Shiver me timbers

August 13, 2019
 by Paul McGowan

Perhaps the greatest compliment a piece of audio gear can get is a shiver down a spine—exactly what Calord experienced on his first listen to the new Steller Phono Preamplifier.

Read all his comments here.

You’d think designers would get most excited when the magazines launch a great review, or when an official set of measurements shows off the kit’s prowess, or when industry-recognized pundits proclaim it a hit. And, designers do. But not like when a first time user gets shivers down their spine.

I cannot think of a greater compliment than to have a piece of gear reach deep into a person’s soul and connect them with their music.

What a truly magical moment.

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22 comments on “Shiver me timbers”

  1. Great achievement really, especially at this price!

    I’d also be interested how people think about the comparison using a good table and the Stellar to the DS DAC(s). Not because of the old digital/vinyl debate but if/how different it does in soundstaging, ambiance etc. It can help those who can’t hear the Stellar to very roughly guess its sound.

  2. Aye aye me hearties. What’s going on at PS Audio with this sudden surge of interest in all things piratical. First we had ‘Uncovering Gems’ on the 6th August and today it’s ‘Shiver Me Timbers’. Is it pirate month in Boulder? Or are you just preparing for ‘International Talk Like a Pirate Day’ which, for those that are interested, is on Thursday 19th September this year.

    As an aside, when I woke up this morning I never imagined I’d be referencing the above on an audiophile website. Isn’t life wonderful!

    1. Good question, though for whatever reason I have always been fascinated by pirates and their lore. In fact, I tried to purchase a pirate flag to fly on PS Audio’s flagpole but got voted down by our BOD. They and I compromised so now flying on our flagpole next to the Colorado State flag is a United Federation of Planets flag.

      What’s fascinating about pirates of old is that most of their exploits and many of their best stories were actually made up—especially Blackbeard (Edward Teach), who practiced the art of scaring the shit out of people with outrageous costumes and antics but was more show than go.

      “Teach was a shrewd and calculating leader who spurned the use of force, relying instead on his fearsome image to elicit the response that he desired from those whom he robbed. Contrary to the modern-day picture of the traditional tyrannical pirate, he commanded his vessels with the consent of their crews and there is no known account of his ever having harmed or murdered those whom he held captive. He was romanticized after his death and became the inspiration for an archetypal pirate in works of fiction across many genres.”

      1. Remember, Paul, we grew up with Treasure Island, Pete the Pirate, and other pirates. And TV was new back then, and made things more impressionable on us (not that pirates needed any help!)

      2. Thanks for such a detailed response Paul, everyday is a school day at PS Audio. Perhaps an affinity towards pirates stems from the rebel in us? Musically I immediately think of Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Pirates of Penzance’, not what I’d regard as audiophile listening though. And I must make mention of a favourite pirate from my childhood, the rather less serious Captain Pugwash.

  3. Calord’s review makes me so glad that when I got the email from Scott saying I could preorder one, I did so immediately. I have a gut feeling the Stellar Phono Pre may become PS Audio’s best received and best selling unit ever. Hurry up and get me mine!!!

    1. Longplayer – the review was taken from a thread, and his prior post was:

      “OK…I’m listening to first my old Sutherland phono pre…and then to the new DM Stellar phono pre. I have formed some early impressions…and consumed a couple beers…so, I’ll compile first impressions tomorrow. But, so far, I want to say, I’m mightily impressed. This may be a game changing product at this price point. More to come…”

      …hence the reference to brews.

  4. We all like to be praised by other people. We’re social animals and praise is a sign of acceptance. It signifies a higher rank in the social order. Money we accumulate is used to signify success or failure and status in life. But it’s a dangerous double edged sword. I was taught by some excellent con men when I lived in California that a person’s most vulnerable part is his ego. It can be used to manipulate you. Plying someone with alcohol makes it even easier. If you have an ego, the best thing you can do for yourself is to get rid of it. Flattery gets you everything. The opposite side of the of the coin is condemnation, ridicule, ostracism. It can be used to control your sense of self worth. Teenage girls can be so cruel to each other on social media that a group o them can drive a girl they don’t like to suicide. For a boy mass murder in a school shooting. About 80 years ago New York City was believed to have the best public education system in the country. Throughout my education including college poor work was dealt with harshly. This stinks Mark. Work on it some more and don’t bring it back until it’s much better. Then someone got the idea of “social promotion.” Work which should have gotten failing grades was praised to improve childrens’ self worth. Children who should have been left back to repeat a grade were promoted to the next grade anyway. It got so bad someone got the outrageous notion that to graduate high school a student should be able to prove they could read to at least an eighth grade level. A New York City high school diploma wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. One quality control for New York State high school graduates are the State Board of Regents exams in every major academic subject. On a national level the SAT scores matter. Someone proposed that the SAT exams were racially skewed in favor of white students. This score is critical for getting admitted into college. It’s importance has diminished ever since the goal of diversity of the student body became very important. If you want to get into medical school your chances are far better if you happen to be born an Eskimo woman who wants to care for the people in her village.

    What is the alternative. It is a set of internal standards to use as a yardstick. Self worth should come from within, not elsewhere. What you think of yourself should be everything. What other think of you should be far less important to you although it is important if you are applying for a job. But you should set realistic standards and know when you failed. Your internal standards should be tough but fair. This makes you immune to the ridicule of others and diminishes the boost to your ego you no longer have by praise from others. But some people have such an unrealistically high opinion of themselves from praise boosting their ego or from a false yardstick that the stupidest of them don’t even realize how stupid they are. The culture of California is about people agreeing to mutually stroke each others egos no matter what. Negativity is not tolerated. The goal is often passable mediocrity. It removes threats.

    So what does this have to do with high fidelity sound systems and equipment? Praise from a reviewer can improve sales of a product enormously. But since these magazines rely in large part on advertising there is a clear conflict of interest. Even the reviews themselves are incompetent. The reviewers don’t have any credentials to qualify them. In short they are worthless and if there are any measurements at all they are of limited value when you know what they mean and what is missing that’s critical.

    The value of entertainment is highly overrated. It is a diversion from the reality of life. As a temporary drug it can relieve stress. As an end in itself it is absurd. The inherent worth of celebrities is no more than that of anyone else, in fact far less. I’m entirely unimpressed by them.

  5. I received an e-mail from Scott about the new phono preamp. I am using an Auditorium 23 Hommage T1 transformer with an Airtight opus 1 cartridge at present. They seem to be made for each other. The sound is so present and and so dynamic. This is making me think whether to try the new phono preamp or not. Considering the fact that I will have a month to try it with the option of returning it if necessary, I am leaning towards giving it a try. Nothing to lose. One of the factors making me hesitant is that I have tried solid state phono preamps over the years but never satisfied with their solid state sound. Always a little dry, restrained and limited dynamics. Now that I have a system that I am completely satisfied with I have something to compare with. So the chances are bright that PS Audio will hear from me. It will be to my advantage. If a F-9 can send shivers down the spine then how good things will be with the opus I can just imagine. As for the heading of the post the thought that came to mind was Paul dressed as a pirate standing with one foot on some PS Audio product with other products strewn about. It made me smile.Regards.

    1. This would be very exciting for me, Oliver, as well. I’d love for you to give this a go and see what you think. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised. If I didn’t know the insides of the new phono I’d never guess solid state.

      Love to hear your opinion.

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