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View Full Version : EAR 834P Mods - UK Technician

29th May 2005, 13:52

I have the MM version of the 834P and was hoping to upgrade it to accept MCs, preferably using Stevens and Billington transformers (no offence TDP). I was also hoping to carry out the Hovland mods to it.

My question is: Is there a qualified EAR technician who can help me with this?



Paul L
29th May 2005, 16:28
I doubt TdP would be offended as his own MC3 step-up is by Stevens & Billington too, to TdP's slightly customised specification I believe. I like what the MC3 does, it seems to lift the 834P to another level.


29th May 2005, 16:33
Yeah... but for £800!!! I can get me a CartridgeMan MM III :D


Paul L
29th May 2005, 17:06
I know, you pay a lot for the house-style silver-fronted MC3 box and chrome transformer caps. I would not have paid £800 lightly, thankfully the mint, unused, under-a year-old example I picked up cost me £400. As I don't yearn for a Musicmaker I don't have your particular dilemma.

I believe one difficulty you face is that S&Bs don't easily fit into the 834P box and will be exernal through the shortest interconnects you can live with, I thought this was the route I was looking at until the MC3 came along. Good luck with working it out, maybe a DIY forum will be fruitful or a dealer who understands valves and transformers etc, they often have a good repairman if they're not up to it themselves.


29th May 2005, 19:08
Id try to get your hands on some to see if you think it benefits from the change Jon.

I tried bypassing my EAR 834P's inbuilt transformers with expensive outboard transformers by companies like TRON and ORTOFOHN.

I couldnt hear any difference!

Ive read on zerogain that some people believe the inbuilt transformers to be of low quality - but I couldnt hear any difference at all with alternatives.

Perhaps you need to be golden eared! :D

Ive seen plenty of step up transformers on the market - the emporium has some used Ortofohn ones.

Definately I'd reccomend trying a few before you spend a huge sum. Like me, you might think its money wasted.

On a side note, your signature link shows that you have a high output moving coil. Cant this work into the MM stage?

29th May 2005, 20:07
hehe... i'm already thinking of upgrading the cart... bad bad boy... bad bad internet...

perhaps you're too right... many people out there are using the EAR MM/MC without any grief... plus extra ICs and power cords etc would actually be more hassle than what it's worth...


Paul L
29th May 2005, 21:09
With the MC3 or alternatives you need signal cable but not power cords. I wouldn't say the stock in-case trannies let the 834P down, only that they can be improved. I have lived with the MC3 for about 3 months now, have tried it on all 3 inputs (4ohm, 12ohm, 40ohm) and I have to say I hear differences in settings as well as overall. I don't think my ears are golden!

I agree wholeheartedly you have to try as with anything, also that you have to put your attention where you think the priority lies.


29th May 2005, 21:23
nb there is a second hand mc3 at the emp aswell as ortofohn trannies.

ps Im not on commission!

29th May 2005, 23:40
I know... *sigh* Where do you think I got my EAR from :)

Anyone compare the MC3 to other transformers, Ortofon T20 etc....? Must admit this is really reaching Audiophile Small Print now. Even Google didn't come up with much useful links. I think my dilema now really is to stop (STOP!) upgrading for a while... either that or get a Whest Audio/Manley Steelhead!!!! :lol:


Paul L
29th May 2005, 23:57
Yes! My dealer personally uses some wonderful silver transformers, no case, just two little cylinders with RCA's, very home brew. In my system they sounded wonderful but so they should at an equivalent of £1500 or so in retail terms new. I heard them when wondering whether to go down the 834P route and wanted to know just what it was capable of over time.

These silvers had the effect that silver should but doesn't always have i.e. smoother, less grain, more detail, more dynamics and much better soundstage than the stock 834P internal trannies. I have not compared them directly with the MC3 and I cannot directly compare mentally either as other things have change din my system inbetween. I know my dealer does not claim his trannies are universally better than others in every system. It is something I will re-visit again one day.

Oh and TdP has finally succumbed to dealer pressure and introduced a new £2K phono which might be an nice alternative to a Manley Steelhead, and a turntable of course which I am curious to check out one day if I feel the Spacedeck becomes the weakest link in my set-up.


