If you’re one of those people who geek out on vinyl records in 2020, chances are, you’ve heard of Pro-Ject, the Austrian company that makes high-performing turntables at relatively affordable prices. Their biggest hit, so far, is a belt-driven manual record player called the Debut, which has sold close to a million units in its various iterations over the years. The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo is the latest installment in the line, which takes the core elements of the original model and makes it even better.
Designed as an evolution of the Debut Carbon from the early 2010s, the new turntable takes the same minimalist aesthetic and premium materials, but reinforces it with better components at various sections, turning it into an even better-sounding record player. Whether you’re a recent convert to the analog sound experience or a longtime collector looking for a good-looking, great-sounding record player, this thing should integrate nicely into your audio setup.
The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo uses much of the same bones as the previous iteration, from the heavy 12-inch steel platter and the electronic speed selection (for 33 and 45 rpm) to the 8.6-inch one-piece carbon fiber tonearm and the electronically-controlled belt drive system. It looks, pretty much, the same, too, with the contrast between the rectangular MDF plinth and the platter-and-tonearm combo on top dominating most of the player’s aesthetics. Except, this time around, the plinth gets painstakingly layered in eight coats of paint (seriously, you can scratch it and it’s still paint underneath), complete with your choice of three high-gloss colors, five satin matte finishes, and a real walnut veneer for that warm wood aesthetic.
One of the biggest changes happened with the cartridge. While previous versions of the turntable came with an Ortofon 2M Red, this model is fitted with a higher-end Sumiko Rainier MM phono cartridge, which, the outfit claims, combines superb tracking, accuracy, and clarity without sacrificing smooth operation. This cartridge, by the way, has a replaceable stylus that allows you to make an upgrade or replacement without removing the whole cartridge, resetting the alignment, or rebalancing the tonearm.
The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo also gets a new motor suspension system that uses a steel plate and TPE decoupling to isolate the motor from the plinth, ensuring there’s no direct vibration transfer, so the spindle stays perfectly aligned and the whole thing remains stable while your favorite record spins. To further reduce vibration and distortion, it gets wider TPE-damped isolation feet that are height adjustable and a thick elastomer ring on the inside of the platter. The result of all this vibration damping is much quieter operation, with much fewer pitch variations. Other features include a hinged adjustable dust cover, precision sapphire tonearm bearings, a swappable drive belt for folks who want to play 78 rpm records (you know, the kind they made in the old days), a felt record mat, and an adapter for seven-inch singles.
The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo is available now, priced at $499.