EAR 834: The Baron Tim Rides Again
EAR products are the stuff audio dreams are made of.
Their scarcity insures that they are more often talked
about than heard, and their creator has acquired the
reputation of an iconoclastic, innovative, brilliant
audio theorist/circuit designer.... Thus, I was predisposed
to think that here was something different and special
- an attitude that was reinforced by the unit’s
striking appearance. I have not been disappointed, for
the design has proved to be even more distinctive than
I thought it would be....
the Acarian Systems Lotus speakers... the 834 was hugely
powerful.... Waves of sound poured from the speakers,
filling my room. But the EAR/Lotus combination also
often had a nuanced, complex quality that struck me
as at odds with the sheer volume/power the amp displayed....
The lexicon I used throughout the review sessions is
absurdly simple: "pure," "vivid,"
"present," "presence," "gorgeous,"
"lush," "rich," "warm,"
"mellow." These words appear again and again
in my notes.... The EAR sound is beautiful, powerful,
and complex. But it is also dark....
is not to say the EAR is either old-fashioned or that
it obscures detail. If time and again I thought the
sound dark, with equal frequency I remarked on the subtle
information, conveyed with clarity - sometimes with
shocking brilliance.... The EAR failed to "darken"
that RCA sound, or to add warmth or body or fullness,
which a euphonic component, or one possessed of a bass
heaviness might have done.... Equally telling was the
way the EAR clearly distinguished between the LP and
the CD versions of individual recordings....
834 also varies the listener’s perspective, depending
on the source, a capability I expect from designs that
purport to perform at the limits of the audio art, but
that comes as an unanticipated treat when encountered
in a small integrated amplifier.... Such faithfulness
to the source may not always be pleasing (for example,
if the engineers’ mike placement was flawed, or
if their fingers on the controls were too busy), but
it testifies to the sonic quality of the EAR amp....
is a component that will appeal to those who love the
sound of music more than ownership of components that
will impress by their bulk, weight, or cost.