EAR Acute Classic CD player Measurements

Thu, 02/02/2017

COMMENTS
georgehifi's picture

Art Dudley: "Finally, I listened to the CD layer of the SACD/CD It wasn't long before that familiar treble edge became apparent in the sounds of massed strings and brass instruments—and, sorry to say, Hahn's brilliantly played violin."

I've yet to hear the cd (pcm) layer sound good, on a dual layer SACD disc, also when being converted by a delta sigma converter even hybrids.

Cheers George

cgh's picture

Good of you guys to post the manufacturers comment.

Solarophile's picture

But why is it that there seems to be an over-representation in equipment failures with these uber expensive audio devices?

Costing around $7k, you would think each unit would be of impeccable quality control and testing before leaving the door. Sure, the jitter FFT doesn't look great. But that higher noise floor thanks to the tubes isn't exactly pretty either.

PAR's picture

" Costing around $7k, you would think each unit would be of impeccable quality control and testing before leaving the door."

I would guarantee that this unit left the factory after some impeccable QC. However in real life units sent for test are not always fresh from their maker, particularly where expensive gear is involved. Much of the latter is only made subject to a confirmed order as it is not viable for the (usually small) manufacturer to have lots of costly inventory hanging around hoping for a buyer.

The result is that often the item under test is the only sample available in the given country. It will probably have been tramped around the country for demonstrations and may even have been lent out to customers known to the importer/dealer and considered a serious potential purchaser. So it most likely has suffred from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

I listen regularly to an earlier version of the Acute owned by a friend and IMO it sounds excellent , far better than many competitive players. I have even played it back to back with my dCS stack and , again, it mostly held its own insofar as subjective enjoyment is concerned.

I am confident that a retest of another sample will remove doubts. Of course it does have a valve output stage so that has to be taken account of for the measurements. That is just the nature of the beast and all of its betubed relations

John Atkinson's picture
PAR wrote:
The result is that often the item under test is the only sample available in the given country. It will probably have been tramped around the country for demonstrations and may even have been lent out to customers known to the importer/dealer and considered a serious potential purchaser. So it most likely has suffered from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

This is increasingly the case. One amplifier we recently received for review had overlaid UPS labels identifying 2 other writers who had had the amp before us. As Stereophile is the only publication that measures the products it reviews, for an importer to send us a used and possibly broken sample is rolling the dice. As in this case, it wasn't worth them taking that risk.

As I say in this 2007 essay on our review policies, www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/307awsi/index.html, "All products sent to Stereophile and its reviewers . . . are deemed to be for review. It is also assumed that they are representative of current production quality."

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

georgehifi's picture

This does not sit well for me, as a good Stereophile review is the No 1 review a manufacturer can get to open the retail flood gates.

Hell I would have been devastated (and broke) if Sam Tellig didn't give my product a great review, I hung on every word of the review more so than the birth of my son.
And before anyone says I gave him a freebee, NO! he had to buy one from me before he even did the review.

To send to Stereophile some thing that has been around the world without double /tripple checking it first and making sure it's even better than a retail one, means the manufacturer doesn't give a s**t about how the review turns out, to which I highly doubt.

Like I said it doesn't sit well for me, as I've seen so many times with a bad reviews, the manufacturers comments saying it was faulty we'll send another one. REALLY!!!!

Cheers George

Allen Fant's picture

Not surprised at all- AD.
I have been wanting to demo one of these spinners. Last year I sent an email request to Dan for a list of dealers/retailers. To date, I still have not received a reply?

mjazz's picture

I heard the player first at a local hifi show and it sounded pretty "digital". I then borrowed the player for a week and I had more or less the same experience like Art. It was not just right in the highs. It sounded like old digital.

A pity, because I thought I finally found a good follow up player for my Meridian 808i.2, but the meridian sounds in my ears so much more natural than the EAR (through an EAR 912 pre).

It would be a -bad- coincidence if the player I had at home was broken as well....

fortescue's picture

I had been looking forward to this review, especially given the kind words others have written about this CDP and about its predecessor. It's certainly been on my own audition list despite the fact I already own a fairly high-end Audio Note transport and DAC - I could really use the space apart from anything else!

The harsh review was a bit of a surprise, but the biggest surprise of all was the measurements section: looking at it, it's as plain as day that the unit you tested was broken. Surely it would have made sense to have had a conversation with the manufacturer BEFORE publishing?

You might think it makes you look all grand and objective, but actually you let your readers down when you pull a stunt like this. If the player is genuinely a poor performer then giving the manufacturer a chance to supply another sample, then confirming your findings, is surely a more credible way forward than reviewing a clearly broken bit of kit?

