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

The user manual details setup in a step-by-step fashion to allow easy installation and assembly. I had no issues with it other than Section f of Step 4, which references the use of a 1.5mm hex key to remove a locking screw. A small slotted screwdriver is actually required to remove the uni-pivot locking screw, which secures the uni-pivot cover, in order to access the azimuth adjustment. One other item in the manual worth mentioning is that EAT recommends that when using the record clamp, it should not be screwed down. The screw-down function is only to be used as a means of installing and removing the main platter during assembly and disassembly.

If the ‘table is ordered with the Ortofon Quintet Black, EAT will install and set up the cartridge for a Lofgren A/Baerwald alignment. As a value-added benefit, VANA Ltd. (the U.S. distributor) offers the option of changing to Lofgren B or UNI-DIN alignment at the time of ordering at no additional charge. Using the Acoustical Systems SMARTractor cartridge-alignment system, I cycled through all three options and settled on the Lofgren A/Baerwald alignment that I find most appropriate for my taste, which spans multiple genres of music, as well as early to modern pressings.

The legendary jazz trumpeter, Clark Terry, passed away at the age of 94 the day before the C-sharp was assembled and ready to play records. I became aware of the loss of this great talent the day I set the ’table up. As a sort of tribute, I wanted the first piece of music I played to be something from Clark Terry, so I reached into my vinyl library, without looking for anything in particular, and pulled out one of his later works titled Portraits on the Chesky label. Although Terry was sixty-eight when this recording was made (on the day after his birthday, in 1989, at RCA’s Studio A on 44th Street in Manhattan) his playing is delightfully youthful yet masterfully controlled. From the first track, “Pennies from Heaven” to the last, “I Don’t Wanna Be Kissed,” I listened nonstop—with the exception of getting up to turn the record over, of course. There was no compelling reason to adjust anything. On “Pennies from Heaven” Victor Gaskin’s bass solo was crisp and tight, and on time. Bass lines were easy to follow and the rhythmic flow of all tracks was a joy to hear. I derived added pleasure from how well the C-Sharp/Quintet Black was able to keep up with drummer Lewis Nash’s delicate brushwork. My favorite title on this LP is “Jive at Five”; Terry’s scatting and playing is filled with so much dynamic expression that it becomes difficult to do anything but listen. With this random pick, the C-Sharp allowed me to remember one of jazz’s great trumpeters.

Next, I queued up “Got My Mojo Working” from Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown’s Standing My Ground, an album produced in the same year (1989). I was struck by this track’s propulsive drive and slightly rounded but stronger bass. As presented by the C-Sharp/Quintet Black, Gatemouth’s guitar had less bite and dynamic expression than I’m used to hearing, but everything still possessed musical flow. Although I only intended to listen to one track, I found myself playing the whole side of the LP.

Switching to Simply Red’s Picture Book, the “Holding Back the Years” track produced a similar slightly rounded sound that was big on lower frequencies; as a result, the bass and drums moved closer to sharing center stage with Mick Hucknall’s vocals. At the same time, the cymbals moved back a little bit in the presentation. Playing “Red Box” yielded similar results, with the same tendency towards lower-frequency instruments moving to the forefront and higher frequencies taking a step further back.

From the Pablo record label, I listened to Joe Pass and Ella Fitzgerald’s 1983 album Speak Love. On the track “Comes Love,” the C-Sharp preserved Ella’s wonderful, timeless voice and dynamic expression, while Joe Pass’ Ibanez guitar had dense body and generous amounts of pleasing tone color. (As with the some of the other albums mentioned, I couldn’t resist listening to both sides of this LP.)