Pro-Ject Essential 3 Review


The Pro-Ject Essential 3 turntable is a great example of how a manufacturer can offer something new, interesting, and quality for relatively little money.

In its program, Pro-Ject offers a huge number of turntables that meet the requirements of various categories of users. It is not disputed that the company has vast experience that they have accumulated in the construction of turntables in recent years, and certainly have the technology that helps their knowledge to effectively implement in every new model.

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Pro-Ject Essential III Belt-Drive Turntable with Ortofon OM10 Cartridge (Piano Black)

But looking at the turntable on the test raises the question of how far it is possible to innovate structures and materials, especially in the budget category of products. At first glance, designers seem to have reached the limit of capability with past models, but Pro-Ject still manages to balance along a thin line that allows their turntables to always be innovative, although there are no revolutionary innovations or technologies inside. The Essential turntable line is a great example of how big manufacturers and in such circumstances can offer something new, interesting and quality for relatively little money. As the technologies and quality of materials and workmanship shifts through possible dynamics and are represented in top models, on the other hand, the proven ones are slowly lowering into more affordable models.

Such a trend is perfectly mirrored by all models from the Essential line and when we thought that everything that was offered in the predecessor of the tested model was really surprised by its third incarnation with a whole host of new solutions and features. In this context, a wider range of technologies that help integrate turntables into the system, including modern wireless technologies, should certainly be considered, depending on the equipment and customer preference, but I would primarily focus on the mechanical basis of construction and novelties in this segment in relation to precursors from the second generation of the product line. MDF was selected as the basic material for the construction of the turntable and plate chassis. Its advantages in vibration damping are well known and well used in the construction, but in addition, a higher quality acrylic plate is offered which makes the construction even better and more attractive. The spindle is also made very precisely in stainless steel. The lever is already a well-known model of the company made of aluminum and additionally muffled with the ability to easily adjust all the important geometric parameters and sapphire bearings.

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Pro-Ject Essential III Belt-Drive Turntable with Ortofon OM10 Cartridge (Piano Black)
29 Reviews
Pro-Ject Essential III Belt-Drive Turntable with Ortofon OM10 Cartridge (Piano Black)
  • Belt drive with synchronous motor, silicone belt and diamond-cut aluminum...
  • Integrated DC-powered motor control minimizes motor vibration and...
  • 8.6-inch aluminum tonearm with sapphire bearings
  • Ortofon OM10 cartridge pre-mounted
  • Special decoupling feet, high-quality semi-balanced Connect it E phono...

It has to be said that the adjustment is simple with the caveat that it is necessary to pay attention to the Anti-skating segment which needs more attention and nerves because of the really fine controls that change with especially small steps.

The high-quality Ortofon OM 10 cartridge, as well as Grado Gold and Shure 95ED models, were used for the test. Particular attention is paid to the manufacture of bearings for which steel and the manufacturing process are used with very small, almost insignificant tolerances, while the pulley is made of silicone, which finely rests on an extremely precision-produced drive wheel for which diamond tools are specially designed and manufactured. The motor is a synchronous type with a built-in DC speed control that additionally gives precision and stability, speed and unwanted vibration control. The speeds offered by the drive are 33 and 45 rpm and their adjustments are performed manually.

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The belt otherwise fits into the plate from the outside without the slightest tendency to slip. The kit also includes a dust-proof plastic cover and a great custom-made Interconnect cable sold separately by Pro-Ject. The kit is complemented by anti-resonant pins and excellent connectors for amplification coupling. Operating the device is banal and there are no major surprises or innovations. All in all a package of proven equipment that we could expect from a reputable manufacturer, and it should also be noted that the turntable comes in black, red or white.

The turntable was connected to two preamplifiers, but the impressions in the auditory test were collected with the Tube Box S2, which provided the best results in the initial part of the test. For comparison and a small calibration of results, the Teac TN 550 was used, which for this occasion was equipped with the same loudspeaker as the tested turntable. Due to the price difference, this duel was for informational purposes only, and after a few changes, Essential tested the test on a marble shelf that best suited the sonic structure of the structure. It should be noted here that glass shelves do not fit the turntable at all and therefore are better avoided altogether. In addition to marble, a solid wood or MDF shelf is also great.

