EAT Tubes

Wonderful, unique Turntables, Phono stage & world leading Audio Valves from Czech Republic
a better product for high requirements of exclusive audiophiles

E.A.T Turntables:
In an exceptionally short time, EuroAudioTeam (E.A.T.) has established itself as a manufacturer of remarkable turntables. It’s easy to forget that the original twin-motor FORTE has been available for less than five years! With the addition of the FORTE- S and the E-Flat, the latter boasting a radical flat tonearm, E.A.T. has created a family of record-playing devices that combines performance, build quality and looks into cohesive, easy-to-use systems.

From the outset, E.A.T. has ensured that its turntables can accept a wide range of tonearms. With the E-Flat, however, the designers reaffirmed the long-held belief that a turntable/arm combination designed to work together can eliminate a host of matching problems, while ensuring superior performance.

To increase the choice of available tonearms, and to add to its catalogue one of the finest cartridge-carrying devices available, E.A.T. has joined forces with tonearm wizard BOB GRAHAM to develop the E–Go, 12" tonearm. short for "EuroAudioTeam – Graham Original" - based on the Graham Phantom II SUPREME, but personalised for E.A.T

E.A.T E-Glo M/C Reference tube phono stage:  
EAT has showcased its highly distinctive and utterly fabulous E-Glo valve-based phono preamplifier. Over the past few years, this company has introduced clever two-motor/two-belt designs, a radical flat tonearm, a handsome wooden-bodied M/C cartridge and a special version of the legendary Graham Phantom tonearm to match its decks. Now with the amazing E-Glo, EAT has completed its analogue 'front end' with a unit that will delight those who demand full flexibility and the capacity for setting a phono stage with absolute matching precision for a specific cartridge. In keeping with the EAT 'attitude' toward the importance of appearance and build quality, it's also the funkiest-looking phono stage we've ever seen. 

E.A.T High-End Audio Tubes: 
EAT reputable manufacture some of the worlds best audio tuves - 300B, KT88, ECC803 & EC88 audio tubes 

The tubes are precision manufactured in a factory (a portion of the old Tesla tube factory) in Prague, Czech Republic which cranks out the parts and materials, and then final assembly and listening sessions with reference source materials take place in Switzerland. As a result of the very high focus on fine tolerances, EAT can claim a life expectancy that is about 50% longer than normal valves.
We tried to find a way to make a better product for high requirements of exclusive amplifiers”.

For a few years before EAT’s launch, members of the team visited numerous international audio shows to get up to speed on what was happening with tubes and analog in the High End, as well as researching new materials and manufacturing techniques. Though Krahulcova and others never forgot the old factory workers who knew so many tricks of the trade from years of making tubes on the line, they wanted to combine that expertise with modern materials and manufacturing technology to develop a way to build tubes that had a natural, non-fatiguing, and non-euphonic sound, their laudable goal being to return lost emotion and realistic excitement to music.

Slowly, the team has built up momentum, and now has significant representation around the world.

EAT believes that its combination of like-minded people from several countries can virtually guarantee a satisfying musical/technical solution, one close to its ultimate reference: live acoustic concerts and hence the absolute sound.

EAT has set a high standard by defining sophisticated selection methods to get only the very best to our demanding customers.The selection procedure uses several measurements. All measurements are performed after a long burn-in procedure and thermal stabilization of its parameters. Only a few valves pass the Selection process and even fewer pass the strict Diamond selection.

QUOTE:
These EAT 300B tubes appear to be designed from the ground up. They are better at dynamics and sonic neutrality than vintage (or reissue vintage) tubes while remaining ultra smooth and state-of-the-art detailed. This is 21st Century tube sound for the world’s best phono and SACD reproduction.

ETA recently entered the turntable market and have already won high praise and awards for their Forte & Forte S turntables.

Featured

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Reviews

Featured

EAT 02 PS EGLO
NZ$ 8,795.00 (incl. GST)
First shown privately to the trade at CES in Las Vegas this past January 13, E-Glo is now ready for its public debut at the Munich High End Show. E-Glo is an all-tube design completely free of...
EAT 06 TA EGO 12
NZ$ 10,495.00 (incl. GST)
Needing a 12-inch arm to match its spectacular Forte turntables, Czech-based EAT  calls on...
EAT 11 FORSM NTA
NZ$ 7,495.00 (incl. GST)
EAT Forte S turntable retains much of the magic of its bigger, older brother…Amazing machine! After the first impressive model Forte, Euro Audio Team follows with the small brother EAT Forte S. The...
Dual motor design” to eliminate noise in the motor. By using two relatively weak, but silent...
EAT 13 FORTB NTA
NZ$ 11,495.00 (incl. GST)
A massive machine that gets the best out of your vynil. Separate Sub Chassis and a mass loaded turntable gives us the best of both worlds.    The design of the Eat Forte turntable is based...
Hitherto known for their bespoke premium priced audio tubes, Euro Audio Team have just launched a...
EAT 300B
NZ$ 695.00 (incl. GST)
These tubes appear to be designed from the ground up. They are better at dynamics and sonic neutrality than vintage (or reissue vintage) tubes while remaining ultra smooth and state-of-the-art...
EAT COOL DAMPER
NZ$ 40.00 (incl. GST)
The Cool Damper is a radical new device. It brings exceptional acoustic performance and function to your system by delivering sound that redefines the tube dampening category. MULTIFUNCTIONAL VALVE...
Compatibility List:• 12AT7: ECC81, 6201, E81CC, ECC801, B309, 6060, 6679, 7728, CV455, CV2016,...

