PS Audio Stellar Phono Preamplifier Review

May 8, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“The Stellar needed little time to break in, and its core sonic performance didn’t change significantly over time. Once I was confident that the Stellar was operating at its peak, I immediately noticed an overall sound that was very quiet and smooth. The Mactone amps, for example, have an exceptionally live character that might be a tad overstated with the wrong ancillaries, but whenever the PS Audio Stellar was in the system, those razor-sharp transients were placed in a much larger context within the soundstage. That doesn’t mean that the Stellar smoothed out the vivacious sound of the Mactones, but rather it supplied a comfy place for these Japanese tube amplifiers to sit and converse with the listener in a meaningful way.

Like the XP17, the PS Audio Stellar was so quiet that it was difficult to pick out its character in the context of the system. It’s been a long time since I’ve used a phono preamplifier with noise issues so that’s not that remarkable on its own, but I do notice when a product is quieter than usual, quitter than I would consider the norm. Over the last few months the reference system has gone through a transformation, thanks to so many wonderful products that have come in for review, that I’m now focused on the concept of supreme quiet. For years I never really identified with reviewers who talk constantly about velvety black silences from which the music emerges, probably because I didn’t have a lot of that in my own system. Now I can listen to products and appreciate how they preserve that preternaturally low noise floor. The Stellar certainly preserved that sense of tranquility, especially with the Palmer 2.5/Audio Origami combo—a combo that I can best describe as both majestic and musical.”

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