Do you remember the Pro-Ject Essential II turntable? If you’re at all familiar with hi-fi brands and analogue, then it’s likely that you have. It was a simple yet hugely effective budget turntable that won over the hearts and minds of critics and customers alike, scooping up multiple awards in its lifespan and, thanks to the low barrier-to-entry price point, helped many people discover the joy of vinyl for the first time. It was the kind of entry-level that didn’t put anyone off. If anything, it invited them in.
Pro-Ject knew they’d made something special, but weren’t willing to just leave it there. As upgrades and improvements emerged, they took one of their greatest successes and made it better.
Introducing the Pro-Ject Essential III Turntable, the latest incarnation of the hugely successful Pro-Ject Essential series. It builds upon the many successes of its award-winning predecessor (the Essential II) with a series of upgrades to bring it up to spec. Some of it remains the same, the simple elegance that made the Essential II what it is still very much applies, but it’s still a significant improvement, with the Essential II being newly kitted out with a new platter, more powerful motor configuration, a high-quality tonearm and improved cartridge.
The new Acryl-IT E Platter is the most obvious upgrade, a feature seldom encountered on turntables under £300. It’s been added to reduce resonance, and does so beautifully, in part due its use of a stainless steel bearing in a bronze bushing with Teflon-lined bottom. It can be used in conjunction with a supplied felt mat too, if you’d prefer, for even smoother rotation.
The Essential II turntable’s tonearm and cartridge have also been upgraded. The pre-fitted tonearm has been swapped-out for an 8.6” lightweight yet rigid aluminium one, with a bearing assembly using sapphire bearings. This is crowned with an Ortofon OM 10 cartridge, which can of course be changed later down the line. This cartridge issues an elliptical profile and precision micro-mechanics. Coupled with the smooth tracking of the tonearm, this makes for a impactful and hugely impressive sound stage.
By keeping what worked so well the same and refining the upgrades, it’s impossible not to get excited about this new turntable. It sees £100 worth of aesthetic and audible upgrades, to be specific, yet the cost of the final cost is only £30 more than the Essential II. The improvements have been described as “dramatic”, and they really are. Yet, the price remains as demure as it ever was. At £239, it will invite those who are curious about what high quality turntables look, feel and sounds like, without forcing them to break the bank.
Does this make it the best turntable on the market for £300? Well, seeing as it’s an improved version of what was arguably the best before it, we can only say yes.
If you like what you see, click here for the full listing (including the tech specs) and to see what else the Essential III turntable can offer.