Acrylic is not actually the perfect material for turntables, but it’s a good one. It is reasonably stable dimensionally, not very resonant, quite tough and, of course, capable of being polished to a very high standard of finish.
In this case, it is supported on three very slightly compliant feet, adjustable to set the deck level, which are the only suspension in the design. Across to the left is the motor, a low-voltage AC type which is fed from a simple wall wart supply and which drives the outside of the platter via a square- section belt. Speed change is manual, but easy because the motor is fully accessible. AC motors tend to vibrate a little, so Pro-Ject has mounted this one on a simple elastic suspension. The arm is familiar from previous Pro-Ject decks we’ve tested, with a tube of carbon-fibre composite, moulded seamlessly into the headshell and mounted at the rear on a full gimbal bearing assembly. The main bearing yoke is a large piece of metal and the base fixes securely to the turntable chassis, including a small metal box, underneath on which are mounted a pair of phono sockets and an earthing post – a more practical way, we feel, of connecting to the following preamp than the usual flying lead. The deck is available pre-fitted with an Ortofon cartridge (also distributed by Henley Designs): ours arrived with a 2M Blue (£155).
The reaction of each member of our listening panel to this deck was quite similar and generally positive. It didn’t excite many superlatives, but engendered a good deal of respect for the way it resolves detail, balances tonality and images. At the same time, there was some concern noted about the bass. Although it has good reach and body, it can sometimes seem a little disconnected from the rest of the sound, creating an unnatural effect where there is clearly bass in evidence but nevertheless the sound seems slightly thin.
In the higher octaves, though, the midrange and treble is very well integrated and tonality is very neutral. There’s a delightful open quality to the treble, which keeps the sound alive and makes for a very natural quality to the feeling of space on a good acoustic recording. Images are good, if not outstanding, with believable left-right spread and separation. Surface noise seems subjectively on the low side compared to most of the others in this group.
There were several comments on this deck’s good rhythm and pace. It, perhaps, wasn’t the very best in the test, but was certainly one of the better performers in this respect.
We had deliberately chosen the test tracks to present varied challenges in terms of timing and the Pro-Ject rose well to each. This was most marked in the chamber-orchestra track by Walton, which requires not just good rhythmic precision, but also agility and lightness of touch, which our listeners felt was achieved. It also propelled Pink Floyd with vigour.
LIKE: Lovely, open quality to the treble; low surface noise; good timing
DISLIKE: Bass not always well integrated with mid and treble
WE SAY: Another winner from Pro-Ject on value grounds, holding its own well against competition
Dimensions: (WxHxD) 460x135x360mm
• Manual speed change
• Arm connections via phono sockets
• Lid included
Distributor: Henley Designs
Telephone: 01235 511166
Want the latest issue of Hi-Fi Choice? Use our magazine locator link to find your nearest stockist!