Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo Review

by crackler01

Here I will do my first review – Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo Review.

Analyzing the new incarnation of the already popular turntable that in the past marked the lower segment of the offer of one of the largest manufacturers, Pro-Ject raises the question of what is left of the term “budget” turntables or, to put it simply, cheap record players. About 10 years ago budget turntables were a necessary evil for unambitious people. By that, I mean people who kept their own collection of records but had no intention of improving the system. Besides the price, the criteria were the ability to change the cartridge and easy maintenance. No one mentioned the sound too much, nor the serious performance that could be compared to more expensive devices.

Many manufacturers notice this hole in the market. Rega, Audio Technica, and Pro-Ject have stood out with their solutions in this segment. Because of that, today we have examples of what a modern turntable looks like in the middle-price segment.pro-ject-debut-carbon-evo-review

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo Specifications

  • Nominal speeds: 33/45 RPM  (78 RPM optional)
  • Speed variance: 33: ±0.50% 45: ±0.60%
  • Wow and flutter: 33: ±0.17% 45: ±0.15%
  • Signal to noise: 68dB
  • Effective tonearm mass: 6g
  • Effective tonearm length: 8.6 ” ( 218.5 mm)
  • Overhang: 18,5 mm
  • Power consumption: 4 W/ 0 W in Stand-By
  • Outboard power supply: 15V / 0 – 0.8 mA DC (set at 0.5 mA), universal power supply
  • Dimensions: (W x H x D) 415 x 118 x 320 mm, dust cover open 415 x 365 x 405mm
  • Weight: 5,6 kg
  • Dimensions packaging (W x H x D): 488 x 235 x 393 mm
  • Weight incl. packaging: 8.0kg

Cartridge specifications

  • Cartridge specifications
  • MM-Cartridge: Ortofon 2M Red
  • Frequency range: 20-22.000Hz
  • Channel separation: 22dB/1kHz
  • Output voltage: 5.5mV
  • Recommended load impedance: 47kohms/amplifier connection – MM-input
  • Compliance/stylus type: 20µm/mN – elliptical
  • Recommended tracking force: 17.5mN
  • Weight: 7.2g

You can download the manual here->Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo Manual

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo Review – Technical Description

The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO comes in a cardboard box that contains absolutely everything you need to get started. The parts are arranged so that the assembly of the structure is clear, simple, and fast. You don’t even have to read the accompanying documentation. Lately, it is customary to have the cartridge already mounted on the tonearm so that the finalization of the whole job can be completed in just a few minutes. But, it would still be good to check the basic parameters of the tracking force and the geometry of the system with a special scale, protractor, and test record. With all my experience and without the use of these basic aids, I managed to make quite a mistake in the definition of anti-skating value. I was also pleasantly surprised by the interconnection cable that comes in the package which I decided to put on the shopping list after testing in my own system.

pro-ject-debut-carbon-evo-sumiko-rainier-2

US version with Sumiko Rainier cartridge

Also, I consider it is a great decision to use the Ortofon 2M RED for sound qualities as well as flexibility and easy adjustment. It is a cartridge that I have had the opportunity to hear in several configurations and which clearly demonstrates its qualities and class without any hesitation or oscillations.

Ortofon Replacement Stylus 2M Red
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Ortofon Replacement Stylus 2M Red
  • Replacement Stylus for Ortofon 2M Red
  • The Ortofon 2M Red is an all-purpose cartridge that delivers open, dynamic sound with a slight touch of warmth
  • The Ortofon Stylus 2M Red features an Elliptical diamond
  • Recommended tracking force is 1.8g
  • A genuine replacement part for Ortofon 2M Red cartridge

It seems that customers in Europe have benefited considerably from this choice compared to our colleagues from the USA, for whose market a version with a Sumiko Rainier cartridge was prepared, which audiophiles were not very enthusiastic about.

Pro-Ject-Debut-Carbon-Evo-test-tonearm-detail-steel-blue-cutout

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo uses a one-piece and compact 8.6 ” tonearm made of carbon fiber

The base of the turntable is made of MDF, as in the previous generation, on which is mounted a one-piece and compact 8.6 ” tonearm made of carbon fiber and equipped with all the important adjustment options. The platter is metal and weighs an enviable weight of 1.7 kg. Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO in this version has a dumping ring made of thermoplastic elastomer. This ring dampens it and makes it more resistant to resonances. Also, when the platter rotates, it encourages a flywheel effect that can affect wow & flutter. The main bearing is a combination of a steel shaft and a casing made of bronze. Unlike similar materials, bronze is a very strong material that ensures precise rotation over a longer period. A trifle, but also a very important part of the construction that ensures years of reliable operation.

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO, Audiophile Turntable with Carbon Fiber tonearm, Electronic Speed Selection and pre-Mounted Sumiko Rainier Phono Cartridge (High Gloss Black)
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Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO, Audiophile Turntable with Carbon Fiber tonearm, Electronic Speed Selection and pre-Mounted Sumiko Rainier Phono Cartridge (High Gloss Black)
  • 8.6" one-piece Carbon Fiber tonearm, integrated headshell
  • Electronic Speed Selection for 33&45 RPM (78 capable)
  • Low-friction precision sapphire tonearm bearings
  • Sumiko Rainier phono cartridge, factory mounted and precision aligned
  • Heavy 1.7kg Stamped Steel Platter w TPE Damping

There is an improved engine with a completely new suspension and dumping in a “sandwich” construction that provides still and quiet operation. The company uses similar solutions in its more expensive models. Other important details are the metal-dumped anti-resonant feets that are also used in more expensive models. At the bottom of the chassis, there is also a switch for turning on the turntable and a speed selection switch with electronic speed control, gold-plated amplification connectors, and a nice and sturdy cover that rounds out the construction functionally and visually. The external power supply should also be mentioned and we have slowly rounded off the technical part of the story.

