• EAT C-Major Turntable & Jo No.5 MC Cartridge Review

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    Listening:

    The Dire Straits debut album, from 1978, is an elegant tour de force of Mark Knoplfer’s crafty Strat leads, and sophisticated songwriting, with amazingly confident band interplay. My original Warner pressing always sounded a bit on the warm side to me, but the C-Major and Jo combo expanded the width of this album, giving it a cinematic sense of scale. Tracks like “Water Of Love”, and “Six Blade Knife” are mini noir film soundtracks, and the C-Major really enhanced the sense of mystery. It is easy to see why Bob Dylan recruited Knopfler for his early 80’s albums.

    The arrival of the C-Major/Jo No. 5 combo was timely, as my order of What’s That Sound?, the Buffalo Springfield, all analog mastered vinyl box set appeared. The EAT table and cart brought these 50 year old recordings to life in ways I did not imagine. Hats off the Chris Bellman’s mastering. Everything was there, warts and all, including microphone distortion, the interplay between the guitars of Neil Young and Stephen Stills, and of course, the vocal harmonies. The difference between the stereo and mono mixes was also never more apparent.

    I enjoyed spinning numerous high quality 180g vinyl reissues, all analog sourced, on the C-Major, including titles from Van Morrison, Nick Drake, The Beatles (Mono Box), Jimi Hendrix, and a Record Store Day release of lost early recordings by the great Tim Hardin. The enjoyment factor was through the roof, and quite frankly, my high end digital server was beginning to collect dust during this review period!

    Circling back to vintage pressings, I was taken aback by how impactful classic 70’s albums that were never considered stellar pressings sounded. Santana’s Amigos was wonderful sounding, with the C-Major unearthing the deep Latin grooves and the visceral tone of Carlos Santana’s guitar on tracks like “Europa”. I also relived my youth, spinning a stack of old Judas Priest records, including Stained Class, British Steel, and Sad Wings Of Destiny. The guitars were amazingly crunchy and the propulsive proto-metal grooves just simply rocked.

    Comparing the C-Major to other turntables in its price range, just from a design standpoint, is interesting. It seems EAT really invested heavily in a high quality precision tonearm. The platter and subpatter are also precision engineered. The C-Major is without a doubt in the thick of things in the $2000-$3000 price range.

    Operating the C-Major was carefree. My minor quibbles, are indeed minor, and actually have nothing to do with sound quality, which as noted, was excellent. I found the dust cover a bit of a pain to remove from the hinges for listening. However, to my surprise, I was informed that the dust cover has been engineered to be tight purposefully so that you can leave it on while listening. Secondly, installing the anti-skate device was a bit cumbersome. Other than that, the C-Major is a nicely built, and nicely designed, low maintenance turntable.

    The several months I spent with the EAT table and cart seemed to fly by. I also bought more records than I anticipated, simply because I knew they were going to sound terrific spinning on the C-Major. Maybe that is the ultimate goal in acquiring high quality audio components, they make you want to listen to more music!

    Conclusion:

    The EAT C-Major is a very attractively priced, very nicely designed turntable, built in the Czech Republic, that gets you knocking on the door of the upper end of the turntable market. The Jo No.5 Moving Coil cartridge is impressive, attractive, and digs deep into the essence of what is in the grooves. It does not seem to editorialize, providing a neutral tonal balance. Of course, the two were evaluated as a system, and I can say they work very, very well together.

    The whole EAT line is indeed attractive, and those shopping for analog gear, would do well to audition the C-Major, or other EAT models. It would be a good idea to contact Vana Ltd and to discuss turntable and cartridge options as the next step. I can vouch for the C-Major and Jo No.5 pairing. High end all the way.

    Associated Equipment:

    Preamp: Rogue Audio RP-5
    Amplifier: Audio Research VS55
    Speakers: Magnepan 1.7i / JL Audio d108 subwoofers
    Server/DAC: Bryston BDP-2/BDA-3
    Phono Preamp: Lehmann Audio Black Cube SE, Bryston BP-2 w/ BP-3 xps
    Turntable: Rega Planar 3 (2016)
    Cables: Black Rhodium (power and signal) Wireworld (digital)
    Accessories: Symposium isolation devices/shelves
    Power Conditioner: Bryston BIT 15

    Company Information:
    EAT (European Audio Team)
    www.europeanaudioteam.com
    +43 – 2574 285 57

    North American Distributor:
    VANA, Ltd.
    www.vanaltd.com
    (631) 246-4412

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