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?
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