Pro-Ject is another turntable manufacture like Rega, Music Hall etc. One thing that sets them somewhat apart from the rest though is that they offer many models, ranging from $200 to $12,000. We are focused on the tables up to around $3000 here though. Pro-Ject is headquartered in Austria. All their turntables are made in the Czech republic and Slovakia. Under the name of Box Design they also manufacture a range of micro hi-fi components such as Amps, CD Transports, Phono Stages, Streaming Devices and more. I’ll get to listing those items later.
I’m starting with the Essential line. There are 3 offers in this line:
Essential II standard
Essential II Phono USB
Essential II Digital
The USB model has a built-in phono preamp with USB output while the Digital model is for connecting to multi-room systems such as Sonos or soundbars, bluetooth speakers, etc. I’m focused on the standard table here.
The other thing Pro-Ject has done recently is that they have upgraded most of their tables in some way without raising prices too much or at all. In the case of the Essential line they upgraded the tonearm and motor control.
Here is the Pro-Ject Essential II which can be had for a song. Manufacture site: http://www.project-audio.com/main.php?prod=essential2&cat=turntables&lang=en
• Belt drive with silicone belt
• Low vibration synchronous motor
• Integrated motor control with DC power supply secures silent running
• Main platter bearing made from stainless steel runs in bronze bushing with Teflon bottom
• 8,6” aluminium tonearm with sapphire bearings
• Ortofon OM5e cartridge, pre-mounted
• Pre-mounted gold-plated RCA interconnect cable
• Special turntable feet for effective decoupling
• Color options: Black, Red, White.
• Dust cover included
A quiet-running synchronous motor with silicone belt is driving a low-resonance platter made from laminated particle board. (They also offer an acrylic platter at additional cost *shown in picture*). A new motor control with DC power supply. The main platter bearing consists of stainless steel spindle and bronze bushing with Teflon bottom to secure low friction.
The main chassis is made from lightweight, but very stiff particle board. Essential II utilizes a straight 8,6“ aluminium tonearm design made from a single piece of aluminium with sapphire bearings. Special feet effectively decouples the turntable from the surface.
Some of the Pro-Ject tables have one part of set up that is slightly different from most others. It’s not a big deal, but just so you know (you tube video):https://youtu.be/Ps-Pq6khGQk
Here is what Michael Fremer says about the Pro-Ject Essential II. (Review is from 2012, so it doesn’t cover the upgrades, but you get the general info. I include this because Mr. Fremer is an analog master and if he says it’s good you can take it to the bank) Used with kind permission:http://www.analogplanet.com/content/how-low-can-you-go-pro-jects-299-essential-turntable#TdivJVysoLgIdXks.97
Now there is the Essential III turntable as well and it is quite the upgrade from the Essential II for the same price!
The new Essential III
The new Essential III builds on the successes of the Essential II. The Essential II is a fabulous sounding turntable. It’s the least expensive turntable on the market that includes both a high precision main bearing and a solid, adjustable tonearm that’s based on the award-winning Debut design. It’s become the starter turntable of choice for audiophiles the world over.
The new Essential III adds some nice upgrades compared to the Essential II. Cosmetically, the Essential III takes a cue from the award-winning Debut Carbon DC, with a lustrous high-gloss finish that’s available in Black, Red, or White. The platter also gets an upgrade: it’s constructed of a dense MDF for minimal resonance and finished in a high-gloss piano black. The visual effect is striking, especially on the Red and White tables where the high-gloss platter contrasts nicely with the plinth. It looks really spectacular if you display it with some fun colored vinyl to accentuate the colors! The adjustable 8.6” one-piece aluminum tonearm is significantly more sophisticated than anything close to its price range, and utilizes sapphire bearings for minimal friction and many years of reliable performance. The Essential III also includes a factory mounted/aligned Ortofon OM10 cartridge.
The main platter bearing is precision machined high grade stainless steel and the drive pulley is crafted from aluminum. A new DC motor speed controller board regulates the platter speed and the Essential III now includes Connect it E interconnect hardwired directly to the output.
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS Speed
33, 45 (manual speed change)
33: .21% 45: .19%
Wow & flutter
33: .70% 45: .60%
Platter : 300mm MDF with felt mat
Main bearing: Stainless steel
Effective arm length 218.5 mm
Overhang 22 mm
Effective tonearm mass 8 gr
Counterweight for mass 3 – 5.5g (included)
Tracking force range 0 – 2.5 grams
Included accessory: Power supply, dust cover
(WxHxD) 16.5 x 4.4 x 13 in
(net) 11 lbs
High Gloss Red, White or Black
(Next page: RPM line of turntables)