I am a fan of this phono stage, and have used one for a few years. IMO, it sounds more like what real live music sounds like than anything else remotely in this price range. It is smooth, detailed, stages well, and most importantly (for me) is that the music moves (prat) in a coherent (realistic) way. I had it modified by Mitch a couple of years ago.
The improvements wrought by the mods of course affect the MC section as well as the MM. The best way I would describe the post-mods sound is to imagine that with the stock unit you were listening to your system with a thin scrim thrown over your speakers. The mods remove the scrim. In other words, the basic character of the unit has not changed, but now there is substantially more clarity, with resulting better sound staging. Individual images may seem smaller at first, until you realize that it's because there is less fuzz around them (more clarity). The overall sound my also seem slightly brighter and less tubey (especially before break-in/yes, 100 hours is about right), but again it's because there is less grunge and fuzz around images. Dynamically, it is even more lively than before, but very natural. All worth the cost of the mods. Yes, Level 2 is definitely worth the money. And if your unit has the older style phono jack which are prone to breaking, get better ones installed.
Is there a website describing the mods?
the retail cost of an 834P plus full Singerman mods is over $3300, and that doesn't even include excellent NOS tubes. The sound may be pleasant, even euphonious, but no one claims the 834P is accurate or detailed. There are far better phono preamps available at that level.
Frogman, Thanks for the description. That is the info I was looking for. Question, was that description for level 1 or level 2 or both or beyond? I was looking at the level 1 which is quoted at $250 and maybe the level 2, which is another $125, according to the website.
Lloydc, with all due respect, what does your response have to do with the OP's question? For someone who already owns the 834P as the OP does, and likes the basic character of the unit, an additional $375 investment for mods that have received an awful lot of attention, and substantially improve an already very good unit is a no-brainer IMO. But regardless, I'll play: I think a realistic RESALE price for an 834P (non-deluxe) is probably around $900 + $375 or so for the mods. For that kind of money (not $3300), I can't think of anything that I would rather listen to. As to the EAR's sound, I don't know what you consider to be accurate or euphonious, but clearly we have very different notions of what those are
Frano, you are welcome. I had the Level 2 mods done; well worth the extra $125.
Salectric, there is the Affordable Audio website, which I read is Mitch Signerman's business. It doesn't give a lot of detail but does tell you what he does for his mod.
Frogman, fair enough, I did not address the OP's question directly. I inferred that the OP was trying to make a decision on whether to do the mods, so I shared an opinion based on my own decision to go another direction. I used retail prices for illustrative purposes, but my thought was that if you have c. $1200 - $1500 to spend, you have many choices on Audiogon, many of which may greatly exceed the potential of a modded 834P. When I had an 834P and was considering the upgrades, I bought an AR PH-3 SE which had been upgraded by Great Northern (for $1250 1500, cannot recall exactly), on Audiogon. A bargain, perhaps, but similar in price to the ballpark figures you suggest (i.e., an 834P with upgrades, but not including serious power supply upgrades; I sold my 834P Deluxe on the Gon for $875.) The AR is vastly superior in every way to a stock 834P, and really opened my eyes to what I had been missing. I have not heard a modded 834P, but I talked to Mitch, and have no doubt that his mods improve the stock 834P (but I recall that including power supply mods would cost considerably more than $300.) I have been in the OPs shoes, and am very glad I didnt get the 834P mods done, so I am trying to convey that experience to the OP.
Lloydc, thanks for your comments re your experiences with the two phono stages. I know your comments were meant to be helpful, but I guess it's a pet peeve of mine that oftentimes a OP asks a question that relate only to a specific item and and then receives suggestions about some other item that is supposedly better.
Having said that, and going back to the EAR vs. The AR: I know the AR PH-3SE; a cousin owns it and I have listened to it in my system as well as his. It is a very good phono stage. As usual it comes down to system synergy and personal preference. I disagree that the AR is "vastly superior in every
way" to the EAR. Not in my system and not according to my priorities. I think that for me it comes down to the fact that the EAR is a pure tube design, and the AR is a hybrid. I like the AR very much, but I definitely hear the influence of the FET's in the signal path. While arguably somewhat more detailed than the EAR, to my ears it is also a little bleached sounding compared to the EAR. While some will say that the EAR is tubey or even mushy sounding, I hear more of acoustic music's natural tone colors through it; as opposed to everything having a drier, grayish color, something that is particularly objectionable to me. Also, and certainly not least in my system's case, the EAR has much more gain that the AR, which allows me to eliminate the line stage and use a high-quality passive pre for a significant improvement in the area of detail and purity, without the common criticisms of passives (the subject of a different discussion).
I agree that Frogmans characterizations of the EAR and AR are spot on; he knows what hes talking about! It is easy to imagine systems, or listening habits, where the EAR works very well. I would actually like to hear a maxed out 834P; surfing the web, it looks like some people have carried the concept to amazing lengths. Regards,
Thanks for your input gentleman. I had looked into a AR PH-3 but the gain was not enough for my LOMC. So, I could change my cartridge and sell the EAR for a PH3 or go with the EAR mod and try to strike middle ground. Choices! Well I already own the EAR and the AR33EV, so maybe I should try the mod. The units I had looked at in the $850 range used were, EAR 834p, GCPH Parts Connection modded, PH3, and Moon 5.3LP. They all have their pros and cons of course. Thought I would try a classic. However the mod will raise the price of that choice to $1200. I have an older PS Audio Phonolink that gives me detail and speed but the EAR has those liquid vocals and mids, so I had hoped to get close to the combination of the two, without spending $3300. I tried a side by side of my old Phonolink against the newer GCPH and didn't hear much difference with most songs. Tried it against the $1700 Whest and although the Whest was better the Phonolink did really well and helds it's own on almost all points. The Phonolink is really amazing considering it's age (from the Randy Patter PS ownership, not Paul & Stanly). All help is appreciated but it is funny how many links get answered way off the subject of the original question. Thanks
I've been using an EAR 834P MM/MC for about 5 years -- modded by Mitch Singerman and some further mods as per T. Leach, and more of my own concoction. The tube set is Tung-Sol 5751 in the gain stages and a Telefunken rib-plate 12AX7. (synergistic tube choice cannot be under estimated here)
I can say that it is one component in my system I never think of rolling out. It does everything I want a phono stage to do and does it so well. Currently using it with a London Decca Super Gold cart on a Well Tempered Amadeus TT. IMO I am "there."
Just fyi, I have an EAR 834p currently being modded by the folks at The Analog Room in San Jose. These folks also have designed their own high end pre amp, Wavestream Kinetics...and one of the guys who designed the mods previously worked at MFA. I almost went with Mitch, but decided to see what the folks at the Analog Room have come up with...another option for your consideration...about the same price as Mitch's mods
Will add on to the post from Mcmprov. I have a modded EAR 834P from the Analog Room in San Jose. Scott Franklin of MFA fame (now of Wavestream) does the mod. In addition to his standard EAR mod (replace caps,resistors,tubes) I had him add an extra rca input and toggle switch since I'm using a dual tonearm configuration (one stereo, one mono). Scott does excellent work.
i AM CONSIDERING PURCHASING A STOCK 834P, CAN SOMEONE PROVIDE DETAILS ON THE SONIC IMPROVEMENT AFTER MODIFICATIONS? aLSO, CONTACT INFORMATION FOR THE MODS.