I would think you have been in the journalism game long enough to know that a petty exercise like this just makes you look a bit dumb, possibly even dumber than a manufacturer who wasn't organised enough to send you a fresh sample.

ChicagoJEO's picture

I have to disagree. When Stereophile receives a product, it's the manufacturer's responsibility to insure that the reviewer gets a properly functioning unit. As a consumer, I don't have the test equipment (and well-trained ears) to tell when something is malfunctioning, if it happens at the relatively low level that was the case here. If Stereophile starts getting the manufacturer to buff up the unit to a higher level, I think that's a kind of collusion that would give the product a review indicating a quality level the average consumer is not likely to experience.
If the unit is exhibiting bad behavior that any consumer would be likely to recognize (bad artifacts, or simply not even functioning at all), then it's appropriate for them to return it to the manufacturer, as that's something the average consumer would also be likely to do.

John Atkinson's picture
fortescue wrote:
the biggest surprise of all was the measurements section: looking at it, it's as plain as day that the unit you tested was broken.

Plain to you, perhaps. The high distortion I measured was within the manufacturer's specification, as was the high headphone output impedance. The poor performance of the digital section was no worse than that of some other products we have reviewed.

And while the maximum output level was higher than specified, we didn't think that in itself was reason to think the sample was broken, as it was identical in both channels. Yes, this may have been due to a manufacturing fault, but as I wrote in the essay linked to in an earlier posting, "It is assumed that [products sent to Stereophile and its reviewers] are representative of current production quality." If it turns out that a product is not representative, then we feel that the fact that neither the manufacturer nor the distributor has effective QA is a relevant fact.

fortescue wrote:
Surely it would have made sense to have had a conversation with the manufacturer BEFORE publishing?

The manufacturer and distributor were sent a proof of the review; the result was the "Manufacturer's Comment" you can read on this website and the promise to send another sample for a follow-up review. That followup appears in our March issue and will be appended to this web reprint next week.

fortescue wrote:
You might think it makes you look all grand and objective, but actually you let your readers down when you pull a stunt like this. If the player is genuinely a poor performer then giving the manufacturer a chance to supply another sample, then confirming your findings, is surely a more credible way forward than reviewing a clearly broken bit of kit?

You seem to think that our responsibility as reviewers is to present a manufacturer in the best possible light. You are wrong. We are critics, not consultants.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

fortescue's picture

Well I guess we'll see ... I had been keen to audition this player having heard only the original Acute CD and thinking highly of it. I guess we'll soon find out whether I should bother or not.

Pages

EAR Acute Classic CD player Associated Equipment

Thu, 02/02/2017

COMMENTS
georgehifi's picture

Art Dudley: "Finally, I listened to the CD layer of the SACD/CD It wasn't long before that familiar treble edge became apparent in the sounds of massed strings and brass instruments—and, sorry to say, Hahn's brilliantly played violin."

I've yet to hear the cd (pcm) layer sound good, on a dual layer SACD disc, also when being converted by a delta sigma converter even hybrids.

Cheers George

cgh's picture

Good of you guys to post the manufacturers comment.

Solarophile's picture

But why is it that there seems to be an over-representation in equipment failures with these uber expensive audio devices?

Costing around $7k, you would think each unit would be of impeccable quality control and testing before leaving the door. Sure, the jitter FFT doesn't look great. But that higher noise floor thanks to the tubes isn't exactly pretty either.

PAR's picture

" Costing around $7k, you would think each unit would be of impeccable quality control and testing before leaving the door."

I would guarantee that this unit left the factory after some impeccable QC. However in real life units sent for test are not always fresh from their maker, particularly where expensive gear is involved. Much of the latter is only made subject to a confirmed order as it is not viable for the (usually small) manufacturer to have lots of costly inventory hanging around hoping for a buyer.

The result is that often the item under test is the only sample available in the given country. It will probably have been tramped around the country for demonstrations and may even have been lent out to customers known to the importer/dealer and considered a serious potential purchaser. So it most likely has suffred from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

I listen regularly to an earlier version of the Acute owned by a friend and IMO it sounds excellent , far better than many competitive players. I have even played it back to back with my dCS stack and , again, it mostly held its own insofar as subjective enjoyment is concerned.

I am confident that a retest of another sample will remove doubts. Of course it does have a valve output stage so that has to be taken account of for the measurements. That is just the nature of the beast and all of its betubed relations

John Atkinson's picture
PAR wrote:
The result is that often the item under test is the only sample available in the given country. It will probably have been tramped around the country for demonstrations and may even have been lent out to customers known to the importer/dealer and considered a serious potential purchaser. So it most likely has suffered from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

This is increasingly the case. One amplifier we recently received for review had overlaid UPS labels identifying 2 other writers who had had the amp before us. As Stereophile is the only publication that measures the products it reviews, for an importer to send us a used and possibly broken sample is rolling the dice. As in this case, it wasn't worth them taking that risk.

