For the past five years, the Pro-Ject Essential II USB vinyl turntable has been the Austrian brand’s answer to an entry-level model that has MM phono preamp and the capacity to convert your records into digital format using a digital USB output. With its musical and design qualities, it is very popular among music lovers and enthusiasts on a low budget. This vinyl turntable also provides a great high-quality alternative to competing models in its price range, which are often entirely made out of plastic.
But now the company has released the Essential MKII, complete with several upgrades. Actually, you will realise that it has little in common with its older sister. It has the same base and feet, platter and spindle/bearing. The AC synchronous motor has been replaced by a DC power supply. The platter is driven directly around the platter by a round silicone belt, without a sub-platter. The small unipivot arm has been replaced by a more traditional version. Fans will consider this tonearm as a tried and tested best buy. In fact, this 8.6" aluminium tonearm is none other than the one that was fitted to Pro-Ject's now discontinued Debut III. The cartridge is an Ortofon OM10, a safe bet for this range. It can however be upgraded over time. The cables are captive and specifically designed for Phono systems. These are not the basic low cost interconnects that often come with competitor products. It also comes with a dust cover. It is fitted with an RIAA preamplifier for moving magnet cartridges. To convert your records, just connect the analogue outputs to the line or Aux input on your amplifier and connect the USB output to your computer. This phono stage is very similar to the Record Box USB by Pro-Ject.
The listening experience has noticeably improved in terms of precision and consistency. The frequency response also seems wider than with the old Essential model.
And it would seem that the tonearm has something to do with it. We compared it to a Debut III and they have a similar sound quality. Maybe the Essential II is a bit more physical?! The quality of the digital conversions has also improved with this new version.
Yet another great product from the Austrian manufacturer at a low price that leaves little hope for potential competitors. Just can't recommend it enough!
CAUTION: THIS TURNTABLE MUST BE CONNECTED TO A HIGH INPUT (CD, AUX, TUNER, VIDEO ...) NOT TO A PHONO INPUT!
AUDACITY link (free software for digitization) - click on the link:
- For MAC
- For PC
- For Linux Franck
Speeds: 33⅓, 45 RPM (manual change)
Drive principle: Silicone belt
Rotation accuracy: 33t/ 0.14%, 45t/0.25%
Wow & Flutter: 0.12%
Platter: MDF 300mm
Platter mat: black felt
Bearing: Stainless steel
Cartridge: Ortofon OM 10
Effective tonearm weight: 8g
Counterweight: for 3.g-5.5g cartridges
Built-in RIAA preamplifier: YES (MM)
Outputs: RCA + ground and USB
Power supply: DC
Dust cover: YES
Consumption: 7 watts