sure the P10 with the Aphelion is a stunner. The Rega Aura should be brilliant indeed.

It is uncanny how even some cheaper ones like the Vertere can be almost totally quiet for very little money, I do lust after the Aura - just a little.

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Kurt, …good choice! I used to have the RP10 but I sold it and replaced it with the P1O Turntable & Aphelion2 cartridge. The Aura is my favourite phono amplifier. I used to have the Rega IOS phono - which was no slouch, top spec, but the Aura is a step-up from all of Regas previous phono amplifiers. I home demoed the Stellar phono, an excellent phono amplifier but, I preferred the Aura’s special qualities! The construction and heft of the Aura just excellent, built to an extremely high standard that exudes quality!
The lack of surface noise was the first thing that struck me / lower noise floor / completely silent / no extraneous noises, etc. The Aura does require a lengthy burn-in…I played it constantly using my old Planar 3 with an old Grado MC cartridge in the run-out groove on an album for many weeks (in-between actual listening sessions). …ENJOY!

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@Dirk thanks very much for your detailed feedback and experience. Looking forward to even better vinyl reproduction!

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Hi @kcleveland123
Congratulation on your new Aura MC. I have the Aura MC with the P10, but only with the Apheta 3. I always set the Aura’s gain to low and I get full clarity sound even with the most demanding records.

As a former owner of PS Audio Stellar Phono, I feel that both the Stellar and the Aura are great choice. However, the Aura MC seems to be a better fit for Rega moving coil carts in terms of airiness, timber, bass weight, soundstage dimensionality. The mono button is a bonus when I play mono LPs. I do not keep it on 24/7 but do acknowledge it sounds better after 30 minutes or so.

It comes with decent Rega single ended interconnect, but changing them to AQ Water XLR improved sound. Also, the power cable supplied is a decent one, but I replaced it. N.B. I tried replacing the factory-fitted fuse with an aftermarket one, but the original definitely sounds more open and transparent!

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@Serhan thanks for the thorough response. Appreciate the feedback immensely. Really looking forward to spinning lots of vinyl this weekend.

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I don’t doubt its sound quality. I just wondered that an MC phono stage has switchable capacitance options at all and that such a quiet phono stage has the transformer built in and long signal cable connections from the load and capacitance and other switching options at the front through the whole housing to the board in the back. Strange.

The transformer got me, which is one reason why the Cyrus Signature is so popular (and good), having an optional external power supply. The Vertere does it very cheaply with extensive shielding of the circuits from the power supply.

The Aura chunky cabling probably relates to the localised power supplies (see below). There seems to be series of signal cables underneath.

“The power supply of the Aura Reference MC is a symmetrical, discrete tracking power supply using fast diodes and a low noise voltage reference. Each stage has its own localized power supply and LED referenced current generators. To maximize headroom, the Aura has a power supply voltage, which is 60% higher than normally found in such a preamplifier”.

Here is another one I’ve considered and may well go for, at a very sensible price. Lots of attention to the power supply.

Yes, the clueless hobby analyst in me would say, for a phono stage all kind of noise and signal to noise matters, so an external power supply, short signal path, if possible no switches and pots as well as symmetrical inputs make much sense, also tubes (which can sound great there) don’t really contribute to a noise free amplification of the tiny signals…anyway we rarely see most of this implemented.

Anyway Darren and also Rega showed how a great phono stage can also be realized all in one box. I just read from various feedbacks as well as Fremer’s review, that the SPP is quite sensible to cabling/external noise and hum matters, but can be dialed in with some care.

The Vertere Phono shielding is tortoise-like; impenetrable unless you stick a power supply directly underneath it. My mistake. It has a bunch of dip switches in the base directly under the electronics, short signal path but the weakness in the shielding. Whatever people think of Devialet Expert, it had bullet proof shielding on all six sides at least 4mm thick. The EAR Phonobox I use ticks most of your boxes, including valves. It has no switches at all, just a power button, about 70db of gain and there is not a bad word said about the performance. The impedance is 100 ohms. It has steel plate separating the power supply.

So far as I can see, the Origin Live Discovery 2 is the £900 Discovery 1 with a £900 external power supply.

See also the Trilogy 906 and 907 phonos, more of the same, this time in solid aluminium.

So with Vertere, Rega, OL, Cyrus, EAR and Trilogy all made within about 70 miles, an awful lot to chose from.

You’ll love it. Moreover, you have the Aphelion, which would definitely sound superior to what I am using. It would sound great out of the box, but in a week’s time it would sound even better.

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Hi @kcleveland123
It’s been 3 days, I hope all is well with you. How is the Aura setting in your system?

I agree with what you are saying about the theories and it is the way as I look at the entire phono chain.

But I also believe in system synergy, especially in the “very enthousiasts” price range.

System synergy is where REGA beats the rest of the market in this price range. They stick to their design philosophy, which works. (Period)

That entire chain is REGA manufactured and controlled from the needle through the coil, through the phono stage and I believe their amps are no slouches either. There is no internal wiring, power supply screening, connector quality or anything else they haven’t thought through, designed and auditioned.

Thus if you have a small or large bag of money and don’t like the to experiment, REGA has you covered.

This might be applicable to other brands, but REGA offers this from small to big budget and is one of the very few brands that does all of this in their own house.

Me, I am a Thorens guy, call it nostalgia.

Their TD1601 and custom designed TAS1600 MC are my choice. I love classic turntable designs, suspended sub chassis and the simplicity of the TP92 tonearm.

Although the TAS1600 is made by Audio Technica, it is a MC cartridge with a compliance (agility) that exceeds the compliance of high end MM but yet offers the finesse of a MC cartridge.

I am still hoping that Thorens will offer a balanced input phono stage to match their balanced Turntable interfaces (that are on the TD124DD, TD1601/TD1600 and most recent TD1500). To complete the Thorens system synergy.

I also admire how a single entrepreneur Gunter Kürten managed to blow new life into the oldest turntable brand.

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The phono stage that provide almost everything you mention is the Octave Phono Module.

Octave Phono Module

Same price range as the REGA Aura, extremely versatile and upgradable. But for system synergy you are on your own, good for those who like experimenting.