Pro-Ject Essential Turntable Lineup

Pro-Ject has launched several new models of turntables this year intended for the budget conscious market. Company president Heinz Lichtenegger explained that after helping to kick-start the analog resurgence, they introduced the new entry level models in response to "analog transitioning to a feature-driven market dominated by Chinese brands" bringing out ever cheaper all-in-one feature-laden products.

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Pro-Ject has decided to offer specific features in a family of different budget 'tables so you can get exactly what you need without money going to features you won't use. The bare-bones model is called the Essential III at $299 and works like any basic turntable. "A beautiful turntable doing everything correct," says Lichtenegger. Nothing fancy until you step up to the Essential III SB at $399 which adds speed change capability.

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How about just a phono preamp built in? That would be the Essential III Phono at $349. Or if you want just a digital connection, there's the Essential III Digital with optical output at $399. Or if the one wants to stream because the turntable is not where the audio system is located, or wants to connect wireless speakers, there is the Essential III BT at $399 which includes Bluetooth, 'natch.

Finally, the Juke Box E at $499 comes in red, black, or white, and has a unique sales pitch. Lichtenegger explains "the modern market has gone in the wrong direction. It's very popular for people to buy active speakers and an analog turntable. BUT THAT'S WRONG! Because it forces speakers and turntables too close to each other to accommodate the usually short line level interconnects used in such arrangements. The speakers should be in the optimal positions in the room but line level cables can't help with this. In the end you create a desktop system where you get essentially mono!"

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Pro-Ject has solved the problem by creating an amplified turntable with everything built in, "and then you can hook up any passive speakers in the correct way with long cables for proper stereo, without the need for any other components." Lots of features on this one: Bluetooth and a line input, line-level output, Ortofon OM5e cartridge pre-mounted, volume knob on the front, and even an IR remote control.

COMMENTS
spacehound's picture

It was just a passing fad among a small number of younger people wishing to appear 'trendy' when their friends came round.

And it's vanishing already as they've moved on to something else, though a few 'stick' with it as some have with the Rubik Cube.

BTW I love that 175 anniversary turntable, and it's got a nice complicated-looking arm too.
But buy it? Not a chance.

RH's picture

@spacehound,

I'm curious where you get the evidence for your claim, given every bit of evidence I'm aware of contradicts the idea that vinyl is a passing fad already in decline.

Do you ever look at the news? Vinyl sales have been nothing but up for many years, including 2017:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/vinyl-sales-2...

https://consequenceofsound.net/2017/01/vinyl-on-track-to-become-a-billio...

Same with turntables:

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/dec/22/turntables-are-golden-a...

And turntables were the most popular audio purchase on Amazon as well.

I'm just wondering if there is anything other than mere cynicism behind your comment?

(Me, I'm loving the vinyl revival. There are just tons of fresh vinyl releases in all genres...I can't keep up with everything I'd like to buy. Lovers of film soundtracks especially, like myself, feel like we are entering a golden age insofar as the influx of newly re-mastered LPs, previously unreleased soundtracks, and the level of aesthetics in terms of album art, liner notes, vinyl design, and lots of additional info and extras that come with many releases. I find it far more fun to receive a new album on vinyl than to download an album or whatever).

spacehound's picture

...purchased by one person in twenty over an entire year isn't any kind of resurgence.

And as for the number of people buying records that will give an unrealistically HIGH figure as the people buying them probably won't buy just the one record in an entire year.
So let's say for discussion each person purchased five records in the year.
So one person in a hundred bought five records and the other 99 people didn't buy any records at all.

Also half of those turntables sold by John Lewis cost less than 100 UK pounds, arm and cartridge included. Which isn't exactly a 'commitment' is it?

And don't forget a whole lot less turntables will be sold than records.
As we have no actual figures for record sales compared to turntable sales let's assume each person who buys a turntable has 20 records. Which seems a bit low as they will get bored out of their brains playing the same 20 records over and over, but it will do for discussion. It will give a 'high' figure for turntable sales.

So: That gives a figure of one person in 400 bought a turntable in the year. Which isn't any kind of big deal.
It get worse. Turntables last a long time and you don't get as bored with having the same turntable as you do with playing the same twenty records over and over again. So people don't buy a new turntable every year and that one in 400 goes down. If they buy a turntable every five years it goes down to one person in 2000 buying a turntable in any one year.

As for the records themselves the music business doesn't care what it sells as long as it sells something or other. and most 'new music' vinyl records now are made from the same digital master that they had to make anyway for streaming, downloads, CDs, iTunes, etc.
So vinyl isn't 'special' to the music business, it's just another type of media for them to sell.

And, with respect (and I actual mean that, I'm not just being polite) all your talk of album art, liner notes, vinyl design, additional info, and extras, proves they are aiming at 'collectors' rather than people just wanting music.
And as someone who has 'collected' stuff myself the 'usefulness' and 'merits' of such stuff tends to wear off after a few years. So it's a fad. Maybe not a 'mass' fad at any one time, but a 'revolving' fad that affect a small number of 'quickly replaced by others' people at any one time.

