EAR 868L Line Stage Preamplifier
Copyright 2017 © Troels Gravesen

The EAR-868L line stage is essentially the same as the 912, void a few options and not least without the phono stage. The 868 can be added the phono stage later (as far as I know) and is almost similar to the 912, thus an LCR phono stage, but built around only two PCC88 tubes and without the output transformers. I've never compared the 868PL and 912 phono stages and can't tell how good the 868PL is.
What I needed for my workshop line stage was double balanced outputs, remote control and not least - superior sound. And the 868L's got it!
It really doesn't sound that much different from my WOT line stage, but the 912/868 line stage has a particular engaging sound. Dynamic, spacious, transparent, etc. I guess it has just a little bit more bass punch - or just simply level. Can't tell. As for my 912, it comes with ECC88 tubes, not PCC88. Whatever, they sound great. And by the way, the terrible former plastic remote has been replaced by a much nicer alu version.
The 868 needs a power amp with a decent gain, like 24-26 dB. I tried the 868 with a First Watt J2 having 19 dB gain. Not a good match. The 868L specifications says 0.2V in for 1V out = 14 dB. A J2 requires a ~20 dB line stage.

 
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Photographing chrome and black is a problem!


Double XLR outputs and a single pair of XLR inputs. Phono sockets are for en extern phono stage.