EAR Acute

Heard the Acute today and fell in love with its sound immediately - such glorious midrange and deep layering; full of details without causing ear fatigue! Must be the tube output stage...

Would have bought it on the spot but the build held me back. If it costs $2000, no problem but at $5000, I expect better build quality.

Is there a CDP out there that shares the EAR's glorious sound but better built in the same price range to recommend?
What was it about the build quality that you did not like?
Personal - feels cheap and lightweight. Tray is noisy too.
The LP player looks like art and the new Pre with UV meters man i wish I had the dough.Just have my moddest little 834 Intergrated.But Mr.Tim makes some great stuff.didn't know he had a digital product out.But prices are high I agree.
I wonder when somebody is going to use the wonder chip being used in the Logitech/Slim Devices Transpoter Squuezebox/DAC.Such a big deal was made about the chip (AKM.AKE,or AKD???Can't remember manufacturer off hand) when it came out but have yet to see it in any CDP's yet.
Electrocompaniet EMC-1up 24/192

A great player, at a great price, in the areas, you are looking for...
Possibly no better built but $1500 less and, according to Robert Levi at Positive Feedback, similar sound, the Modwright Platinum Truth Sony 9100ES. I love mine and it's not fully broken in yet. Replaced an APL Denon 3910 and I'm not missing anything.
On second thought, the Sony probably is of better build quality. The drawer is quiet and smooth and the stock unit has 3 power supplies, two of them linear. In addition, Modwright's outboard PS is of very high quality and weighs as much as an entry level player.
Saw the much more beautiful chrome faceplate version on Audio Revelation's website.

Now no excuse, the Acute is on the way!
Celebrer, do you know what transport mechanism it uses? There are an awful lot of expensive CDPs now using cheap DVD-ROM mechs instead of proper Red Book CD drives. I use a heavily modified 'classic' Sony X777ES/DAS-R1 combination, which sounds fantastic. Each unit weighs 17kg! They don't build them like that anymore...

Enjoy your Acute when it arrives. I have a lot of time for EAR designs.

I believe the Acute starts life as an Arcam. Most everything but the DAC chips and transport are done away with and replaced to become the Acute. So whatever the transport is in the Arcam is the one used in the EAR. At least this is what I have read. The tube analog output stage is unique to the Acute and is probably responsible in large part for the sound. Robert Levy of Positive Feedback and Harry Pearson of TAS were both quite taken by this unit. Certain NOS tubes seem to enhance the sound quality and would be worth investigating, just takes 2 so shouldn't be too pricey.
The Acute is actually a modified Arcam CD player with Wolfson DAC according to my dealer.

I was considering the AA Prima too. The Prima is cheaper and looks much nicer but having not heard it in the flesh, decided to play safe and go for the Acute. Save some money on a preamp in the process :)

Anyway, has anyone A/B'd the 2 players?

Hi Rja,

Any idea which Arcam the Acute is based on? I presume one of the earlier ones that used a Philips CDM 1 (or 2) Pro?


according to a thread over at the digital BB on AA its a modded Arcam 73

I'm not sure "modded" is the correct term here, depends on your definition of the word I suppose. The case, DAC chips and transport are the only things retained with everything else replaced. Maybe "severe mod" would be appropriate. All reports so far indicate a superb sounding unit but I have not had an opportunity to hear one.