The renaissance of vinyl marches onward with the new European Audio Team (EAT) B-Sharp turntable. The B-Sharp debuted in April 2017 and is the results of being a trickle down version of EAT's more expensive turntable called the C-Major. At the very same hour the B-Sharp arrived at my door I found a full page photo of the B-Sharp turntable online. The price listed by the distributor is $1595. That includes an Ortofon 2M Blue moving magnet (MM) phono cartridge, a dust cover and an aluminum record clamp. Also in the box is are a felt mat, very nice tonearm cables plus a 15 Volt Class 2 power supply. This is a two speed turntable, 33.3 and 45 rpm, driven by a drive pulley with two different diameters. This is exactly the same configuration as my review turntable.
During the past two years, the Lichteneggers have invested somewhere between 10 and 20 million Euros in a new state-of-the-art machining center in Litovel, a logistic center in Austria and updates to the existing seven story assembly plant. Many brands assemble their products from parts produced by other firms. The majority of components in an EAT turntable are built in-house. This includes the synchronous drive motors and controllers. Although the two companies share some of the same machinery used to manufacture their turntables, EAT tables along with the B-note carbon fiber tonearms are exclusive designs by Jozefina (seen below holding EAT's new E-glo S vacuum tube phono preamplifier with Enjoy the Music.com's Creative Director Steven R. Rochlin).
The B-Note tonearm on the B-Sharp has a conventional bearing arrangement with ABEC7 ball bearing and Cardan bearings. This layout is similar to those of a Linn or Rega tonearm. The arm tube is made out of super stiff and rigid carbon fiber. The traditional Cardan bearing insures high stability with very low friction. Also inside the tonearm is energy absorbing TPE Thermoplastic Elastomer to dampen tonearm resonances. Of necessity the startup EAT production line was moved to an extensively renovated and modernized facility. A separate plant houses a production line manufacturing the highly regarded EAT 300 B and KT88 Vacuum tubes. The EAT web site lists a full lineup of phono related audio along with some unique offerings not available in the USA. Among these are two perfumes called Stylus and Fina. Additionally, they sell two candles named the Blue and the Black. Both candles are named L'Oiseau de Feu. With these offerings I think I can detect a woman's touch. Employing some very innovative engineering Ms. Lichtenegger has managed to bring down the cost of manufacturing the EAT B-Sharp Turntable to $1595, that's with the Ortofon 2M moving magnet cartridge included. The overall appearance of the B-Sharp has impressed me, it is outstanding, sleek modern and even more impressive when you consider the cost.
Out Of The Box
The Owner's Manual
The Reviewers Job...
Running-in the turntable and listening with a stethoscope on the plinth/base can tell just how well the platter bearing and motor noise is isolated. On the base of the table the noise of the motor is quite apparent. But it is not a low frequency rumble; it is of a higher pitch. The motor is fixed to the turntables base but the platter sits on an energy absorbent sub chassis. Therefore the noise should not be so easily transmitted to the record surface. Consider that the aluminum record platter is heavy and damped by a large Thermoplastic Elastomer TPE energy absorbent ring on the underside of the platter. That in combination with the supplied felt mat and clamp should block any residual noise. Next up, we need to check exactly where the Cartridge Vertical Azimuth is set. Using The Ultimate Analogue Test LP from Analogue Productions. I Measured a 1.Kilo Hertz test signal on the left channel and then repeated by measuring the right channel. The precision Fozgometer indicated that both channels' voltage readings were equal, Therefore the channels are balanced and the Vertical Azimuth was adjusted correctly before it was packed and shipped.
The next critical adjustment would be the cartridge stylus position in the tonearm. The first requirement would be setting the stylus overhang and cartridge tracking to be parallel to the record grooves, both set with a mirrored protractor. The most finely detailed micro settings involve positioning the cartridge's diamond stylus contact orientation. This involves adjusting the stylus vertical tracking angle (VTA) and stylus rake angle. Adjusting the VTA via height of the tonearm influences both positions. This setting can affect the tonal balance of the music and the resolution of fine details. It also affects the proportions of treble, midrange, and bass retrieved from the record grooves; therefore the overall sound. Lowering or raising the base / pillar of the tonearm changes the VTA angle of the cartridge stylus in relation to the record groove.
Depending on the starting position lowering the back of the tonearm generally increases bass content. Raising the height of the arm has the opposite effect. This does alter the overall sound of the recording. Since this is a setting made by the dealer or at the factory I will not / cannot mess with it! The whole point of this review is to determine what $1595 gets you.
Bottom line is that I checked to see how carefully the EAT B-Sharp was setup, but did not change any preset adjustments. Note: Over a period of 30 or 40 hours of playing time the cartridge will “break in" so the cartridge alignment and the sound can change slightly and may have to be rechecked and reset.
Conundrum: Even though I know how to make adjustments to achieve what I think is accurate sound this leads to an ethical question. Should I change adjustments? Fiddle around with the setup? Do I assume that whoever buys this table has the tools and the knowledge to adjust the sound to their liking? I can't go that route. My understanding is not universal. Logic dictates that everyone has their own idea of what sounds good.
This is why I rechecked the turntable setup. I needed to know if this could be a contributing factor to the sound of the turntable itself, it was not. As for bass response, I believe in time that the cartridge's tonal balance will probably change for the better. As with many things high-end audio, there is also system synergy and other factors to consider as well.
More simply stated, European Audio Team's B-Sharp turntable will not be a limiting factor if you want to employ far more expensive cartridges than the supplied Ortofon 2M Blue. If anyone asks you what they should buy, the EAT B-Sharp at $1595 is my personal benchmark for this market position. A no brainer, as it were, at this point in time. EAT's B-Sharp turntable it is an outstanding value! Remember to...
Enjoy the music & from me, Semper Hi-Fi!