Pro-Ject Turntables – A Comprehensive Product and Brand Review [2019]

What makes Pro-Ject Hi-Fi turntables so popular in the audio equipment industry? Lots of things, actually, and in this Pro-Ject turntable review, we’ll break it all down for you.

Consistently a bestseller on e-commerce sites like Amazon, Pro-Ject is one of the first brands people think of when looking for mid-priced to high-end turntables. This company incorporates useful components and upgrades across its wide range of products, to ensure that they cater to every audiophile’s needs.

It is currently the largest turntable manufacturer in the market, offering exceptional value and manufacturing economies that keep product quality high and prices low. Without further ado, let’s take an in-depth look at the top five Pro-Ject turntables on the market today, to help you make the right choice.

Our Top Pick

Spoiler alert for those who just want the bottom line: Our top pick is the Pro-Ject Classic. This model is the perfect blend of modern technology and retro aesthetic and offers excellent performance for the price.

 

 

The Best 5 Pro-Ject Hi-Fi Turntables Reviewed

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Turntable Review – Best for Beginners

The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon has all the basic features of a turntable and is incredibly affordable. It features a low-noise motor, massive platter, and isolated feet, all incredible components for the money.

 

Key Features

  • Weight – 18.35 lbs.
  • Ortofon 2M red cartridge
  • 6 carbon tonearm
  • Precision belt drive
  • Weightier belt drive

 

What I Like About This Product

It has excellent sonic performance and is visually stunning. The components are high-quality and for the price, makes this turntable a steal.

 

What I Don’t Like About This Product

Putting together and adjusting the counterweights and balances can take some time. As this is an entry-level product, beginners may find this challenging and off-putting.

 

 

Pros

  • Great-sounding unit with a high-performance cartridge
  • Sturdy, well-built and attractive
  • No-wobble play experience
  • Transparent, hinged dust cover

 

Cons

  • No auto-return feature

 

The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon has all the essential functions of a starter turntable, and it’s also extremely affordable.

 

Overall Rating: 8.0/10

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Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB Turntable – Most Attractive

This great-looking machine comes with a high-gloss piano finish. The arm cable also comes as a separate item that plugs into the deck’s sockets at the back of the unit, which provides a lot of room for future cable upgrades.

 

Key Features

  • Weight – 12.35 lbs.
  • 6 carbon tonearm
  • Heavy acrylic platter
  • Ortofon 2M red magnetic cartridge
  • Built-in precision speed box with switch

 

What I Like About This Product

I love the speed box. It has a 33 and 45 RPM switch that allows you to change speeds without having to move the drive belt manually.

 

What I Don’t Like About This Product

Setting up the anti-skate counterweight, as with the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon, can be quite time-consuming and challenging.

 

 

Pros

  • Exhibits excellent musical fluency and flow
  • Stylish and durable well-designed turntable
  • Comes with a hinged, transparent dust cover
  • Quickly change electronic speeds with the speed box

 

Cons

  • The difference between the loud and quiet notes could be greater, enhancing the listening experience

 

The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB has lots of visual appeal and comes in a range of colors and finishes. The stellar visual presentation far outweighs any issues this unit may demonstrate with timing.

 

Overall Rating: 8.0/10

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Pro-Ject 1Xpression Carbon Classic Turntable – Best Features for the Price

This Pro-Ject turntable comes with an impressive carbon tonearm with spin-off EVO technology. Additionally, it features a resonance-damping counterweight that helps the 2M silver cartridge to perform better. The complex main platter construction is not available in other turntables within this price range.

 

Key Features

  • Weight – 16.6 lbs.
  • 6 carbon tonearm
  • Sophisticated 2M silver cartridge with silver spools
  • Stainless-steel platter with bronze bushing and Teflon bottom
  • Belt drive system with synchronous motor
  • Heavy aluminum platter for excellent dampening

 

What I Like About This Product

The high-quality features all packed into one turntable for a reasonable price. Notable, among other features, is the superior belt drive system and TPE unique absorber feet to reduce vibration. This unit also has a high-performance 2M silver cartridge that features silver spools for the ultimate fidelity.

 

What I Don’t Like About This Product

It does not have a built-in phono preamp, which means the consumer will need to buy one separately. If this component were there, this turntable would be much more superior.

 

 

Pros

  • Superior sonic performance
  • Excellent product quality for the mid-range price
  • Solid belt drive system
  • Easy to set up and play

 

Cons

  • It does not come with a built-in phono preamp

 

The Pro-Ject 1Xpression Carbon Classic features highly in many Pro-Ject turntable reviews, and its attractive and clean appearance stands out. Quality components combine to an impressive finish, especially showcased in the TPE insulating feet to dampen vibration, complex platter construction, and the superior belt drive system.

 

Overall Rating: 8.2/10

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Pro-Ject Essential III Turntable – Best Value

The Pro-Ject Essential III comes with an impressively modern, minimalist appearance and an incredibly high gloss finish. The premium components, like the Ortofon cartridge and 8.6 carbon tonearm, represent excellent value for a turntable under $300. These components all provide for that characteristic warm vinyl sound, and magnificent detail in the separation of instruments, making for a remarkable listening experience.