All Products

Phono Stages

EAT 02 PS EGLO
NZ$ 8,795.00 ea (incl. GST)
First shown privately to the trade at CES in Las Vegas this past January 13, E-Glo is now ready for its public debut at the Munich High End Show. E-Glo is an all-tube design completely free of...
Phono Stages

Turntables

EAT 05 TA PRO12
NZ$ 1,495.00 ea (incl. GST)
12" precision tonearm with carbon-fibre armtube / headshell     Good sound from sound technology    • Conical carbon-fibre armtube avoids standing wave reflections    •...
Turntables
EAT 06 TA EGO 12
NZ$ 10,495.00 ea (incl. GST)
Needing a 12-inch arm to match its spectacular Forte turntables, Czech-based EAT  calls on...
Turntables
EAT 09 EFLAT NC
NZ$ 6,795.01 ea (incl. GST)
E-Flat’s mission is to bring to the music lover the highest quality performance, but in a user-friendly design. Ultra-flat, ultra-light and ultra-rigid, the E-Flat tonearm measures 10in long. A...
Turntables
EAT 10 EFLAT DC
NZ$ 875.00 ea (incl. GST)
Turntables
EAT 11 FORSB NTA
NZ$ 6,495.00 ea (incl. GST)
EAT Forte S turntable retains much of the magic of its bigger, older brother…Amazing machine! After the first impressive model Forte, Euro Audio Team follows with the small brother EAT Forte S. The...
Dual motor design” to eliminate noise in the motor. By using two relatively weak, but silent...
Turntables
EAT 11 FORSM NTA
NZ$ 7,495.00 ea (incl. GST)
EAT Forte S turntable retains much of the magic of its bigger, older brother…Amazing machine! After the first impressive model Forte, Euro Audio Team follows with the small brother EAT Forte S. The...
Dual motor design” to eliminate noise in the motor. By using two relatively weak, but silent...
Turntables
EAT 12 FORS DC
NZ$ 875.00 ea (incl. GST)
Turntables
EAT 13 FORTB EGO
Price on application
Turntables
EAT 13 FORTB NTA
NZ$ 11,495.00 ea (incl. GST)
A massive machine that gets the best out of your vynil. Separate Sub Chassis and a mass loaded turntable gives us the best of both worlds.    The design of the Eat Forte turntable is based...
Hitherto known for their bespoke premium priced audio tubes, Euro Audio Team have just launched a...
Turntables
EAT 13 FORTM NTA
NZ$ 12,495.00 ea (incl. GST)
A massive machine that gets the best out of your vynil. Separate Sub Chassis and a mass loaded turntable gives us the best of both worlds.    The design of the Eat Forte turntable is based...
Electronic speed change * 33.33/* 45.11 Speed variance ±0.09% Wow and flutter ±0.008% Signal-to-...
Hitherto known for their bespoke premium priced audio tubes, Euro Audio Team have just launched a...
Turntables
EAT 13 FORTZ NTA
NZ$ 12,495.00 ea (incl. GST)
A massive machine that gets the best out of your vynil. Separate Sub Chassis and a mass loaded turntable gives us the best of both worlds.    The design of the Eat Forte turntable is based...
Hitherto known for their bespoke premium priced audio tubes, Euro Audio Team have just launched a...
Turntables
EAT 14 FORT DC
NZ$ 995.00 ea (incl. GST)
Turntables

Cartridges

EAT 07 MCC YOSEG
NZ$ 2,500.00 ea (incl. GST)
JEWELS MADE OF WOOD -  Its all about … the smaller the signal, the more that resonance behaviour plays an important role!!  RESONANCE … The Truth The more we talk about the mechanical/...
Cartridges
EAT 08 MCC COLIB
NZ$ 8,500.00 ea (incl. GST)
The COLIBRI is the improved successor to our GRASSHOPPER “BEAUTY” series of phono cartridges where many building components have been removed in a highly successful quest to return to the plain...
Cartridges

