Pro-ject Juke Box E £369

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Awards 2018 -

When we first laid our eyes on Pro-ject’s Juke Box E, we thought: “We haven’t seen a mu­sic cen­tre in years.” This isn’t a mu­sic cen­tre like the ones from the old days, of course. This Juke Box E is a turntable sys­tem that’s en­tirely up­dated for 21st-cen­tury needs, though still evok­ing that retro vibe.

Based on Pro-ject’s highly-re­garded Pri­mary turntable, the Juke Box E is tricked out with an Orto­fon OM 5E car­tridge, am­pli­fi­ca­tion (25W per chan­nel into 8 ohms) and Blue­tooth re­ceiver. At the back of the deck you’ll find stereo RCA out­puts at line level and pre-amp/phono level, plus a stereo RCA line-level in­put.

There are also left/right speaker out­puts, an aerial socket for the Blue­tooth re­ceiver, and a re­mote con­trol. Just strap on a pair of speak­ers and you’re good to go.

Right from the off, this is recog­nis­ably a Pro-ject turntable – it car­ries the brand’s sonic sig­na­ture as surely as some sports brands carry three stripes. In essence, that sig­na­ture is one of easy-go­ing fidelity: the Juke Box E es­tab­lishes a de­cently spa­cious sound­stage and po­si­tions in­stru­ments upon it se­curely in their own space even as they in­te­grate and in­ter­act to­gether.

An en­dear­ing char­ac­ter

Ton­ally, it’s on the warmish side of neu­tral, which is what we’ve learned to ex­pect from turntables cost­ing less than silly money, but its over­all char­ac­ter is im­me­di­ately en­dear­ing.

It’s un­trou­bled by even tricky tem­pos or idio­syn­cratic rhythms, it has a suit­able rich­ness and shine at the top end of the reg­is­ter and its midrange re­pro­duc­tion is de­tailed enough to ren­der vo­cals ef­fu­sive and emo­tive.

Match it with the ap­pro­pri­ate speak­ers (and pay ex­tra at­ten­tion to the sen­si­tiv­ity) and the Juke Box E will show off its rhyth­mic prow­ess and low-end weight with aplomb.

In essence, the Pro-ject Juke Box E is some­thing of a rar­ity. It’s an all-in-one sys­tem that de­mands very few com­pro­mises, given its price. It’s also an all-in-one sys­tem that we can’t eas­ily ar­gue against in favour of sep­a­rates. This level of func­tion­al­ity is dif­fi­cult in the ex­treme to repli­cate us­ing in­di­vid­ual com­po­nents at this sort of money.

Plus it’s ex­tremely con­ve­nient. Mix that ease of use with a fan­tas­tic sonic per­for­mance and you have a ter­rific turntable prod­uct for the times.

Com­bin­ing old with new, the Juke Box E is a turntable prod­uct for the times

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