Pro-ject Primary E £150
Our favourite entry-level record player this year is Pro-ject’s excellent Primary E. It’s a wonderful back-to-basics deck that does everything we would want from a product at this level.
The E is a mild development of the five-star Primary we reviewed a year or so ago. The differences between the two players are slight and essentially amount to a power supply that’s mounted on the deck rather than being an outboard unit, and a colour choice limited to just black rather than having the Primary’s red or white options.
Importantly, this new deck (including an Ortofon moving-magnet cartridge) costs £20 less than the original.
While our sonic expectations are rightly tempered for a £150 turntable, we can’t argue with the Primary E’s priority: entertainment. It confidently nails the basics, from an even tonal balance to a delivery that’s clear and clean and spacious enough to keep things coherent – no mean feat at this price.
Detail levels are pleasing for the money and the Pro-ject has the skill to organise all this information into a cohesive and musical sound.
Body and substance cling to every frequency as reliably as the belt does to the platter edge, and that’s made all the more enjoyable by a spirited sense of drive and momentum. You’ll have to move up to the likes of Rega’s Planar 1 to do appreciably better in these respects.
The National sounds grand
We lay down The National’s Trouble Will Find Me, and the Pro-ject wilfully promotes the LP’S warmth and sweetness, communicating the rumination in Berninger’s laconic tongue as well as the contrasting sense of effort behind his bandmate’s drum beats.
It’s sensitive to the sullenness of the band’s heart-swelling instrumentals, demonstrating levels of insight and precision that are way more than passable in the company of budget amplification and speakers.
By the time we’ve listened to all four sides and the needle has slipped off the last track, Hard To Find, we’re asking ourselves what more we could want from a £150 deck. The answer is very little.
Set-up is straightforward too. With the anti-skate weight and the 1.7g tracking force pre-set (there’s a stylus pressure gauge in the box for checking the latter), all you’re required to do is attach the belt to one of the two motor pulleys, depending on whether you’re playing a 33.3rpm or 45rpm record.
For someone who just wants a capable and fuss-free affordable turntable, the Pro-ject Primary E is a brilliant buy, and a worthy Award-winner.
The Primary E is a great-value, easy-to-use deck that gets its sonic priorities just right