AR Rating 95/100


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What We Like

  • Elegant, simple and overall attractive design.
  • Rock solid hardware that is well machined and put together.
  • All around impressive performance.

What We Don’t Like

  • Confusing user manual.

Pro-Ject has really positioned themselves as the authority in the mid-range segment of the market. Their Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB is among the best turntables to get under $1000, and it fully justifies Pro-Ject’s current popularity.

Design

If we to describe the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB with only one word, it would be ‘elegant’. Pro-Ject is one of those brands that simply knows how to make a turntable which is simple but looks so good that you’d want to frame it on a wall. The base is clean, glossy and full of wide open surfaces. In all honesty, if there wasn’t for the speed select switch, it would be the cleanest turntable on the market.

Even so, it still looks impeccable. In terms of size, it is about the same as most of its competition. Build quality is incredible for the money and features tight tolerances all around. You know that feeling when you look at a machine and it just inspires confidence? That’s what Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB does. Overall, it is one of the best looking turntables on the market, period.

Features

Good looks are not the only thing Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB has going for itself. The hardware also matches the elegant nature of this turntable. We have a beautiful 8.6″ carbon tonearm packed with Ortofon’s 2M magnetic cartridge. This setup will allow you to run 33 1/3 and 45 RPM records.

For 78 RPM ones, you will have to swap the stylus for the 2M78 which is not included in the package. The motor is an AC synchronous unit powered by a DC power supply. They have made a precision speed box specifically for this model, which works just about as good as you would expect it to. The platter is among the more interesting features for sure.

Instead of being an aluminum design, they went with a semi-transparent acrylic piece that is both rigid enough for this purpose and quite unique. Hardware alone tells us right away that this turntable means business.

Performance

Loading a record of your choice and placing that tonearm at the beginning results in pure eargasm. For a model that costs well under a grand, Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB offers a type of performance that punches significantly above its weight class.

There are no hums, pops or any other type of audio impurity. The only pure analog sound that is deep, wide and saturated all the way. The setup of the turntable is probably the hardest part to get down. Pro-Ject does supply a user manual, but spending 20 seconds going over it will tell you just how useful it really is. Here’s a hint, it’s not.

Thankfully, you can find tutorials on how to put everything together elsewhere while the more DIY oriented users will probably figure out everything on their own. All in all, there is nothing that will disappoint you on Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB. It looks, works and sounds amazing.

The Rumble:


If there is one turntable to get under a grand, it’s definitely the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB. Bang for the buck, it is hard to find a better option. It’s perfectly capable of going against much more expensive units.

AR Rating 95/100


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