Need troubleshooting help go easy on me... Newbie

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a question requesting help on my new office (all vinyl) system. After reading the responses, and doing a little research, I decided on purchasing the EAR 834P phono stage. It arrived yesterday. The rest of this system includes: Rega P9 TT; RB 900 arm; Clearaudio Aurum Beta cartridge; Bryston 2B SS amp; PSB 40 MK II speakers; Straigtwire Waveguide speaker cables; Straightwire Rhapsody II interconnects; and PS Audio Ultimate Outlet.

I hooked everything up (started at 1:00 am), and started spinning, but what came out of my speakers was a terrible sound. First, the word that comes to mind when describing the sound is "fuzzy" -- like listening to AM radio in your car, without an antenna. The LPs are clean (used VPI 16.5 machine). Second problem is the right channel is totally dominating the left.

Troubleshooting advice?
Where is your preamp? You can't just run the EAR phono pre straight into an amp, you need to connect it to a preamp then to the amp.
Wksesq, don't know yr phono. So, simple guidelines follow: first check the connections on the PHONO: the arm cable should go to PHONO "IN" left / right(red) at the correct set of inputs ("hi-output", MM -or similarly noted). Second, connect the I/C from the EAR OUTPUT (observing the same L/R config.) to a "line" input on the pre. Ofcourse it's best to turn off the pre while yr at it.

Hopefully, nothing mechanical is wrong.
Good luck!

The EAR 834P does NOT have any RIAA equalization and is only a pre-preamplifier. Therefore you will need to feed it into an equalized phono stage to get the correct signal.

Your channel im-balance problem may be related to cartridge alignment or interconnect problems..?

Hope this helps, regards, Richard

Did you or an experienced tech. mount the cartridge? Correct alignment of cartridge is absolutely important. There are tools for this, but I'd rely on a really experienced tech. person.
It sounds like something related to your phono preamp. I notice you didn't mention what line stage preamp you are using. 1) As someone else mentioned, You can't plug the phono directly into the amplifier without a volume control. 2) You could have a bad tube in the 834P -- you could swap the respective channel's tubes and see if the distortion/loudness changes sides -- if so, you may need to replace the tube(s). 3) Perhaps the 834P is set to the higher MC gain position and you need to set it to the MM low-gain position. If you are on the MC position you are likely overloading the phono preamp. 4). On the "line-level" preamp you are using, make sure the EAR 834P is plugged into an "AUX" (Tuner or Tape inputs will work too) high-level input -- NOT "PHONO". If you plug the 834P into a phono input it will surely overload it. That's all I can think of aside from rechecking all the connections. Good luck, and let us know how you fare.
Already some good responses. Whenever I have had a problem which is different in the L-R channels I start at the source (in this case the Rega) and swap the two channels, and see if the problem reverses at the speaker. If not then I put the connections back , move one forward in the signal chain and swap again (the very last swap is the speaker cables). This will tell you where the problem is (turntable, phone, main amp, or even speakers) : it's whatever is driving the last cable you swapped. For example if swapping the cables between the Rega and EAR makes no difference, but swapping the cables between the EAR and the bryston alters the volume balance between the speakers then the problem is with the EAR.

Another very quick and easy test in your case would be to get a CD player (perhaps with a variable out) and connect it to one of the inputs of the Bryston amp ... if it sounds fine then the problem is somewhere in the phono chain, if it sounds awful then the problem is most likely in the amp and speakers.

The previous comment about NOT plugging the EAR into the phono input of your amp is also a good one (though I'm not familiar with your amp to know if it has a phono stage ... if it does then perhaps try plugging the Rega in directly .. this would be another test of the EAR).

Hope this helps.
There are several versions of the 834P. The basic is for MM only, the others work with MM and lower output MC cartridges. Check to make sure you have the correct match for your cartridge. A volume control is available on two of the 834P versions allowing them to be used directly with a power amp, without a linestage pre-amp.Otherwise you must use a seperate linestage (pre-amp).
Thanks. I have the 834P w/ volume control (both MM & MC) running directly to the amp.
Well then check that you're on the MM position for both channels. If you still have a problem, reverse the L&R phono interconnects and see if the distortion changes channels. If it doesn't switch, its your amp. If it changes, I'd suspect the tubes in the 834P, but it could possibly be a bad phono cartridge too. If you reverse the channels at the phono cartridge and the distortion and low output reverse at the speakers, then you have a bad phono cartridge. Using this procedure you should at least be able to isolate the problem to the faulty component in the chain. Good luck!
Everyone has given you great ideas for troubleshooting. One other thought: If you mounted the cartridge yourself, as I did last January, and hear God-awful distortion as you describe, as I also did last January, and nothing is wrong w/your phono pre or settings, then you may have badly misaligned your cartridge--as I did last January. I thought I had done a good job, then I played a record and had to run to take the arm off the platter! Before I did, I saw that the bottom of the cartridge was actually touching, in fact dragging, along the surface of the LP. Needless to say, this sounded hideous and created unbelievable distortion amplified excruciatingly through the chain to the speakers.
Duh! I had to start over w/cartridge mounting 101.
First, I switched the phono interconnects (l/r) into the EAR... the right channel domination still existed. I switched them back, and then switched the input speaker cables (into the Bryston), and the one channel domination went from right channel to left. O.K., it's not the phono, and it's not the amp, so it must be the EAR. I opened up the EAR, and made sure the tubes were properly inserted. Same problem. Next step was to interchange the tubes... exchanging one tube to the other. Wouldn't you know it, the one channel domination was cured!!! That's the good news. The bad news is I'm still getting major league distortion (?) that sounds like fuzz. The more adjustment I make to the volume on the EAR, the "fuzz" seems to dissipate, but just a bit. This fuzz is particularly apparent in mid and upper range. Bass/low freq. sounds o.k.
For what its worth, some folks have suggested that I can't run the EAR directly into my amp. Not true (search the archives); this unit has volume control.

Anymore suggestions?
Anymore suggestions?
Wksesq, If the fuzz is in both channels and you have confirmed that you are indeed in the MM and not the MC mode, then there may be a problem with the EAR. I think what I'd do would be to try new tubes and if that doesn't work you might have to send the EAR in for service. Do you have another phono stage you can try in the system, just to be certain it's the EAR?
Thanks to all who provided suggestions. I borrowed a Cary SLP 98P tube preamp (with phone stage), and started spinning. Beautiful. I did not use the EAR 834P as a phono stage --- instead, used the Cary. I'll be sending the EAR back to the dealer, who promised me a replacement as soon as possible.

Anyone heard of difficulties with the EAR piece?