Audio Tubes/Valves

EAT 300B
NZ$ 695.00 ea (incl. GST)
These tubes appear to be designed from the ground up. They are better at dynamics and sonic neutrality than vintage (or reissue vintage) tubes while remaining ultra smooth and state-of-the-art...
Audio Tubes/Valves
EAT COOL DAMPER
NZ$ 40.00 ea (incl. GST)
The Cool Damper is a radical new device. It brings exceptional acoustic performance and function to your system by delivering sound that redefines the tube dampening category. MULTIFUNCTIONAL VALVE...
Compatibility List:• 12AT7: ECC81, 6201, E81CC, ECC801, B309, 6060, 6679, 7728, CV455, CV2016,...
Audio Tubes/Valves
EAT ECC803 CV D
NZ$ 249.00 ea (incl. GST)
The ECC803 Double Triode valve comes with a Cool Damper pre fitted which offers a more controlled and deeper bass, a more open and detailed sound stage, and crisper and greater dynamic range. All...
Pre fitted Cool Damper: The Cool Damper is a radical new device from EAT - This beautifully crafted...
Audio Tubes/Valves
EAT ECC88 CV D
NZ$ 249.00 ea (incl. GST)
Many people prefer the sound of EAT ECC88 triodes tubes for their "soft" saturation characteristics which can be quite pleasing to the ear! The ECC88 Double Triode valve comes with a Cool Damper pre...
Pre fitted Cool Damper: The Cool Damper is a radical new device from EAT - This beautifully crafted...
Audio Tubes/Valves
EAT KT88 M2
NZ$ 995.00 pr (incl. GST)
EAT's stated goal is to be a manufacturer and distributor for the highest quality vacuum tubes and analogue high-fidelity products. The EAT KT88 tube is in a league of its own. This KT88 tube is...
Audio Tubes/Valves
EAT KT88 M4
NZ$ 1,995.00 set (incl. GST)
The KT88 is also suitable for use as a series valve in stabilized power supply.
Audio Tubes/Valves

Reviews

Simply put, it’s a massive machine that gets the best out of your vinyl without you – or it – having to try very hard, it seems you can afford not to!
HiFi World
Don't be fooled by its conservative looks, this is a brilliantly conceived, superbly engineered vinyl spinner. A memorable - seminal even - high end product.
 
HIGHLIGHTS:
- supreme musical ease
- unerring speed stability
- flawless engineering
- excellent fitted tonearm

What it gives then is brilliant sound out of a (very big) box, with a superb fitted arm that sings with almost any highish mass moving coil cartridge. It presents a relaxed, easy, nonchalant sort of sound, but one that is nevertheless immensely satisfying. The best thing is that it’s very devoid of character, or obvious strengths or weaknesses for that matter. 

Hitherto known for their bespoke premium priced audio tubes, Euro Audio Team have just launched a brand new high end turntable featuring an Ikeda tonearm, no less! David Price gets into the groove...
 
Jozefína Krahulcová, CEO of Euro Audio Team (E.A.T.) is a redoubtable character. Bubbling with enthusiasm for this, her company’s first (but not last, I am assured) high end turntable, she exudes confidence despite the time not being quite right for the launch of such an esoteric, luxury product. “I am a big fan of vinyl - it’s the best way to listen to music,” she tells me, “and I’ve got a very nice classical music collection. I wasn’t happy about the turntables on the market, so I decided to do this...”
 
Ebullient she may be, because the new E.A.T. Forte isn’t just another derivative design – another ‘me too’ premium priced product there to have a presence in the market. It shows some interesting thinking – certainly in its unique combination of clever techniques used by various other designs – and the reappearance of a seminal tonearm from a past master of the art – Ikeda.
 
It is a fixed subchassis “mass design”, in the tradition of the great nineteen seventies direct drives. Indeed, featuring a separate motor unit, massive platter and string belt drive, it actually reminds me very much of Marantz’s fabled TT-1800, their late high end design that never was – and also certain top Micros of that period. Whilst the outward appearance may ring bells, so to speak, the inside engineering is quite different. The plinth is a metal filled, MDF box of backbreaking weight, with beautiful gloss lacquered wood veneer. Debates rage hard on online forums about the merits of this, but suffice to say that just as the sprung subchassis approach works best when the springs are as unintrusive as possible (a la Avid), so the high mass approach works better the higher the mass is – and the Forte is certainly heavy...
 
The platter is the next most noticeable thing, largely on account of its huge 400mm diameter. It weighs 19.9kg, and is a two part affair with the inner section of the platter made from soft alloy, and the outer part made of a harder material. As you might expect, the main bearing (in the Forte’s case inverted with a ceramic ball mating to a Teflon cup) needed to handle this sort of weight and resultant pressure is vast, but it is given a helping hand by magnetism no less – with the be bottom half of the platter incorporating neodymium magnets to lower the pressure on the bearing. This ‘semi magnetically suspended design is an elegant working compromise, but tweakers won’t be delighted to learn that the bearing pressure is not easily adjusted and is best left to the factory setting. Finally, the platter comes with sorbothane damping, and the matt is made from recycled vinyl records; a massy record clamp is supplied.
 
