In this article, I’m going to be discussing and recommending Pro-Ject turntables. We’re going to break down what makes a Pro-Ject record player so special, and later on, I’m going to give you my list of the best Pro-Ject turntables on the market, so that you can go out, get your record player, and being listening to your favorite albums in no time.
To better help you with this, I’ve created a table below which contains some of the best Pro-Ject turntables (as well as a few other brands) currently available on the market.
|ProJect 1Xpression Carbon Classic||$$$||Low Noise AC Motor|
|ProJect Classic||$$$||Metal/MDF Chassis|
|Project Debut Carbon DC||$$||8.6" Carbon Tonearm|
|Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB||$$$||Pro-Ject Speed Box Built-in|
|Pro-Ject Essential III||$$||Ortofon OM10 cartridge|
|Pro-Ject Essential III Phono||$$||Ortofon OM10 cartridge|
|Rega Planar 1||$$||RB110 tonearm|
|Audio-Technica AT-LP5||$$||USB output|
|Rega Planar 2||$$$||10mm Float-Glass Platter|
|Sony PSHX500||$||Transfer and Edit Songs via USB|
|U-Turn Orbit Special||$$||Solid hardwood plinth|
|Audio-Technica AT-LP120USB||$$||USB Direct Drive|
|Audio Technica AT-LP1240-USB||$$||USB Direct Drive/DJ Table|
|Marantz TT-15S1||$$$||Solid Plinth Belt-Drive Design|
What Makes Pro-Ject Special?
What I like about Pro-Ject is that they have a wide range of turntables—something for everyone. They have a very affordable line of turntables that are great for beginners—something like the Debut Carbon DC, which comes in multiple colors. Then, they’ll have turntables that are a bit more high end (i.e, more serious vinyl collectors and players) like the Pro-Ject Classic or the 1XPression.
Ultimately, every little step goes a long way in building a brand, and Pro-Ject is loved by vinylheads and newcomers alike for its ability to consistently create better and better machines.
5 Pro-Ject turntables can sum up the company’s features and focal points. I love Pro-Ject, so you won’t find this to be a very negative article, but I will say that each table has its pros and cons. As always, we’ll be looking at a few points of importance during our breakdown of Pro-Ject’s turntables:
So let’s get to it!
The Best Pro-Ject Turntables
Let’s begin with the Pro-Ject Elemental.
I wanted to start with the Elemental to highlight its simplistic design and stripped-down style. It sounds crazy, but the design was actually purposefully meant to look cheaper and simpler to go after the cheap, plastic turntable market. There’s always been a desire for cheap and convenient listening options, and with the Elemental, you get the cheap look with the expert experience, which is anything but cheap.
There’s no fear of skating or weight issues with the Elemental thanks to its central gravity mass point, carefully crafted from stone and placed below the platter. A belt-drive is visible, and despite seeming flimsy and dangerous is quite safe and durable. An ultra low mass tonearm is optimized for the Ortofon OM cartridge, meaning the clearest, highest quality playback you can get.
Gold plated RCA contacts and cartridge pins cut nicely on the silver table and black slip mat surface. Despite looking cheap, the only plastic part of the Elemental is the stylus guard, everything else is high quality, and a nice look if you want something to look a bit industrial.
The Elemental is a favorite of mine for its simple design and no-nonsense features. This plays great, and is a wonderful example of how the attention to detail that Pro-Ject prides itself in is worth every second of inspection.
You won’t have to guess where the name comes from for this Pro-Ject table. The Classic is quite literally what you’d picture if you imagined the most basic looking, classic turntable from the golden age of vinyl records. A wood cabinet encases a silver platter and black slip surface, utilizing bland colors to combine together for a great color wave.
A low noise AC motor helps keep this turntable much quieter than the tables that provided its inspiration from the 50s and 60s. A Japanese ball bearing that sits at the base of the tonearm is a wonderful little touch, and adds a lot to an otherwise simplistic design.
The wood cabinet comes in three finishes: walnut, rosenut, eucalyptus. I like that option, because depending on your home decor, you may have one color finish that looks better. My favorite is the rosenut, because the hints of color help it pop a bit and give it a rustic, seasoned look.
That seasoned look is perfect for the Classic, because you’re embodying everything great about 60s vinyl culture in this table. The only difference between tables of yesterday and this Pro-Ject tale is the amazing features inside of the table, including Zircon pinpoint bearings and an integrated central vertical cable outlet.
Everything about the Classic is timeless, but because Pro-Ject is so good at what they do, you get all the perks of a modern table with this throwback design. I love the Classic, and it sounds amazing when spinning records from all decades.