 

Key Features

  • Weight – 11.02 lbs.
  • 6 aluminum tonearm with sapphire bearings
  • MDF plinth in high gloss red, black, or white piano finish
  • Ortofon OM10 cartridge
  • Belt drive, with an aluminum driveshaft and stainless-steel bearing

 

What I Like About This Product

I like how easy it is to upgrade. For instance, you can easily exchange the cartridge or stylus with higher-quality models. You can also replace its platter with one made of acrylic for improved bass sounds and less static.

 

What I Don’t Like About This Product

Manual speed switching can degrade the belt, due to frequent flips back and forth between albums and singles, and which can be slightly inconvenient.

 

 

Pros

  • Great value for money
  • Durable and minimalist design
  • Easy to set up and play
  • Compact, slim build that hides all wiring, switches, and other accessories

 

Cons

  • The manual speed switching is cumbersome to use

 

This turntable is Pro-Ject’s ultimate “value-for-money” turntable. The cartridge alone is worth the money, which makes this machine a steal. It gives an outstanding sonic performance and comes with easy upgrades at a minimal cost.

 

Overall Rating: 9.4/10

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Pro-Ject Classic Turntable – Best Overall

The Pro-Ject Classic comes with a brushed metal top-plate inside the wooden plinth, a thick-cut aluminum-alloy platter, and purpose-built tonearm with an attached adjustable counterweight.

The tonearm also moves with very low friction, and the assembly of this turntable ensures that there’s enough space between the lead and the tonearm to avoid movement restriction and possible damage. All these features make this a favorite turntable in many a Pro-Ject turntable review.

 

Key Features

  • Weight – 24.2 lbs.
  • 9-inch carbon aluminum-carbon tonearm
  • Belt drive design using a low noise AC motor
  • 33 and 45 RPM electronic speed control
  • Aluminum alloy TPE platter

 

What I Like About This Product

I absolutely love the retro mid-20th-century look. The Pro-Ject Classic is a modern turntable that looks like an oldie, has decent, high-quality components, and sounds great, too. For retro turntable lovers, this will be an exciting purchase.

 

What I Don’t Like About This Product

When fitting the belt, platter, and height-adjustable feet, you may need to remove a few bolts from the upper MDF plinth, and then set those feet to your preferred height. The extra tinkering should be done carefully to avoid any damage and could be challenging for novices.

 

 

Pros

  • Exceptional performance and warm sound
  • Sturdy and beautiful retro design
  • Damped, height-adjustable TPE feet to reduce vibration
  • Two-layer design that isolates the sub-chassis and minimizes interference between the different deck components

 

Cons

  • For a retro turntable, it has only two speeds, meaning it can’t play the older 78 RPM records.

 

The Pro-Ject Classic manages to combine all the features of modern turntables with all the charm of earlier models. Although lacking in minor detail and precision, it is an overall well-designed turntable with an excellent sound performance. You’ll struggle to find a turntable on the market at this price with the Classic’s warm sound and full body.

 

Overall Rating: 8.7/10

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

About the Brand – Pro-Ject Turntables

Pro-Ject Audio Systems is an audio equipment manufacturer, founded in 1991 by Heinz Lichtenegger and located in Austria. All products are designed in Austria and manufactured in various countries within Europe. This company, currently the largest turntable manufacturer on the market, produces a range of quality entry-level to mid-level turntables, as well as other audio systems and components such as micro hi-fi components.

Their signature design is minimalist, simple decks that concentrate on delivering great sound on a budget. This design philosophy has time and again proven to be a reason for the brand’s continued success.

 

 

What has made Pro-Ject excel is its endless succession of affordable turntables, each offering useful upgrades. Within this general success formula, however, there are some outlier models, with high-quality, high-end turntables to appeal to dedicated audiophiles and professional DJs.

Another feature that makes Pro-Ject turntables stand out and perform well in many a project turntable review is the design and superior quality of the tonearm. Over the last five years, the company has engineered a carbon-fiber tonearm that replaced the tonearm tube. They also introduced a one-piece design integrated with the headshell. This attention to detail and level of manufacturing excellence is not easy to find elsewhere at the given price range.

 

Final Thoughts

Pro-Ject offers a wide range of turntables, and we hope the models featured in this Pro-Ject turntable review will tempt you to check them out. From very affordable turntables like the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon for beginners to the higher-end Pro-Ject 1XPression or Pro-Ject Classic, for dedicated audiophiles and turntable enthusiasts—you’re sure to find the perfect fit.

This accessibility has been Pro-Ject’s success formula. The selection ensures you won’t have trouble choosing one, and once you’ve zeroed in on one, you’ll know you’ve gotten a long-lasting and durable product. After reading this Pro-Ject turntable review, why not go out and sample one, and let us know your thoughts on your preferred model? We’d love to hear all about it!

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