EAT E-Glo Petit Phono Stage (£1,500)
Reviewed by Mr Underhill
IntroductionI confess I had not heard of EAT until about eighteen months ago, but this phono stage had something that immediately attracted my attention, valves. Those of you who have read my earlier phono stage reviews will know that my weapon of choice for the past twenty five or so years have been EAR-Yoshino phono stages.
When I made the plan to review a wide selection of phono stages I reached out to the importer, Absolute Sounds, and their publicist, Hashstar. They quickly put things into motion and two weeks later a moderately sized box arrived on my doorstep.
The EAT E-Glo Petit is the junior member of the three EAT phono stages, the others being the E-Glo S (£2,998) and E-Glo (£7,998). The Petit is a single-ended only phono stage that includes a pair of 12AX7 valves. The design is functionally minimalist where form follows function, and a welcome sight it is. No manual is required here, the EAT is clear in its controls and easily adjusted.
The EAT E-Glo Petit accommodates both Moving Magnet (MM) and Moving Coil (MC) cartridges. There is a wide range of adjustments including the gain, impedance and load capacitance.
The phono stage is an op amp-less design. Op amps are generally bought off the shelf in more moderately priced units, this can introduce issues which are documented here. For those who want to dig even deeper Paul McGowan discusses op amps and has some good links in this post.
The unit is powered by an Switch Mode Power Supply (SMPS). I have known these to degrade my system if poorly designed, no real issues here, the unit sounded very good, but close attention to the earthing is required or a sharp edge will intrude.
The result is a phono stage that is as enjoyable to listen to as it is easy to set up. For many people this may be be all the phono stage they will ever need.
The EAT E-Glo Petit specifications can be found HERE.
Test Tracks: The Good, The Bad and the BrightIncluding:
I chose three of my standard problem LPs. I would emphasise that these albums can have issues within my system with certain phono stages:
- John Denver, Rhymes & Reasons
I was brought up with JD and love a lot of his music, but many of the albums can be bright.
- Spandau Ballet, The Twelve Inch Mixes, Instinction
Many of the tracks on the double album sound very good. Instinction spits like a feral cat.
- Hollies Greatest
Great music. Early days of stereo with ‘interesting’ use of left and right channels. Can tend to brightness.
SettingsThis unit is a delight to turn on and off, with no whistles or thumps. On power up it runs through some checks, while it does so the blue LED on the gain setting blinks on the minimum value. Once complete the gain and capacitance move to their set values and you are ready to rock and roll.
Setting the unit up for your cartridge is straight-forward. The controls are all clearly labelled, and the range of settings is wiiiiiiiiiddddde.
There is a wide range of gain settings. However, this is not the quietest of phono stages and so I avoided the highest setting in my system. My setting for my Linn Troika (Goldring reconditioned) were:
Impedance: 300 ohms
Gain: 65 dB
Capacitance: 50 pF
In theory the 600-ohm setting, being closer to the 560-ohm recommendation, should have been preferable. My ears found 300 ohms to be better, vocals were more relaxed.
The manual states that with MC cartridges the capacitance has no effect. I did not find this; I had a marginal preference for the minimum setting.
As usual I used the Headquarter Audio Record Stabiliser (QRS) throughout this review. I find its effect to be consistently positive helping to resolve detail throughout the frequency range with my LP12.
This unit has what I think of as a standard phono stage frequency response, that is it has a slight upper bass emPHAsis. It’s noise floor is not as low as the best phono stages, nor is it as extended as some.
The EAT E-Glo Petit takes fifteen to twenty minutes to come fully on song. During that period the sound stage widens and deepens. I was initially impressed with what I heard, but when I returned to it after taking a lunch break it was disappointingly sharp. I have heard this effect before. As noted above the EAT E-Glo Petit is powered by an SMPS, this means it is NOT earthed back through the plug socket. I have an earth loom in place for PRECISELY this reason. I attached a cable to the earthing pin allowing the unit to earth back through a plug socket, in common with the rest of my equipment. Problem solved.
