E.A.R. Acute Reliability


I am considering the purchase of a used E.A.R. Acute CD player. However, I am concerned about its reliability. What has the experience been in this regard, particularly with regard to the transport?

I am also considering a Modwright 9100ES, for which Dan Wright assures me that parts are readily available.
airfla
I have had my EAR Acute for about 7 months and have had no problems.
I've owned one for about 6 months, no issues with the transport. Should be easy to replace if something does go wrong though, same as the Arcam.
As far as sonics, with the right tubes (I'm using 2 1960s Seimens CCAs), sounds great.
PS: I think the EAR Acute starts life as an Arcam CD36 CDP. Supposedly transport, display and DAC chips straight from CD36, all else changed by EAR.
Of course I stand to be corrected if wrong but I remember reading this, perhaps in a review.
I have had mine for just shy of 1 year. No issues
whatsoever. I will admit though, nothing about the
build quality does inspire confidence. It's an Arcam
rebuilt by Tim D..

That said, it makes me feel alot smarter after I push
play. Sound quality is definitely doing it for me. The
sound is doing/or not doing something very right. It
just gets out of the way , and allows me to enjoy.
When I put a Stealth Indra from the Acute> my preamp,
all I can say is wow!
So I would feed it a good neutral IC. Funny, the Modright
is one of very few that also peak my interest. The other,
Metronome. FWIW, my last player was Capitole 2. I liked
it, but do not look back. I have had too many system changes since the Cap 2 left, so please dont ask for
a direct comparison. I hope this helps, try and get an
audition on one. I think Music Direct is a dealer as well.
Hello. I've had my Acute for 4 months and my friend has had his for about 2 months. Both of us noticed that when you push the volume up OR down on the remote control it keeps going after you let go. Not too serious when decreasing volume, but can be VERY bad when increasing vol. Maybe 3 times out of 10. Usually when holding remote on an angle. When pointing directly at the unit, it is ok.
Since doing that, I haven't really had an issue-but to me, this is unacceptable for a $6,000 cd player. If it didn't sound so damn good, I would return it...
Thank you all very much for your comments. After considerable thought, I have decided to go with Dan Wright's Modwright 9100ES with tube rectifier power supply. Dan has been very helpful and informative in his prompt responses to my emails.

I am sure that the EAR Acute sounds great, but I have too many doubts about its build quality/reliability. Having suffered through three transport failures in the past, the Modwright is more within my comfort zone. Among other things, Dan Wright is located in Washington state and I live in Vancouver, BC.
the EAR would be the best between the two.
Robert Levi gave the EAR Acute an absolutely rave review in Positive Feedback. He subsequently did a follow-up review of the ModWright 9100ES with tube rectifier power supply and absolutely raved about it as well. Comparing it to the Acute, he observed that "used through a preamp there is no significant difference". My home system requires me to run my CD player through my ML 380S.

Tim de Paravicini is unquestionably a brilliant engineer, but I have heard some negative comments about his approach to customer service. His US distributor, OTOH, is supposed to be a terrific guy. Dan Wright is a great person to deal with and everything that I have read about him has been universally positive.

I purchased one of Dan's CES 2008 demo units which will be shipped to me directly from Las Vegas when the show is over. I can hardly wait.

And the remote for the Sony doesn't suck.
this is an ad for modded sonys
Dan Meinwald, the US importer of EAR products, has responded every time I contacted him before and after my purchase of the Acute. Really excellent communication and service.

One peculiar thing, absolutely no owners manual or instruction sheet comes with the Acute. I contacted Tim de P and he mentioned that he was thinking about producing one but not sure.

Airfla,
If you're thinking about tube rolling, the USA white label Amperex 7308 are excellent as are the 1960s Seimens CCa. Both enhance the performance of the Acute dramatically over the provided stock tubes although they aren't BAD. But they should be changed if you want to fully realize the potential of the Acute. Just my opinion of course but I think there's a good chance that you'll agree :~).
Jaybo

A reply to your comment is an ad?
Rja

Thanks very much for your recommendations for tube rolling on the Acute, but I decided to go with the ModWright.
This response has nothing to do with the Acute CDP - I've never seen it let alone heard it. However Tim P's response to the inquiry about the lack of an instruction sheet or manual is, I think, a good reason to do so to the extent that it sound consistant with my experience with EAR.

I have, but have not used in a long time, an EAR 834L line stage. I bought it, and appreciated it for its sonic signature. As HP said, reminiscent of my ARC SP10. But there the difference ends. This thing is one of the most poorly constructed units I have ever encountered in high end audio, right from the quality of the case, the imput selector, and cross talk from other inputs to the poorly attached RCA outputs. And, when trying to identify the correct tubes to use and their assigned sockets I could get clarity from either EAR, its then distributor, nor the 1 page instruction sheet which was inaccurate. Personally I would never buy from EAR again no matter the sonic potential.

FWIW :-(
This response has nothing to do with the Acute CDP - I've never seen it let alone heard it. However Tim P's response to the inquiry about the lack of an instruction sheet or manual is, I think, a good reason to do so to the extent that it sounds consistant with my experience with EAR.

