Once again, EAR redefines expectations of amplifier performance with the new 912 studio-grade preamplifier. Building on our existing range of admired preamps including the unique 312 Control Centre (transistor-based), it offers an unusually wide range of features in a tube-based package which will appeal equally to the professional and the discerning audiophile. Two phono inputs are provided, both with switchable gain and input impedance – moving coil signals are, of course, pre-boosted by designer Tim de Paravicini’s noted input transformers, and his approach to RIAA equalisation ensures massive headroom and freedom from low-frequency instability. The low distortion, low noise line stage is coupled to the outside world via transformers, giving the option of balanced or unbalanced connection. Two balanced line inputs are also featured, plus three unbalanced and a tape loop. Selection is achieved by reed relays, keeping signal paths short and delicate signals intact. Meters connected upstream of the volume control give useful visual correlation of levels and help ensure that phono gain settings are optimal. As with all EAR products reliability and practicality are key priorities and to this end all components have been selected and rated for long and trouble-free service. All five tubes are PCC88s, a type noted for good performance and which will be around for servicing in the long-distant future. And unlike many of our competitors’ phono preamps there is no separate power supply box to deal with – careful design ensures that hum is kept at bay despite the inclusion of a high capacity power supply. If we haven’t even mentioned the sound yet, it’s only because you already know that our reputation assures its excellence….