As I say in this 2007 essay on our review policies, www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/307awsi/index.html, "All products sent to Stereophile and its reviewers . . . are deemed to be for review. It is also assumed that they are representative of current production quality."

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

georgehifi's picture

This does not sit well for me, as a good Stereophile review is the No 1 review a manufacturer can get to open the retail flood gates.

Hell I would have been devastated (and broke) if Sam Tellig didn't give my product a great review, I hung on every word of the review more so than the birth of my son.
And before anyone says I gave him a freebee, NO! he had to buy one from me before he even did the review.

To send to Stereophile some thing that has been around the world without double /tripple checking it first and making sure it's even better than a retail one, means the manufacturer doesn't give a s**t about how the review turns out, to which I highly doubt.

Like I said it doesn't sit well for me, as I've seen so many times with a bad reviews, the manufacturers comments saying it was faulty we'll send another one. REALLY!!!!

Cheers George

Allen Fant's picture

Not surprised at all- AD.
I have been wanting to demo one of these spinners. Last year I sent an email request to Dan for a list of dealers/retailers. To date, I still have not received a reply?

mjazz's picture

I heard the player first at a local hifi show and it sounded pretty "digital". I then borrowed the player for a week and I had more or less the same experience like Art. It was not just right in the highs. It sounded like old digital.

A pity, because I thought I finally found a good follow up player for my Meridian 808i.2, but the meridian sounds in my ears so much more natural than the EAR (through an EAR 912 pre).

It would be a -bad- coincidence if the player I had at home was broken as well....

fortescue's picture

I had been looking forward to this review, especially given the kind words others have written about this CDP and about its predecessor. It's certainly been on my own audition list despite the fact I already own a fairly high-end Audio Note transport and DAC - I could really use the space apart from anything else!

The harsh review was a bit of a surprise, but the biggest surprise of all was the measurements section: looking at it, it's as plain as day that the unit you tested was broken. Surely it would have made sense to have had a conversation with the manufacturer BEFORE publishing?

You might think it makes you look all grand and objective, but actually you let your readers down when you pull a stunt like this. If the player is genuinely a poor performer then giving the manufacturer a chance to supply another sample, then confirming your findings, is surely a more credible way forward than reviewing a clearly broken bit of kit?

I would think you have been in the journalism game long enough to know that a petty exercise like this just makes you look a bit dumb, possibly even dumber than a manufacturer who wasn't organised enough to send you a fresh sample.

ChicagoJEO's picture

I have to disagree. When Stereophile receives a product, it's the manufacturer's responsibility to insure that the reviewer gets a properly functioning unit. As a consumer, I don't have the test equipment (and well-trained ears) to tell when something is malfunctioning, if it happens at the relatively low level that was the case here. If Stereophile starts getting the manufacturer to buff up the unit to a higher level, I think that's a kind of collusion that would give the product a review indicating a quality level the average consumer is not likely to experience.
If the unit is exhibiting bad behavior that any consumer would be likely to recognize (bad artifacts, or simply not even functioning at all), then it's appropriate for them to return it to the manufacturer, as that's something the average consumer would also be likely to do.

John Atkinson's picture
fortescue wrote:
the biggest surprise of all was the measurements section: looking at it, it's as plain as day that the unit you tested was broken.

Plain to you, perhaps. The high distortion I measured was within the manufacturer's specification, as was the high headphone output impedance. The poor performance of the digital section was no worse than that of some other products we have reviewed.

And while the maximum output level was higher than specified, we didn't think that in itself was reason to think the sample was broken, as it was identical in both channels. Yes, this may have been due to a manufacturing fault, but as I wrote in the essay linked to in an earlier posting, "It is assumed that [products sent to Stereophile and its reviewers] are representative of current production quality." If it turns out that a product is not representative, then we feel that the fact that neither the manufacturer nor the distributor has effective QA is a relevant fact.

fortescue wrote:
Surely it would have made sense to have had a conversation with the manufacturer BEFORE publishing?

The manufacturer and distributor were sent a proof of the review; the result was the "Manufacturer's Comment" you can read on this website and the promise to send another sample for a follow-up review. That followup appears in our March issue and will be appended to this web reprint next week.

fortescue wrote:
You might think it makes you look all grand and objective, but actually you let your readers down when you pull a stunt like this. If the player is genuinely a poor performer then giving the manufacturer a chance to supply another sample, then confirming your findings, is surely a more credible way forward than reviewing a clearly broken bit of kit?

