EAR PHONOBOX / PHONO CLASSIC and volume control on Phono Stages

Hi everyone,

Long time lurker but first post here. I have been shopping around for new phono stages, and so far the one that’s impressed me the most and is roughly in my budget (a bit above but it’ll work) is the EAR PHONOBOX (revamped 834p). They offer the unit two versions, identically priced, one version with a volume control knob and one version without volume control...so I am wondering if you can educate me a little as I’m a bit of a n00b when it comes to the technical/electrical side of the audio world and signal paths.

My question: Would the volume control here simply act as an attenuator, to lower the strength of the output? IOW where on the clock would the volume knob have to be on the volume knob version to match the output level of the version of the box that has no volume control?

Would "normal" line level on the volume control version be with the knob set all the way to the right, at 5 o’clock and then you can only decrease from there?  

Or is it more like "normal" is at noon on the knob and then you can increase beyond what the non volume control knob box would spit out by going past noon?

My system: Rega P3, Hana SH (thinking of upgrading to LOMC of some type), Marantz 40n integrated, Harbeth C7 speakers. So I guess I’m wondering two things:

a) I don’t "need" volume control at the phono stage since I’m going into the line stage on the integrated amp...but is there any advantage to having this volume control anyway? b) if so, and I do get the volume control version, would I still be going into the line stage? Or bypassing that and plugging directly into the Power Amp stage? If the answer as I suspect is to go directly into the line stage, do I risk overdriving the amp/speakers at any point if the volume knob is turned "too high" in the phono stage?

Sorry for the long post and thanks in advance for all your thoughts.  Hopefully I wasn't too confusing.


Last thing: If there’s another tube phono stage you guys wanna recommend that’s as nice sounding as the EAR, but cheaper, please do speak up!



I have an EAR 834P mm/mc without volume control. I also have a Antelope Audio DAC with volume control. The only reason I can think of volume control is to gain match between other sources. Helpful but not necessary.  Have had the EAR for about 2 years now and thoroughly enjoy it. It's being fed with a Lyra Delos and works well..I don't think you'll be disappointed.