Interestingly, the Forte is a twin motor design, the designers choosing to specify two low torque AC motors generating 2,700Kj of torque via twin pulleys and long diamond cut string belts. This is coupled with an active speed controller, and located in a separate enclosure which is made of sandwiched metal and MDF. This has two speeds, switchable by a push button, and there’s a digital display offering stepped speed increase or decrease (if you so wish). One particular fun feature is the way this speed display counts its way up to 33.333RPM (or 45RPM) when you switch on, steadily climbing to normal operating speed.
 
As you might expect, Technics SL1200-style 0-33.333 RPM in half a second starts are not available from a turntable with a platter that weighs more than most turntables. But this is of course to miss the point; the designers of the Forte assert that the higher the torque to the motor, the more intrusive it can be. By using twin motors, only gently connected to the platter which itself is so heavy it resists the short-term, momentary dynamic wow imposed by the stylus, the idea is that the motors spin the platter up to speed in a reasonable time and momentum does the rest. The motors then don’t engage with the playback loop directly, that 20kg platter acting as a filter to speed variations. 
 
The twin motors seem to work as twin turbochargers on car engines, supplying unstressed lazy torque rather than delivering needlessly (and possibly intrusively) high amounts. Regular readers will know I personally am a big fan of direct drives, but I do find E.A.T.’s approach interesting and very thorough. They have obviously designed the Forte well aware of the vagaries of belt drives, and all the problems it imposes, and would contend – I am sure – that it ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it! This is reflected in remarkably fine speed stability [see MEASURED PERFORMANCE].
 
I find the deck itself a paragon of simplicity; it really is the sort of turntable you buy if you’re not into fiddling. Once located (which given its size and mass is easier said than done), you – ermm – just switch it on and off and that’s your lot. No suspension springs to twiddle, no fine speed to set, no intricate assembly of umpteen bits from a kit before it works. Essentially, the EAT Forte is a plug and play turntable – but for millionaires! It is, of course, immaculately finished, and whilst I may prefer functional, machine-like looks of the Avid Acutus or the arresting geometric grace of the Michell GyroDec, I can see that it is an attractive thing to have in your house – providing you’ve got one big enough, of course...
 
Another key part of the Forte is of course the tonearm. Although notionally badged as an EAT product, Jozefína makes no bones about the fact that it is designed and manufactured by Ikeda. Indeed it is a chrome finished Ikeda IT407 12” design, mounted on a sorbothane damped heavy metal base. If you’re not a Japanese hi-fi nut, you might be shrugging and saying so what – so think of it as being a bit like Lexus getting Bristol to supply engines for their top limousine [see ARMS AND THE MAN below] . More remarkable is that Osamu Ikeda was reputed to be in semi retirement, and extremely unlikely to ever make any tonearm for anybody ever again...
 
Originally launched in 2006, the 12” IT407 is a fairly high mass dynamically balanced design that traces its lineage all the way back to Fidelity Research days. Precision radial ball bearings are used along with a thread linked, weighted bias compensator and there’s a locking counterweight at one end of J-shaped polished arm tube, and a detachable headshell at the other. The build quality and finish of this arm is equal to the SME Series V, which really needs no more explanation – but suffice to say it is absolutely exquisite to hand cue, feeling as silky as the top SME in use. My only gripe would be the slightly fiddly arm rest lock, which isn’t the best ever devised, even if it does the job.
 
Once again, the debates around tonearms are manifold; everyone ‘in the know’ has their favourite, and just to make life interesting, they rarely agree. The Ikeda arm brings no innovation, no fancy tonearm materials, no special damping systems or clever ‘active counterweights’; rather it’s an utterly conservative high mass design that relies on impeccable and consistent construction to achieve its sonic goals. Put a decent moving coil in (in my case a van den Hul Frog), dial in the tracking force, bias and vertical tracking angle (all very easy and elegantly done) and you’re off!
 
SOUND QUALITY
 
Having just spent a long and most enjoyable period with Avid’s Acutus, and of course my own Sony TT-S8000 (a late seventies Japanese direct drive that makes most moderns look like Fisher-Price playthings), it was a sobering experience to see the E.A.T. Forte in my equipment rack, let alone hear it. It is massive; bigger I would say than two Technics SL1200s in a row. The sound is concomitantly large, as imposing as the deck’s physical bulk. I was fascinated, as in my system I haven’t come across anything quite like it...
 
First then, a little bit of perspective. I found the Avid Acutus (at a mere £3,000 less if you fit it with the SME Series V tonearm that it so obviously wants) to be a breathtaking vinyl replay tool – masses of energy, vast amounts of detail and tremendous energy that had me perching on the edge of my seat. Put on some power pop like Simple Minds, or heavy electronica like The Prodigy and it was time to fasten your seatbelt for – as they say – the ride of your life.
 
