Pro-ject Juke Box E £369
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