Stellar Phono Whistle?


About a month ago, went to play some vinyl and noticed a whistle from the phono pre. The volume and tone of the whistle changed based on the MC loading selection. I was able to eliminate the whistle by setting loading to custom, and fiddling with loading until the whistle disappeared (around 500 ohms).

Fast forward to today: no whistle at any loading selection setting (my optimal for sound is 100 ohms).

So, was the whistle part of break in, or can I expect the whistle to return at some point?

I have pre-ordered the Stellar Phono before its release date in 2019. I run it with 0.35 mv / 100 Ohm MC. I never had this whistle issue, not during burn-in nor later. I hope yours never comes back. Are you using balanced interconnects out of the Phono preamp?

My guess is the environment changed in some way. I’ve never experienced something like this go away with burn-in, but I don’t want to say it’s impossible.

Mine has been silent. The only time that I had a problem was when the turntable phono cord connectors weren’t well seated on the Stellar Phono. That caused all sorts of odd sounding behavior.

Turns out I did change something — removed a USB hub that i was using as a cable eliminator (player to DAC). Doh!


Enjoy your vinyl.

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I have never heard a whistle from my SPP but I did just discover something odd. I have a Hana ML cartridge and have always had the amp’s gain set at medium. Today I was playing an album that is recorded at an abnormally low level and thought that for once I should switch the gain to high. I immediately noticed that the balance shifted to the extreme left. I did this from my listening chair and changed absolutely nothing else. I have now cycled through all 3 gain settings and consistently get the odd balance shift on the high gain setting. Am I the only one that has this issue?

Disregard this post. I just looked closely at the back and noticed that the left channel was set at 350 and the right was 400. Should always look before I leap. The center focus has sure snapped into place again.


Congrats, you have an award winning cartridge! Hana ML has a low output of 0.2 mV (I would use high gain for that) and has a recommended load resistance of 100Ω or less. What was the sonic impact of raising the load resistance to 350 or 400Ω?

Couple of things: the cartridge spec’s are actually .4mV with a suggested loading of “greater than” 100 ohms. I settled at 350 after trying the fixed settings of 100 and 200 and going up as high as 500 on the custom setting. The Hana is relatively new (~75 hours) so all listening results are subject to change. However, I still cycle thru the 3 settings occasionally and always prefer the higher setting. I don’t have the fancy words to describe the differences but I always seem to settle back and sigh at the 350 setting.

Thank you for taking the time to respond Robin. I have a cartridge with 0.3mV output. May be I should try the variable resistance too!

So the whistle is back – comes and goes. This morning, it seemed that 100 ohms set from the custom pots was silent, while the remote set 100 ohms whistled; so, I put a DVM on the inputs and set the pots. Fired everything up – whistle on both remote and custom.

The whistle only goes away at higher impedance settings (500+ ohms custom).

I tried shutting down everything surrounding the SPP (DAC, TT controller, Digital player); the nearest operating computer is 20+ feet away (not counting tablets or cellphones, which are 6-10 ft away). I do have mesh WiFi.

Today I’m hearing a constant whistle; last night, I heard something more intermittent that stopped (thank goodness).

I’m starting to think it’s noise from computers (my house is chock full) – one of which is always running. If I’m right, any suggestions?

Methinks the system change that started all this was going from using a SUT before the SPP to not using one (I think the soundstage is better with a direct connection).

No this is not interference from computers or otherwise. I would test without a TT / cartridge first. Then try another TT / cartridge if available. Also, I would check earth / ground connection.

Did some reading/research on this MC loading. Found out that my tone arm cables are very low capacitance (58pf). So, I should be aiming for a higher load resistance.This jibes with the Stereophile experience. The whistle goes away at 500 ohms. So this is my lower limit.

I’m working my way down from 47k. I note that the higher the load resistance, the more “hall” I hear — I need to strike a balance.

Thanks all for the comments.

? Your earlier posts would suggest you have a low-output moving coil cart. 47k is for moving magnet carts, and you won’t get that setting unless you are plugged into those inputs. Which of course should only be done with a MM cart.

I would also guess that even though the noise may be affected by the settings, it is more likely to be something in the environment, as James suggested. So noodle with your cable orientations (both signal and AC), see if there are any leaky wall warts in the neighborhood and move those around, etc.

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Curious how you would know this?

A whistle in phono is highly likely TT / tonearm earth loop. I strongly recommend focusing there rather than on the computers.

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That statement I would agree with.

There were these bits though: “Methinks the system change that started all this was going from using a SUT before the SPP to not using one (I think the soundstage is better with a direct connection).” and “Turns out I did change something — removed a USB hub that i was using as a cable eliminator (player to DAC). Doh!”…which I would count as computer-related things. Though I’ll admit to not knowing what a SUT is in this case, or what either piece would be doing before a phono pre. Unless they or their cables are sitting close to it.

He is better off without a step-up-transformer. Stellar phono is good with most low output cartridges.

There’s no restriction to using the 47k setting with a MC cartridge. The MM 47k is not a setting; it’s the fixed default MM input impedance.