You seem to think that our responsibility as reviewers is to present a manufacturer in the best possible light. You are wrong. We are critics, not consultants.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

fortescue's picture

Well I guess we'll see ... I had been keen to audition this player having heard only the original Acute CD and thinking highly of it. I guess we'll soon find out whether I should bother or not.

Pages

EAR Acute Classic CD player Specifications

Thu, 02/02/2017

COMMENTS
georgehifi's picture

Art Dudley: "Finally, I listened to the CD layer of the SACD/CD It wasn't long before that familiar treble edge became apparent in the sounds of massed strings and brass instruments—and, sorry to say, Hahn's brilliantly played violin."

I've yet to hear the cd (pcm) layer sound good, on a dual layer SACD disc, also when being converted by a delta sigma converter even hybrids.

Cheers George

cgh's picture

Good of you guys to post the manufacturers comment.

Solarophile's picture

But why is it that there seems to be an over-representation in equipment failures with these uber expensive audio devices?

Costing around $7k, you would think each unit would be of impeccable quality control and testing before leaving the door. Sure, the jitter FFT doesn't look great. But that higher noise floor thanks to the tubes isn't exactly pretty either.

PAR's picture

" Costing around $7k, you would think each unit would be of impeccable quality control and testing before leaving the door."

I would guarantee that this unit left the factory after some impeccable QC. However in real life units sent for test are not always fresh from their maker, particularly where expensive gear is involved. Much of the latter is only made subject to a confirmed order as it is not viable for the (usually small) manufacturer to have lots of costly inventory hanging around hoping for a buyer.

The result is that often the item under test is the only sample available in the given country. It will probably have been tramped around the country for demonstrations and may even have been lent out to customers known to the importer/dealer and considered a serious potential purchaser. So it most likely has suffred from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

I listen regularly to an earlier version of the Acute owned by a friend and IMO it sounds excellent , far better than many competitive players. I have even played it back to back with my dCS stack and , again, it mostly held its own insofar as subjective enjoyment is concerned.

I am confident that a retest of another sample will remove doubts. Of course it does have a valve output stage so that has to be taken account of for the measurements. That is just the nature of the beast and all of its betubed relations

John Atkinson's picture
PAR wrote:
The result is that often the item under test is the only sample available in the given country. It will probably have been tramped around the country for demonstrations and may even have been lent out to customers known to the importer/dealer and considered a serious potential purchaser. So it most likely has suffered from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

This is increasingly the case. One amplifier we recently received for review had overlaid UPS labels identifying 2 other writers who had had the amp before us. As Stereophile is the only publication that measures the products it reviews, for an importer to send us a used and possibly broken sample is rolling the dice. As in this case, it wasn't worth them taking that risk.

As I say in this 2007 essay on our review policies, www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/307awsi/index.html, "All products sent to Stereophile and its reviewers . . . are deemed to be for review. It is also assumed that they are representative of current production quality."

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

georgehifi's picture

This does not sit well for me, as a good Stereophile review is the No 1 review a manufacturer can get to open the retail flood gates.

Hell I would have been devastated (and broke) if Sam Tellig didn't give my product a great review, I hung on every word of the review more so than the birth of my son.
And before anyone says I gave him a freebee, NO! he had to buy one from me before he even did the review.

To send to Stereophile some thing that has been around the world without double /tripple checking it first and making sure it's even better than a retail one, means the manufacturer doesn't give a s**t about how the review turns out, to which I highly doubt.

Like I said it doesn't sit well for me, as I've seen so many times with a bad reviews, the manufacturers comments saying it was faulty we'll send another one. REALLY!!!!

Cheers George

Allen Fant's picture

Not surprised at all- AD.
I have been wanting to demo one of these spinners. Last year I sent an email request to Dan for a list of dealers/retailers. To date, I still have not received a reply?

mjazz's picture

I heard the player first at a local hifi show and it sounded pretty "digital". I then borrowed the player for a week and I had more or less the same experience like Art. It was not just right in the highs. It sounded like old digital.

A pity, because I thought I finally found a good follow up player for my Meridian 808i.2, but the meridian sounds in my ears so much more natural than the EAR (through an EAR 912 pre).

It would be a -bad- coincidence if the player I had at home was broken as well....

fortescue's picture

I had been looking forward to this review, especially given the kind words others have written about this CDP and about its predecessor. It's certainly been on my own audition list despite the fact I already own a fairly high-end Audio Note transport and DAC - I could really use the space apart from anything else!

The harsh review was a bit of a surprise, but the biggest surprise of all was the measurements section: looking at it, it's as plain as day that the unit you tested was broken. Surely it would have made sense to have had a conversation with the manufacturer BEFORE publishing?

You might think it makes you look all grand and objective, but actually you let your readers down when you pull a stunt like this. If the player is genuinely a poor performer then giving the manufacturer a chance to supply another sample, then confirming your findings, is surely a more credible way forward than reviewing a clearly broken bit of kit?

