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The Complete Guide to All of Pro-Ject’s Excellent Turntables

Pro-Ject makes some of our favorite turntables and they range from $300 to very expensive. So, which is best for you?

collage of three turntables

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Even if you only have a passing interest in vinyl and hi-fi, you undoubtedly have heard (or seen) a Pro-Ject turntable. They’re known for their distinct design, bright colors (sometimes) and excellent sound quality. Of course, the secret sauce of the Austrian company is its ability to keep such high-performing turntables at a relatively affordable cost. And it’s been able to do that by producing almost everything in-house.

A Brief History of Pro-Ject

project turntables

Pro-Ject has engineering and manufacturing facilities in Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia. In addition to turntables, Pro-Ject makes a range of other hi-fi components, such as phono stages, DACs, preamps and amplifiers, many of which it integrates into its turntables. This practice has helped Pro-Ject keep its costs down and thus become a particularly successful hi-fi company.

“I started Pro-Ject to bring as many people as possible to the world of hobby hi-fi, especially in the 1980s when CD players were extremely expensive and generally inaccessible,” said Heinz Lichtenegger, the founder of Pro-Ject Audio. “At this time, I realized that a good turntable could sound even better than a CD. However, there were no quality turntables available that were low cost. So, in 1991 I decided I had to make one.” Nearly 30 years later, the company is still known for audiophile-grade turntables at affordable prices.

Today, Pro-Ject makes many different turntables designed for every type of vinyl enthusiast, from beginner to seasoned audiophile. And these turntables can range anywhere from $300 to over $16,000. To help navigate the different lines of turntables, we had the man himself, founder Heinz Lichtenegger, to walk us through each line.

Why Are Pro-Ject Turntables So Popular?

project turntable
Tucker Bowe

Pro-Ject turntables are super popular today for a few reasons, chief among them being that they are high-quality turntables that are also relatively affordable; they are the perfect entry-level turntables (specifically the E and T1 lines), for anybody to get a little bit serious about their at-home hi-fi system.

Just Getting Started

The E Line


Pro-Ject E1


  • Turntable: Belt-drive
  • Cartridge: Ortofon OM 5E
  • Manual or Automatic: Manual
  • Models: E1 ($349), E1 Phono ($399), E1 BT ($499)

    Pro-Ject released this new entry-level line of turntables in mid-2022. They start at $349 and use high-quality components. Each model has a true sub-platter design — a low-mass synthetic platter rests on top of a high-density resin sub-platter — to dampen out vibrations and reduce noise. Each model has a solid MDF plinth and comes decked out with the Ortofon OM5e cartridge, which costs roughly $70 on its own. Pro-Ject offers the E1 turntable in three different configurations: one bare bones (E1, $349), one with a built-in phono preamp (E1 Phono SB, $399) and one with a Bluetooth audio transmitter (E1 BT, $499).

    (To learn more about Pro-Ject's E Line, click here.)

    The Primary Line


    Pro-Ject Primary E Phono


    • Turntable: Belt-drive
    • Cartridge: Ortofon OM5e
    • Manual or Automatic: Manual
    • Models: Primary E ($350) or Primary E Phono ($400)

      The Primary line used to be the most affordable line of turntables that Pro-Ject made — but that was before the E Line was introduced in 2022. Starting at $350, it borrows design elements from both the company’s Debut and Essential lines and makes them out of slightly fewer materials. There are also fewer models to choose from within the Primary line, so instead of customizing the turntable to fit your needs, you’re basically deciding whether you want the Primary E or the Primary E Phono (above). The latter of the two has a built-in preamp.

      "The Primary Line is designed for people who have a limited budget but want a real hi-fi turntable beyond a piece of plastic," Heinz Lichtenegger says. "This customer understands the complexities of setting up a turntable. [It’s] designed with a tonearm perfect for the high-quality Ortofon cartridge with preset tracking force and anti-skating, allowing users to just plug and play while remaining a handmade product made of quality materials without any resonating hollow spaces."

      (To learn more about Pro-Ject's Primary Line, click here.)

      The Elemental Line


      Pro-Ject Elemental

      Pro-Ject amazon.com
      • Turntable: Belt-drive
      • Cartridge: Ortofon OM5e
      • Manual or Automatic: Manual
      • Models: Elemental ($349)

        The Elemental is a budget-friendly turntable that's fairly similar to Pro-Ject Primary's line — it has the same Ortofon OM5e cartridge — the main difference is its minimalist and striking design. It has a very slender and a-typical plinth that is weighted to give the turntable more stability. It's one of the company's most popular turntables, given its unique design and affordable price.
        (To learn more about Pro-Ject's Elemental Line, click here.)

