It’s time to get a better turntable than your kids!
I set up a Pro-Ject ‘The Classic’ turntable for a customer today and I need to share. I fitted an Ortofon 2M-Silver cartridge – a discontinued model that’s a steal right now – and made all the right adjustments. The result is sensational. I’ll try and describe it in a minute.
‘The Classic is a magnificent turntable. Its plinth, veneered in walnut or eucalyptus, houses the motor and connections and sits on three adjustable aluminium and elastomer feet. Whilst elastomer feet divides speaker vibration from the plinth and six more elastomer balls isolate a detached top-plate. Therefore the whole record-playing rig is effectively isolated from speaker and motor vibrations. The two-part platter weighs 3 kilograms(!) and consists of a large aluminium flywheel that has a thick ribbon of elastomer set into a channel around its periphery, and a hard plastic sub-platter which connects to the motor via a flat rubber bent. A brand-new tonearm design employs aluminium and carbon fiber – two materials that support each other – and is damped with even more of this special energy-dissipating TPE elastomer.
It’s a kind of plastic, this TPE elastomer.
Famous Danish cartridge manufacturer, Ortofon, invented the long-lasting suspension material for their phono cartridges. Rubber changes over time, but TPE plastic lasts indefinitely. It has a spongy, gel-like texture that presses against surfaces to absorb and lose energy. Energy, in saturation, causes vibration which your cartridge picks up with the music when you play records. It makes sense to eradicate as much unproductive energy as possible throughout a whole turntable design. The effect of TPE is like touching your finger to a ringing bell; it blocks ringing instantly. Pro-Ject uses TPE judiciously in low-cost models but, in ‘The Classic,’ just about every component is in contact with the clever elastomer.
So, how does it sound?
In a word, it ‘sounds’ like nothing at all. ‘The Classic’ has little of its own ‘sonic signature’. I played Cyndee Peters’ 1977 album, “Black Is The Colour,” on Opus3 records. Each instrument has its own distinct tonal quality: bells and cymbals sound metallic, hand-drums sound ‘wooden,’ Cyndee’s vocal sounds clear and I can hear her breathing and vibrato and the ambiance of the studio. ‘The Classic’ turntable renders each of these sounds so that they’re easily discerned and come together with the feel of a live performance.
The Classic’s bass is solid and punchy. Much more expensive models offer a better sense of bass clarity and tune but, ‘The Classic’ still shows me what and how the bass guitar is playing.
Piano sounds exceptional! The title track of Cyndee Peters’ “Black Is The Colour” is a stripped piano score with vocal. Piano needs stable speed to sound credible. It’s one of the key features of CD players when they first emerged: pianos sounded ‘right’ compared with most old turntable designs. Well ‘The Classic’ renders piano beautifully. A solid, tuneful performance where each note, it’s overtones and the hall ambiance combine with the effect that it really does sound like ‘a piano’!
I’m very happy with this deck!
My customer and his brother called in to collect his new turntable. I spun him and his brother two Cyndee Peters tracks, “House Of The Rising Sun” and “Noah’s Dove,” and he immediately understood what I’ve told him about this turntable, and been writing about here. His brother was even impressed. This is a thirty-year-old record with little scratches here and there! None of them got in the way of the music. He was so excited to get it home and spend his first weekend with it, and who wouldn’t be. It’s perfect weather for hi-fi! Sadly, in no time at all, this Pro-Ject ‘The Classic’ was all packed up and gone. Too soon if you ask me. I think I’d like to, let’s just say, ‘test it some more’. I have so many more albums I’d like to ‘examine.’
But wait there’s more. Here’s the deal:
I’ve got two more coming. So taken was I with the Pro-Ject ‘The Classic’ that I ordered more. And I couldn’t choose between walnut or eucalyptus so I’ve ordered both. ‘The Classic’ also comes in Rosenut – a red-stained walnut veneer. Order one from Steve Bennett Hi-Fi and I will ‘fit‘ an Ortofon 2M Silver cartridge at no extra carge. ‘The Classic’ is one of the cheapest turntables that you can adjust every aspect of cartridge alignment. So, when I say ‘fit‘ a 2M Silver, I will set the overhang and zenith with Dr. Fieckert ‘Protractor NG,’ I’ll adjust the stylus rake angle (SRA) to 92 degrees with my USB microscope, and I will set the azimuth with Dr. Fieckert’s ‘Adjust Plus’ computer program. You’ll get a superb turntable with an affordable replacement stylus that tracks beautifully.
The Ortofon 2M Silver.
Ortofon manufactures the 2M Silver especially for Pro-Ject. It combines the bonded stylus of a 2M Red with the body of a 2M Bronze and 2M Black. The high-quality body uses silver-coated copper coils instead of the standard copper. Silver is a superior conductor material than copper. “The skin effect’ is a well known phenomenon in which high-frequencies are much more interested in a wire surface than its cross-section. Common sense supposes that the 2M Silver body has better treble than the standard 2M Red body. But that’s not all! A.J. Van den Hul explained that copper degrades over time due to impurities. Impurities come from exposure to oxygen, most obviously, but also exposure to other chemicals in a wire’s coating. Silver provides a superb, benign coating for copper that preserves its high purity from exposure to the elements. A.J. said that “whenever you hear harshness or graininess in the music, that’s copper impurity – somewhere – in the system.
You can easily upgrade to an Ortofon 2M Bronze with nude fine-line diamond or 2M Black with nude ‘Shibata’ profile diamond. Simply purchase a replacement stylus at a fraction of the cost of a whole new cartridge. Since you already have the base, it’s a good value upgrade. 2M Silver will eventually be replaced by the new silver-coiled ‘Pick It 25A‘ – but the 2M styli won’t fit.