Let’s dig into some music:
Wlodek Gulgowski, Soundcheck. This is an electronic Polish jazz fusion album from 1976. I find that this sort of music is best produced by highly dynamic systems that time well. This was a tough test for the Petit. Its sound staging was never less than good and it presented the music well, but compared to some phono stages I have heard it lacks a scintilla of micro-dynamics, that is the individual instruments lack a touch of attack which adds interest and draws the listener in to the performance. However, the instrumental timbre and feel are very engaging.
Rickie Lee Jones, Pirates. The album kicks off with ‘We Belong Together’ with a highly percussive piano soon joined by Jones’ trademark slurred vocals. As the music builds some great drumming joins the fray, before Jones reduces to pianissimo with quietened accompaniment, then back to forte. This is to my mind right in the EAT E-Glo Petit’s wheelhouse, its rendering of Jones’ voice is delightful as is its timbrel realisation of the supporting instruments; for instance, the detailing on the cymbal work. This is an album that has never really spoken to me, I always considered it as a lessor sibling to her eponymous rendering, no longer.
Handel, Messiah, Solti, CSO. This is one of my favourite renderings of this superb work. The choir and soloists were beautifully rendered. As the choir moved from pianissimo to mezzo forte the acoustic was wonderfully painted as the massed voices echoed back from the walls.
Now we come to what I consider to be the piece de la resistance of this phono stage, sixties and seventies pop and rock. As an example, The Beatles 1967-1970. The EAT E-Glo Petit rendered each track addictively. The upper bass tilt wonderfully makes the tracks full bodied whilst giving a slight emphasis to the bass lines. The stage continues to render its strengths with voices and instrumental timbre, the brass cutting through the songs whilst never becoming edgy or sharp. I found myself playing my way through my Beatles LPs, not to mention The Stones, Elton John, Deep Purple and Led Zepplin, amongst others.
Fiddler on a Roof soundtrack with Topol. I have found that cheaper phono stages do not render this album well. No issues here.
When I played the ‘problem LPs’ I found that:
- John Denver’s ‘Rhymes & Reasons’
The EAT E-Glo Petit produced its magic yet again. Not only was the music delivered with no brightness it was engaging with JD sounding in fine voice. Once again with the Petit I found myself listening to the whole side and just enjoying the music.
- Spandau Ballet, The Twelve Inch Mixes, Instinction
The track opens with some well rendered reverberant drum strikes. The sssses are not tamed, but the rest of the music is dynamic and engaging.
- Hollies ‘Greatest Hits’.
Still a tad bright, so I turned the volume down.
- Voyd Reference 0.5 Turntable, SME V arm, Audionote IO II cartridge, Audio Note step-up transformer;
- Luxman 700 pre/power; and
- Avalon PM1 speakers.
In this setting the EAT E-Glo Petit Phono Stage worked as well as it had in my system.
ConclusionSo, is the EAT E-Glo Petit worth its salt? The phono stage is well made, includes some valve magic, is superbly flexible and makes music that is fun to listen to. It has an excellent combination of strengths. In short, it is well worth the asking price, even after the recent price hike to £1,500.
The slight upper bass response does mask some detail, whilst doing a wonderful job of underpinning pop and rock recordings where such detail is somewhat moot. However, on recordings where low bass is available the EAT E-Glo Petit can fail to give you the absolute dynamic slam and insight that is available. It is possible to get cheaper stages that will give you this, but in doing so you miss out on the improved sound staging, timbre & vocal delights of the Petit; a poor trade off in my opinion. If you want to have it all then prepare to spend a LOT more money.
As a part of this review, I compared this little unit against phono stages up to three thousand pounds. It was never embarrassed. In some cases, I preferred its music making abilities with particular genres.
To reiterate my opening comment:
For many people this will be all the phono stage they will ever need. I would consider it as a first base camp on the assault of great phono stages. There is more to be gained, but this gets you a very good all round sound that will allow you to enjoy your entire record collection. This unit is, to my ears, great value for money and I am looking forward to hearing its bigger brothers.