i understand that hifikaki went gaga over the EAR acute cd player. knowing that he has just recently acquired his meridian g08.2, his declaration of love for EAR speaks a lot of this player. curious, i asked him to deliver the player to me for a quick review, despite my busy schedule.

my first impression of EAR acute is how organic this player is. this player makes other contenders sound "plasticky" and "fake"; music comes out as a whole and not in a disintegrated manner like many lesser players. it is also very very involving; it just draws you into the music without making you wanting to analyze.

this "organicity" and "wholeness" are the most-prized virtues of EAR. next comes the mids: the mids are warm, meaty, nuanced and textured than most solid-state cdps. it has an intimacy that just is involving. it is also colourful, possessing a color palette towards the golden yellowish hue. the acute's bass is not tight, fast nor snappy, but having plenty of texture. if you musical tastes veer towards pop/rock or any heavier, the EAR acute may not be your cup of teh tarik. another notable virtue is the depth of the soundstage, it goes really deep.

now, i know you want to know this - how does it stack against the formidable meridian g08.2?

let's just say that the EAR is british sound at its heart and the meridian is a british who grew up in the US of A. the meridian, while sounding organic too, does sound a bit solid-state-y compared to EAR but that's about the only area that i think the meridian loses out. in the context of my hybrid (SS + tube) system, the EAR's tubiness and mild-mannerism prove too much of a good thing. so think twice before you partner EAR with tube power or pre. to me, EAR acute is for solid-state systems.

the meridian also overwhelms the EAR in terms of PrAT, bass quantity, speed and timing and the all-important aliveness. in fact, the "new" meridian sound has departed so much from its romantic lineage of the past; it now has "balls" that can kick a few arses.

so, in conclusion, EAR acute is beautifully organic and involving. it gives a deep soundstage with plenty of air and ambience. it is tailored for classical music, jazz and vocals but definitely not for pop/rock or music which demands a large measure of rhythm and timing.

eventho' it doesn't quite wow me but i am sure it appeals to many who value its virtues.


3 comments:

Panzer said...

ML,

Welcome back! Great counter point and with atitude to boot.

I enjoyed it a lot.

mohamad said...

I've got a funny feeling that Hi fi the best out of the CDP because of the Finite Elemente rack.

A lot of CDP improves dramatically once put on resonance controlling stands and feet-BRYSTON,dcs,WADIA-and I suspect this one too....

Panzer said...

ML,

My brief one night stand with the EAR Acute proves that it's extremely musical, but in the areas of attack, sustain and decay, most notable with classical piano tracks, would reveal that the attck bit to be a little trunkcated, however, the sustain and decay part is excellent. That would explain the slight mellowness which you've experienced in your all tube set up. In most jazz, classical, and simple audiophile vocal recordings, will show it's gorgoues tonality to the max!, without sacrifice the low level details. But put in some pop or rock music, the EAR can seem a bit detached from the proceedings. It's like being a spectator to the musical event, rather than involves you to the point of being part of the event! No air guitar or imaginary drum sets for me tonight!

However, it's very easy to be charmed by the EAR's effortless and coherent presentation. It's a real English smoothie!

I used it as front end to the solid state Bladelius Saga and Ymer pre/power combo, driving the Audio Physic Spark speakers.