Another room I always look forward to and even more so this time around is EAR USA. There's always great music playing (Sinatra singing "Foggy London Town", Getz/Gilberto and more) and it always sounds wonderful. We owe this listening pleasure to Dan Meinwald the EAR US Distributor and Tim de Paravicini the man and designer behind EAR's products. RMAF 2011 saw the debut of the EAR 192 DACute ($5,795 black / $6,495 chrome). The DACute uses the Cirrus SPDIF receiver and accepts up to 24/192 sample rates via one USB and five S/PDIF (2 Coax and 3 Toslink) inputs. Hidden inside is a transformer-coupled ECC88 tube line output stage the offers unbalanced RCA and balanced XLR outputs.

A Music Vault Diamond music server ($4,449) served up the tunes from its 2 GB of on board RAM and 2TBs of storage (also includes 2TB back up storage). Dan was using the Music Vault Diamond's HDMI output so we could see things from afar on that large monitor filled with MediaMonkey's GUI. The rest of the system included the EAR 834 integrated amp ($7,995), Marten FormFloor loudspeakers ($6,500) and for you vinyl-lovers a Townshend Rock 7 turntable ($3,200) equipped with a Helius Omega tonearm ($2,900) and Dynavector XV-1a cartridge ($5,450). Cables were from Jorma Designs.

One more thing of note—we did a quick A/B of the same track, "Girl From Ipanema" from the classic Getz/Gilberto LP. One version was a 24/96 FLAC download, the other was 16/44 ripped from analog tape (do you rip from tape?) and the verdict more than suggested it illustrated that the quality of the source is more important than bit and sample rates. In fact the quality of the source is only second in importance to the quality of the original music. In other words, if I could have either copy, I'd take the 16/44 from analog tape version.

slim's picture

I could not agree more.