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WWW.HIFINEWS.CO.U
. PIUS18pagesof musicreviews,
Thelatest18Og
releases UK f4.00 US$9.99Aus $9.95
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Belt-driven,
two-motor
turntable
withelectronic
speed
controlandflattonearm *"
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- "*_"
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prasue
Madeby:EuroAudioream,
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suppliedby:AbsolutesoundsLtd
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EATE-Flat(r4roo)
EATrevives
an old ideafrom NADin the 1 9 8 0 s,b u t with a m o d e r ne xe cu tio n .
Welcomethe E-Flat
belt-drive
turntablewith its,er,flat carbonfibretonearm
Review:'Ken
KesslerLab:PaulMiller
he wife of Pro-Ject'sCEOHeinz
Lichtenegger,Jozefina,is one of
the gutsiestindividualsin hi-fi
today. Not only does she insist
that the turntablesunder her EATFort6
bannerare high-end,while hubby'sPro-Ject
concentrate5on the affprdable.she'shad'
the sheerguts to revivea much reviled
form. Flattonearms are as old as hi-fi itself,
the E-Flat's
arm following Connoisseur's
CS1,the wooden CraceC-714, an early
Crado,the back half of the 'hinged'
DynavectorDV-507and many others.
Jozefinaand the team at Pro-jecthave
re-openedthe flat arm's coffin.
E-Flat'sinterpretation,though, owes
more to the ultra-flatarm of the NAD
51 20 t urnta ble ,la un ch e. din lat e 1983,
than to the above 'flat-sos'of the 1950s1970s.The main differenceis the material.
The E-FlatusesKevlar.aramidsand other
carbon-fibretypes that had found their way
into myriad arms going backto Infinity's
BlackWidow of the 1970s.The E-Flatarm,
though, is a slab rather than a tube.
KEVIJARAND UNIPTVOTDESIGN
It'sworth dlsmissing
anyflashbacks
if you'reold enoughto remember1983
- to the fracasthat ensuedwhen NAD
introduced
itsflat arm [seeboxout].The
useof Kevlarcanchangethe rules,asany
who havetriedto benda WilsonBenesch
armtubewill tell you.Equally,
thanks
to full accessto Pro-ject's20-years-plus
of experience,
the E-Flat
isthe product
of a maturemanufacturer
despiteEAT's
youthof arounda *cade.
comparative
Theanticipated
virtuesof the armshould
be attributable
to, in EAT's
words:'no
hollowtubeto sufferthe inevitable
echo
effectsor ringing;greaterstiffness...
the
E-Flat
tonearm'sperformance
istrulyquiet
andincredibly
fast.'
gutsiness
Anotherexampleof Jozefina's
is optingfor a unipivot,whichremainsa
RIGIIT: Unlikeits siblings,the E-Flathidesits
two motomandbelt,visible
onlywithouter
platterremoved.Assembly
isstraightforward,
but careisneededwith the tonearm
,-
26 | www.hifinews.co.uki JANUARY
2012
contentiousbearingtyp€. I would venture
to say that amongst hq,r(_coreanalogueists, it's as divisivea topic as vafvesversus
transistorsare for amplifierpurists.But
those who love such classicsas the various
Deccasand Ultracraftswill need no
convincingof the merits of unipivots.The
flatness,well, that's another story entirely.
It's not just the unusualtonearm,
though, that distinguishes
the E-Flat
from the Fort6 and Fort6 S.Arm
notwithstanding,this turntable is very
much of the Fort6family.lt possesses
an
over-sized,33cm, criticallydamped platter,
a highly-polishedrectangularwooden
plinth, soft-touchcontrols,damped feet,
plenty of Sorbothanedamping in critical
areasand a massiverecord clamp, like its
dearersiblings.Crucialto the family gene
pool is the signaturecombinationof two
motors with, on this occasion,one belt.
Where the E-Flatchangesdirection is
in hiding them under the platter.With
the flagshipFort6,the motors residein an
outboard chassis.The lesscostly Fort6 S
usesa single-pieceplinth, but the pulleys
and beltsarestillexposed.
