EAT B-Sharp Turntable

hfnoutstandingDespite shedding all 'non-essential cosmetic adornments' EAT's B-Sharp still cuts a dash in the world of plug-and-play turntable solutions. Does it sound as slick as it looks?

Conditioning has, I believe, led the cynics among us to assume that 'plug 'n' play' is a sexy euphemism for 'lowest common denominator' or 'user-friendly-enough for anyone to appreciate'. After all, this is what freed normal souls from going crazy with pre-USB computer peripherals. Today, it welcomes newcomers to vinyl, referring almost exclusively, in a hi-fi context, to turnkey turntable/arm/cartridge packages, because every other audio source has always been plug 'n' play.

While EAT's £1198 B-Sharp turntable is nearly as plug 'n' play as it gets, this is still a true audiophile item, with all the tweaking and upgrading potential usually eliminated by sealed systems. Of course, no turntable/arm/cartridge since the days of the Technics SL-7/SL-10 is truly straight-out-of-the-box plug 'n' play because you have to fit the counterweight and balance the arm, though market leader Pro-Ject has come as close as any to eliminating even that stage of set-up.

The B-Sharp, offered in gloss black or white, with or without a pre-fitted Ortofon 2M Blue MM cartridge, requires less assembly than an IKEA bookshelf, while the instructions are as thorough as a LEGO kit.

Plinth Of Two Parts
A proponent of the school established years ago by Rega, the B-Sharp does without a spring-suspended subchassis requiring complex adjusting but differs from the Prelude, the EAT model below it and which resembles a Rega Planar 3 'slab', in the design of its plinth. This is a two-part, low-profile affair with an MDF top-plate that rests on thermo-plastic elastomer (TPE) cones within in a frame. This frame plays host to the AC synchronous motor and also features three adjustable feet, which can then be used to level the deck.

Follow the instructions and set-up is a mere ten minutes. It's a familiar drill, and every necessary tool is supplied. Remove transit screws. Slide sub-platter/bearing spindle into place. Fit belt, main platter and felt mat. Fit counterweight to arm, balance and apply tracking force with the supplied Pro-Ject stylus balance, or do one better and use an aftermarket device. Fit dust cover and level the deck. Connect the high-quality, supplied leads to the nicely-made phono sockets at the back and connect the earth lead. Connect to your phono stage or preamp. Plug in the external mains adapter. Put on an LP, screw-down the clamp and you're away.


Yes, you read 'high-quality, supplied leads' and 'clamp' and 'stylus balance' – this really does come with everything to get you up and running, aside from a spirit level. The threaded LP spindle and screw-down, aluminium clamp preclude an extra purchase, the felt mat is probably the most popular type out there, and the leads look like they cost £150 on their own.

Infinitely Tweakable
And yet designer Jozefina Lichtenegger is such a hardcore audiophile and knows her clients so well that she has ensured the deck is still infinitely tweakable. It starts with the arm, which looks too complex to be fitted to so affordable a platform. It features a conical carbon fibre tube, with aluminium headshell, a 'cardan' bearing in the horizontal axis, with hardened tips sitting in a 'zircon bowl', and ABEC7 ball-races for the vertical axis. The counterweight is damped with the same thermo-plastic elastomer used to damp the (underside) of the alloy platter and support the MDF top-plate.

While I first used this arm with the rather fine Ortofon 2M Red [HFN Oct '08] – and I do not recommend buying the deck with pre-fitted 2M Blue cartridge, as it costs more than buying the cartridge separately and fitting it yourself – I was eager to listen to it with a cartridge surely destined for the B-Sharp: the EAT Jo No5 moving-coil at £799 [HFN Dec '18]. OK, that seems a lot to pay for a cartridge in a £1200 deck, but the B-Note arm is exceptionally welcoming, with fully-adjustable VTA, SRA and azimuth, and it is easily capable of dealing with cartridges way above its price category.

While the nylon thread's loop for the anti-skating is a touch fiddly to attach, the system works perfectly, and adjusting the little weight to one of its three positions is a matter of sliding it along. Attesting to the universality of this arm, EAT can also supply a heavier insert for the counterweight, held in place by magnets, to accommodate extra-heavy cartridges. Speaking of magnets, the armrest contains one to hold the arm when in the resting position.

sqnote Oozes Authority
Attesting to how this deck can operate 'way above its pay grade', I used it initially with a system of its price sector, an old Cambridge A1 integrated amp, JBL 4321M speakers and Pro-Ject Tube Box DS2 phono stage. When the Vinnie Rossi L2 'Signature Edition' integrated amplifier arrived, I couldn't resist feeding it into that august unit, auditioned through Falcon Acoustics LS3/5as [HFN Dec '18]. Trust me: the B-Sharp performed admirably.

European Audio Team
Supplied by: Absolute Sounds Ltd
0208 971 3909