Tell It Like It Is

As I walked into the E.A.R./Marten room, Nat King Cole's voice sounded as beautiful as I have ever heard it reproduced. Through the modest-looking Marten FormFloor speakers ($6500/pair) and Marten FormSub ($4500), Reference Recordings' triumphant version of Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances was so thrillingly full and colorful that I could not hide my amazement. On Dialoghi, a demonstration-quality CD from Bob Attiyeh of Yarlung Records that Robert Levi of the Los Angeles Audio Society urged me to play, the sound of Elinor Frey' cello was as warm and beautiful as anyone would ever want it to be. I was in love.

Of course, the reason the excellent Martens sounded as good as they did had everything to do with the E.A.R. Acute CD player ($5900), E.A.R. 868 preamp ($5300, or $6900 with optional phono stage), E.A.R. 890 70Watt amp ($7300), and Jorma No.1 cables ($3800/m, $1000 each additional meter).

"Those who think your typical SET amplifier has a great midrange need to hear what a real, natural midrange sounds like when it's complemented by a fully illumined, open top and decent bass end," I wrote in my notes. If you want a system that tells it like it is, in fully illuminated living color, the E.A.R./Marten no-frills combo is guaranteed to produce lift-off.