Lt Cdr Data
30th May 2005, 10:34
Chris, I compared the ear internal tx's to a basic audio technica step up and preferred that.
It was very disappointing considering tdp's reputation, and how cheap the AT is
I don't think the ears are bad, just not marvellous. Personally, I think transformer sound, as in audio sound, is not really terribly controllable, it happens as of the nature of the core, the windings, the insulation, the layering of the windings, all sorts, you can't really 'tune' that much at all.Its why they are all so different as they use differening materials.

So the mc3 is built by s/b then?

I believe the hifi news blackhead was done by tdp

step ups can be divided into 2 categories:

those built by cartridge makers:

audio note
audio technica

and those done by transformer makers:
quite a few lundahl, s/b, sowter,

Even the chinese are at it now, you can get tx's from consonance, probably very cheap indeed if you go to cattylink.

this is it but I bet you can get a lot cheaper direct from china

http://show.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/shm.pl?anlgcart&1007423628&item&Questforsound&4&5&6&http://cgi.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fs_srch.plQQANYAAAApurlsrchAAEXYAAst26AAAAAAtransf ormer

this for £140


Transformers are hugely complex items, and actually sound more different than coupling caps, its VERY obvious the differences, you could play forever with them.

I am playing with an ortofon t3000 atm, and its superb, as you would expect considering it retails around £1500. someone I know thinks the audio innovations ones are kak.

30th May 2005, 11:39
Thanks very much guys... Hmmm... I seem to be finding more new things in the upgrade path... hehe.

The other thing was, is it easy to replace the capacitors (for someone with absolutely no electrical knowledge)?


Lt Cdr Data
30th May 2005, 14:29
no its a fiddle, easy to open up, tough to pull apart.
I wouldn't bother in a phonostage, more benefit by changing the valves imo.

Our friend, Thorsten (3dsonics) wrote an article on upgrading the 834, its on the web.

1st June 2005, 01:30

I have the MM version of the 834P and was hoping to upgrade it to accept MCs, preferably using Stevens and Billington transformers (no offence TDP).

First things first, the really decent S&B MC Stepups (TX-103, I know they cost a fortune, but they ARE that good and then some) will NEVER EVER fit inside an EAR 834P.

My recommendation is to simply wire them up externally (easily done), mounted to a nice piece of wood and out of sight. That takes care of that mod.

I was also hoping to carry out the Hovland mods to it.

Save your money on the Hovelands, overpriced and underperforming. Also avoid Auricap and most other "audiophile" brand capacitors, well to coloured sounding and overpriced.

As the interstage coupling Cap you have a quite wide range (I would probably go with a Mundorf Silver), the output coupling cap is best a Tinfoil Solen/SCR/Audyn/Axon/Mundorf/Angela et al capacitor, if you cannot afford the MIT/REL Polystyrene & Tinfoil Capacitors or an AN Copperfoil PIO as an outside bet (nice, warm and cuddely to my ears).

A killer Mod, which is however best applied to a hardwired, scratchbuild EAR 834P circuit with the addition of a serious powersupply, is to switch the EQ capacitors for precision adjusted air vane (AM Tuning) Capacitors.

The only thing that beats such an "AirKorrektor" to my ears is a nice LCR Equalised Phono, but I can see things go the other way easily to anothers EAR's (pun intended).

My question is: Is there a qualified EAR technician who can help me with this?

Sorry, cannot help you there, I'm not an EAR Technician.

Ciao T

1st June 2005, 01:37

So the mc3 is built by s/b then?

S&B is OEM for many commercial users of audio transformers. I could not possibly confirm any specific customer names (I have been explicitly asked not to), but many a output transformer and many a microphone transformer and many a Mc step-up transformers in the UK where for shure wound in Uckfield....

I am often amused if people insist to have identified an OEM Transformer in certain gear as being model so and so from maker so and so, when the reality is rather different.

Ciao T

PS, the design brief (from me) for the TX-103 was to make it "one of the best MC-TX in the world." So far the Expressive Technolgies Transformers have been confirmed as better, in some other cases it is a matter of setting, set up the 103 correctly and it is exceptional.