Pro-Ject-Debut-Carbon-Evo-Review-Satin-Golden-Yellow

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo Review – Hearing Test

Speaking of budget products, I connected the tested turntable to the system via a small but excellent MM preamp Rega Fono Mini A2D. I started the music part with older rock music (Boston/Don’t Look Back) and immediately got a handful of impressions from which we should single out a clean, quite strong, and direct reproduction in which there was no lack of details, space, but also a good rock atmosphere with a lot of basses. In addition to these important qualities that contributed to the pleasure of listening to the whole side of the LP, I also felt a very compact image in which it was possible to clearly detect slightly poorly recorded tones in the treble spectrum, especially when it comes to cymbal sound.

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Rega - Fono Mini A2D MM Phono Preamp & USB A/D Converter
  • MM Phono Preamp with a USB output, connects directly to your computer
  • Converts analog signals to USB
  • Makes it a snap to convert your records into high-resolution digital audio
  • User-friendly front and back panels
  • Compact size

So it made sense to move on to better audiophile recordings (Miles Davis/Kind of Blue).

Here, Pro-Ject showed that it is able to take out many details, with small finesse, but also place musicians in space in the right way and go through the complete material easily, but also with a lot of dynamics, quality timbre, and some drama and emotions that adorn mostly more expensive devices. Large orchestras are also transferred with authority and very solid space. Even in the segments where musicians play very loudly and loudly the described sound was not significantly compromised. All in all a pretty good result.

I made a small comparison with the same cartridge and turntable Teac TN 500 (belt drive). Marble-composite laid on MDF sandwich base, brushless motor with stabilized external power supply, cork mat on an acrylic plate of 3 kg (16 mm), Audio Legend belt, Clogging servo PRS3. The feeling was mostly like sitting in a slightly more powerful vehicle. There were a few more details, the background in the crescendo calmed down and the music was permeated by an even more intense impression of the micro-dynamic structure. But there were simply no dramatic changes. You never have to be completely sure, but I have a lot of reason to believe that in its class Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO won’t have many serious competitors for years to come other than the ones already mentioned.

Recommended Upgrades for Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo

There’s also a ready-made upgrade for it too. If your budget allows, the best is to go for Ortofon 2M Blue. This cartridge takes everything that the Pro-Ject is already doing extremely well and finds a little more detail and top-end sweetness at the same time.

Ortofon Replacement Stylus 2M Blue
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Ortofon Replacement Stylus 2M Blue
  • Replacement Stylus for Ortofon 2M Blue
  • Can be used to upgrade Ortofon 2M Red
  • The 2M Blue features a Nude Elliptical diamond
  • Recommended tracking force is 1.8g
  • A genuine replacement part for Ortofon 2M Blue and 2M Red cartridge

This is not a “you must do this at all costs” change; the performance of the 2M Red in this context is pretty good, but it’s simple to do and extracts more performance from the turntable as a whole.

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo Video Review

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo Review – Final Verdict

At the end of the last century, vinyl records were in decline. The digital age has hit hard on the audio scene as we knew it until then. In those years, the leading people of the company came up with the idea to create a quality turntable that will be available to everyone, and at the same time high quality and competitive with more expensive competitors’ models. Jiri Kroutil, the company’s manager in charge of production, jumps in here, and the first prototype of such a model was born in a few days. A few decades later the situation is completely different and Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO is doing great things in the market and is increasingly establishing itself as a real little king of simple and cheap turntables whose performance is miles away from its price. We should also mention a bunch of equipment from the manufacturer with which the model can be improved, as well as a finish that must suit every space and taste. And how now to answer what is left of the term “budget”? In this case, just a reminder that we are at the shelf with cheaper devices. Everything else is long overdue.

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo Pro & Cons

Pros

  • Well-balanced, tonally believable, and three-dimensional sound
  • Expressive and engaging
  • No more manual speed change

Cons

  • No built-in phono preamp
  • No auto-return or auto-off functionality
  • Does its best work with a stylus upgrade
  • Setup is (necessarily) more involved than simpler Pro-Ject turntables
Amazing turntable for the price. Super simple but aesthetically pleasing. Pro-Ject has put some serious thought and attention into the design of this product.

Does Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo have a preamp?

There's no built-in phono preamp with this model, though Pro-Ject goes some way towards compensating for this by including its high-quality Connect It E phono RCA cable in the box, ready for you to connect up your own device. Setting up the Debut Carbon EVO is ridiculously easy.

What cartridge comes with Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo?

The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon for the US market comes standard with a Sumiko Rainier cartridge. For the EU market, it comes with Ortofon 2M Red cartridge. Both are good cartridges for a turntable in this price range. But there is a lot more sonic performance left on the table that can be tapped into with a higher-end cartridge.

Is Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo any good?

Said simply, if you're serious about record collecting, the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo is one of the best entry-level hi-fi turntables you can buy. For the money, you're getting a beautiful, well-built turntable that sounds excellent. It's easy to set up and use, even for absolute beginners.

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