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Stein Music Stateline Phono 2 Signature with Power Supply

05-09-2019 | By Robert H. Levi | Issue 103

Stein Music of Germany has been known in these pages as the source for unique and exciting accessories that advance room treatment, amplifier performance, power supply distribution, power cords, turntable performance and more. We knew they were big into loudspeakers and electronics, though few made it to these shores. Time all that changed! Now available is their sleek solid-state phono stage that contains the genius and design work of their namesake, Holger Stein, and his engineers. With a tube-like sonic smoothness and elegance, giant soundstage, and blackest of backgrounds, the Stein Music Stateline Phono 2 Signature is the best edition of just their least expensive lineup of electronics. By the way, they build a lineup of speakers that will blow you away!

The Stateline Phono 2 comes in three models. A basic version contains a flexible phono stage with MM/MC and large wall transformer. The Signature version is similar with more sophisticated electronic design, features, and more. I did not have the basic version on hand. The Signature version with similarly designed large power supply unit mated to the phono stage is stack-able and the best of the group. I spent most of my time with the Signature version and power supply. 

The Stateline is single ended only, with a straight forward pair in and out on elegant RCA plugs and a ground post. There is a single on/off toggle on the front. The power supply is identical, with a toggle for on/off on the front and a dedicated heavy-duty umbilical cord to connect the two boxes. The big action is on the bottom of the phono stage, and that is amazing!

Mounted on the phono stage undercarriage is the most elaborate "dual mono" set of DIP switches for every kind of cartridge impedance, capacitance, type, and more you will need in a lifetime of audio. Only a true genius could have thought of this arrangement and built it like Mercedes would have done it. After 55 years as an audiophile, I had to study it a bit to choose just the right selection for my Aventurin Stein (Benz LPS modified) Cartridge MC and my Grado Labs Aeon MI cartridge.  

I was unable to find complete specifications for the unit other than the gain levels available are conservatively listed as 60dBs for MC and 40dBs for MM/MI cartridges. Signal to noise level was subjectively lower than my tube system's residual noise level, so that is very low. My tube reference phono is balanced and is noisier than the single ended Stein. Electrically, the Stein has no faults. 

The Signature version with wall transformer had a bit less gain and overall smoothness. It was very fine until you heard the full boat with the sophisticated power supply. I could have lived with the Signature without PS, but that is not for me. The combo was superior in ways that I really enjoyed... more complex textures and bigger soundstage. All Stein Music phono stage versions had a dramatic sense of real, live music that I truly thought only tube circuits and my E.A.R. 324 solid-state phono stage could deliver. 

I spent weeks listening to the Stein Music Stateline Phono 2 Signature with power supply, letting it break-in and sweeten. Right out of the box, it was quite neutral and smooth. As time went on, it matured like fine wine, and at about 100 hours was virtually a trip to the concert hall. Compared to my tube reference, the Stein was a less dramatic though more focused and noticeably quieter. It does not hum when grounded no matter how complex your setup. I like that. 

The highs from my cartridges were open, delicate, and simply light as air. Never heard any graininess or spit from the Stein, ever. It actually might be too smooth, though I never felt I was missing anything. The sonic ceiling appeared a bit lower, which may indicate less extreme definition compared to my references, though the Stein does cost about half as much. This is very impressive performance overall.

The mids were immensely satisfying. Vocals were exceptionally rendered and in the room. Focus was superb and precise. Instrumental timbres were spot on. Depth perspective was exceptional and realistic. Tape hiss on Mercury LPs was a bit less obvious than with my reference. It should be ethereal and delicate, but was darker with the Stein. Not sure what that means. The LP's sounded musically correct, with standout definition coming close to my tube gear. Even on the most complex musical passages, the Stein kept everything in its place...no homogenizing of the transients. 

The bass is detailed to the maximum. It went to the center of the earth and shook the room. The definition was equivalent to the mids, just extended to the bottom. Slam was a bit reduced compared to my reference, so I adjusted my sub-woofer a touch to compensate. With so many impedance choices, you will probably be able to tune the bass with those. The Stein Music Stateline Phono 2 Signature with Power Supply is quite an amazing machine and a delight to hear, regardless of your musical taste.


The Stateline should come with a manual. It is quite straight forward to hook up once you understand the DIP switches, which took some study. I like the wood Stein feet, which contribute to the rich sound. However, the units slide when the cables and power cord are attached. A bit of rubber on the bottom of the feet is called for here. 


The Stein Music Stateline Phono 2 Signature with Power Supply comes to America and ups the competition for modern super-sophisticated solid-state phono stages. Though not as expensive as the cutting-edge group, it is more expensive than the offerings from Parasound and John Curl. Not having all of these units in the house at the same time offered some challenges, but the Stein Phono Stage is absolutely superb, flexible, easily accommodated, and nearly as detailed as the best around. It may be the quietest phono stage I have ever reviewed. I am going to be very sad when the UPS truck comes to get it. The Stein Music Stateline Phono 2 Signature with Power Supply is a twenty-first-century invention that performs as musically as you may ever need or desire.

I heartily recommend the Stein Stateline Signature for both the audiophile and analog connoisseur.

Stein Music Stateline Phono 2 Signature with Power Supply

Retail: $4500

Stein Music Stateline Phono 2 Signature with Wall Transformer


Stein Music Stateline Phono Basic with wall transformer

Retail: $1500 (not reviewed)

Stein Music


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USA Distribution:

Fidelis Music Systems: Music for Life


All images courtesy of Stein Music.