EAT Jo No8 Cartridge Page 2

It warranted a debut blast with a familiar LP, so I dug out my preferred bass showcase, The Band's eponymous second LP [Capitol STAO-132]. But it's not so much the phenomenal bass guitar of Rick Danko that shows you what the music's foundation can be, as Levon Helm's drumming. 'Up On Cripple Creek' was fat and fulsome via the No5, though still utterly enjoyable, like eating a greasy burger when on a diet. The No8 added ample control and dryness to increase the realism of the bass drum – skins and all – while precision and detail were amped up audibly.

Extension was identical, but the snap, in particular on the snare, was tighter, faster, more crisp. What knocked me out, however, was the twang of the mock-Jew's Harp (generated, I believe, on a Lowrey organ). It seemed to float in its own space, prominent, clear and palpable. The No8 placed The Band in the room, across its width and beyond the outer edges of the speakers.

Of late, jazz has been seducing me, thanks to a CD of Thelonius Monk at Newport in 1967, and open-reel tapes from Wes Montgomery and Gerry Mulligan. The timely arrival of Monk's Dream [Mobile Fidelity One-Step UD1S 2-011] provided me with an exemplar of spatial concerns, in a virgin pressing. The EAT No8's refinement over the No5 meant expanding a soundstage that was already vast. Each instrument occupied what I can only imagine was the correct positioning at the recording site. This enhanced the concept of the Monk's quartet as a cohesive group, at the same time highlighting each player.

As for the sound of each instrument, it was chill-after-chill, those fleeting moments where the reproduction is so realistic and authentic that you know your system is working at its peak. I suppose this brief auditory thrill is not unlike the transitory joy of a perfect downshift, that first whiff of a properly decanted wine or popping Beluga against the roof of one's mouth.


Ready To Rock
Ah, you're thinking: a One-Step LP makes any system sound better. True, but we're beyond all that because seasoned audiophiles who know their set-ups can audition a new component even with less regal pressings or recordings. Hence my decision to follow Monk with albums from The Runaways and Whitesnake.

Queens Of Noise [Sundazed/Modern Harmonic MH-8094] was The Runaways' second LP, and it realised all that their debut promised. While mainly inspired by the glam rock that emanated from the UK in the early-to-mid-1970s, honed by punk and referencing US ex-pat Suzi Quattro, The Runaways swiftly developed an identity powered in no small part by bad-ass rocker Joan Jett. It was here that the No8 showed its proficiency with transient speed and recovery, power and weight.

You can't get away from the screechiness of the vocals that marked the band's sound – street attitude, yadayadayada – but the near-militaristic drumming, the brightness (in a good way) that was characteristic of all of their heroes, from The Glitter Band to Adam & The Ants. It's all about in-your-face attack, and the EAT No8 has these grrrrls slapping you upside the head. As transcendent as the No8 is with subtle material like Monk, it knows how to rock. The only criticism is that it leans to the warm, which may be too much with, say, single-ended triode amps.

Whitesnake, of course, represents the heavy-metal-via-stadium, power ballad excess of the big hair bands, but only the churlish would deny their sense of majesty. The 30th anniversary reissue of Slip Of The Tongue [Rhino 5409784019029], though not their best, is a time capsule of the genre's overblown self-importance, like Prog Rock without the intellectual pretence. But that is to be a snob: this stuff can fill a room and have you reaching for your air guitar before you can say 'Cheap An' Nasty'.


Then again, this LP featured the magnificent Steve Vai, and guitar is what it's all about. The No8 seems to know this. Coverdale's singing, a paradigm of Plant/Tyler/Roth crotch-rock grandeur, comes through with all the macho swagger that contrasts so comically with the jail-bait insolence of The Runaways. Despite the meters barely flickering when the level is cranked up to 11, the No8 finds minuscule details in Whitesnake that other pick-ups would leave buried, like pirates' treasure beneath the sand.

Taste Of Luxury
How much will you love this? Like the No5, you'll probably be so charmed by it that you'll even pay the extra £100 for the optional deluxe wooden box. As was said about Mr Brier and the first Koetsu Urushis all those years ago, the No8 looks as beautiful as it sounds.

It is self-evidently an artisan product that narrows the gap between high-end audio and luxury objects per se. And you'll be excused for staring at the end of your tonearm for inordinate amounts of time once a Jo No8 arrives there.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
This makes two in a row for EAT, Jo No8 achieving at its price what the No5 did at £799 while adding subtle refinement in precisely the areas where the latter needs it. Aside from the bulk, which applies to both Jo MCs, this cartridge is a dream to set up, it's immediately captivating and so musical that I was distracted from my cache of tapes and the latest episode of Elementary. This is a future classic.

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