I would think you have been in the journalism game long enough to know that a petty exercise like this just makes you look a bit dumb, possibly even dumber than a manufacturer who wasn't organised enough to send you a fresh sample.

ChicagoJEO's picture

I have to disagree. When Stereophile receives a product, it's the manufacturer's responsibility to insure that the reviewer gets a properly functioning unit. As a consumer, I don't have the test equipment (and well-trained ears) to tell when something is malfunctioning, if it happens at the relatively low level that was the case here. If Stereophile starts getting the manufacturer to buff up the unit to a higher level, I think that's a kind of collusion that would give the product a review indicating a quality level the average consumer is not likely to experience.
If the unit is exhibiting bad behavior that any consumer would be likely to recognize (bad artifacts, or simply not even functioning at all), then it's appropriate for them to return it to the manufacturer, as that's something the average consumer would also be likely to do.

John Atkinson's picture
fortescue wrote:
the biggest surprise of all was the measurements section: looking at it, it's as plain as day that the unit you tested was broken.

Plain to you, perhaps. The high distortion I measured was within the manufacturer's specification, as was the high headphone output impedance. The poor performance of the digital section was no worse than that of some other products we have reviewed.

And while the maximum output level was higher than specified, we didn't think that in itself was reason to think the sample was broken, as it was identical in both channels. Yes, this may have been due to a manufacturing fault, but as I wrote in the essay linked to in an earlier posting, "It is assumed that [products sent to Stereophile and its reviewers] are representative of current production quality." If it turns out that a product is not representative, then we feel that the fact that neither the manufacturer nor the distributor has effective QA is a relevant fact.

fortescue wrote:
Surely it would have made sense to have had a conversation with the manufacturer BEFORE publishing?

The manufacturer and distributor were sent a proof of the review; the result was the "Manufacturer's Comment" you can read on this website and the promise to send another sample for a follow-up review. That followup appears in our March issue and will be appended to this web reprint next week.

fortescue wrote:
You might think it makes you look all grand and objective, but actually you let your readers down when you pull a stunt like this. If the player is genuinely a poor performer then giving the manufacturer a chance to supply another sample, then confirming your findings, is surely a more credible way forward than reviewing a clearly broken bit of kit?

You seem to think that our responsibility as reviewers is to present a manufacturer in the best possible light. You are wrong. We are critics, not consultants.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

fortescue's picture

Well I guess we'll see ... I had been keen to audition this player having heard only the original Acute CD and thinking highly of it. I guess we'll soon find out whether I should bother or not.

Pages

EAR Acute Classic CD player Page 2

Thu, 02/02/2017

COMMENTS
georgehifi's picture

Art Dudley: "Finally, I listened to the CD layer of the SACD/CD It wasn't long before that familiar treble edge became apparent in the sounds of massed strings and brass instruments—and, sorry to say, Hahn's brilliantly played violin."

I've yet to hear the cd (pcm) layer sound good, on a dual layer SACD disc, also when being converted by a delta sigma converter even hybrids.

Cheers George

cgh's picture

Good of you guys to post the manufacturers comment.

Solarophile's picture

But why is it that there seems to be an over-representation in equipment failures with these uber expensive audio devices?

Costing around $7k, you would think each unit would be of impeccable quality control and testing before leaving the door. Sure, the jitter FFT doesn't look great. But that higher noise floor thanks to the tubes isn't exactly pretty either.

PAR's picture

" Costing around $7k, you would think each unit would be of impeccable quality control and testing before leaving the door."

I would guarantee that this unit left the factory after some impeccable QC. However in real life units sent for test are not always fresh from their maker, particularly where expensive gear is involved. Much of the latter is only made subject to a confirmed order as it is not viable for the (usually small) manufacturer to have lots of costly inventory hanging around hoping for a buyer.

The result is that often the item under test is the only sample available in the given country. It will probably have been tramped around the country for demonstrations and may even have been lent out to customers known to the importer/dealer and considered a serious potential purchaser. So it most likely has suffred from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

I listen regularly to an earlier version of the Acute owned by a friend and IMO it sounds excellent , far better than many competitive players. I have even played it back to back with my dCS stack and , again, it mostly held its own insofar as subjective enjoyment is concerned.

I am confident that a retest of another sample will remove doubts. Of course it does have a valve output stage so that has to be taken account of for the measurements. That is just the nature of the beast and all of its betubed relations

John Atkinson's picture
PAR wrote:
The result is that often the item under test is the only sample available in the given country. It will probably have been tramped around the country for demonstrations and may even have been lent out to customers known to the importer/dealer and considered a serious potential purchaser. So it most likely has suffered from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

This is increasingly the case. One amplifier we recently received for review had overlaid UPS labels identifying 2 other writers who had had the amp before us. As Stereophile is the only publication that measures the products it reviews, for an importer to send us a used and possibly broken sample is rolling the dice. As in this case, it wasn't worth them taking that risk.