Pro-Ject 1Xpression (Carbon Classic or S-Shape)
I’m a sucker for a good S-shape tonearm, and that’s not even my favorite part of the 1Xpression. The 1Xpression Classic S-Shape is a play on the company’s first turntable, the classic Pro-Ject 1, which was presented for the first time in 1991. Considered an entry-level turntable, the concept of this rig is that you can save a bit of cash while striving for a more audiophile experience.
An innovative gimbal design allows for resonance damping through a modern build counterweight, meaning you’ll get the best performance from any cartridge. The belt drive design was carefully designed, and offers low noise from the AC motor by utilizing effective motor decoupling.
An ultra precision frequency DC-driven AC generator (like Speed Box) allows for ultimate speed stability, which isn’t a must, but it is pretty nice. You can’t find the complex main platter construction of the 1Xpression Classic S-Shape elsewhere in this price range, and truly awes the listener in its playback.
Advanced thermo-plastic elastomers crafted with aluminum alloy allow for optimized resonance behavior. That’s a fancy way of saying that this table is stable throughout any sort of playback, ensuring you won’t be distracted by feedback or humming that ruins any great record. The experience of spinning on a 1Xpression Classic S-Shape is unimaginable without grabbing one yourself. The S-shape tonearm is a nice touch on a beautiful table, and worth every penny for this slightly-better-than-beginner table.
The Essential III is honestly my favorite design of any Pro-Ject turntable. Your eye is caught immediately by high gloss coloring, which comes in black, white and red. The price is as attractive as the finish, and it’s a great place to start if you’re not trying to break the bank but want the Pro-Ject experience.
The Essential III offers a variety of enhancements compared to its successful predecessor, the Essential II, and the improvements are worth an upgrade if you own the earlier edition of this line. A diamond-cut aluminum drive pulley signifies stability, whereas the resonance-optimized MDF main platter and MDF chassis help playback stay uninterrupted. The refined, high-precision platter bearing is the largest improvement over the II, and ensures that this table will last you quite a bit of time so long as you care for it.
The Essential III is the audiophile turntable for an entry level price. Setup for playing records is kept very simple, utilizing an included Phono RCA cable, that sounds as if you spent double on the table. The OM10 pickup is created by the phonographic cartridge pioneer Ortofon, ensuring a lively, natural experience when you spin your favorite record. Vinyl lovers rejoice, we have a high quality table for a budget.
Pro-Ject Signature 10
The Signature 10 was saved for last because there’s a lot to touch on considering that this is the most high-end table in the list. When you first look at the Signature 10, it’s easy to be intimidated by its design and style. The Signature 10 is a unique configuration that combines high end experience with impressive technology, all with the hope that a sophisticated concept can result in the perfect listening experience.
Truly magnetic feet help the table from falling victim to distortion from movement or shaking. The way that the table looks, you’d think the whole thing was a magnet. The ridiculous amounts of metallic silver look as if this is a table out of 2108, not 2018. A resonance-free, heavy platter runs ridiculously quiet, and is often so silent that you can’t make out its noises if you listen closely. The Signature 10 runs quiet thanks to an inverted ceramic ball bearing with magnetic suspension that is damped for listener experience. The 10” single-pivot tonearm is a new Pro-Ject design, and one that I hope they implement in all future tables.
Nearly all cartridges can be mounted due to a wide range of adjustment possibilities and the choice of adequate counterweights. This is very much a table meant for audiophiles, but because Pro-Ject is such a user-friendly brand, this is a great table to go with if you’re beginning to move into a more audiophile configuration. With 3 different luxurious high gloss finish options available, mahogany, piano black, and olive, you can make the Signature 10 work for you and your home. If you can swing it, this is my choice for Pro-Ject tables.
So there you have it! The Pro-Ject brand may not be as old as some tried-and-true turntable companies, but since coming on the scene, they’ve changed the way we buy and make turntables. Pro-Ject tables are consistently popular on sites like Amazon and Best Buy, and to be honest, are probably the first brand people come across when looking for mid-to-high level turntables.
Pro-Ject began in 1991 as a response to the calls that vinyl was dead. Now that the record resurgence is in full swing, it’s clear that Heinz Lichtenegger saw what many didn’t. Like record stores that stayed open through the 90s and 00s, and even stores that opened during that time, many knew that vinyl was here to stay, and nearly every form of audio that has existed, in some way, is still viable and around.
Turntables make for a great listening experience, and Pro-Ject is leading the charge towards the future of vinyl. While they’re at their peak, consider buying one of the tables laid out in this article. A Pro-Ject turntable can be a great start to a serious relationship with vinyl records.
Here’s an additional affordable record player I also really like:
This Pro-Ject is a very affordable turntable. For about $400, you get a very solid turntable that will come with a carbon fiber tonearm and the Ortofon 2M Red pre-installed. And, with just a few small upgrades (an acrylic platter, the 2M Blue), you can turn a very solid turntable into a pretty great one.
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