Immense and cowering as the Forte may be sonically, it is not like the Avid. It is an altogether less intense experience. Don’t take this to be in any way disparaging, as actually it is more versatile. Slip on some John Coltrane and you can sip a snifter of Scotch, light up a Silk Cut and tap your toes just as the Right Honourable Ken Clarke would his Hush Puppies. You can relax into the music, think about next weekend’s visit to the in-laws or what colour you’re going to paint the front door when the weather gets better. With the Avid, you’d have the vagaries of the recording etched into your cranium, and may well be thinking, “a great piece of music, but this early sixties cross-paired mic recording isn’t ideal”. Back to the E.A.T. though, and you’d be bathing in the languid, luxuriant sounds of Johnny Hartman singing, ‘Lush Life’, sitting up straight totally transfixed with your heart up where your Adam’s Apple should be. My point is simple; the Forte takes you into the music as far as you want to go, yet demands nothing from you.
 
On the very surface of things, it is less detailed than the Avid. It doesn’t put a magic marker under every attack transient, underlining when the note starts, and yet it is no less fast and no more unstable – indeed it seems even more speed-stable than the Acutus, which is really saying something. I found with Yes’s ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’, my reference Sony only just nosed ahead in the leading edge of the bass guitar stakes. The TT-S8000 is utterly exceptional in this respect, and a little ahead of the Avid, whereas the E.A.T. was, figuratively speaking, just millimetres behind its back bumper. But whilst the lithe direct drive with its light platter and clever quartz lock speed control servo system could just about inch ahead on leading notes, it lacked the E.A.T.’s immense stability. It was as solid as the proverbial lump of granite sticking out of the briny. The scale, the epic expanse of its soundstage and the utter unflappability of its performance beat the Sony into a cocked hat.
 
Peter Gabriel’s ‘Solsbury Hill’ was another case in point. Brilliant of course as the song is, it’s a slightly murky mid-seventies analogue recording and one that doesn’t flatter a turntable of any size, price or weight. I found the Forte was able to unpeel the song, rather like an onion skin, giving me great insight into every layer of the production, yet without sounding in any way forced or strained. I remember the Avid doing this too, albeit with more drama and seemingly more detail, although I still found the E.A.T’s presentation more naturally ‘right’ on an instinctive level. Its dynamics were formidable, and yet less explicit. With such innate power, it was able to deliver the contrasts in a more effortless way, like a slumbering giant waking up to brush away an irritation without bothering to raise an eyelid. Again, by contrast, the Sony seemed a tad breathless – which is not something you ever say about it in less illustrious company...
 
Tonally, the Forte was superb. Its bass is immense, unflappable and without fault – save for being fractionally slower to switch on than the Sony. Alternatively, it may be right and the Sony is simply a little 'nervous' with the leading edges, etching them artificially hard in a characteristically direct drive way? The E.A.T. is also sumptuous in the best tradition of vinyl; cue up The Who’s ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ from an original seventies pressing of ‘Who’s Next’ and you really know that’s a valve bass guitar amp being used. It’s the sort of bass that doesn’t need to make any apologies – there’s no issue with the recording, or the rest of the replay equipment, it’s just there like the elephant in the room. 
 
Yet it doesn’t overpower, or slur notes, or dominate the mix in any way; put on some nineteen sixties freakbeat from Ice (the most famous band to come out of my own Sussex University, which isn’t saying much) and yes, sure enough, you can tell it’s recorded in someone’s bathroom in Brighton. Cue up 4hero’s ‘Escape That’ however, and you’re into low frequencies the like of which you rarely hear outside of Wembley Arena. Powerful as the E.A.T is below the stairs, let’s just say it’s not gratuitous.
 
Across the midband, you have a massively expansive sound. It makes the Sony – and to a less extent the Avid – seem rather stuck between the speakers. Yet instruments are not quite as accurately located as with the Acutus, which if it were a policeman would be a Miami-based member of CS1. The E.A.T. isn’t imprecise, it’s just big enough in its soundstaging for you not to have to ask questions; “the guitar’s over there, the lead vocal is over there, okay, fair enough!” Nor is the midband quite as icily clear as the Acutus or the Sony, but it’s actually no less detailed or informative, it’s just the way it presents the information is altogether more relaxed. Now, I have a sneaking suspicion that the Ikeda arm is at least partly behind this state of affairs. It’s so redolent of all those hours I used to spend languishing in Japanese hi-fi shops in and around Tokyo, listening to that country’s high end fare. Think massively polished, with easy information retrieval that would never even think of throwing it at you. Yes, it’s an ever so slightly ‘hi-fi’ sound, but a gorgeous one – and mates brilliantly to the E.A.T’s mellowy, moody, subtle sound.
 
