It’s time for Evolution, according to Pro-Ject. Taking its most popular turntable design and altering almost every aspect, while at the same time increasing the price, is a dangerous game, but the Debut Carbon Evo is a triumph of calculated risk-taking that takes all the jeopardy out of buying your first deck.
Pro-Ject has worked hard at making its latest Debut a current class leader, but also one with the potential to morph into a steady mid-range competitor by offering a series of affordable add-ons. However, as you can see from the five stars on this review, the basic deck is impressive enough as it is.
Among the upgrades are improved motor mounting, new height-adjustable damped feet and a heavy steel platter that weighs 1.7kg and features a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) damping ring on the inside for quieter operation.
Perhaps most welcome, though, is the addition of a rocker switch on the bottom of the deck, which allows you to adjust the rotation speed. No more removing the platter and manually readjusting the belt when you want to go from 33.33rpm to 45.
Speeds 33 rpm, 45rpm, 78rpm (optional)
Tonearm mass 6g
Tonearm length 21.8cm
Power consumption 4W
Dimensions (hwd) 11.8 x 41.5 x 32cm
But we think you’ll want to interact with this record player as much as possible. Having followed Pro-Ject’s Debut line for many years, there’s a real sense of it reaching adulthood with the new Debut Carbon Evo.
Everything about it says it has reached maturity, from the clean lines and lack of ornamentation to the gorgeous finish of its new satin colourways. Alongside the usual high gloss finishes – available in black, white or red – and a real wood veneer, there are five glorious satin options (black, white, blue, green and yellow) for no extra cost.
Despite being lightweight and incredibly stiff, we notice a little play in the bearings of the deck’s one-piece Carbon tonearm. But that doesn’t take away from the fact this is the best tonearm we have found on one of Pro-Ject’s Debut offerings.
While most people will get the familiar Ortofon 2M Red cartridge, customers in the States will instead find the Sumiko Rainier. Our sample features the former, so our US readers may wish to test this deck themselves before purchasing, though Pro-Ject’s promise of potential upgrades means this is one area in which you might experiment anyway.
Once out of the box, you’ll have the Debut Carbon Evo up and running in moments – just add the belt, platter and weights and you’re pretty much ready to go. Despite the lack of branding, its identity as part of the Pro-Ject family is revealed immediately as the room is bathed in its rich, full-bodied tone.
Of course, that is of little surprise. The company has long proven its ability to offer up a magnificently plush midrange, with vocals so often a particular treat when given so much warmth and held up by plenty of weight in the bass.
It is also partnered with a great deal of detail and texture. Where competitors might beef up their sound in an attempt to disguise a lack of real insight, Pro-Ject here welcomes you to explore its vast sonic range, proving its aptitude for making a deck that is both easy to listen to and prepared for deeper, more analytical sessions.
That easy listening, unfussy nature is invaluable for a turntable of this type, at this price, given the vast array of products with which it might be partnered, but again that would be next to worthless if the new Debut lacked the ability to engage.
It might be an area in which some of the company’s decks have been lacking recently, but in terms of dynamic expression and rhythmic precision, we are at least on par for a five-star deck at this price. The Debut Carbon Evo keeps our attention fixed with its keen ear for emotion and just enough drive to punch out staccato rhythms.
It’s certainly a more laid-back approach than that taken by similarly-priced competitors, such as the Rega Planar 2, but it’s convincing nonetheless and entirely in keeping with this Pro-Ject’s overall character. The performance might not be quite as energetic or as clean, but it is no less attractive because of it.
Whether or not the Debut Carbon Evo is the best record player for you might be decided by whether you prefer its fuller, more relaxed character or the more spritely and lean alternative of its main competitor.
What shouldn’t be up for question, however, is whether you give it a spin for yourself. For those in the market for a deck costing less than half a grand, the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo is a must listen.
- Sound 5
- Features 5
- Build 5
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Read our Pro-Ject Debut Carbon review
Read our Rega Planar 2 review