Project Audio makes a number of turntables of which the Essential II model is one that comes with or without a built-in phono stage(moving magnet MM) and or with the addition of a USB port for converting analogue to digital files, via an open source computer program recording software called Audacity.
We received the Essential II Phono USB model that comes with a built in phonostage and USB. There are 3 colors options for the plinth of the Essential II series, namely White, Black and Red. We received the white one for our review.
Inside the Box:
The Project Essential II Phono USB came securely packed in a cardboard box with sufficient amount of cardboard packing materials to support the dust cover, plinth and platter. Adequate amount of packing materials are used and in that order from top to bottom. Everything is well laid out and easy to remove. The User manual, plinth mat, RCA interconnects with ground cable and the belt all come packed in the same plastic bag. The platter is packed separately and held over a cardboard piece, below the dust cover. The tonearm counterweight is held in place in a foam recess which is taped over to avoid its movement. The wall wart power adaptor is packed in a separate white box and placed below the plinth. A small zip lock bag contains the anti-skating weight and a head shell shim for using with another cartridge. The tone arm with a Ortofon OM5E moving magnet phono cartridge come factory fitted to the plinth, along with the motor and pulley also being attached. A 45 rpm record adaptor and an allen key come separately packed in a small plastic zip lock pouch.
The outer box can be re-used a couple of times, though I doubt anyone will do so once the turntable is assembled.
Packing Quality – 4/5
Since the Essential II Phono USB comes, semi disassembled, one needs to put the following in place to get it going. The first thing to attach to the plinth is the platter with the felt mat and with the motor assembly via a silicone rubber belt and plastic pulley with a stainless steel shaft and bronze bushing with Teflon bottom. The main platter bearing is made of stainless steel. The motor has 2 grooves to play either 33 & 1/3 and 45 RPM records. Once that is done, one should put the tone arm weight onto the tone arm shaft at the back end and adjust to balance the tone arm post which dial in the VTA for the pre fitted OM5E cartridge. Next step is to attach the fiddly little anti skating weight which is one of the irritating things of Project Turntables. The last thing to do will be attaching the dust cover and connecting the power socket and RCA interconnects to the turntable at one end and to the amplifier at the other. The Essential II turntable does look very smart especially in white mat coloured plinth that is made of MDF.
Build Quality – 3/5
The synchronous motor of the Essential II is silent, has minimal vibration which results in clear coherent sound being produced via the inclusion of the excellent value for money Ortofon OM5E moving magnet cartridge. The sound reproduction is dynamic and musical across almost all types of genres of music played. The 8.6” aluminium uni pivot bearing tone arm is very light and needs to be balanced optimally to get the balance perfect as well as make the OM5E cartridge perform at its best. The good thing is that it is pre-fitted from the factory which makes the users life that much easier. We did convert a few songs off a record to digital, using audacity, which is quite easy to use and serves the purpose.
The Project Essential II Phono USB model is an ideal model amongst the Project turntables range for people who want to get into the world of vinyl. It is very easy to set up and subsequently plays your music quite well. With the digital option (USB), one is also able to convert their music on vinyl to digital format via Audacity. The playback and conversion quality is decent and just about enough for one to develop their hobby and learn a great deal about vinyl in general. We recommend buyers to start their vinyl journey with the Essential II series turntable and go for one which provides the options as suited to their requirements. One can also upgrade the cartridge to a Ortofon 2M Red moving magnet phono cartridge for better sonic performances and use an outboard phonostage but we personally feel that the Ortofon OM5E and the built in phonostage are more than enough to give the desired sonic results with the Essential II.
At Rs.45000/- ex Mumbai, the Project Essential II USB is a very decent buy for those looking at converting their favourite songs from analogue to digital format. For more information related to Project Turntables, please visit Recordplayer India
Having nostalgic memories of your father’s or even grand father's old turntable/gramophone? Are the 33 1/3 & 45 RPM records that they played still around and in your possession? If the answer to both is yes, then look no further than the Marantz TT5005, to be the gateway to relive those fond memories. The fact that right out of the box, it comes completely assembled, is completely automatic and has a built in phono pre which necessitates one to just plug in the relevant wires, put on a record and press start! The Marantz TT5005 is the perfect plug and play turntable that is ready to play your records.