As I say in this 2007 essay on our review policies, www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/307awsi/index.html, "All products sent to Stereophile and its reviewers . . . are deemed to be for review. It is also assumed that they are representative of current production quality."

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

georgehifi's picture

This does not sit well for me, as a good Stereophile review is the No 1 review a manufacturer can get to open the retail flood gates.

Hell I would have been devastated (and broke) if Sam Tellig didn't give my product a great review, I hung on every word of the review more so than the birth of my son.
And before anyone says I gave him a freebee, NO! he had to buy one from me before he even did the review.

To send to Stereophile some thing that has been around the world without double /tripple checking it first and making sure it's even better than a retail one, means the manufacturer doesn't give a s**t about how the review turns out, to which I highly doubt.

Like I said it doesn't sit well for me, as I've seen so many times with a bad reviews, the manufacturers comments saying it was faulty we'll send another one. REALLY!!!!

Cheers George

Allen Fant's picture

Not surprised at all- AD.
I have been wanting to demo one of these spinners. Last year I sent an email request to Dan for a list of dealers/retailers. To date, I still have not received a reply?

mjazz's picture

I heard the player first at a local hifi show and it sounded pretty "digital". I then borrowed the player for a week and I had more or less the same experience like Art. It was not just right in the highs. It sounded like old digital.

A pity, because I thought I finally found a good follow up player for my Meridian 808i.2, but the meridian sounds in my ears so much more natural than the EAR (through an EAR 912 pre).

It would be a -bad- coincidence if the player I had at home was broken as well....

fortescue's picture

I had been looking forward to this review, especially given the kind words others have written about this CDP and about its predecessor. It's certainly been on my own audition list despite the fact I already own a fairly high-end Audio Note transport and DAC - I could really use the space apart from anything else!

The harsh review was a bit of a surprise, but the biggest surprise of all was the measurements section: looking at it, it's as plain as day that the unit you tested was broken. Surely it would have made sense to have had a conversation with the manufacturer BEFORE publishing?

You might think it makes you look all grand and objective, but actually you let your readers down when you pull a stunt like this. If the player is genuinely a poor performer then giving the manufacturer a chance to supply another sample, then confirming your findings, is surely a more credible way forward than reviewing a clearly broken bit of kit?

I would think you have been in the journalism game long enough to know that a petty exercise like this just makes you look a bit dumb, possibly even dumber than a manufacturer who wasn't organised enough to send you a fresh sample.

ChicagoJEO's picture

I have to disagree. When Stereophile receives a product, it's the manufacturer's responsibility to insure that the reviewer gets a properly functioning unit. As a consumer, I don't have the test equipment (and well-trained ears) to tell when something is malfunctioning, if it happens at the relatively low level that was the case here. If Stereophile starts getting the manufacturer to buff up the unit to a higher level, I think that's a kind of collusion that would give the product a review indicating a quality level the average consumer is not likely to experience.
If the unit is exhibiting bad behavior that any consumer would be likely to recognize (bad artifacts, or simply not even functioning at all), then it's appropriate for them to return it to the manufacturer, as that's something the average consumer would also be likely to do.

John Atkinson's picture
fortescue wrote:
the biggest surprise of all was the measurements section: looking at it, it's as plain as day that the unit you tested was broken.

Plain to you, perhaps. The high distortion I measured was within the manufacturer's specification, as was the high headphone output impedance. The poor performance of the digital section was no worse than that of some other products we have reviewed.

And while the maximum output level was higher than specified, we didn't think that in itself was reason to think the sample was broken, as it was identical in both channels. Yes, this may have been due to a manufacturing fault, but as I wrote in the essay linked to in an earlier posting, "It is assumed that [products sent to Stereophile and its reviewers] are representative of current production quality." If it turns out that a product is not representative, then we feel that the fact that neither the manufacturer nor the distributor has effective QA is a relevant fact.

fortescue wrote:
Surely it would have made sense to have had a conversation with the manufacturer BEFORE publishing?

The manufacturer and distributor were sent a proof of the review; the result was the "Manufacturer's Comment" you can read on this website and the promise to send another sample for a follow-up review. That followup appears in our March issue and will be appended to this web reprint next week.

fortescue wrote:
You might think it makes you look all grand and objective, but actually you let your readers down when you pull a stunt like this. If the player is genuinely a poor performer then giving the manufacturer a chance to supply another sample, then confirming your findings, is surely a more credible way forward than reviewing a clearly broken bit of kit?

