201005_ear_868_300wPrice: $5295 (linestage only); $6995 (with phono stage)

Website: www.ear-usa.com

Garrett said: The EAR 868 is yet another superb piece of engineering from Tim de Paravicini, and deserves serious consideration by anyone looking for a full-function preamp of stunning good looks that produces a big sound and an unforgettably rich tone with all kinds of music.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: At the price, might as well get the phono stage.