Pro-Ject Essential review

This budget turntable from Pro-ject is a sturdy performer, leaving us with little to complain about for the money Tested at £150.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

The Essential is yet another excellent budget Pro-ject. There’s little to complain about here


  • +

    Great sound for the money

  • +

    easy to set up

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    good build

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    comes with a decent cartridge


  • -

    No suspension means careful positioning is a must

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Pro-ject has dominated the budget turntable market for more years than we care to remember. With the Award-winning Genie's price rising (blame the exchange rate and increased manufacturing costs) the company has developed another product to take over the entry-level mantle.

That deck is the Essential. The price point suggests a minimum of frills, and so it proves. There's no sub platter here – the drive belt spins the main platter directly – and the Essential deck has little in the way of isolation.

Highlights include a new arm of unipivot design, a surprisingly tightly toleranced main bearing and the inclusion of Ortofon's OMB 3E cartridge, which is a decent budget performer.

Pro-ject found that some people were put off by the Genie's lack of lid, so the Essential comes with one.

Enthusiastic delivery
Once properly set up on a rigid support (ideally well away from the speakers), this package turns in an excellent performance for the money.

It doesn't matter whether you listen to REM's Automatic for the People or The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Dukas, this little Pro-ject delivers the sound with infectious enthusiasm.

Yes, it's not the most pristine sonic presentation you'll ever hear, but all the fundamentals are in place: timing is crisp, while dynamics are well developed and forceful when required.

Rarely sounds flustered
Details levels are good, and rarely does the turntable sound flustered, even when it's asked to replay something demanding.

Considering the price point there's little of substance to criticise here. The Essential is decently made, easy to set-up and sounds great.

You can't ask for much more than that, especially at this price level.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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