The Marantz TT5005 came packed in cardboard boxes covered in plastic foam wrap+plastic covers, with foam type packing at the top, bottom and sides. The quality of the packing indicates that they can be re-used for 2-3 times at the most which is adequate for most.
The Marantz TT5005 comes in a matt black plastic plinth with an aluminium platter, white color platter mat and an acrylic dust cover on hinges, which can be disconnected from the plinth if required. All basic and of quality that is barely there, but then at the price its available, this is the most that can be expected. The tone arm has no cue – in lever, is extremely basic and is preset with an attached MM cartridge. It has a built-in phono pre-amp, so will work with any amp or receiver that has an RCA Aux Input. Automatic tone-arm operation returns the arm at the end of each side, and selecting the speed is done by a button rather than by manually moving the belt on its pulley. The cartridge is a denon DSN82 which is available on line through various sites.
Build Quality: 3 Stars
Drive System: Belt
Speed: 33-1/3 & 45 RPM
Stylus Model: DSN82
Rated Output: 2.5 mV / 1 kHz
Frequency Range: 20Hz-20kHz
Maximum Dimensions (W x H x D) in mm: 360 x97 x 357
Weight (KG): 2.8
We tried a variety of gears along with the TT5005, namely:
Exposure 3010V2 Pre Exposure 3010V2 Power
Klipsch Power Gate
PS Audio GCC100
Nordost White Lightning
Nordost White Lightning
TAGA Platinum B40SE V2
Heco Victa Prime 302
Heco Victa Prime 202
HiVi Jam & Lab 8
Amphion Helium 410
The procedure to play your music records via the TT5005 is very simple. You put on a record on the platter, select the desired speed by pressing the Speed button on the left side of the platter, close the dust cover & then press the Start button on the front ride side of the plinth. The plinth starts revolving and after about 5 seconds the tone arm moves in the direction of the record and quite abruptly drops the stylus onto the record! The music begins. Likewise when the last track on the particular side of the record is over, the tone arm moves upwards and goes back to its resting position, after which the platter stops revolving signalling the need to either change the side of the record or replace it with another one. During any point of time, one can press the stop button next to the start button which will result in the tone arm lifting up from the playing position on the record and moving back to its resting position as described above. We put on some records that we were not afraid to sacrifice as we feared the worst would happen. Our fears were amplified (pun intended) by us not realising that the phono pre can be disabled by a flick of the switch under the platter, in case one connects the TT5005 via the phono pre input of an amp/receiver having the said feature. The sound was heavily distorted and quite incoherent. We smugly smiled that our fears were proved correct. On downloading the manual, we realised our mistake, flicked the switch in the off position and started off once again. Everything fell into place post doing so and the music played rather nicely. We also connected the TT5005 to the AUX inputs of the amps with the built in phono pre of the TT5005 switched on to see how the sound changed with the built in phono pre of the TT5005 in action. It was very clear that the gain with the built in phono pre of the TT5005 was higher than the ones built in the amplifiers we used and also that it is a bare budget phono pre doing only what it was intended to do. No shame in that and certainly it did not shame itself in any which way. One must ensure to play clean records else the pops & crackles will be amplified to a great extent which puts off most people who are new to the vinyl fold.
For only Rs.16000/-, one is given a very easy entry into the world of Vinyl. The TT5005 is the perfect plug and play turntable that is ready to go, straight out of the box. If you're looking for a quality brand of turntable that's easy to use, then the TT5005 is ideal. A little larger than a record itself, the Marantz TT5005 is more compact than most turntables and so easy to place. The low profile lid keeps the dust out and helps keep the design simple. The TT5005 is a solid performer and recommend it to people who want to explore the world of Vinyl and what it has to offer or to those who have been bequeathed with a tidy number of records from either their fathers/uncles/grand fathers or other relatives who used to play their music in this format. The TT5005 is what you call a ‘get your feet wet in analogue’ type of turn table that will not only teach you the basics of a turn table in a fuss free manner but also prepare you to have the appetite, will and patience to take the analogue direction in a long term manner.