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Phono System Extraordinaire: EAT Forte S Turntable with Csharp 12 inch Carbon Tonearm, Grado Aeon MI Cartridge, WyWire Diamond Phono Cable, and the EAT Massive LP Weight

08-03-2018 | By Robert H. Levi | Issue 98

After many many years as an audiophile delving into all forms of music reproduction in the home, I am most aware of the direction of the many twists and turns of our limitless hobby. The infinite variability of our quest enhances the fun and fulfillment waiting just after the next acquisition. Recently, I described a dynamite phono front end, intensely musical and realistic, with a solidity, clarity, dynamic soundstage, and overall definition close to my four times more expensive reference:  HERE for under $9500 retail for the entire package.

Subsequent to discovering the outstanding new EAT Jo No.5 MC Cartridge, which compares magnificently to cartridges costing north of $3000, and outperforms anything under $2000 in my experience, my mind was blown by the fact that it costs only $1295. This brings the ultra-high-value system described above to under $7500 retail! Imagine, a desert-island phono front end under $7500, giving you spare money for more LPs and a better phono stage.

It is beautiful, too. Finally, a company devoted to manufacturing turntables with precision components that DO NOT look like science experiments. If you think the EAT Csharp is a looker, now just take a gander at big brother Forte S. 

State-of-the-Art Front-End Combo

The Forte S is now available in Makassar High Gloss Mahogany, with improvements including a 12-inch carbon tonearm designed by EAT. In this we have a masterpiece and centerpiece for a state-of-the-art phono front end. The retail for table and arm:  $8500. What a deal!

The Forte S turntable was released in 2010, and has been tweaked continuously. The new fully original arm was added in 2016. Featuring a very reasonable size and stance, it screams precision and exclusivity. Adjustable magnetic feet shield the table from feedback. Layers and layers of damping, select woods, Sorbothane, and more, purposely engineer a black silent background and stable platform for the arm. Opposing magnets lighten the load on the thrust bearing, without affecting high table mass and sonic stability. Two motors are exactingly integrated into the plinth, with two belts solidly turning the huge platter. The motors are silent, the rotation is silent, the speed is perfect and the controls intuitive and convenient. (The computer is built in.) Other arms may be substituted.

I find zero to criticize.

  • Technology:  A
  • Musicality:  A
  • Build Quality:  A+
  • Value: A+
  • Work of Art:  Brilliant!

Let's now include the extraordinary new Grado Aeon MI Phono Cartridge at $6000 made personally by John Grado in Brooklyn, N.Y.

At about 90% of the overall performance of the $12,000 Epoch Phono Cartridge, it will move you to tears with musical perfection. It truly emulates reel-to-reel tape. State of the Art with the right ancillaries, and with 1mV output, run it straight into your MM input and create musical reality in your home. Employ a step-up transformer if absolutely necessary. I did for a while, but made adjustments that increased high level gain. My full Aeon review can be found HERE.

The new EAT 12 inch Csharp Tonearm is designed for the Forte S and is included in the table price, with an extra plinth mount for other tonearms. The carbon fiber arm features unique chrome finish, complete adjustments including SRA, an extra arm weight, quality vertical DIN input, and a precision-damped system with ABEC 7 bearings are an achievement you might think SME or Graham might design. It was designed by EAT engineers in Austria for EAT. Outstanding stability! The 10-inch version in the Csharp is a winner. The 12-inch version in the Forte S is just better with noticeably increased textural information due to lower tracking error and exquisite precision balance. It is almost impossible to disturb its tracking due to the amazing built-in table isolation.

All of this wonderful front end is useless without a superb cable to connect the arm to the phono preamplifier. I have one meter and two-meter lengths of the WyWires Diamond Interconnect with ultra-premium connectors, handmade by the brilliant Alex Sventitsky in Los Angeles. His overachieving Silver and Platinum lines are renowned by many of the world's top audiophiles, myself included, but the Diamond Line is so pure and neutral as to defy description. Look for a full review soon. 

The WyWires Diamond Phono Cable

Capacitance: 5.9 pF (per foot at a frequency of 10 kHz). Note: The amazing build quality and lower capacitance contribute to the low sonic signature of the custom Diamond Cable for phono applications and all interconnects uses. Custom cables for your specific needs are always available. 

The Forte S includes a DIN Tone Arm Cable to get you started. It is made by Project and retails for $150. It is not an overachiever. Sorry.

One more touch, if you will, we add the advanced new EAT Massive LP Weight. Made of metal and advanced polymers including a polymer surface, it is rated at 800 grams! I know of nothing more stable or effective, though weights are now made by almost everyone. This one outperformed, outweighed, was grander looking than my four reference weights and shockingly costs only $195 retail. It fit all four of my turntables. It is a must-own! My only warning, buy it before the cost increases. I understand a competitor's similar weight is $500 and weighs less. Try the EAT Massive Weight before you try a record ring...it may be unnecessary, and add nothing more. You will need to order the Massive separately as it is not included. The included weight is quite nice, but significantly less detailed. 


Though it would add cost to the Forte S, a two-arm design would be great.

Also, though the arm's anti-skate vestigial mechanism is adjustable and repeatable – very important – I just cannot handle it. I had to bring in an expert friend. A more user-friendly system is needed.

A definite plus:  packaging!

The table is crated and packed like it contains a box of jewels and an artificial heart. I have never seen anything packaged with this attention to detail in half a century.


If the EAT Forte S system is not the state-of-the-art in every way necessary to re-create the true essence of the musical event in your top-notch system, well then, be free to spend more and get less. The EAT Forte S Turntable with Csharp 12 inch Tonearm, Grado Aeon Cartridge with WyWire Diamond Tonearm Cable plus EAT Massive LP Weight may weigh in at under $20,000 complete, but it delivers like triple that sum. 

My triple-expensive front end has "exotic" written all over it. It sports a magnetic drive and accommodates two arms. I would never be able to pick it out from the EAT Forte S combo if blindfolded. Most importantly, my expensive reference is no longer in production and the EAT Forte S is.

I will be utilizing the EAT Forte S system, the EAT Csharp system, and my current high priced set-up for future comparisons. When I sit down for pleasure to spin some vinyl, who knows which one I'll choose?

The EAT Forte S system has my highest recommendation. You just cannot go wrong if this is your target price range.

The System Extraordinaire

  • EAT Forte Turntable with Csharp 12 inch Tonearm: $8500
  • Grado Aeon MI Phono Cartridge: $6000
  • WyWire Diamond phono Cable with DIN Termination: $3000
  • EAT Massive LP Weight: $195

US Distributor

VANA, Ltd.

2845 Middle Country Road

Lake Grove, NY 11755

[email protected]


Nancy Weiner

[email protected]

Grado Labs

4614 7th Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11220

John Chen, [email protected]





Photographs courtesy of EAT, Grado Labs, and WyWires.