EAR Disc Master Turntable
Tim de Paravicini began contemplating a radical new design for a turntable several decades ago, but the advent of digital audio put the project on hold. Now, with interest in analog not only continuing, but growing, he has finalized his design, and introduced the EAR Disc Master Turntable. While many turntables have appeared on the market in recent years, few offer as many novel features as the Disc Master, but this is not novelty for its own sake. The Disc Master represents a new standard for LP playback.
Most striking is the no-contact drive system. The need to transfer power to the platter of a turntable has always been problematic, as any system with the capacity to transfer power can, by the same means, transfer vibration. Flexible rubber belts have proved a satisfactory solution, but suffer problems of slippage—hence, uncertain speed—and they pull the platter sideways, which can result in stability problems. Tim de Paravicini has arrived at an ingenious solution that solves these problems. A low-noise motor, controlled by a carefully optimized servo loop, drives a subplatter via a geared belt that ensures absolute speed control. The subplatter drives the platter via an arrangement of opposing magnets. This method not only eliminates slippage, but allows enough compliance to filter out any remaining vibration from the motor and belt, while applying a fully symmetric driving force.
Bearings are another problem for a turntable designer, one that Tim de Paravicini has solved by the use of Swiss-made, precision angular contact bearings, which are as quiet as the more common point-contact types, but wear much more slowly, so that their performance after years of use will be as good as on initial purchase.
The platter is made of an ultra-low-resonance composite of resin and inorganic filler, accurately machined and supported on an instrument-grade aluminum chassis. Adjustable, damped feet support the assembly. Three speeds—33, 45, and 78—are offered, with a continuous speed control for 78 to accommodate discs cut at non-standard speeds.
All common tonearms can be mounted and adjusted with ease. The Disc Master is also available with a special EAR version of the Helius Omega tonearm. The Omega arm is as radical a rethinking of tonearm design as the Disc Master is a reconsideration of turntable design, and the two work superbly together.
Am I in fat heaven or what? Yes, it’s beautiful! Yes, it’s a precision instrument!
Yes, it’s the best turntable yet in my system!
EAR Acute 3 Compact Disc Player
The EAR Acute 3 is Tim de Paravicini’s latest CD player. The original Acute employed the excellent Wolfson, 24/96 upsampling DAC. The Acute 3 employs the latest Wolfson DAC, which upsamples to 24/192. The Acute 3 also offers digital inputs—S/PDIF, Toslink, and USB. Everything beyond the DAC is of Tim de Paravicini's design, including the filters and the output stage. One thing that makes the player unusual is the fact that the filters are analog, not digital. Another is the transformer-coupled tube output stage. A third is the fact that it has enough gain to drive a power amplifier directly, with the front-panel volume control (also analog). The Acute 3 CD player offers both true balanced and single-ended analog outputs.
EAR Acute DAC
The EAR Acute DAC accepts up to 24-bit/192kHz digital signals from USB, coaxial S/PDIF, and Toslink S/PDIF inputs, and upsamples all signals less than 24/192 to 24/192. Upon D-to-A conversion, the signal is passed to analog filters of Tim de Paravicini’s design. The output stage is a transformer-coupled vacuum tube circuit that offers both unbalanced or true floating balanced outputs. The EAR Acute DAC can directly drive any power amplifier, with an analog volume control that can be controlled by remote handset.