834P phono preamplifier
review at www.10audio.com
EAR 834P makes music. You know, you spend some money,
you expect good sound. You spend some more money, you
expect better sound. I do. The EAR easily exceeds this
"value proposition" by providing a higher
level of enjoyment and connection to the music than
I expected at the entry fee. I used several different
cartridges with it over the period of about a year.
A Benz Ruby for the most part, a Koetsu Urushi, and
a Shure V15-VMR.
EAR had these characteristics: somewhat "fluffy"
(hey - a new audio term!) but very deep and powerful
bass, a beautiful midrange (really outstanding), and
a sweet, rolled off sounding but extended treble. A
good match for the Benz, not bad for the Shure, and
a very seductive but can't-live-with-it-for-long match
for the Urushi because they have the same strengths
and weaknesses. Really, the midrange of the EAR/Urushi
was painfully lovely. Female voices especially came
through this pairing with a feeling of virtual reality.
It was like a good book that you can't put down. Audio
nirvana from about 100 to 5k Hz. (Get the picture?)
In this range, the EAR was entirely competitive with
the phono section of the Nagra PL-P ($9500). Note: The
Nagra's phono section is one of the best I have ever
heard and very hard to fault; its line stage is okay.
The control flexibility of the Nagra allows one to use
just the phono stage and still be able to control the
would suggest this phono preamp in a system with a somewhat
bright or forward transducer - either speakers or phono
cartridge, or both. Or if you are not particularly interested
in the top and the lowest of the bottom octave. During
the period I had it, it worked flawlessly. I had the
black version with volume control, and used the stock
tubes. I bypassed the volume control because by the
time the volume control started to work, it was already
too loud. One other thing I did was change the input
impedance by changing R1 and R2 to higher values. This
greatly helped the treble "darkness" that
I heard and which was noted in other reviews. It makes
sense: 500 ohms really dampened the Ruby too much. 2k
to 10k ohms was better in my system, and quite acceptable.
Changing the resistors banished the 'dark side' from
the EAR (and, of course, voided the warranty). Another
example of 'no free lunch'. And so it goes…
rating: 8 LPs, for the outstanding midrange