Cynicism? Yes. It's just the music industry 'talking it up' with several different media outlets all using the same press release, which happens all the time with newspapers and other media. It's what press releases are for - to get the media's, and thus "the people's" attention.

RH's picture

Forgive me, but that does seem a rather strained attempt to justify your original comment, which all the data shows to be false.

The current vinyl situation certainly does qualify as a "resurgence." That's why it's getting so much press. Vinyl sales of gone nothing but up for the last 10 years. Dramatically so in the last 5. And it's estimated to only continue increasing this year It's getting a bit late to call it only a fad. The media is "talking it up" because there are actual numbers to talk up.

10 years ago there was one old vinyl store near me. Now there are 5 vinyl stores just within a mile of my house! I see vinyl everywhere I go now. If you can't acknowledge the significance of how the landscape has changed in terms of vinyl sales and awareness, then it's cynicism, not logic speaking, IMO.

As for records being made for collectors: of course that's part of the appeal. Records feel more collectable and tangible, which is one reason why people are buying them. But, though there are some who buy only for the art, mostly people are buying to listen to the music. In discussions on-line, in news item interviews with vinyl purchasers, in the countless youtube videos of people talking about their vinyl purchases (which span the genrations) the theme is repeated that this is how record purchasers like listening to their music. As many of the articles on vinyl and streaming point out: many - young and old - who are purchasing physical media like vinyl these days tend to use streaming as a music discovery venue, and when they really like certain music they will purchase the record.

One of the things that argues against it being a super short lived fad is because it isn't part of the "march of technology" in which we are talking about a current gadget - e.g. phone, game console, digital device of some kind - that will be supersceded soon by the next "better" gadget. Vinyl as a technology is old, long since superseded technically, and that is part of the point. It's not fulfilling a need so much for "the next best thing" but as a reaction to throwaway experiences. It's feeding an apparent need for tangibility that the churn of newer digital devices don't seem to feed for everyone. Will turntables eventually cool off? Sure, that's likely at some point as everything has a limit. But one can't count on it's demise in the same way, for the same reasons, as one can do so for many other technology based marketplace "hits."

I personally don't "collect" records in the sense that I'm driven to have a record only for it's artwork, or to complete some collection or whatever. I only buy a record first of all because I want to listen to the music. I have a digital system that I love, but vinyl sounds different, and I can enjoy that difference. And the beautiful presentations of vinyl albums simply add to the experience
of owning and listening to an album.

spacehound's picture

The fact remains that by the given numbers ONE vinyl record is sold to ONE person in twenty ONCE a year.

As for your "five record stores within a mile", I live on the outskirts of a town of 350,000 people. It hasn't got any record stores whereas in the 1960s it had about 20, so there certainly isn't any 'revival' around here.
There used to be one in the next large town along, 30 miles away, but it closed 18 months ago.

Which if nothing else shows you should never argue by example, as there is always an opposite one :):):)

As for me, I gave up vinyl when CD came out. But about 12 years ago I saw a perfect condition Technics SL1200 in a pawnshop window for only 100 UK pounds. I bought it and replaced the Stanton cartridge that was fitted with a more 'hifi cred' one. Since then I've played about
50 records, mostly when I was 'excited by my new purchase' and
all from the old ones I had in the attic, I've not bought any new ones.
It's mostly just a 'nice thing to have' on the top of my hifi rack,
which I suspect is all most of them are. I have thought of selling it
but I keep it out of 'nostalgia', nothing else.

I no longer use CDs either, I've ripped all mine into WAV and use 'hifi' Tidal, with or without MQA, for everything else. But the classical section is rather limited and Qobus now streams genuine 192/24 FLAC so I may give up Tidal and change to that.

I would LIKE a new fancier turntable, maybe a Linn. Which I couldn't afford when they were 'standard issue' for every genuine hifi enthusiast, as the vinyl 'ritual' is so pleasant, as you say. But I know that after the first few weeks it wouldn't get much use.

Jon Iverson's picture
You managed to work a reference to MQA into a turntable post! :)
John Atkinson's picture
Jon Iverson wrote:
You managed to work a reference to MQA into a turntable post! :)

Don't encourage him, Jon. :-)

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

spacehound's picture

...I will say this:

20,000 Dollars for that new Technics turntable and it hasn't even got MQA :-)

RH's picture

spacehound,

I certainly can't disabuse you of your glass-half-empty view of the situation. But I can remind you that your original claim of vinyl being a fad already on the way out was clearly inaccurate ;-)

Cheers.

spacehound's picture

And I've just found out that there is a vinyl store in the pleasant town of Salisbury, only 17 miles away.

I'm going there this morning. Hopefully my first new records in 25 years plus :)

RH's picture

Sounds promising!

Personally I've never been evangelistic about vinyl. I don't buy into the idea it's sonically superior to CDs or digital in general. It sounds different enough, though, for me to appreciate it on it's own terms, and it's added some fun back into my audio/music listening hobby.

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