There comes a point in the life of the average audiophile's life where he or she chooses to move into "proper" hi-fi territory. This is point at which fellow audiophiles may visit and nod sagely, without anything being said, safe in the shared knowledge that that wretched Crosley turntable is in the landfill and that your vinyl is in safe hands.
This is the point that Pro-ject have capitalised on over the last 20 years as the vinyl revival gathers pace. They might make turntables you can spend a small fortune on (The Signature 12 will set you back more than £7000), but it's at the budget turntable end of the market where they've really built a reputation, and the Project III might just be the best example of this. It might be constructed from unsexy MDF, but everything else about is pretty sexy indeed.
How does the Pro-Ject Essential III hold up in the expert's hands? For that, we look to our colleagues at What Hi-Fi.
What Hi-Fi Say...
Praise is fulsome. What Hi-Fi are quick to comment on the turntables styling, setup, and open, detailed sound, and their only real criticism is that the build quality is 100% rock solid. But it's not like you're going to jumping out ofd aeroplanes with this thing.
Where the Project III really comes into its own is when you add an acrylic platter. It bumps up the price a little, but it also turns the Project III into a proper little contender, and it looks much nicer than the regular platter.
"But there’s a twist," confirm What Hi-Fi. "Also in Pro-Ject’s arsenal is the Essential III A. That ‘A’ refers to an acrylic platter upgrade (called the Pro-Ject Acryl-IT E). The A turntable costs an extra £40 – but it’s money well spent.
"The sound is instantly bigger and more open, while bass notes are firmer for a more rounded presentation. And there’s an extra layer of detail for good measure. The Essential III A and the Rega P1 are definitely something of a toss-up."
And for anyone who knows the Rega P1, that's serious praise indeed.