Pro-Ject Debut III
In the old world of vinyl, 20-year-old Pro-Ject Audio Systems is a relative newcomer. But their great sleek-looking entry-level turntable, coupled with excellent pricing, have contributed to making the Debut III one of the biggest-selling beginner audiophile turntable worldwide. Pro-Ject was the first to offer a whole range of different color choices for the plinth, appealing both to a young audience and seasoned vinyl lovers. It is the quality and reliability of the Debut III however that has ensured its continuous success. The Debut III is an entirely manual model, with all the cost going into manufacturing great sound quality: the motor is decoupled from the plinth so vibrations are isolated. The tonearm is designed for sound quality and the headshell is part of the arm. It’s fitted with an Ortofon OM5E moving magnet cartridge, with 78rpm an optional fitting.
The Pro-Ject Debut III is a great all-rounder and an excellent choice for the audiophile seeking an affordable vinyl playback solution.
Review of the Pro-Ject Debut III
Giving the Pro-Ject Debut III a first look will reveal its built quality, which is excellent for the price. The shoddy, plastic feel of cheaper turntables from Ion Audio, Sony and others is definitely not apparent here.
The Pro-Ject Debut III comes with a decent quality tonearm, and the cartridge is pre-installed and re-aligned; all you need to do is install the counterweight, set the tracking and antiskating forces, unlock the motor transport screw, and you’re ready to go. The headshell and undamped armtube are cut from a single piece of aluminum. The inverted horizontal bearings consist of two hardened stainless-steel points for superior tracking, but the arm’s vertical tracking angle (VTA) is not adjustable. The Debut III also features silicone-damped arm lift.
The platter is pressed steel with a felt mat to reduce ringing, while the motor is suspended on rubber to stop it from causing the plinth to resonate, ensuring pristine audio quality. The plinth is available in many different finishes: black matte, black piano, silver, red, blue, green and white.
The on/off switch is hidden under the plinth, which keeps the top looking clean.
The Debut II offers a wide soundstage with good depth and precise imaging. Music played on the Debut III make for a natural and involving performance, with good rhythm and dynamics.
Playing jazz recording through the Debut III will reveal their dynamic envelope and highlight the turntable’s open and natural midrange. On classical records, strings will sound gorgeous, with no trace of harsh, steely, or distorted quality, but plenty of extension.
Overall, the Debut III exhibits plenty of air, unraveling quite a bit of detail. It is particularly adept at distinguishing among different instruments in dense recordings.
However, if the sound of the Pro-ject Debut III has a nice balance across all frequencies with excellent midrange, it is a little weak through the upper treble, and rocks fans would agree the bass would benefit from more oomph. Acoustic bass sounds in particular can sound a little fluffy.
Some users have experience some minimal rumble, particularly audible during silence (such as between tracks). This minor flaw is certainly not game breaking, and provided the Pro-Ject Debut III is used at low to medium volumes, it should be perfectly fine for casual listeners.
So sure, the Pro-ject Debut III does not embellish the music; at least not with its stock cartridge, and can lack depth compared to more expensive equipment. Nevertheless, it is a clear-sounding turntable that is miles ahead of its marginally cheaper competitors. It will deliver the essence of vinyl magic without any difficulty. It is relaxed and revealing enough to let you know that the format has plenty to offer and is more than worthy of digital competition at the price.
The easiest way to improve the Pro-ject Debut III turntable is to upgrade the stylus in the Ortofon cartridge. The OM5E can be conveniently upgraded to an Ortofon 10, 20 or 30 for much better sound. The higher numbers for the Ortofon styli correspond to better sound and of course, higher expense. In terms of upgrading the turntable, the stock steel platter could be replaced by an acrylic platter to reduce rumble. These relatively inexpensive changes should go a long way in enhancing the sound of the Pro-ject Debut III and leave you satisfied for quite some time.
If you inherited your parents’ old LPs and need something to spin them on, this great-looking record player is a fine choice. This ‘table has everything you need and nothing you don’t: On/Off, 33/45, and that’s about it… You can get a 78 rpm pulley too if you shop around. The built-in preamplifier in the USB version of the Debut III will make it even easier for beginner vinyl enthusiasts to play it right off the box. Hi-Fi was never simpler and hardly ever better for this sort of cash!
Pro-Ject Debut III USB turntable
Pro-Ject Debut III is now available in a new design, which included a built-in phono preamplifier, A/D converter and a USB output, so you can transfer those treasured vinyl records to any digital file format. High-fidelity audio is ensured by Pro-Ject’s use of dual-mono low-noise preamplifier circuitry, accurate RIAA equalization and the exceptional performance of the Debut III tonearm, phono cartridge and drive mechanism. Using the correct music recording software, analog signals will be recorded direct to your computer while you play your LP. The software is not included, but is available for free on the Internet.
At $449, the Pro-Ject Debut III USB turntable costs $150 more than the non-USB Debut III on which it’s based. So that’s a pretty good deal.
- Silent running AC motor with two-step metal pulley
- Medium density fiber plinth with four shock absorbing feet
- Drive motor decoupled from the plinth to reduce vibration transmission.
- Felt-covered three pound sheet-steel sandwiched platter for excellent speed stability
- Precision chrome-plated stainless steel axle
- Ball bearing in a brass housing for low resistance and ultra-quiet rotation
- External power supply to reduce the chance of electro-mechanical interference
- Ortofon OM-5E moving magnet phono cartridge
- 8.6 inch tonearm and fixed headshell constructed from a single piece of aluminum for superior rigidity and low resonance.
- Inverted horizontal bearings consisting of two hardened stainless-steel points resting on sapphire pads for outstanding tonearm stability and tracking capability.
- Flexible counterweight shaft to avoid undesirable vibrations.
- Adjustment of needle azimuth easily accomplished by a single-screw adjustment.
- Internal tonearm wiring of high-purity copper and terminated directly to gold-plated sockets at both the headshell and phono jacks for low-noise signal transmission.
- Supplied 3.5mm jack can be used to connect the Pro-Ject Debut III Phono USB to any line level/auxiliary input such as a computer, MIDI system, mixer, etc.
- Phono Cartridge: Ortofon OM 5E MM Supplied
- Noise Floor: 88dB
- THD: 0.005%
- Input Impedance: 47k ohms/100pf
- Power Consumption: 16V/40mA AC
- Gain: 32dB
- Output Voltage: 160mV/1kHz at 4mV/1kHz
- EQ Curve Accuracy: 20Hz – 20kHz, > 0.5dB
- USB Output: Digital Serial Data Protocol USB 1.1
- Dimensions (WHD): 16.5″x4.5″x12.6″ (14.4″ height with dustcover up)
- Weight: 15 lbs
Owner’s manual : Download