Bypositioning
looks
them underthe platter,the E-Flat
cleaner- both moremodernandyet
resolutely
retro.lt couldpassfor a mid1970sDenonor Micro-Seiki
direct-drive.
EATdescribes
the new arm as'Ultra-flat,
ultra-light
andultra-rigid'-all desirable
qualitiesif realised
[seeLabReport,p28].
It measures
10in,and issupportedby
the aforementioned
unipivotbearing,
terminating
with a fullyadjustable
counterweight
decoupled
by Sorbothane.
The unipivotsystemis producedfrom
hardmetal
components
with 'especially
surfaces',
whileanyfearof instability
or
unwantedmotionshouldbe assuaged
by
the highmassof the unipivothousingand
the presence
of two metalguides.
II{TERCIIANGE FACILflY
fanatics- thosewho keep
Cartridge
a multitudefor variousrecord.labels.
gen,res
or originalcuttingheadtypes- will
appreciate
that the carbon-fibre
arm can
be changedby the userto suitspecific
requirements,
with lighteror heavier
%
/
versionsavailableto ensurethe correct
setting of dlfferent arm/cartridge resonant
frequencies.Another benefit is that the
arm'sflatnessand shallowside-viewmake
levellingit a breeze.The arm alsofeatures
easy-to-adjust
anti-skating,and its cueing
lever is nicelydamped.
Although offered with a dedicated
moving-coilcartridgefor another f 1000,
we looked at the E-Flatstrictly as an
arm/turntablecombination.I tried it
with Koets+and Air-Tight MCs,feeding
the Audio ResearchPH5 phono stage,
REF5preamplifierand Quad ll-eighty
monoblocks,drivingWilion Audio Sophia
3s. All wiring was YTER.
Havingplayedwith and/or heard so
many Fort6s over the past two years, I had
no doubt that the deck itselfwould be
the least'new' of the elementsto assess.I
alreadyknew,for example,that the singlemaintained
chassisFort6 S had successfully
Fort6's
a good 95% of the double-chassis
performance.Merelypositioningthe belt,
pulleysand motors under the platter would
hardly upsetthe trickle-downpath. The
main challengewould be the arm's effect.
It must be stated here - and I hope that
other reviewerswill be as forthcoming
about their own biases- that I have no
issueswith unipivots.My standardremains
the SMESeriesV but I have livedwith so
many unipivotsthat it would be deceitful
not to state one's position.5o, I have,in
this case,no axe to grind, etc.
iA,
u/ swEETTREBLE
Asidefromthe initiallydauntingset-upof
that arrivesin pieces,
an arm/turntable
to hearnothing
I wasdeeplyrelieved
MrsLichtenegger's
that couldundermine
in her newtonearm.No ringing,
confidence
assailed
my ears.lf
or smearing
microphony
anything,I washearinga sweettreblethat
gaveup onlythe tiniest
in
tracesof hyper-detail
liquid
its pathto luscious,
highs.A boutwith a few
earlyByrdsLPs,alljangly
andthose
Rickenbacker
Crosby/Clark/McGuinn
harmonies
sealedit.
Bystartingwith 'The
barwasraised
BellsOf Rhymney'the
so highthat it couldonlygo downhill
fromthere- or so I thought.lt'sclassic,
openingwith the
undilutedByrds,
janglychords,supported
aforementioned
tambourineand McCuinnby CeneClark's
fromthe openingbars.The
led harmonies
E-Flat
tracedeverygrooveto perfection,
marrinqthe
not a hint of sibilance
ABOVE: Likethe other Forteq the E-Flat
is gorgeousin a 1980s mannerand hasa
substantial fee[ the interface mat is made from
recycledvirryl LB
performance.Equallydeliciouswas the
crisp,staccatodrumming from Michael
Clarke,one of rock'smore under-rated
wizards.Though slightlyburied in the mix
of All I ReatlyWant To Do', it lendssupport
if in an almost invisiblemanner.You don't
focus on it. lt's simplythere.
