I have been wanting to review a good mid-level model turntable from the Pro-Ject Audio stables for a long while but have never got the opportunity to do so. To date, I have only had first-hand experience with the entry level models (Elemental, Primary and Essential II USB) thanks to friends requesting me to help them set their turntables. So when the opportunity arose to experience the Classic, I jumped at it and agreed to do an install of the same, on behalf of the Pro-Ject Audio distributor in India.
The distributor states that he does not get any assistance from his principles at Pro-Ject to send ‘review’ turntables to the audio journalists who want to review the turntables and so this was the only way I could get an opportunity to listen and experience the said model.
Pro-Ject has improved their packaging quite a bit or maybe the premium turntable models have a higher quality of the packing materials used as is the case with the Classic model, which I found to be well secured, packed and with good levels of insulation to avoid any damages taking place during transit. I also found a nice instruction manual aided with apt photographs, to ensure the setting up of the Classic is relatively easy even for a first-time vinyl enthusiast.
The accessories included are a paper protracter, belt hook, set of allen keys and a vinyl singles / 45’s disc adapter. A pair of gloves completes the provision of accessories.
For the most part, the Classic is quite easy to set up. I start with screwing in the feet, remove the three transport screws on the top plate chassis, install the belt on the pulley and sub platter, then place the platter on top of it and then the dustcover after which proceed to level the turntable, which is the most important thing to do prior to doing anything further. The ortofon cartridge comes pre mounted and aligned so all that’s left to do is remove the stylus protector, attach the anti-skating weight and set the vertical tracking force by rotating the counterweight that is strangely unmarked. One can use the supplied RCA to RCA interconnect cables or replace them with your own preferred low capacitance phono interconnects to connect to either your outboard phono pre amp or use the phono input of your amplifier, that is entirely upto you. The good thing is that Pro-Ject provides good quality set of RCA interconnect cables with a third ground lead and also has a nice grounding screw at the back next to the RCA jacks for ground. The Classic is supplied with a DC power supply with country-specific outlet adapters.
The woodwork finishes available are Rosewood, Eucalyptus & Walnut Veneers. I had the pleasure of installing the walnut veneer model which not only looks very sober and understated but also appears old school like the Linn Sondek LP12 & Thorens TD150, taking you back to the ‘60s & ‘70s. What is so simple is also very classy in appearance, what with a wooden rectangular box made with MDF having a matt polish, brushed aluminium top plate chassis with a polished aluminium platter and a thin felt mat. A curved clear acrylic dust cover completes the aesthetics of the classic and rather aids the overall visuals of the classic turntable as stylish and simple.
There are 6 TPE balls that separate the aluminium top plate chassis from the plinth, acting as shock absorbers and replacing the springs that were originally used in the models stated above. TPE(Thermo-Plastic Elastomer) is a rubber like material that is used to dampen resonances at specific frequencies with different materials selected, usually associated with the workings of a turntable. They ensure that the top plate chassis which has the tone arm and platter attached to it, do not touch the plinth thereby ensuring isolation of untoward vibrations.
The platter is made from a solid aluminium billet and damped further to prevent any ringing. The tonearm with integrated headshell is an aluminium tube coated with carbon fibre to further strengthen it and dampen vibrations. The counterweight is also filled with the TPE material to avoid resonance build up. An ortofon 2M Silver moving magnet cartridge comes fitted from Pro-Ject but one can also retrofit various moving magnet or moving coil cartridges to this tone arm which is of medium compliance. To change the speed from 33 1/3 to 45 rpm, one has to remove the platter & manually change the position of the belt to the appropriate sized pulley. This can be quite irritating if one is having a listening session with a mixture of both types of records being played. Pro-Ject has a SB (Speedbox) model of the Classic also that allows one to change the speed at the touch of a button but it costs more. Ideally, they should have offered the same as standard fitment rather than offering the convenience as an extra.
My time spent with the Classic was limited and had the pleasure of playing only brand new records on it. I was pretty much impressed with what I heard as it plays true to form from the get go, with no deficiencies but at the same time in my humble opinion its true potential is limited to a large extent with the cartridge it comes pre-fitted with. The background is extremely silent thereby delivering the details on macro levels. A solid base to start off with is provided by the Classic, which one can build further upon by the avenues available in the form of cartridge upgrades and so on.
The combination of a classic retro design with relative ease in set up, usage and with performance to match, makes the case for acquiring the Pro-Ject Classic turntable very compelling but sadly it comes at a cost (Rs.1.6L) that might not be pocket friendly to all vinyl enthusiasts in India. I am told by the distributor of Pro-Ject Turntables that there is a lot that contributes to the cost over and above what it should ideally sell for or that matter all turntables from Pro-Ject should be selling for in our country, for which he is currently unable to substantially reduce the costs. A crying shame as the Classic indeed can sell in quite large quantities if it hadn’t had the cost going against it.
The Pro-Ject Classic is ideal for those having a substantial record collection and have a mid to high end stereo set up in place. Experimenting with different cartridges and phono stages will also reward the listener with substantial improvements in the levels of playback from the Classic.
Specifications:(As stated on Pro-Ject Website)
Speed 33, 45 (manual speed change)
Drive principle belt drive
Platter300 mm aluminium
Mains bearing stainless steel
Wow & flutter33: ±0.11 % 45: ±0.10 %
Speed variance33: ±0.15 % 45: ±0.12 %
Signal to noise70dB
Tonearm 9” carbon/aluminium sandwich tonearm
Effective arm length230 mm
Effective arm mass13.5 g
Tracking force 10 – 30 mN
Included accessories 15 volts DC / 0.8 A power supply, dust cover
Power connection 110/120 or 230/240 Volt – 50 or 60 Hz
Power consumption5 watt max / < 0.5 watt standby
Dimensions462 x 131 x 351 mm (WxHxD) lid closed
Weight 10.2 kg net