I had a CD player once. Great sound. But after a while it developed problems reading CDs. The company was no help. The U.S. representative was great and put me in touch with their #1 technician. The problem turned out to be a manufacturing flaw that was relatively easy (and inexpensive) to fix. I also owned one of their amplifiers. Again, great sound, but a real pain to remove the tube cages to change a tube that had become damaged during shipping.
I have never sold or owned any EAR (Esoteric Audio Research) gear, but have listened to it many times.
Tim de Paravicini is one of the best and brightest designers in audio...has been since the early 70's.
EAR has always gotten excellent reviews and seems to be held in very high regard.
I used to have 509 monos on my studio monitors....never had any trouble with them....still sorry I sold them.
EAR's Tim de Paravicini is sort of England's Roger Modjeski (Music Reference). They are both circuit and tube experts, old-world electronic engineers with a distain for high-end tweaks like boutique parts and after-market power cords. Both companies are relatively small operations with a few select U.S. dealers.
EAR owners tend to keep the pieces they install in their systems for years, and are "I'm done" (a Michael Fremer expression I rather like) purchases. Meaning they sound so musically satisfying that cases of upgraditis amongst owners of EAR products are more rare than with many other brands. One tends to forget about the sound for it's own sake, and listen rather to the music itself. EAR products are also fully developed before they are put into production, with very few Mk.2's of any given model, the models staying in the EAR line-up for years without the frequent, expensive updates to the products of some of the larger companies.
EAR makes excellent gear if looking for a neutral and transparent sound.
Only trouble I had was an 890 amp fuse blew that took out the fuse holder. Dealer was long gone and US importer wasn't much help so I ended up repairing it myself.
I no longer own EAR gear but highly recommended!
Paravicini personally oversaw and custom designed many of the electronics for David Gilmour's floating studio, Astoria. If it's good enough for Gilmour, I'd say he's pretty much a badass.
Correction: didn't oversee, but did design components.
Tim also designed and built the electronics in the tube analogue reel-to-reel recorder used by recording engineer Kav Alexander for his Water Lily LP's, which are some of the best sounding LP's ever made. EAR power amps are used in some LP mastering and pressing houses as well.
Interesting that GSM 18439 should mention an EAR cd player that would not read cd's.My EAR Acute spent several stays with the talented EAR tech Mitch Singerman.The player would not read certain discs,usually imports.Mitch lost some brain cells trying to figure out why it was not reading these discs,but he could not crack it.No satisfaction from EAR on an exchange.Pretty creepy people with no integrity.
The problem went unresolved,so naturally I'm more than curious if this has finally been solved.I still have my unit,the Acute,and play it often because it sounds sooooo good.It has an amazing warm sound an the uncanny ability to soundstage like vinyl.This whole episode was very frustrating and I came out of this with less respect for EAR,their choice,of dealers with questionable practices as their retail affiliates in the L.A. area and more respect for the tech.As for "demo" stock folks,there is a difference between broken in and broken.
I'm an EAR dealer. I choose to represent them because it is gear that remains interesting indefinitely for me. As the audiophile ear wanders, falls in and out of love, it is the products that remain interesting that I consider to be a true value.
VERY respected,Tim is in the top 10 all-time......YMMV,Bob
Another vote for poor distribution/customer service, as I once sent an email inquiring about the dealer/retailer network by state(s), never received a reply. This company can do better by answering potential customer request(s)!
keep me posted & happy listening!
I had a problem with response to a proprietary, broken "stand-off" screw on an EAR integrated. It sounded good with my Quads, but was assembled with not-so-good parts and this part broke, newly shipped, in factory packing. I would think, "not my fault".
I was referred to the factory where I had the distict displeasure of speaking with Mr. Paravicini AND his attitude. (It's amazing that they can both be in the same room at the same time!) I told him this wasn't my idea, his rep at the time couldn't get the part quickly and told me to call, that's how I got the phone number.
Didn't matter, I got the full "Tube God" Paravicini attitude. No thanks to him, I fixed the thing and sold it immediately.
I've been in high end for 40 years and owed a ton of gear. I got rid of EAR due to that attitude and likewise will never own Levinson after they left me stranded with an $8k "modular, always up to date" DAC. Every time I use my system my gear reminds of the people behind it and I want nothing to do with EAR or TP.
There are plenty of good folks who make good gear and stand behind it. No reason to support egomaniacs who blame the user when their product breaks in normal use or companies that leave you stranded. Fool me once, shame on you...
FWIW, I owned an EAR 834L line stage. Sounded good but build quality was very poor and service/information from dealer and manufacturer were non-existent. It had a piecemeal death and I finally pitched it!
I've owned a lot of EAR products - - guess I resonate with their idea of good sound. Started with the V20 Integrated, added an Acute CD player (closest to vinyl at that time that I had heard), added a 324 phono stage, short flirtation with the 868 preamp with phono, added an 890 amp (long love with that one), and a pair of the 509 amp monoblocks. I would agree that Tim's attitude about parts selection and build quality is evident in the gear, but listening to his gear you can hear that he knows quite a bit about getting great sound.
I had zero problems with any of the gear listed above, so I don't know how the service side of the organization performs. But I have spoken many times with Dan Meinwald, the importer/distributor, and he was always helpful and forthcoming in advice (about tubes, possible mods, etc.).
FWIW I no longer own any EAR products, now prefering VAC gear and Lampizator. But I do have high respect for the EAR line for sonic reasons.
Just a bit more: I think the EAR products are some of the best sounding gear I've heard, sometimes, regardless of price and Dan Meinwald was (and I assume is) a helpful and conscientious gentleman.
TVA1. I wish I could drop it on Paravicini's head. All 90+ pounds of it.