The EATkept it in perfect proportion, at
the sametime allowing
the voicesto meshwith
the weaveof 300-thread
Egyptiancottonsheets,
andthe guitarsto
soarwith a claritythat
defiesanyaccusations
one migfitlevelat a
flat arm if conditioned
I wasrevelling
to thinkit mustresonate.
piano
in the barrelhouse/honky'tonk
guitaron the laterByrds'
and bottleneck
'You'reStillOn My Mind',whenit occurred
to me that I neededto hearsomething
'bigger',silkier.
Andwhat betterthanthe
one
DorisDay?Easily
fashionable-again
of the greatestwarblerseverto covera
herlushtakeof'Let'sFaceThe
standard,
MusicAnd Dance'providedan orchestra
mood.Thevoice
restrained
in a deliciously
so subtlethat
hastextureand breathiness
anyinferiorsystemcanmaskthem.Not so
MsDaywasso closeyou
throughthe E-Flat.
couldimaginethe warmthof...well,let's
showour own form of restrainthere.'
Mutedbrass,a delicatepianostageleft
- onecannotavoidthe term 'silky'.Andthe
rhythmicflow!A slightchangein temPo
qatches
you
2m 15sintothis masterpiece
the shifthandledwith aplomb.
unaware,
Andit workedin mono,with the hoaryold
fave,BobbyDarin's'Beside
advertiser's
TheSea',showinga depthandsolidityg
'Thosebottom
God
octaves!
blessoversized
platters'
Unlikethe rigid Kevlarof the E-Flat'stonearm, NAD'ssuPer'thinflat arm was
cut from circuit board material,and was the subiect of much documentation
from designerJili Jandaat the TeslaResearchInstitute in Pragueand NAD's
then-Directorof Research,Bjorn-ErikEdvardsen.lt was devilishlyclever,one
neat detail being that the tonearm's wires were circuit tracks.The technology
purported to neutraliseresonanceby meansof a reversewave,a product of
the arm's flexibility,fluid damping and a sPrungweight. Unfortunately- and
this is an indictment of audiophilicprejudice- the arm didn't stand a chance:it
was quickly pooh-pooh'das 'the floppy tonearm'. Regardlessof how the 512O
sounded(manythought it was a fine packagefor the price|, NADsoon replaced
the flat arm with a conventionaltube, suchwas the venom treapedupon it.
2012 | ranvw.hifinews.co.uk
IANUARY
i 27
EATE-FLAT(r41oo)
'
ABO\IE; No challenge to those wfio know unipivots, but read the instructions when
setting it up; exposedwires, though, tend to detract from the look ofthe arm
that makesyou forgetforgiveits
single-channel
status.Thecrashing,
smashing
drumattacksfrom 1m 29s
onwardreveala punch,powerand
forcethat will jolt youfrom any
reveriethe firstminutecreated.
Drumlustled me to Warren
Zevon's'Werewolves
Of London'
(thoughit's hardnot to pictureTom
Cruiseand hisColorOf Moneypool
cueacrobatics
whenhearingthis
song).Theopening,courtesyof Mick
Fleetwood
andJohnMcVie.let the
diminutive
Sophia3s struttheirstuff,
comingoff likethe audioequivalent
of JamesCagney- a bantamthat
performs
wayaboveitsweight,
the clamourof the keyboards,
the
solidrhythmsectioncoalescing
into
a gloriouswhole,yet actingasa
platformfor Zevon's
slyvocals.
ANOTHER KIND OF POOIJ
Andso it went,LPto LBJoe
Wa l sh 's' Lif e'
B seenG oodc' h u rn i n g
with a forcethat elicitsthe most
embarrassing
moves.
of air-guitar
Hisvoice,fed throughwhatever
oddballprocessing
wasusedbackdn
1978,is recognised
for the weary,
jadedrock-star
bleatthat suitsthe
lyricalcontent.Underscoring
it
isa quasi-reggae
beat,flashes
of
electricity
tanglingwith synthetic
notesso richin theirartificethat it's
asif 'unplugged'
neverarrivedtwo
decadeslater,
Aah.thosebottomoctaves!Cod
platters,
blessoversized
big,fat
feet andwhateverstewcomorises
Sorbothane.
