EAT Forte Turntable - CONCLUSION

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At this level, you’re not going to get a bad turntable, so the question then is – what kind of good one do you want? As with fine wines, great watches, top restaurants and seven star hotels, at this price you’re buying something that suits you like the best bespoke tailored suit. And so whom would the E.A.T. Forte suit? Well, the standard fitment of the Ikeda arm means this is far more like a turntable package than most decks at this price, which come sans tonearm, requiring you to make this big decision. The Forte is a case of ‘add cartridge and go’; it even requires relatively little set up as it is not a skeletal design which demands various layers be bolted on to various others.


What it gives then is brilliant sound out of a (very big) box, with a superb fitted arm that sings with almost any highish mass moving coil cartridge. It presents a relaxed, easy, nonchalant sort of sound, but one that is nevertheless immensely satisfying. The best thing is that it’s very devoid of character, or obvious strengths or weaknesses for that matter. Simply put, it’s a massive machine that gets the best out of your vinyl without you – or it – having to try very hard. At nearly £13,000, it seems you can afford not to!



In 1964, the former factory manager of Japanese tonearm specialist Grace decided to start his own business. At the age of thirty five, Osamu Ikeda formed Fidelity Research Kabushiki Kaisha and by the mid nineteen seventies his company was making world-class tonearms and pickup cartridges. Ikeda was no copyist, taking out several international patents and finessing his designs like few others. Indeed, so respected was he in Japan that his products were even used by the Imperial Family. The late nineteen seventies were the glory days for Fidelity Research, with the FR64 series of tonearms his strongest product, being a superlative device at a time when there was a relatively paucity of competition.


After the demise of Fidelity Research, the great man came back with Ikeda Sound Laboratories Company. An altogether smaller and specialist affair, he designed, built and inspected every product by hand. It was a chance for yet more innovation, not least the world’s first MC cartridge without a cantilever. The new IT345 and IT407 tonearms were launched in autumn 2006; coming in twelve and sixteen inch versions respectively. E.A.T.  use a specially modified, gloss finished version of the former.



The EAT Forte carries an Ikeda IT407 12in (307mm) arm with detachable headshell. This is a solid affair made from various metals Ikeda say, rolled not diecast. The arm feels solid and ‘dead’ in the hand and indeed it measures like that too. For a long, tubular arm it is surprisingly free of a main arm tube mode, expected around 200Hz or lower. In this region there is no sign of vibration, although a small bump at 120Hz could possibly be due to primary flexure. Otherwise, the IT407 is a very ‘quiet’ arm all the way up to 3kHz and should give excellent bass quality and fine sound staging as a result, as well as a pure midband. Above 3kHz, as accelerations rise, the headshell becomes as active as most, so here the Ikeda is less distinguished. Also, 12in arms roughly halve the tracing distortion generated by a 9in arm and usually sound smoother and silkier as a result, although often not as ‘fast’.


The EAT Forte turntable produced some amazing results. It was just 0.1% slow, a negligible amount and low speed drift below 1Hz was lower than usual too, resulting in a very low unweighted Wow and Flutter value of 0.072%. This suggests the EAT Forte will have much the same grip on pace as a Direct Drive. Weighted wow and flutter was low too, as is to be expected, measuring 0.061%.


An unusual combo this may be in appearance, but it is a good deal more sophisticated under the skin than one might imagine. It’s a great pairing. NK




verdict five globes

Don't be fooled by its conservative looks, this is a brilliantly conceived, superbly engineered vinyl spinner. A memorable - seminal even - high end product.

E.A.T. FORTE/IKEDA 12” £12,400

Absolute Sounds

+44(0)208971 3909


- supreme musical ease

- unerring speed stability

- flawless engineering

- excellent fitted tonearm


- size

- weight



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