Hearing Test

To begin my hearing test, I selected “Stiff Little Fingers” and their great album, “Nobody’s Heroes.” A lot of dynamics, guitar parts, vocals that do not tend to moderate the gramophone conveyed brilliantly with many details and atmosphere that adorned the period in which the album was created. It was a pleasure to listen to the sound of the strummed guitar sounds and the occasional disharmonic sound of the band, which owed its success to the energy, the idea and the power of the messages more than the playing virtuosity. The jazz music of the smaller ensembles was played very neatly, but there was a slight imbalance in detail that gave much more space to the tweeter than the rest of the sound image. Of course, the details were in the mid-tone area as well as in the bass, but there was a lack of energy in their presentation. The sound of the large orchestras was extremely precise, spacious and solidly micro dynamically endowed. Forte stocks demonstrated excellent tracking speakers, and there was space painting at the level of integrations that are almost even comparable to this almost basic model. If we neglected the price of the turntable, we could criticize the slightly less aerated space and lack of color. Namely, at times when the turntable is loaded with the powerful simultaneous gig of the larger instrument corps, the timbre becomes a little less lavish but still precise. A great addition to the construction was the addition of a cork mat which sounds somewhat balanced and brought calm to the sometimes surviving transients. In this case, a Vinyl Styl mat was used, which was handy, but I think any similar accessory is a great buy when it comes to a tested turntable. The vocal recordings were the best I could hear from the turntable. Lots of air, precision, atmosphere, and color adorned this kind of music.

Sale
Pro-Ject Essential III Belt-Drive Turntable with Ortofon OM10 Cartridge (Piano Black)
29 Reviews
Pro-Ject Essential III Belt-Drive Turntable with Ortofon OM10 Cartridge (Piano Black)
  • Belt drive with synchronous motor, silicone belt and diamond-cut aluminum...
  • Integrated DC-powered motor control minimizes motor vibration and...
  • 8.6-inch aluminum tonearm with sapphire bearings
  • Ortofon OM10 cartridge pre-mounted
  • Special decoupling feet, high-quality semi-balanced Connect it E phono...

Conclusion

Listening to the sound of a proven turntable, it’s not hard to conclude that the same product of a team that has the experience, knowledge, and technology to offer the right thing in every segment of the offering. For the asking price, the Essential III is an outstanding turntable and one has to wonder if it makes sense to invest further. The answer, of course, depends on the customer’s ambition, the number of vinyl and the vision of investing in music. It would be necessary to invest in a better acrylic plate, clamp and quality mat and only then see where the construction limits are, but then this review would be much longer and more detailed. However, it can also be said that Essential III is a great budget turntable that can satisfy the vast majority of users and the rewards it wins carry for a reason.

You can find a manual here: Pro-Ject Essential III User Manual

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Pro-Ject Essential 3 Specifications:

  • Speed: 33, 45 (manual speed change)
  • Principle: Belt drive
  • Speed variance: 33 – 0.70% 45 – 0.60%
  • Wow & flutter: 33 – 0.21% 45 – 0.19%
  • Platter: 300 mm MDF & felt mat (0,8kg)
  • Main bearing: Stainless steel
  • Tonearm: 8.6”, aluminium
  • Effective arm length: 218,5 mm
  • Effective tonearmmass: 8.0 g
  • Overhang: 22.0 mm
  • Counterweight for mass: 3 – 5.5 g
  • Tracking force range: 0 – 25mn (recommended OM10 18mn)
  • Included accessories: Power supply, dust cover
  • Power consumption: 4.5 Watts max
  • Dimensions (lid closed): 415 x 112 x 335 mm (W x H x D)
  • Dimensions (lid open, 90°): 415 x 365 x 390 mm (W x H x D)
  • Dimensions (without lid): 415 x 95 x 330 mm (W x H x D)
  • Weight: 5.0 kg net

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