If you have clients interested in getting a reasonably priced, high-performing turntable to enjoy vinyl sound, take a look into the appetizing choices from EAT (European Audio Team).
The company manufactures a complete line of turntables, phono preamps and tonearms, available through its American distributor Vana Ltd., that could be classified as a step above entry level within the turntable market.
I was sent the C Major, which is designed as an easy-to-set-up turntable. Opening the box I pulled out the table’s dust cover, plinth (the tonearm is pre-mounted with an Ortofon Quintet Blue moving coil cartridge), platter, and power supply accessories.
Even with a pre-configured turntable there is some setup required. After moving my restored Thorens TD-160 out of the way, I screwed in the C Major’s feet and placed the plinth in the spot my Thorens normally resides. I installed the platter and belt drive before the rest of the assembly and connected the output cable to my Cary Audio phono preamplifier. On the phono preamp I selected the proper load impedance and its moving coil (MC) option.
With the basics taken care of I moved on to mounting the tonearm’s counter weight, anti-skate mechanism and dust cover, which also install easily by following the steps in the owner’s manual. The last steps were to check the cartridge’s alignment and to plug in the power supply.
Before firing up the C Major, I checked the platter speed, phase and channel separation/levels. I heard left-channel content playing from the right speaker and vice versa; turns out I miswired left and right to the connections … but I wasn't sure what the problem was at the time and it had minimal impact to my enjoyment so I kept listening.
Phase and musical enjoyment wasn’t affected, and I confirmed the wiring of the cartridge was OK, so I continued on. As far as turntables go, the C Major is as turnkey as any product on the market.
I began listening to it by dropping the needle on The Cars’ self-titled debut album, a go-to for me because while I hate the way the album sounds on CD, its production shines on vinyl. It sounded much better on the EAT C Major than my Thorens, which is outfitted with a Rega arm and Audio Technica cartridge. The EAT table revealed a whole new level of detail, much of it thanks to a super-quiet noise floor.
I continued with a range of albums — Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Couldn’t Stand the Weather, the Guardians of the Galaxy 1970s pop music-laden soundtrack, Yes’ 90125 and Linda Ronstadt’s Living in the U.S.A. I was continually blown away. The C Major’s overall smoothness, rich dynamics and detail simply crushed my Thorens. It was the first time that I’ve had a turntable in my home that wasn’t dramatically more expensive than the value of my Thorens but against which I felt my setup wasn’t competitive.
On the Yes record in particular, I thought the table played through my Bryston electronics and Monitor Platinum series speakers delivered the spaciousness that producer Trevor Horn was going after. Chris Squire’s bass lines were beefy and firm, and hearing elements like the short slap echo on the drums and reverb on the vocals really highlighted some of the 1980s-era production techniques typified by 90125.
With more organic content like the Ronstadt record, I thought the C Major demonstrated the essence of the “vinyl sound.” The piano on “When I Grow Too Old to Dream” sat nicely behind Ronstadt’s vocals without stepping on her vibrato and the emotive dynamics of her performance. Drums nicely spread across the soundstage and an assertive well-defined bass line anchored this midrange playback.
I was really impressed with the C Major. It’s well built, easy to put together and it sounds fantastic (hey, even with left and right channels erroneously switched). It is somewhat flashy, so keep in mind those with conservative tastes may not appreciate its gloss black, graphite and chrome.
With all of that said, the C Major is an excellent way to put discerning music fans into a vinyl solution without the audiophile pricing normally associated with some turntables.
The MSRP for the turntable is $2,495.