It is easy to set up and provided better than average performance over my evaluation period. I found this turntable system to be capable of high levels of audible performance given the right circumstances.
I had an enjoyable time reviewing this turntable. Although the review samples may have been well-worn, the key aspect of their audible performance proved to be quite nice indeed. This table has an excellent tonearm and a lovely cartridge from Sumiko. It is a classic-looking table with modern technology driving the audio performance.
Pro-Ject Classic EVO Turntable with Sumiko Amethyst Cartridge
- Great looks
- Easy set up and calibration
- Simple operation
- Above-average audio performance
I have reviewed many Pro-Ject turntables over the years. One in particular really stood out and that was the Xtension 10. I think each Pro-Ject table I reviewed was fitted with a carbon-fiber tonearm. They are carbon over an aluminum tube. I mention this because their tonearms are among my most favorite arms on the market. So, when I was considering purchasing a new turntable for a secondary system, I naturally decided to listen to a mid-priced Pro-Ject turntable. This is where the Pro-Ject Classic EVO Turntable with Sumiko Amethyst Cartridge came into the picture.
Pro-Ject Classic EVO Turntable in a matching audio system.
As you will read in the ensuing sections, this is a suspended turntable design that uses TPE balls instead of springs to suspend the mechanism. It is a classic design but utilizes newer materials and other technologies. The table comes with the all-new Sumiko Amethyst cartridge. There is also a built-in speed box on board. The whole package was very nice looking with its real wood veneer and acrylic dust cover. I enjoyed my time with this table, and I bet you would too.
33-1/3, 45, and 78 RPM
Speed variance 33:
±0.13 %, 45: ±0.12 %
Wow and flutter 33:
±0.11 %, 45: ±0.10 %
Dimensions (W x H x D):
18.19″ x 5.16″ x 13.82″ (462mm x 131mm x 351mm)
25.4lb (11.5 kg)
Cartridge Weight Range:
Sumiko Amethyst Cartridge
Moving Magnet (MM) Stereo
0.2 x 0.8mil Nude Line-Contact
100 – 200pF
12×10-6 cm/dyn @ 100Hz
Pro-Ject, Turntables, Cartridge, Turntable Review 2022
This is a fine-looking turntable with a “classic” aesthetic. The plinth is offset by a lovely wood veneer available in two finishes – walnut or eucalyptus. My review unit was walnut and it fit in well among a nice line-up of high-end gear.
It is fundamentally a belt-drive table with the motor, belt, and pulleys under the main platter. There is a built-in speed box that can be switched between 33-1/3 and 45 rpm electronically. This deck will also play 78s through a change in the belt position on the pulley. So, it can handle a wide range of playback conditions.
Pro-Ject Classic EVO Turntable in walnut finish.
The basic design premise is a suspended design that is modernized through the use of thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) balls that serve as the suspension system. This is as opposed to the old-school spring suspensions: The concept is old, but the execution is modern.
TPE shows up in a number of places with this table, notably through the use of a TPE dampening ring on the underside of the machined aluminum platter. TPE also shows up as a dampening agent in the rear of the counterweight.
The final place where you will find TPE is in the adjustable feet. I like that there are three feet as opposed to four. I always find it easier to adjust level when you just have three axes to work with.
Pro-Ject Classic EVO Turntable motor system and drive belt.
The main bearing is an inverted EVO design made from steel, bronze, and Teflon as are main bearings in many high-end turntables.
The star of the show is the 9-inch carbon-fiber/aluminum tonearm that employs the larger bearings and open housing found in Pro-Ject’s higher-end evolution tonearms. This tonearm has full VTA and azimuth adjustment capabilities. Antiskate is by way of a suspended weight. The armrest is magnetic.
Pro-Ject Classic EVO Turntable, Tonearm details.
The deck comes complete with a hinged acrylic dust cover as well as a reasonably nice, grounded hook-up cable. The turntable is manufactured and assembled in Europe.
The review unit came supplied with a nifty Sumiko Amethyst cartridge. This is an enclosed moving-magnet cartridge that has an overall light mass. The body is claimed to be “resonance-optimized”. The stylus is a nude line-contact diamond.
Sumiko Amethyst MM Cartridge Close up.
The Amethyst is the top moving magnet offering in Sumiko’s Oyster range of cartridges and shares many of the design cues of its stablemates. It is handcrafted in Japan. I was smitten by this cartridge’s performance.