        The T1 Line


        Pro-Ject T1 Phono SB

        $449.00 (10% off)
        • Turntable: Belt-drive
        • Cartridge: Ortofon OM5e
        • Manual or Automatic: Manual
        • Models: T1 ($449), T1 Phono SB ($499) and T1 Phono BT ($599)

          The T1 Line is one of Pro-Ject’s new lines of mid-range turntables. It is priced between the Essential and Primary lines, so it’s still relatively affordable. Still, one of the biggest reasons you’d buy a T1 Line over something else is its visuals: It has a striking platter made of tempered glass. It only comes in three models. There’s the baseline T1, which requires an external phono stage and a powered amplifier; the T1 Phono SB (above), which has a built-in phono stage; and the T1 BT, which also has a Bluetooth transmitter for connection to a powered speaker or AV receiver.

          "The tempered glass platter is not only a good solution to a resonance-free heavy platter," Heinz Lichtenegger says. "But it's also is more visually attractive than, for instance, the minimalistic designed MDF platter used on the Primary Line."

          (To learn more about Pro-Ject's T1 Line, click here.)

          The Automat Line


          Pro-Ject Automat A1

          • Turntable: Belt-drive
          • Cartridge: Ortofon OM10
          • Manual or Automatic: Automatic
          • Models: A1 ($499)

            In early 2022, Pro-Ject introduced the Automat A1 — the company's first automatic turntable. It's a solid mid-range turntable that's made of high-quality components — including an Ortofon OM10 cartridge, 8.3-inch aluminum tonearm, metal platter, wooden chassis and a built-in phono preamp (switchable) — but because it's fully automatic, it's so simple that a vinyl neophyte can easily get it up and running. (It also works as a semi-automatic turntable, meaning you can pick up the tonearm and place it on whichever track you want the record to play.)

            (To learn more about Pro-Ject's Automat Line, click here.)

            The JukeBox Line


            Pro-Ject Juke Box E

            • Turntable: Belt-drive
            • Cartridge (depends on model): Pro-Ject Pick it 25A or Ortofon OM 5E
            • Manual or Automatic: Manual
            • Models: Juke Box E ($699) Juke Box E1 ($799), Juke Box S2 ($1,199)

              The JukeBox line is a line of midrange turntables specifically designed for people who want an all-in-one solution. For example, the JukeBox E (above) consists of a record player, phono stage, Bluetooth receiver, line pre-amplifier and power amplifier. You only need to connect passive bookshelf speakers to complete the system. (The JukeBox S2 is essentially an upgraded version of the JukeBox E.)

              "The JukeBox package is also very cost-effective, for the price of a better streaming speaker or soundbar," Heinz Lichtenegger says. "You get a real HiFi, stereo system including a turntable and Bluetooth module to stream from an external music source."

              (To learn more about Pro-Ject's JukeBox Line, click here.)

              The Upgrade

              The Debut Line


              Pro-Ject Debut Carbon (DC)

              • Turntable: Belt-drive
              • Cartridge (depends on model): Ortofon OM5e, Sumiko Rainier or Pro-Ject Pick it S2 C
              • Manual or Automatic: Manual
              • Models: Debut III Phono SB ($399), Debut Carbon Evo ($599), Debut III Phono BT ($650), Debut Pro ($999), Debut Pro S ($1,199)

                The Debut line is the company’s mid-range line of turntables. They have a similar look and feature set as the Essential line (now defunct), but the Debut line has a couple of notable upgrades — such as a heavier platter, higher-quality feet and a motor that’s decoupled from the plinth — designed to reduce noise and distortion. In years past, this has been Pro-Ject's most popular line of turntables as it's both high-end yet affordable. Pro-Ject has added two models to the Debut line in the past two years. The Debut Carbon Evolution ($499) has a couple of key design improvements and a higher-end Sumiko Rainier phono cartridge. And there's the Debut Pro ($599), which has a new design and enhanced components.

                "The Debut is our superstar," Heinz Lichtenegger says. "Revolutionary in its price range, the Debut boasts a heavy 8-coat lacquered MDF chassis, heavy platter, suspended motor, carbon tonearm, and an expensive (over $100 USD) cartridge from Ortofon. These are all features usually found in a higher-priced item. The first choice of any music lover who is looking for an audiophile turntable at a low cost."

                (To learn more about Pro-Ject's Debut Line, click here.)

