EAR 868 Phono Preamplifier

EAR 868 Phono Preamplifier in all Chrome – our favorite

How do you get $13,000 of performance for only $7,595?

Enter the EAR 868 full function preamp ($5,795 – line stage only) that is a direct descendant of the EAR 912! You’ll get the same circuits, virtually identical sound minus a few features, meters and elaborate casework.

EAR 868 Phono Preamplifier 
(Photos courtesty of Mark Erceg from New Zealand)

TESTIMONIALS

“The EAR 868 Phono Preamplifier is yet another superb piece of engineering from Tim de Paravicini, and deserves serious consideration by anyone looking for a full-function preamp of stunning good looks that produces a big sound and an unforgettably rich tone with all kinds of music…It is an outstanding line stage, and considering that only $1700 more will get you a phono stage as well, with variable gain and adjustable impedance settings via quality output transformers, it’s also an excellent value.”
 – Garret Hongo, SoundStage

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Awarded 5/5 Globes – Hi-Fi World

“The new EAR 868 Phono Preamplifier is a great preamp package. With a lively sense of clarity and the usual extra sense of spaciousness to the sound valves bring, it injects life into any system… Dazzling transients, delicious intricacy and a superb phono stageSuper fast and vividly clean sounding valve preamplifier with fine phono stage. Superb!
 – Noel Keywood, Hi-Fi World, March 2009 (read the review)

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I compared this British wonder (the 912) to its top American counterpart, the terrific ARC Ref 3. They share only one attribute …quiet black backgrounds. Otherwise, the E.A.R. was consistently more detailed, bold, and lifelike. The E.A.R. soundstaging was bigger and deeper (lots deeper), while imaging was decidedly more solid and richly focused… The E.A.R. 912 Professional Tube Control Centre will take its place as my reference preamp against which all others will be judged. With a flexibility second to none and musical performance unmatched in my experience as a reviewer, you must consider the 912 as a contender for that first position on your audiophile shopping list. With a superb sounding, fully featured phono stage, you will need one less box on the rack. As the top preamp for quiet, black backgrounds coupled with spot on musicality and realism, you get the complete and fully evolved package. I would buy this before the British pound gets more expensive! The E.A.R. 912 Professional Tube Control Centre is the state of the art in preamp design and performance. What more can one ask for? Tim de Paravicini hits a home run, yet again. Tim, please don’t ever stop!”
– Robert H. Levi, Positive Feedback Online, Issue 31 (read the review)

“The EAR 912 tended toward a big sound: a wide, deep soundfield that always seemed capable of sounding even bigger when the need arose, with stereo imaging that sounded more real to me than the overly precise sound I associate with the high-end audio salon experience……This product taught me something about my records and the other components in my system, and I enjoyed every minute I spent with it. The EAR 912 isn’t cheap, but it’s a Class A preamplifier in every sense, and an heirloom-quality instrument that represents the apex of both build quality and design ingenuity.”
– Art Dudley, Stereophile (read the review)

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OVERVIEW

EAR 868 Phono Preamplifier

Once again, Tim de Paravicini has delivered a product that gets the listener as close as possible to a live performance, and with exceptional value. Introducing the EAR 868 Phono Preamplifier model, with a heritage derived directly from E.A.R.s flagship preamp, the 912. The E.A.R. 912 preamplifier took the world by storm when it was released a few years ago. This is not at all surprising, the 912 is simply unsurpassed, a masterpiece from the Paravacini stable.

For those that demand the best, the E.A.R. 868 features virtually the same circuitry and sound of the 912 in both the line stage and the optional phono stage, minus the meters and extra functionality. The optional tube phone stage in both the E.A.R. 868 and the 912 contain the same design and technology found in the E.A.R. 88PB stand alone phono preamp. The EAR 868 Phono Preamplifier delivers the top-tier performance of many of the best preamps on the market, at a very reasonable price.

EAR’s Tim de Paravicini is widely regarded as one of high-end audio’s top tier designers and a literal genius in making tube and solid-state gear that ranges, from record cutting heads to inspired CD players. Having designed products from Quad to Mobile Fidelity, Tim’s claim to fame is more than justified when you hear just how realistic his gear sounds. You can find a fascinating in-depth interview of Tim in the November 2007 Stereophile (read the interview) who they refer to as the “King of Tubes”

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TECHNICAL

The EAR 868 Phono Preamplifier is very similar to the 864 on the outside. However important changes have been made to improve the performance.  The tubes are now PCC88 for the linestage and the phono section, which are reliable, robust and have a long life. The on/off switch is now encircled with an orange light and a remote control is standard.  The EAR 868 Phono Preamplifier is a fully balanced, transformer-coupled design with balanced and single-ended connections at input and output.  It also offers a tape loop, remote control of volume, and several load/gain selections for the optional phono stage.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Tube complement – line stage: 2 x 6922 or 6DJ8 or 7DJ8
  • Tube complement – with optional phono stage: 4 x 6922 or 6DJ8 or 7DJ8
  • Phono inputs: 1, switchable between MM or MC
  • Line inputs: 1 balanced, 4 unbalanced
  • Tape loops: 1
  • Outputs: 2 balanced, 2 unbalanced
  • Phono input impedances: 47k ohms, moving-magnet; 3, 12, or 40 ohms, moving-coil
  • Output impedance: 600 ohms
  • Line-stage gain: 17dB
  • Phono-stage gain: 50-80dB
  • Signal/noise ratio: 68dB phono (ref. 2.4mV), 90dB line (ref. 1V)
  • Frequency response: 20Hz-20kHz, -0.3dB
  • Distortion:
  • Size W 15″  D 12″  H 5″