Like so many other all-in-one turntables, this thing was a breeze to set up. From the box to playing records took around a half-hour of my time. Unfortunately, I had to do it twice.
The first review sample looked pretty new when it came in, but the looks were deceptive in that regard as I found out later this particular sample had been used as a demo before getting shipped to me. I started playing a record on it and at first, noted the excellent tonal balance and I thought this review would go smoothly. However, not long after, I heard an unusual aloofness in the music. It turns out the tonearm’s bearing was somehow loose. The marketing team sent me a special tool known as “Adjust-it” that was the correct size security bit to tighten the bearings on the arm. There was no torque spec, so I tightened it little by little, but the arm remained loose. I kept tightening until the whole thing became dysfunctional.
Pro-Ject Classic EVO Turntable, Exploded view.
Pro-Ject wound up sending me a replacement unit to finish off my review. This one definitely looked well worn. Unfortunately, it needed to be thoroughly cleaned: it was really dirty. Also, the felt mat was creased and stretched so badly, that I used a mat from my VPI turntable during the review. The replacement unit also had an issue with the lift mechanism, and it could not stay raised long enough to cue a record. So, I had to cue up by hand. In any event, the second unit sounded very good and so my below listening impressions are all related to this second review unit.
This turntable’s defining attribute may well rest in its ability to reproduce dynamic contrasts, particularly through the mid-band. This quality stood out as a major plus and this dynamism proved to be rather addictive over the review period.
Take “All the Things You Are” from my heavy pressing of Art Pepper The Way it Was. Mr. Pepper’s sax came through with a snappy, raspy quality that helped foster the sense of a live performance. The same can be said of the drums in this piece. The percussive sounds had a natural attack and decay that wasn’t hard sounding like you may hear from a lesser table/cartridge set up.
Going down the audible spectrum, the Pro-Ject Classic EVO turntable exhibited an excellent groove factor, with a bass response that was dynamic and clean. These qualities helped establish a musical foundation on guitar-driven works such as “Crawling Kingsnake” as heard on The Black Keys’ album Delta Kream. Since the bass was so dynamic and distortion-free, it was able to convey all the tunefulness of this very bass-heavy recording. It was not one-note bass by any stretch of the imagination but was as bouncy as it could be for the dense mix at hand.
I was also smitten with the staging effort that I mostly attribute to the Sumiko Amethyst cartridge. The soundstage was not constrained nor was it artificially expanded. It just sounded naturally wide and deep. It even helped paint a clear portrait of music that is largely synthesized. The song that comes to mind is Lapsley’s song “Hurt Me” from her Long Way Home LP. The music was rendered throughout my listening space and was reminiscent of the way I would expect the sound to envelop me at one of her concerts.
All this goodness was seasoned with a natural treble that embodied excellent delicacy. I loved the treble as much as the other qualities described above and I further do not have any singular negatives to report. The table and cartridge offered up a great performance, particularly at their price points.
So, the performance of the Pro-Ject Classic EVO was strong in all the audiophile-centric areas of individual competencies, but it didn’t always reach the point of defusing the listener. What I mean to say is that the best performing audio gear lets you forget where you are, drift away, and be transported to another place or time. The Pro-Ject Classic EVO was capable of pulling off this trick, but for whatever reason, it wasn’t something I experienced with quite the regularity I would have hoped. It can get you there, just not always.
The Pro-Ject Classic EVO turntable is a lovely turntable with an old-school aesthetic while sporting modern technologies under the hood.
- Built-in speed box
- Wide range frequency response
- Natural soundstaging
- Engaging midrange dynamics
- Tuneful bass response
- Easy set up
- Good looks
- Excellent tonearm and cartridge
- More refined audio performance
The Pro-Ject Classic EVO turntable is a very decent-looking turntable, particularly at its fair price point. It was a bit on the lightweight side physically but that did not appear to be a problem sound-wise.
The technology on display here is noteworthy. The table is well-damped with vibration canceling TPE applied in key areas throughout the design. So, the table does meet its goal of a classic look with modern technology under the surface.
The 9” EVO tonearm on the Pro-Ject Classic EVO turntable is one of my favorite designs on the market. It is well designed, light, and rigid. Plus, it is fully adjustable.
The supplied Sumiko Amethyst cartridge was very sweet sounding and undoubtedly was a major factor in the quality audible performance.
On the whole, this turntable was capable of the kind of high-end audio performance where you forget about the equipment and just let the music carry you away. I just wish it would pull this trick with greater regularity.