Hagerman trumpet mc or Ear 834 classic phono pre amplifier.

Need some advice on these  phono amplifiers.This is the last piece of equipment for my system.


@bkeske care to comment?

A friend has an EAR834P MM version and prefers the built-in phono stage on an integrated.


Thanks man, saw this post, but also felt the OP was looking for someone who has heard both. I have not heard the Ear.


I do have the Trumpet, and like it a lot. I've had it for 3 years now. Personally, I think it is still one of the best values on the market today in it's price point. 

Over that 3 year period, I have swapped quite a few tubes (both the 12ax7 and 12ay7's) to arrive at the overall sound signature I prefer. It is nice to have both the 12ax and 12au's, as they affect different things. After a year, I also was able to snag a used SBooster power supply, and that improved things as well. One you get the Trumpet tweaked to your personal preferences, for me, it can be a wonderful addition to your vinyl rig setup. All that said, the stock tubes are not bad either, but believe me, there is a difference going to old venerable tubes as an option. The Trumpet reacts very well to different tubes, where some units may have been voiced to a certain tube and replacing *can* sound worse. That is not the case for the Trumpet.

One of the best things about the Trumpet vs some of its completion is the various options for resistance loading and gain. Looking at the Ear, those options are very limited. Using MC carts from .25mV up to a couple MI carts at 2.4mV and above, it can handle them all. I have not found as cart yet I could not optimize to my liking. Having not used the Ear, of course, I can not make a comparison between the same carts feeding each.

If the Trumpet has a downside, I would say it is noise floor vs some, but that is also dependant on tubes used and cart gain necessary. Personally, that does not bother me much as it seems to 'go away' when playing music. 

If I had to guess, between the buying the stock Trumpet, purchasing various tubes, and the SBooster power supply, I have probably spent a tick over $2,200 in total, but still have extra tubes to try out again in the future. And I do still swap just to see if what I remember still holds true to my preferences. 

@bkeske Good stuff. Interesting info on the Trumpet. Yeah, the Ear is basic and has no loading options. 

The EAR classic is using built-in step-up transformers (SUT) for MC gain. These transformers are likely to be much cheaper than the transformers in their wonderful standalone MC-4 SUT box ($2200 on its own), and don’t have any of its loading/gain flexibility either (4 gain levels!). If you’re going to compare the Trumpet MC’s MC stage (JFET) in isolation to an EAR MC-4, then I’d say the MC-4 wins for most MC cartridges (not all!), but the Trumpet hangs very close on overall musicality - closer than most.

Having not heard the EAR Phono Classic myself (like @bkeske ), but having a Trumpet MC and an EAR MC-4 (and MC-3) and a slew of other phono gear to extrapolate against - I’d be surprised if the Classic’s built-in transformers can match the Trumper MC’s JFET stage in musicality - and certainly falls far behind it in flexibility. The built-in transformers were an oft-decried weakness of the prior 843P phono stage (assuming they’re similar here).

As @bkeske noted the noise floor of the Trumpet MC is a little higher than you’d expect from a SUT + tube MM stage combo, or even other JFET + tube MM stages. That’s its main weakness. I’m not a stickler for ultra-low noise so I pay it little mind. It’s also tilted to a warm sound, which I like, and you can tweak this with tube rolling.

I just wanted to add a note, as I was typing quickly while working....I mistakingly typed 12ay7's....that should have been 12au7's. Sorry about that.

What cartridge does OP have …. ? in my mind an essential bit of info… 

What tube has the most influence to the sound that comes from the phono pre amplifier 12ax7 or 12au.


ax7’s generally effect tonality, gain, and noise….au7’s effect body, weight, and dynamics….that according to Jim Hagerman.

I cannot argue with that generally per my experience with the Trumpet.

This is the last piece to add to my system. I want to make sure that it is the right decision.These two phono stage are in my budget.

I've had the Trumpet twice (and sold it twice for financial reasons as expenses came up). If I ever have the financial freedom, I'll order another from Jim without a second thought. It's a beautifully transparent, revealing pre without being brittle or clinical. Conversely, it's not overly warm either. Like, @bkeske, I swapped out the tubes for the Telefunkens and Bugle Boys I preferred and they really contributed to making vinyl an immersive, beautiful experience.