“Enter the E.A.R. 912 Professional Tube Control Centre. This is a statement preamp from E.A.R., highly evolved and tube/transformer based. It rewrites my definition of what a preamp can and should do. It is both powerful and exacting. It is both extraordinarily detailed and natural. It is focused and organic. It sounds like real music.
I compared this British wonder 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. I was so stunned by the performance of the EAR 912 Tube Preamplifier that I ordered one-even before I found out it cost $11,000!
… It also sounds like live music. The sound starts several feet in front of your speakers and then goes back to infinity. I can only describe what I hear: the EAR 912 Tube Preamplifier makes the case for two-channel like no other I have heard …ever. If this is not state-of-the-art sound, I do not know what is!
… I am searching for a quibble or two, and I have to admit that I find none. From the lowest bass to the highest airy highband notes, I hear no anomalies. I hear as much definition outside the edges of the Avalons as I hear between them. Depth perspective is flawless, and all inputs from Tuner to Phono are quiet and exacting. The phono section is just a bit softer and more elegant sounding than my solid-state E.A.R. 324 …I like them both. I’ll have both. Again, this is a quiet preamp with black backgrounds like great solid state. A real achievement for tube gear I think. The EAR 912 Tube Preamplifier has no flaws of any nature to report …maybe in a year of two I will come up with something. I usually do.
Nevertheless, until that day comes, 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 EAR 912 Tube Amplifier 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 – See complete review
EAR 912 Tube Preamplifier
EAR912 Professional Tube Control Centre
Once again, EAR redefines expectations of amplifier performance with the new EAR 912 Tube Preamplifier. Building on our existing range of admired preamps including the unique 312 Control Centre (transistor-based), it offers an unusually wide range of features in a tube-based package which will appeal equally to the professional and the discerning audiophile.
Two phono inputs are provided, both with switchable gain and input impedance – moving coil signals are, of course, pre-boosted by designer Tim de Paravicini’s noted input transformers, and his approach to RIAA equalisation ensures massive headroom and freedom from low-frequency instability. The low distortion, low noise line stage is coupled to the outside world via transformers, giving the option of balanced or unbalanced connections. Two balanced line inputs are also featured, plus three unbalanced and a tape loop. Selection is achieved by reed relays, keeping signal paths short and delicate signals intact. Meters connected upstream of the volume control give useful visual correlation of levels and help ensure that phono gain settings are optimal.