Rich,dark,liquid,with
plentyof mass- you felt as if you
werelistening
fromthe bottomof
the swimmingpoolimmortalised
on
the sleeve.
Theexponential
decayof
the notes,the sizzleof the cymbals,
the tinkleof the pianocombined
to painta sonicpictureworthyof
Walsh's
storytelling
skills.
A differentemotionmotivated
LynyrdSkynyrd's'Sweet
Home
patriotica
Alabama',
as(regionally)
songasrockeveryielded,showing
what thismuch-mourned
Southern
bandfelt abouttheirhomestate.
Somehow,
I can'timaginea song
like'SweetHomeHuddersfield'
or somesuch
delivering
the same
majesty...
Thepowerof the
percussive
attacks,
the massed
guitarassault
vocals,the relentless
possessed
everyelementof sheer
energyneededto conveywhat is as
a n th e m i a
c s o n ga sonecoul dw ant
to hear- if an Alabamian.
cD
28 | www.hifinews.co.ukI JANUARY
2012
Guiltyadmission:
I was not
expectingto fall in lovewith
the E-Flat,
eventhoughI find its
siblingsso enjoyable.
Thearm
concernedme, but I was proven
wrong:this deckis magnificent,
representingfar better value
than somethingsellingfor f4100
deserves
to do. Thesound,the
looks,the buildqualityandfinish
- the onlything I canfault is the
thin Styrofoampacking!With its
E-Flat,EAThastruly come of age.
Sound
0uatity:
85%
ffiffiffiffiffiffiffiEffiffi'*
Comparisons
with EATScostlierFort65 design[HF / Dec '1 O]
are instructivebecausethe 'shape'of the E-Flat's
wow and
flutter spectrum[Craph1, below]is verysimilaralbeita mere
0.01%furtheradrift in both low and high-ratespeedvariations.
Theabsolutespeedof the E"Flatis betteradjusted,however,
with our samplerunningimperceptibly-0.1%slow.EATknows
how to designa decentlyover-sized
bearingand the E-Flatis
no exception,the deckboastinga low -70.7d8 rumble,a mere
0,7d8 behindthe Fort6S but exhibitingsomeunusualmodesat
40HZand 80Hz- a featureof the twin Virtual 24-Dole'motors
perhaps?Eitherwa)4this is a beautifullyappointeddeck.
EAfsflat Kevlartonearmis not as rigid in everyplaneas
the material'sreputationmight suggestand asthe breaksat
125Hz,29OHzand 510H2on the cumulativedecaywaterfall
spectrum
[Craph2, below]clearlyindicate.Thischaracteristic
was returnedfrom the arm whetherthe impulsewas appliedto
the top or sideof the Kelvarsheetor, indeed,the alloyunipivot
doesexhibitbending
bearinghousing.Clearlythis 'springboard'
(flexing)and higherfrequencytorsional(twisting)modes,but
they areevidentlyhigh-Qand rapidlydamped.Thefreedom
Finally,
from clutterabovei kHzis certainlyvery impressive.
asthe tonearmwiring is exfernal(stuckto its underbellywith
to hum
Scotchtape),the ensembleis potentiallysusceptible
and noisealthough,as here,figuresas low as-62.2d8 can be
achieved(re.5cm/sec)thanksto the huge platterscreeningthe
two motorsbeneath.Readersmayview a full QC Suitereport
for the EATE-Flat
turntableand tonearmby navigatingto vrww,
hifinews.comand clickingon the red'download'button. PM
E]
ABOVE:Wow and flutter re. 3 150Hz tone at 5cm /
sec (plottedt150Hz, 5Hz per minor division).Wow is
very low and flutter, though complex, is also low
El
*
B
ABOVE:Cumulativetonearm resonantdecav
'o'
spectrum,illustratingvariousbearing,pillar and 'tubr
vibration modesspanning100H2-10kHz over 4omsec
Turntable speed error at 33.33rpm
Rumble (silentgroove,DINB wtd|
R um bl e( thr oughbear i ng.D INB w td)
Hum & Noise (unwtd,fel.to 5cmisec)

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