EAR 912 impression

To continue my previous thread on Ayre and DartZeel combo, I stumbled across EAR 912 full function pre amp.

Stereophile and Postive Feedback had both reviewed the pre and Positive Feedback gave it the highest recommendation. I am not crazy about the styling, but I like it better than ARC Ref 3 by a mile. EAR also offers flexible input and output, the output is wired with tranny which is very rare in high end audio pre if not unique. Phono section is also super flexible.

I heard it in a system that was completely new to me and system consisted of Gryphon Colosseum, Gryphon Mirage, Viola CDP, and Gryphon Atlantis. The room was filled with gears and speakers, I did not have any CD I was familiar with either. Compared to Gryphon Mirage, Mirage was a tad more transparent, soundstage was a bit wider, and that was all I could make out. EAR did not have as much air as I expected, I also thought the top end extension could be improved but the machine was stone cold. Bass and dynamic extension were like what Positive Feedback described, big and bold. Midrange, like bass, was ready to jump out and had plenty of details.

I really could not make out more in that 20 min of audition. Since I am still on my oversea assignment, I don't have my main system with me to compare to (SF Line 3SE+). What are your opinions of this fine pre amp? How does the phono stage compares to SOTA phono like Einstein, BAT VK-P10SE, or ASR?

Any input is appreciated.
I know well the 912, Dartzeel and the ARC ref3, IMHO perhaps the ARC ref3 is a little better, generally speaking, but for me the 912 has the best dynamics, and for me one of the more important qualities of one component is this, if I will want to buy one of the two price will be what will take the decision.Dartzeel is very liquid, etailed, transparent, but sometimes for me lack a little of dynamics.
So you will place EAR 912 in the same category as Dartzeel? I will buy the Dartzeel combo if Dartzeel offers more power, but for 100wpc I am afraid my speaker choices are limited in the future. Also, Dartzeel pre seems to work better with Dartzeel amp using the BNC wire, I will be "stuck" with Dartzeel amp if I go with Dartzeel pre.

If EAR offers 95% of the performance, I will be happy to try EAR for a lot less money. contrary to you, dynamic is not the most important aspect to me. instead, liquid, transparent, and detail are and that's why I prefer a tube pre over the years. I know EAR 912 can run on 6922, maybe it will "improve" if I put in some NOS 6922?
When I says that the dynamics is one of the more important attributes for me, I don´t say say the others are not important, but the true is that I assume that a good preamp MUST have: good tonal timbre, transparence, focalisation, soundstage...,but not all the preamps, specially tube preamps, have good dynamics, take care.
Thanks for the clarification.

I read some of your threads and answers, I know you have lots of experiences in ultra high end league. Is there another pre you will recommend in this price range more than EAR 912? I asked because I have an excellent phono pre, Einstein XLR (as well as BAT VK-P10SE), and I can go for a line stage instead. I am not opposing the idea of a good full function pre and sell the Einstein to free up cash, but I suspect the phono in EAR is not as good as Einstein (and not too many phono is).
Messenger is certainly worth your consideration at this
price point. 12K LS, 16K Full funtion. This will not have
any XLR, so it would be SE only. If you need balanced
outputs, Nick Doshi may be worth considering. I have experience with the Messenger, as it is my pre, but not
the Doshi. The Doshi has a strong following though, and I have heard it is a great pre from people I trust.
I like a lot audio note kondo, but on more real levels, Messenger is very good, Einstein is also good, Cat is fantastic for dynamics, Emotive audio epifania, perhaps more on line with classic tubes, that is the contrary that ARC ref3, viva preamp is fantastic but expensive..well there are at least 15 very goods preamps
I have had this pre-amp for 2 years. It is lovely sounding and has no problem surprising you dynamically  like real music.  It only suffers slightly on channel separation which seems to improve in the mid or near field it your side reflections are well controlled. Which frankly, if you a in this deep not fixing your reflections is a wanted excise.

To my ears it is the most realistic pre-amp I have heard. I do not like ANY of the new Audio Research gear made in the past few years, I did however like the older all tube gear.

i can hear subtleties  and clarity deep into the mix without the music being reduced to a clinical magnifying glass.

The  body of music is there without smear, the tonality and harmonics that resonate your own body cavity like real instruments do are there.

I was considering EAR 912 very strongly too. The other competitor was Audio Note M5/M6. I had auditioned the M6 and loved it. But EAR 912 had a very good built in phonostage so it seemed to be a more attractive option. I finally got to audition it and guess what, it is no more on my wishlist. To my ears, as you mentioned, it lacks air. It lacked delicacy and nuances, a very matter of the fact presentation. Dynamics were big but not effortless. When I played a live recording, the audience applause and did not have the organic quality to it. I would call this preamp dry sounding. 

Check out ARC Ref3 or Audio Note M5 or Air Tight ATC-2 in that price range for more organic presentation. 
CJ preamps are also very good in terms of tone, timbre and dynamics. Moreover it has a proven record of sounding good with non-CJ amps. 
For anyone not having $12,000 for the EAR 912, the EAR 868 is pretty much the same pre-amp, but without all the controls and meters. And it's a lot cheaper. Looks better too, with the cool EAR chrome faceplate.