You seem to think that our responsibility as reviewers is to present a manufacturer in the best possible light. You are wrong. We are critics, not consultants.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

fortescue's picture

Well I guess we'll see ... I had been keen to audition this player having heard only the original Acute CD and thinking highly of it. I guess we'll soon find out whether I should bother or not.

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EAR Acute Classic CD player

In Stereophile's January 2016 issue, I began a series of reviews of $10,000 CD players and transport-DAC combinations: an informal and serial survey, the goal of which was to gather, over time, the likeliest candidates for one's Last CD Player Ever. My choice of $10,000 as the target price was more or less arbitrary, although, in retrospect, that's about what I've invested in my go-to combination of turntable, tonearm, and pickup head—so, who knows? Maybe my subconscious was acting out.
Thu, 02/02/2017

Of Headphones to Come Page 2

Tue, 01/31/2017

COMMENTS
Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Thank you.

mvs4000's picture

No mention of binaural??

arve's picture

The traditional "binaural" is merely a party trick that happens to work for a few people. What Tyll is talking about here is "Binaural 2.0", where instead of the binaural cues being pre-embedded in the recording, and completely static, the cues are computed on-the-fly, adapted to the shape and size of your head and ears, and to your hearing, plus it's adapted to the motion of your head and body, so the location stays fixed.

In other words: It's merely a much more convincing binaural than what you've seen before, and one that can be synthesized for other media than headphones; using things like beamforming speaker arrays, you will be able to project sound to points in a 3d space in your room.

tonykaz's picture

Headphone designs today are similar to Auto Designs of the early 1900s -- just starting out.

We Audiophiles are the early adopters, enjoying the incredible versatility and cost advantages of personal/portable High-End Audio devices.

This "fresh" group of Engineers will launch us into a new "Domain" of accessibility.

It's an exciting time to be watching this un-fold, it's like the Future is "Now"! Phew.

Thanks for taking the time for this effort, your group of lads are "Five" Stars!!!

Of course we'll need Bob Katz to keep producing "A" level recordings and we'll need to discourage the horrible stuff aimed at Radio Station Play lists. I'm kinda thrilled to consider the idea that we'll be using VR to enjoy the Detroit Symphony from any Beach we happen to be sitting on.

This is Exciting Stuff!

Tony in Michigan

DougM's picture

I believe millions of Sennheiser 414s and 424s, AKG K140s and K240s, Koss Pro 4AAAAs and other quality phones were bought by music lovers before the advent of the Sony Walkman!

dalethorn's picture

Gordon Holt of Stereophile recommended several headphones well before the Koss's and Sennheisers. Given that stereo has been with us for 60-plus years now, and given that 4 and 5 channel have been around for a long time too - and yet stereo is still dominant in hi-fi (especially headphones), I don't expect much to change. Users will adopt more DSP's for this or that, but the ultimate realism (binaural) is already several decades old, so there's hardly a necessity to improve on that. Recording for speakers, and then developing "realism generators" to undo that to sound better on headphones - an exercise in futility. Better to include a sub-track on the media with the binaural mix, etc.

arve's picture

Since you're describing it as "several decades old": Binaural as you know it - embedded into a recording - has issues. Severe issues

The first one being that they're static - when we get positional cues in real life, we do not only by processing the ITD and ILD, but we do moving our head about to figure out how it changes when we do - a pure binaural track simply cannot do this.

The bigger elephant in the room is that they're recorded using a normative HRTF, and the illusion falls completely apart if your ears (including the ear canal) are the wrong shape or size compared to what is assumed in the dummy head recording. It will get even worse if your head is the wrong size.

The embedded cues in the recording become virtually worthless when these criteria doesn't match, and many people don't experience spatial cues at all, or experience them in the wrong place.

I belong to the category that don't get much out of binaural recordings folded down to a stereo track: Sounds that should come from in front of me tend to instead come from behind, and height cues are weaker than they should be.

What Tyll is talking about in this piece is how "binaural" can be improved by instead making object-oriented recordings - where sound sources occupy a point in space, and the binaural cues (and for that matter room characteristics) are synthesized especially for your

dalethorn's picture

Disagree. I've been using headphones longer, and have a large collection of binaural and conventional recordings. HRTF is mostly a myth, as different manufacturers, most of them AES members, have their own opinions. The recorded quality is the big issue. I obtained a copy of an album by a "Les Baxter" recently from a Stereophile reader's recommendation - easy listening music, and some of the music there is startlingly realistic, despite the age. Anyone who's done 170 headphone reviews as I have knows the larger issues, the biggest of which is frequency response, and today's products are all over the map. You still read people saying "we all hear differently", which of course is irrelevant to accurate reproduction.

