To Garrett Hongo,
I recently purchased the EAR 890 amplifier and I am not using a preamp. The EAR preamp lists for almost $7500 and I was really wondering if it is worth purchasing. At that price I could purchase another amp and run them as monoblocks. I’ve been told by the salesperson at the retailer that the EAR preamp would complement the EAR 890 and give it a warmer, enhanced sound. What are your thoughts?
Thanks for your question -- a very good one. Although it's hard to answer without factoring in your source component(s) and though I never ran the EAR 890 without a preamp, I can say that, in general, I much prefer the sound of amps driven by a good preamp and that the EAR 868 is a superb one.
A good preamp should give you a much more sophisticated, nuanced sound, in my opinion, and better and more convenient control over the volume, particularly if it has a remote. Finally, there is also the benefit of the preamp being able to connect to multiple sources -- CD, tape, phono, USB DAC -- and further complicating your listening pleasure. The 868 comes with a built-in phono option, by the way.
I liked the EAR 890 with the EAR 868 quite well and see them as a winning combination. . . . Garrett Hongo