As befits a turntable of this immense speed stability, the treble is a joy. It is slick and easy, beautifully polished and wonderfully atmospheric – yet sharp and incisive in a way that never dominates. Miles Davis’s ‘Kind of Blue’ was majestic; smooth, vast in stage and deliciously, naturally musical, and with a wonderfully natural top end. If ever there was a turntable/arm combination to flatter a cartridge’s natural treble ability, this is it. Once again, my reference players both turned in a superficially slightly more detailed rendition, but it wasn’t in any way more informative. Rather, it was if the brightness control had just been turned up a bit. The Avid was brilliant, pushing you right up close to the cymbals, the Sony had wonderful ‘snap’, whereas the E.A.T. took a gentle step back from the hi-hats, giving a less ‘in your face’ rendition that was – all said and done – a tad easier and more satisfying to listen to.
 
CONCLUSION
 
At this level, you’re not going to get a bad turntable, so the question then is – what kind of good one do you want? As with fine wines, great watches, top restaurants and seven star hotels, at this price you’re buying something that suits you like the best bespoke tailored suit. And so whom would the E.A.T. Forte suit? Well, the standard fitment of the Ikeda arm means this is far more like a turntable package than most decks at this price, which come sans tonearm, requiring you to make this big decision. The Forte is a case of ‘add cartridge and go’; it even requires relatively little set up as it is not a skeletal design which demands various layers be bolted on to various others.
 
What it gives then is brilliant sound out of a (very big) box, with a superb fitted arm that sings with almost any highish mass moving coil cartridge. It presents a relaxed, easy, nonchalant sort of sound, but one that is nevertheless immensely satisfying. The best thing is that it’s very devoid of character, or obvious strengths or weaknesses for that matter. Simply put, it’s a massive machine that gets the best out of your vinyl without you – or it – having to try very hard, it seems you can afford not to!
 
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ARMS AND THE MAN
 
In 1964, the former factory manager of Japanese tonearm specialist Grace decided to start his own business. At the age of thirty five, Osamu Ikeda formed Fidelity Research Kabushiki Kaisha and by the mid nineteen seventies his company was making world-class tonearms and pickup cartridges. Ikeda was no copyist, taking out several international patents and finessing his designs like few others. Indeed, so respected was he in Japan that his products were even used by the Imperial Family. The late nineteen seventies were the glory days for Fidelity Research, with the FR64 series of tonearms his strongest product, being a superlative device at a time when there was a relatively paucity of competition. 
 
After the demise of Fidelity Research, the great man came back with Ikeda Sound Laboratories Company. An altogether smaller and specialist affair, he designed, built and inspected every product by hand. It was a chance for yet more innovation, not least the world’s first MC cartridge without a cantilever. The new IT345 and IT407 tonearms were launched in autumn 2006; coming in twelve and sixteen inch versions respectively. E.A.T.  use a specially modified, gloss finished version of the former. (since updatded to Ikeda IT407-CRI 12" tonearm & Ikeda 9TT catridges)
 
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MEASURED PERFORMANCE
 
The EAT Forte carries an Ikeda IT407 12in (307mm) arm with detachable headshell. This is a solid affair made from various metals Ikeda say, rolled not diecast. The arm feels solid and ‘dead’ in the hand and indeed it measures like that too. For a long, tubular arm it is surprisingly free of a main arm tube mode, expected around 200Hz or lower. In this region there is no sign of vibration, although a small bump at 120Hz could possibly be due to primary flexure. Otherwise, the IT407 is a very ‘quiet’ arm all the way up to 3kHz and should give excellent bass quality and fine sound staging as a result, as well as a pure midband. Above 3kHz, as accelerations rise, the headshell becomes as active as most, so here the Ikeda is less distinguished. Also, 12in arms roughly halve the tracing distortion generated by a 9in arm and usually sound smoother and silkier as a result, although often not as ‘fast’.
 
The EAT Forte turntable produced some amazing results. It was just 0.1% slow, a negligible amount and low speed drift below 1Hz was lower than usual too, resulting in a very low unweighted Wow and Flutter value of 0.072%. This suggests the EAT Forte will have much the same grip on pace as a Direct Drive. Weighted wow and flutter was low too, as is to be expected, measuring 0.061%. 
 
An unusual combo this may be in appearance, but it is a good deal more sophisticated under the skin than one might imagine. It’s a great pairing. NK
 
SPEED STABILITY
 
Don't be fooled by its conservative looks, this is a brilliantly conceived, superbly engineered vinyl spinner. A memorable - seminal even - high end product.
 
HIGHLIGHTS:
- supreme musical ease
- unerring speed stability
- flawless engineering
- excellent fitted tonearm
If you can handle a 12in arm, the E-Go joins a select group of top contenders.........I rubbed my eyes in disbelief.
Ken Kessler & Steve Harris
Summary
As the E-Go was preceded by the Graham tonearms’ substantive reputation, and I’d heard Bob’s tonearms so many times that I knew to expect with certainty both refinement and finesse, EAT’s version merely confirmed my experience. This is an estimable arm, as genuinely a ‘high-end’ purchase as one could make, bristling with clever details and sounding gorgeous. Best of all, it’s a unipivot free of masochism.