The bottom line is quite simple - manufacturers need to manufacture, reviewers need to review, and us poor listeners are stuck with the junk that comes along, unless we're lucky enough to find a gem amongst the junk. Nothing important will change hopefully, as a very long history has shown. The best stereo recordings of the late 1950's still sound great, on headphones no less. Take a listen around, at the "loudness wars" for example. Those people aren't going to hand you recordings that represent the best in musical realism. People are frequently promised Utopia by everyone from musicians and manufacturers to politicians. Ain't gonna happen.

Russell Dawkins's picture

You said a mouthful, dalethorn, touching on a notion that escapes most people, namely:
" You still read people saying "we all hear differently", which of course is irrelevant to accurate reproduction."
It seems difficult for some to process the fact that however compromised a person's hearing is, that is how they experience reality and if the reproduction system is capable of sounding realistic, it will sound realistic to anyone, almost without regard to specific hearing impairment.

stalepie's picture

"On the other hand, I could easily see world-class symphony orchestras making recordings using special soundfield microphones—recordings that would produce a very convincing immersive listening experience through a professional-quality virtual headphone system."

Reminds me of this...

http://blog.us.playstation.com/2017/02/14/the-joshua-bell-vr-experience-...

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Of Headphones to Come

Some 100 engineers and scientists from around the globe assembled for the Audio Engineering Society's 2016 International Conference on Headphone Technology, in Aalborg, Denmark.

I figured it was coming, but it wasn't until just after I'd returned from the Audio Engineering Society's 2016 International Conference on Headphone Technology—held last August in Aalborg, Denmark—and was writing up my report and summary on the event for InnerFidelity.com (footnote 1) that I knew for sure: Headphones are about to change . . . a lot.

Tue, 01/31/2017

Gramophone Dreams #14: Rega Planar 3 Page 2

Tue, 01/31/2017

COMMENTS
fetuso's picture

So the P3 with the tt-psu puts it right in the same price range as the vpi scout jr. Do you think one of them is better than the other?

Herb Reichert's picture

I reviewed the Scout Jr. also. Both are fine musical-loving turntables - but extremely different in how they are engineered and how they make recordings sound. The VPI is surely a bit quieter and the Rega is surely a bit more "fun" . . . the Rega tonearm might "like" more cartridges than the VPI - but then, maybe not. I cannot really apply the word "better" in this comparison. Everything in audio plays differently and your personal taste really is all that matters.

JCM's picture

With the tt-psu and exact cartridge the PLANAR 3 costs about the same as a Rega RP6. Which turntable sounds better? GROOVETRACER and other companies make tweaks for Rega tables.Groovetrace makes platters and subplatters for Rega tables. Do these tweaks improve the sound? This would make a good followup.

Jay F's picture

Hi, Herb. I enjoyed your review of the new Planar 3, and if I buy one, I will definitely consider the Exact instead of the Elys.

You state that the Exact attaches to the headshell with three screws. Doesn't the Elys attach the same way?

Thanks,
Jay F

bierfeldt's picture

No question that if there is one upgrade worth every nickle associated with these Rega tables, the Exact cartridge is worth it. Always a debate if the change in sound is too subtle for the average consumer to hear. This is one where I think in a double blind test the average consumer could tell the difference probably 95% of the time. It is a radical difference. The sound is more full, refined and open, even with a budget phono stage like the Vincent Pho 8 or the onboard phone stage foe the Brio R. I own tables with both and there is no comparison between the two.

colyer23's picture

When you say Rega now bolts the motor directly to the plinth.Do you really mean that,and have they stopped using the foam isolation pads?

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Gramophone Dreams #14: Rega Planar 3

UK, 1976: Upon its release, Rega Research's original Planar 3 turntable became the poor man's Linn Sondek LP12. It opened a gateway of affordability to the exotic world of high-quality British record players. Forty years later, the new Planar 3 turntable and its "light and rigid" engineering aesthetic, as conceived by Rega founder Roy Gandy, still occupy an admirably working-class, pro-music position in an audio world increasingly populated by gold-plated tonearms and quarter-ton turntables.
Tue, 01/31/2017

MBL's Juergen Reis talks Digital with John Atkinson

Last week, we posted a video on AudioStream of a conversation between Juergen Reis (MBL's Chief Designer), Michael Lavorgna (AudioStream), and John Atkinson, which we filmed during CES 2017. During that same session, we also filmed a conversation between JA and Juergen that focuses more specifically on MBL's new N31 DAC, which JA will be reviewing in a future issue of Stereophile.

In this video, Juergen and JA discuss digital filters, aliasing, Nyquist ringing, USB inputs, inter-sample "overs," and many of the other arcane issues involved in DAC design.

Mon, 01/30/2017

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