I have, but have not used in a long time, an EAR 834L line stage. I bought it, and appreciated it for its sonic signature. As HP said, reminiscent of my ARC SP10. But there the difference ends. This thing is one of the most poorly constructed units I have ever encountered in high end audio, right from the quality of the case, the imput selector, and cross talk from other inputs to the poorly attached RCA outputs. And, when trying to identify the correct tubes to use and their assigned sockets I could get clarity from either EAR, its then distributor, nor the 1 page instruction sheet which was inaccurate. Personally I would never buy from EAR again no matter the sonic potential.

FWIW :-(
"I purchased one of Dan's CES 2008 demo units which will be shipped to me directly from Las Vegas when the show is over. I can hardly wait."

Hi Airfla,
I purchased the other demo unit, also after considering the Acute, exciting isn't it. Waiting is really hard, but at least you'll get yours first as I opted to wait for the Bybee filters. When you receive yours, let me know what you think. Well, here's wishing us luck.

Regards
As I noted above, I have had an EAR Acute for about 7 months. No, it did not come with an instruction manual. But since it was based on an Arcam player, I downloaded the Arcam CD73 instruction manual to understand the function of the buttons on the remote as well as the commands that the CDP would accept from a universal remote. I also have an EAR 859. As Rja mentioned, Dan Meinwald is very responsive.
Phaelon

Thanks for the good wishes. Yes, the anticipation is kind of exciting. And I haven't got any quality sound in the interim because my transport died.

I was a little disappointed to hear from Dan today that my unit will ship with GE 5687's rather than Tung Sols because he is out of stock of the latter. He suggested that I contact Brendan at Tube World about a pair of Tung Sol's.

I've also ordered some Tenderfeet from Herbie's Audio Labs. What interconnects are you planning on using?
Airfla,
I wish more people would initiate and respond to threads concerning product/service reliability issues. To people without excess disposable income, it's just as important as sound quality. An EAR was on my short list for an amplifier upgrade but I'm rethinking that now.

I'll Email you regarding my interconnects as I don't want to get too off topic.

Regards
If you need a manual to operate a cd player, not having one is the least of your problems.
Airfla,

You made a great choice with the Modwright. I own this model from Dan and the sound is outstanding. The Modwright replaced a Audio Aero Capitole 2 and it wasn't even close, Modwright all the way. I have had the Modwright 9100 ES for almost a year and it has performed perfectly. In addition Dan provides outstanding service if needed. You will be very happy.
I have to address someone's previous remark about Robert Levi's Positive feedback review. In raving the Modwright player, he STILL clearly says that the ACUTE sounds better for standard CD playback. Another rave reviewer of the same Modwright on Positive Feedback also says the ACUTE is still better sounding for CDs. In Levi's review of the ACUTE he says the CD layers on SACDs sound better than the SACD layer on his best SACD player! He MIGHT not be including the Modwright, and he doesn't make clear that Modwight SACD playback is superior to ACUTE CD playback in his Modwright review either. It would be nice to have SACD playability, but for me it would mean also having to get a new preamp to accomodate the format, and sacrifice the superior CD sound of the ACUTE for a seemingly (& unfortunately?) dying format.
I admit Sony would likely be more "reliable" than just about any manufacturer, but I've owned other "small label" CD Players that held together just fine. I couldn't find any basis for above comments on "reliability issues", it all seemed speculative. At any rate, I've owned an ACUTE little over 24 hours so I hope those guys aren't right. Rereading the reviews of the Modwright I have no regrets sound-quality wise. I very much like what I hear so far, and my upgrade Ediswan tubes haven't even arrived yet. I am not knocking the Modwright, haven't heard it, sure it's great. Just think some of the above ACUTE knocking is unfounded, and needlessly stirring up reliability worries with owners and prospective buyers.
I think EAR would have a real winner with a DAC based on the Acute. To me the weak point of the Acute is the transport (and cheesy remote) which EAR does not manufacture. IMO: The sound of the Acute is right up there.
Needlessly stirring up reliability concerns? I think not. I hope that you don't experience any problems but reliability is certainly a valid consideration, especially given some of the negative comments about EAR's build quality. Newbee's experience can hardly be described as "speculative".
I've had an EAR 534 for about 5 years now. While other amps have come and gone, that one has stayed. That and my art audio 845. I'm not sure what everyone expects but opening the EAR and looking around is pretty impressive imo. Now, changing the el34s(you have to get rid of the sovteks) is a pain in the ass but other than that, it's a beautiful sounding piece of equipment... and slapping in a pair of telefunken ecc85s. wow.

I've been contemplating buying an acute for a long time now and would do so without hesitation execpt... I'd like to see what all these new DACs have to offer.
I have owned and used the Acute 1 for 7 years now. My choice of tubes is on the warm side, Amperex large O getter bugle boys. (I just got some 60's Siemens to try). It requires the best A/C power cord and interconnects to obtain great sound as well as Stillpoints (I'm using 3 originals now and will be trying the ultra-minis soon). I have had no unit transport issues although for a month, I lost the remote open button control (accidently tapped it to a solid surface and it has worked again for the last 1 1/2 years). So, I cannot fault it on durability with over 5,000 hours on it. The sound is like the best analog with less hassle (I know since I have 36,000 LPs/78s).