Needing a 12-inch arm to match its spectacular Forte turntables, Czech-based EAT  calls on US tonearm guru Bob Graham for this ‘personalised’ version of his top design.  

It’s a safe bet that unipivot tonearm designs outnumber every other kind. Why? Because the concept is both elegant and simple. To support the cartridge as the stylus endeavours to follow the record groove, the arm must pivot freely, vertically and laterally. 

And having the arm supported on a single pivot point is the easiest way of arranging this – but it also has advantages from an engineering point of view. The bearing is pre-loaded by the mass of the tonearm, so it achieves the desired condition of zero play with low friction. The big disadvantage is that the arm is free to wobble around, impairing performance and making it less easy to handle. 

The fact remains that some of the world’s most expensive, highly-developed tonearms are ‘unipivots’, though in some cases they have additional bearings. Mørch, for example, has long used a dual pivot to give lateral stability, while Kuzma has its cunning four-point system. Another fairly elaborate variation is found in Continuum’s Cobra arm, which uses a secondary outrigger pivot mounted on its own bearing. 

However, it was left to Bob Graham of Graham Engineering to come up with what is arguably the most elegant way of maximising the benefits of the unipivot concept and smoothing away its disadvantages. He explains the central problem of a unipivot arm as a question of attaining ‘neutral balance’ [see www.graham-engineering.com]. With his earlier tonearms, Graham used outrigger weights to provide stability, but even with careful design this approach could not reach this ideal condition. The breakthrough came with his ‘Magneglide’ magnetic stabiliser system – the major innovation of the first, B-44, Phantom arm. 

Graham lists six separate benefits of the Magneglide device: increased lateral stability, easy azimuth adjustment, a higher lateral inertia component for improved bass reproduction, augmentation of system damping, true vertical pivoting of the stylus with no rotation as the arm is raised, and easily adjusted anti-skate compensation.

MAGNETIC ATTRACTION

The really clever part of this system is its azimuth tower, mounted on a swivelling collar which allows it to rotate about the arm pillar. Looking from the rear, you can see a cylindrical projection on the right side of the arm bearing housing, and this contains a neodymium magnet which is centred at the same height as the arm pivot (fulfilling the requirement of ‘neutral balance’). There is a powerful attraction between this and a second similar magnet attached to the azimuth adjustment tower, which in turn is connected to the fixed arm base. The azimuth tower follows the lateral movement of the arm as it tracks across the record, keeping the arm exactly in position and preventing it from wobbling or tilting

With the current Phantom II Supreme the stabiliser has been improved, there is new internal wiring and a new titanium arm wand, available in 9in, 10in and 12in lengths. Which brings us to the EAT E-Go. 

EAT’s version of the Phantom II Supreme comes only in a 12in version, appropriate for use with the EAT Forte and its oversized platter. E-Go means ‘EuroAudioTeam Graham Original’ and it’s described as ‘personalised for EAT applications’. The arm is now resplendent in a matt chrome, looking rather more assertive than Graham’s usual classy, restrained finish of black with chrome highlights. 

In essence, the Graham bearing is a simple point and cup arrangement, but the design and materials have been refined over the years. Both point and cup are precision-made in Switzerland from tungsten carbide. In the latest iteration, used in the Phantom II Supreme, the downward-facing point is housed in a strong square shank. The bearing is easily accessible, and also easy to protect from transit damage, because the point is mounted in the screw-on cap that tops the massive bearing housing. 

On first installation, having removed the blue plastic transit sleeve from the unipivot point, you fill the cup with an appropriate quantity of damping oil, then replace the cap. Alongside, the antiskate compensation is not magnetic but achieved by a time-honoured thread-and weight system. But here, from a bell-crank that carries the adjustable weight, the thread runs round a small but exquisite pulley and is attached to the swivelling foot of the azimuth tower, avoiding the need for a direct connection to the arm. 

Azimuth adjustment is carried out by raising or lowering the magnet via a screw thread on its swivelling tower, this causing the arm to tilt as required. While you must not adjust azimuth during play, you can adjust the arm height and hence the vertical tracking angle – ‘VTA on the fly’ has been a feature of Graham arms from the very start.

Although the arm looks complicated and even mysterious in its many adjustments, it’s actually quite user friendly and comes with clear instructions. Our EAT E-Go had the SME base, which of course made installation a painless procedure. As with previous models, it’s supplied with a neat device that registers the headshell with the turntable spindle to set the arm overhang correctly, and there is a special holder to provide accurate cartridge alignment. 

KEN SPINS SOME VINYL

As the E-Go has a short back, it fitted the SME 30/12 without hitting the rear right pillar (as did my elderly SME 3012). Setup, despite the clever design, made me appreciate the genius of the SME Series V’s simplicity – but then the SME isn’t a unipivot. Thus, as far as ‘unis’ go, the E-Go is one of the most user-friendly, as SH states. The removable wand makes it easy to change cartridges too: I settled on Air Tight’s PC1.

