EAT C-Sharp Turntable with Ortofon Quintet Black Cartridge

A High-Performance Turntable for the Rest of Us

Equipment report
EAT C-Sharp,
Ortofon Inc. Quintet Black
EAT C-Sharp Turntable with Ortofon Quintet Black Cartridge

While I truly enjoy using my somewhat costly, 100-plus-pound, isolated-suspension, vacuum-hold-down, large-footprint turntable, it is only sensible to acknowledge the fact that it is not what every audiophile is looking for. There are plenty of music lovers who feel that financial outlays of this magnitude are best allocated elsewhere and who, quite possibly, don’t have the space (or desire) to house a vinyl playback system of such size and weight in their homes.

The C-Sharp from the European Audio Team, the fourth turntable in the EAT lineup, may be a sensible alternative to mega-tables for many listeners. EAT is an offshoot of Pro-Ject, which is perhaps the world’s largest turntable manufacturer. The three other turntables in the EAT line are the Forte, Forte S, and the E-Flat. After the success of these three previous efforts, EAT set out to make a model that had a smaller, retro-modern footprint. With a profile that EAT calls “superflat,” the $4000 C-Sharp ($4500 when ordered with the Ortofon Quintet Black cartridge) may actually fit perfectly in many users’ homes, and potentially supplies standard-setting performance for its price.

Constructed from what EAT calls “highest-density” MDF, carbon fiber, and thermoplastic-elastomer, inverted-cone-shaped, internal sandwich supports, the low-profile double chassis is what gives the C-Sharp its “superflat” silhouette. I measured a height of approximately 27.5mm (1 1/8") for the chassis combination. At the bottom are three elastomer-damped, adjustable feet to provide clearance and to allow leveling of the ’table. Finished in a high-gloss piano-black lacquer, the lower chassis is 25.4mm high. The motor is attached to it to keep any vibrations from coupling to the platter bearing and tonearm. On the rear of the lower chassis are two connectors (one for the external speed controller and another for the tonearm cable). Seven additional recessed cutouts located on the inside of the lower chassis hold the elastomer dampers used to isolate the lower section from the upper section of the assembly.

The constrained-layer MDF and high-gloss, carbon-fiber-finished upper section of the chassis supports the platter bearing that accommodates the sub-platter. A polished anti-static belt connects the sub-platter to the motor. The sub-platter mates with the main platter to form the drive system and top surface for playing records. The main platter, made from solid aluminum, is extended in diameter for added rotational inertia and features a bonded mat (constructed from recycled vinyl to achieve optimal coupling with the record.) The upper section of the plinth also holds the tonearm assembly.

The tonearm is exclusive to, and specifically built for, the C-Sharp. This completely new design incorporates what EAT calls a traditional Cardan bearing for horizontal movement that’s been optimized for high stability, ease of use, and very low friction. Made from hardened steel with zircon tips, the Cardan bearing is lubricated with silicon-based grease that dampens tonearm resonances by more than 50 percent from baseline measurements taken without its incorporation in the assembly. Vertical movement is achieved via a pair of traditional, but very high precision, ABEC7 ball-race bearings positioned 180 degrees from each other. An additional uni-pivot damping pin serves as a final part of this hybrid bearing assembly. The uni-pivot damping pin plunges into a silicon-based gel that is said to further dampen vibrations and to provide additional support for the horizontal bearing. EAT says the headshell is made from a light, but inflexible aluminum that makes for a stable foundation for cartridge mounting. A rigid, carbon-fiber armtube connects the headshell to the tonearm bearing assembly. All key features for cartridge alignment and adjustability are available on the tonearm (VTA/SRA, VTF, azimuth, anti-skate, and a slotted headshell for overhang and offset angle).

The C-Sharp arrived in a well-designed box with a three-tiered internal section. Just above the top section were the user manual and all the set-up tools needed (except for a tracking-force gauge). The top section itself contained the counterweight, record clamp, two of the three feet, and the sub-platter. The middle section housed the assembled chassis with tonearm, including the pre-installed Ortofon Quintet Black cartridge (if ordered with the ’table). The lower section contained the platter. The motor controller was located in a side pouch that traversed all tiers.