EAR Yoshino 834

The Absolute Sound

 

 

The EAR Yoshino - 834: The Baron Tim Rides Again

... EAR products are the stuff audio dreams are made of. Their scarcity insures that they are more often talked about than heard, and their creator has acquired the reputation of an iconoclastic, innovative, brilliant audio theorist/circuit designer.... Thus, I was predisposed to think that here was something different and special - an attitude that was reinforced by the unitís striking appearance. I have not been disappointed, for the design has proved to be even more distinctive than I thought it would be....

Driving the Acarian Systems Lotus speakers... the 834 was hugely powerful.... Waves of sound poured from the speakers, filling my room. But the EAR/Lotus combination also often had a nuanced, complex quality that struck me as at odds with the sheer volume/power the amp displayed.... The lexicon I used throughout the review sessions is absurdly simple: "pure," "vivid," "present," "presence," "gorgeous," "lush," "rich," "warm," "mellow." These words appear again and again in my notes.... The EAR sound is beautiful, powerful, and complex. But it is also dark....

This is not to say the EAR is either old-fashioned or that it obscures detail. If time and again I thought the sound dark, with equal frequency I remarked on the subtle information, conveyed with clarity - sometimes with shocking brilliance.... The EAR failed to "darken" that RCA sound, or to add warmth or body or fullness, which a euphonic component, or one possessed of a bass heaviness might have done.... Equally telling was the way the EAR clearly distinguished between the LP and the CD versions of individual recordings....

The 834 also varies the listenerís perspective, depending on the source, a capability I expect from designs that purport to perform at the limits of the audio art, but that comes as an unanticipated treat when encountered in a small integrated amplifier.... Such faithfulness to the source may not always be pleasing (for example, if the engineersí mike placement was flawed, or if their fingers on the controls were too busy), but it testifies to the sonic quality of the EAR Yoshino 834 amp....

This is a component that will appeal to those who love the sound of music more than ownership of components that will impress by their bulk, weight, or cost.