A $2,995 Marvel – The EAT E-Glo S Hybrid/Tube Phonostage

A $2,995 Marvel - The EAT E-Glo S Hybrid/Tube Phonostage

Listening to the intricate harmonies in Crowded House’s “You Better Be Home Soon,” European Audio Team’s E-Glo S (named for its glowing vacuum tubes jutting out of the casework) offers up a sound that is mellow, defined, and dynamic.

You rarely get that out of five-figure phonostages, much less one for $2,995. With phono preamplifier prices reaching the stratosphere, what is the performance minded analog lover to do? European Audio Team’s Glow S, is incredible and we’ll do our best to tell you why in the next thousand words. But it certainly makes an outstanding first impression.

EAT principle Jozefina Lichtenegger is the driving force behind the company. All of her company’s products from their turntables, to the E-Glo S pictured here, to the packaging for their premium line of vacuum tubes project elegance backed up by performance. We’ve had excellent luck with their tubes as well as the turntables we’ve lived with in the past. The E-Glo S is not only a perfect match to her tables, it will look great wherever it is placed. We love manufacturers that can wrap style into the package, and even more so at such a reasonable price.

A single 18-volt wall wart takes care of keeping the low-level circuitry away from the power supply, further helping to keep noise at bay. The rear panel only offers a single set of RCA jacks for input and output – a model of simplicity.

Accommodating Indeed

Some phonostages require removing the top panel, or taking the unit out of the rack to get to the underside, the E-Glo S lets you adjust MC gain, (45, 50, 55, 65 and 70 db) loading (10, 30, 50, 90, 100, 1000 and 47 Kohms) and capacitance (50, 150, 270, 370, 520, 620 and 740pf) easily from the three switches on the top panel, with LED indicators on the front panel to keep track of your progress. If you are a monogamist when it comes to phono cartridges, just living with the same one until the end of its lifespan, none of this matters. However if you have multiple tables, tonearms, or armwands with different cartridges – lack of access to the gain, loading, and capacitance settings can become tedious.

Using the E-Glo S with a VPI Classic Two and multiple tonearm wand/cartridge combinations is a breeze. Swapping from MM to MC and the required adjustments from Grado Signature 1 to Denon 103r and back, effortless. Even if you don’t use multiple cartridges, the ability to fine tune your cartridge with minimal effort goes a long way to make the analog experience convenient.

The additional fourth switch is for a subsonic filter. We found this handy when using the E-Glo-S in the main system, equipped with a pair of REL 212SE subwoofers and listening to our favorite hip-hop and EDM tracks. It has a very gentle rolloff and no effect on low bass performance that we could tell. It might be pretty handy if you have wobbly floors too.

Running the gamut

While there are a number of intriguing phonostages in the $1,000 range, stepping up to the five figure models reveals a level of tonal sophistication that the lesser models do not. Of course, you need a system capable of resolving the detail, and for many analog enthusiasts, this is overkill. Comparing the E-Glo S to a number of top range phonostages we have on hand from Simaudio, Audio Research, Conrad-Johnson and Pass, the EAT is an excellent balance.

The E-Glo Sis like one of my favorite cars, the BMW M2. It doesn’t offer the ultimate level of performance of an M4 or a Porsche 911, but at real world driving levels, the experience is unmatched. Ditto for the E-Glo S. If you’ve got a mega system, with a top line turntable and you’re running a Goldfinger, Atlas or similar cartridge, you will need more performance than the E-Glo S has to give. (Though even in that context, you will be impressed at just how good it is). VANA’s Nancy Weiner suggests we take the larger E-Glo ($6,995) for a spin, so watch for a future review on this.

Acoustic instruments and complex musical selections really come to life via the E-Glo S. The speed of fast plucked acoustic guitars, or a gently bowed violin has the necessary delicacy to immerse you in sound. Yet there is also enough resolution to discern the difference between a Marshall stack and a stacked pair of Fender cabinets.

The low noise floor makes for great dynamics. Drums sound particularly lifelike, both on attack and decay, whether listening to the tubby drum solo of “In-na-gadda-da-vida” or the intricate work of Neil Peart. And it’s tough to beat tubey goodness for small ensemble and vocal pieces; the amount of texture and breath that the E-Glo S contributes is impeccable.

If you’re working within the context of a well-crafted system, and looking to put together a great analog front end in the $6k-$12k range, that includes the table, cartridge and phonostage of your choice – you will be hard pressed to find anything more revealing than the E-Glo S. The only qualifiers here are a single input, will RCA inputs and outputs work in the context of your system, and do you prefer tubes over transistors.

Speaking of tubes

JFets in the first gain stage keeps the noise lower than can be achieved in an all tube design. Even when placing my ear right up to the horns in the Pure Audio Project TRIO15s used for most of the listening in this review, the tiny bit of noise coming through is almost non-existent. Part of this can be attributed to the high level of quality present in the premium EAT tubes that are supplied with the E-Glo S.

The two supplied ECC83 tubes are a 12AX7 equivalent, and because the supplied EAT tubes are so good, I doubt you will even want to bother tube rolling – another bonus. While many manufacturers are using $10 tubes in their wares, these are premium tubes – a $400 upgrade on their own. Taking this into consideration, the E-Glo S is an even bigger bargain. For those of you that aren’t familiar EAT makes their own vacuum tubes, and you can watch a short video on their home page. Good stuff.

Swapping to run of the mill tubes, takes the noise up and the musicality down, so stick with the EAT tubes when the day to re-tube is finally upon you. For those of you with a secret stash of Telefunkens and Bugle Boys, there may be a few extra molecules of performance to be had, but you know what that costs!

A True analog champion

Running the E-Glo S through its paces with about a dozen different phono cartridges and hundreds of varied musical selections, it confirms its excellent first impression. This is a fantastic phonostage that is without compromise at its price. It’s easy to award this beauty one of our Exceptional Value Awards for 2018.

The EAT E-Glo S Phonostage

MSRP:  $2,995 (NA Distributor) (Manufacturer)