Having just reviewed Gram Parsons’ Grievous Angel as a MoFi SACD [HFN May ’13], I dug out the vinyl [Reprise K54018] for more of the same. All was – how shall I put this? – wonderfully comprehensible until the end of ‘I Can’t Dance’.

We all have favourite tracks, parts of tracks even, we know so well that they serve as handy short-cuts for illustrating whether a system sounds convincingly realistic. They’ll be significant enough to convey a broad sensation, like voice, lead guitar, a strings section. As Parsons’ voice was so anodyne, that wasn’t gonna do it. What made me sit up and take notice was the drum-roll at the end of that track.

It wasn’t mere impact: for that I’d turn to Kodo. It was about space and a lack of artifice. The sound of what is just a standard LP possessed the air and three-dimensionality of the crafted-to-a millimetre sound of the notorious Sheffield Drum Record. The crispness, the kick, lasts no more than a second, but the three that followed were to mere ‘air’ what Dyson is to dryers. I rubbed my eyes in disbelief.

This confoundedness lasted only the length of the silence between tracks: it was followed by the delicate piano opening of ‘Brass Buttons’, compounded by pedal steel and crisp, but discreet percussion. A snare, a cymbal, a woodblock, Parsons’ vocals in the centre – the sound belied the title, for there was nothing brassy about it whatsoever. It managed, despite a surfeit of terse transients, to sound silky. And hearing it next to the admittedly classy SACD was an object lesson in why analogue remains more convincing than digital, for so many music lovers.

However dismissive I may be about Parsons’ pipes, the duet on ‘Love Hurts’ with his muse, Emmylou Harris, is so achingly gorgeous that you begin to appreciate a system’s abilities with vocal textures and spacing. The two stand extreme left and right, the instruments filling in the space in-between, but this is not a stereo-circa-1956 ping-pong effect. It simply reflects the song’s title by using physical separation to convey the angst of love.

Gram’s voice contrasts with Emmylou’s crystalline instrument, singing that is almost a country cliché. Again, the instruments exhibit speed and clarity, but never with any intrusiveness. The E-Go perfectly resolved what is one of the most challenging of paradoxes: reproducing bags of information while creating what appears as a sparse soundscape. It’s precisely the kind of recording and playback that charms you back again and again, the deception of simplicity covering up genius-level complexity

HOW CAN IT DO THIS?

Probably the most tragically overlooked, blues-based hard rock LP ever is Leslie West’s 1969 solo debut, Mountain [Windfall 4500] – the title of which would become the name of his band. As far as post-Cream power trios go, this was one of the best, West aided and abetted by Felix Pappalardi on bass and N D Smart II on drums, the latter so under appreciated that it simply makes me furious. 

‘Long Red’ is a curious number that has all the hallmarks of a heavy metal classic, yet the sound is light and subtle, almost unplugged. What throws you is West’s voice, a fiery rasp that contradicts and challenges the instrumentation – a circus-like organ and an acoustic guitar, for goodness’ sake! 

It’s the antithesis of Parsons tentative, plaintive, I-wish-I-was George-Jones whisper. Having met West, and seen Mountain live, I can think of no other New York Yiddishe bocher who can sound as convincingly like a 1950s R&B wailer.

West, of course, is famed more for his powerful fluid guitar work than his singing, and the E-Go delivers guitar heroics by the bucketload. Once you get past the disparity between the vocal style and the song it’s conveying (the same effect as when Joe Cocker sings a ballad) you can lean back and marvel at the way it all coalesces. It is a demonstration of balancing textures that should, by any definition, compete with each other to the point of self-defeat. Instead, it’s sound is so ‘of a whole’ that you wonder how just an arm can do this.

It’s down to taste and partnering equipment. If you can handle a 12in arm, the E-Go joins a select group of top contenders. 

LAB REPORT - EAT (EURO AUDIO TEAM) E-GO

The addition of Graham’s ‘Magneglide’ stabilisation regime to its Phantom platform makes this the most stable unipivot design that we’ve tested, damping any rotational displacement without adding obvious friction to either vertical or horizontal movement. Because the unipivot ‘bearing’ is positioned within a well of oil, measurable friction – fluid viscosity – rather depends on the frequency of movement, but with the slow arm movements encountered during replay this amounts to <10mg in both planes. Downforce and bias are uncalibrated although with the small threaded weight wound to the end of its cantilevered arm, maximum side-thrust amounts to around 3g.

EAT’s version of the Phantom features a titanium arm wand, combining rigidity with low density although, in 12in guise, the medium-to-high 13g effective mass is really no surprise. The pivot damping does extend the reach of the arm with higher compliance pick-ups, but not as much as if the damping were applied at the headshell itself. The 115Hz main arm bending mode [see Graph, below] is strong but the harmonics at 150Hz and 190Hz less so. All resonances beyond 300Hz reflect the complexity (flexibility) of the E-Go’s adjustable bias, counterweight and VTA components……. PM