                The RPM Carbon Line


                Pro-Ject RPM 1 Carbon

                • Turntable: Belt-drive
                • Cartridge (depends on model): Sumiko Rainier, Sumiko Moonstone, Sumiko Amethyst, Sumiko Songbird or Sumiko Starling
                • Manual or Automatic: Manual
                • Models: RPM 1 Carbon ($699), RPM 3 Carbon ($1,099), RPM 5 Carbon ($2,199), RPM 9 Carbon ($3,799+) or RPM 10 Carbon ($5,499+)

                  The RPM Carbon line is a range of higher-end turntables that are still relatively affordable. They have a distinct look, with a teardrop-shaped plinth. The RPM Carbon line consists of five different models, ranging from the RPM 1 Carbon ($499) to the high-end RPM 10 Carbon ($3,499); as you increase in numbers, the turntable gets upgraded up with better materials, technologies and features.

                  “The RPM Line is designed for audiophiles who want to have the best quality available within its price range and are happy to live with slightly unconventional product design," Heinz Lichtenegger says. "The RPM Line’s teardrop shape plinth and non-rectangular chassis cause less resonance (as in high-end speaker designs) and the motor is free standing and isolated at 100 percent to eliminate rumble or vibration. There are many little audiophile features (such as spiked cones and inverted bearing) that target the product to the discerned audiophile.”

                  (To learn more about Pro-Ject's RPM Line, click here.)

                  The High-End

                  The X Line

                  World Wide Stereo

                  Pro-Ject X1

                  • Turntable: Belt drive
                  • Cartridge (depends on model): Sumiko Rainier, Sumiko Songbird, Sumiko Starling
                  • Manual or Automatic: Manual
                  • Models: X1 B ($1,200), X2 ($1,699), X2 B ($1,799), X8 Evolution ($2,349+), Xtension 9 Evolution ($3,699+), Xtension 10 Evolution ($4,999+), Xtension 12 Evolution ($5,499+)

                    The X Line is one of Pro-Ject’s most recent lines of turntables. You can think about the X1 (above) as a high-end turntable that’s still relatively affordable. It starts at $899, but that price increases rapidly with the higher-end models that have more robust parts, such as a bigger chassis, better isolation feet, better bearings, heavier better platter, better tonearms and better cartridges.

                    (In 2022, Pro-Ject released several new turntables in the X Line. This includes the X8 Evolution, which is a true high-end turntable that features many similar components as its ultra-high-end Xtension 9 and Xtension 10 turntables; as well as the X1 B and X2 B, which are newer versions of X1 and X2 turntables but with "truly balanced connections.")

                    "The X Line is for people seeking the highest sound quality in a traditional design — including dustcover and hinges," Heinz Lichtenegger says. "From the X1, these units are ‘no compromise’ and 100-percent correctly designed turntables including all of the features an audiophile dreams of."

                    (To learn more about Pro-Ject's X Line, click here.)

                    The Classic Line


                    Pro-Ject Classic

                    • Turntable: COPY
                    • Cartridge: COPY
                    • Manual or Automatic: Manual
                    • Models: COPY

                      Now we’re getting into the real high end. The Classic Line consists of two turntables, the Classic $1,099 $899) and the Classic Evo ($1,699), both designed for hi-fi enthusiasts with a refined taste. The turntables have an elegant, retro design, such as a thick platter and brushed metal top-plate that looks like it’s built directly into the wooden plinth.

                      “The Classic is a traditional sub-chassis turntable designed for a user who needs to have their speakers close to the turntable, perhaps in a more restricted living environment," Heinz Lichtenegger says. "[It has] a nostalgic appearance with its retro design reminiscent of the 1960s and 70s, but upgraded with modern technology such as precision CNC’ed pulley, diamond knife-cut sub and main platters created for the highest precision, and sub-chassis isolation by modern rubber dampers (TPE, thermoplastic elastomers) instead of the traditional springs."

                      (To learn more about Pro-Ject's Classic Line,click here.)

                      The Signature Line


                      Pro-Ject Signature 10

                      • Turntable: Belt-drive
                      • Cartridge: None (Your choice)
                      • Manual or Automatic: Manual
                      • Models: Signature 10 ($8,499+) or Signature 12 ($12,999+)

                        This is Pro-Ject’s pinnacle line. The Signature 10 (above) and the Signature 12 are high-end turntables that compromise nothing. They each have a mass-loaded sub-chassis, a floating turntable design and a unique S-shaped tonearm. They’re designed for the audiophile who is prepared to pay an extreme premium for a product with no caveats.

                        “The Signature 12 ($12,000) is unique in its ability to control motor resonances better by a flywheel drive," Heinz Lichtenegger says. "My personal problem in my system is that I have about 40 different cartridges and have my favorites for different music. I prefer the speed of my carbon tonearms, but I need the flexibility of an S-shape arm which allows fast change. By using an ultra-low friction uni-pivot tonearm bearing, I am able to reach a traditional aluminum close to the speed of a carbon arm.”

                        (To learn more about Pro-Ject's Signature Line,click here.)

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