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The debut name fits this wonderful piece of equipment perfectly in two senses really. On the first count its price clearly aims this at the lower end of the vinyl hi-fi separates market making it the likely choice for many as their first venture into the wonderful world of vinyl audiophilia (it IS a word now!). On the second count given the time, effort and delicate approach needed to play each disc it feels like a performance from start to finish - as another reviewer noted, this is not a bad thing.
This is far from a pick up and play piece of equipment that the throwaway MP3 generation is likely to appreciate. From the adjusting of the counterweight to find the balance of preventing needle glide but not destroying your records with heavy pressure, to adjusting the speed using the driving belt under the main platter, everything requires a little bit more than just the flick of a switch and this is part of the reason I love it. It takes time, some patience and even a little practice but the rewards at the end are great - how music was meant to be in years gone by before the MP3 or even CD era.
Hopeless reminiscing for an era well before my time aside this is a great record deck for those starting out their hi-fi separates setup and beats any CD player in a similar price range hands down for the warmth and depth of sound it produces.
I've no doubt that there are better decks available if you are willing to spend the additional money but the Pro-Ject debut certainly outperforms for the price point it is available at.
A worthwhile investment for any real music fan who appreciates that music should be listened to as a sole activity and not just as background noise to something more distracting
Wow...I'm a little bit shocked that I'm the first person to review this turntable...it is, I'd have thought, a bit of a classic at this point. For a good 8 or 9 years this has been right up there with the best in the category in What Hi-Fi magazine, has always kept it's five stars and has a fairly faithful following...I feel honoured to be the first to write on it...
I got my mk2 Debut around 9 years ago, now - as part of my first proper hi-fi arrangement. I loved the thing then, and I love it now.
Visually, it's just great...It's simplicity itself, finished in matt black, simple shapes and very well proportioned. There's a perspex cover that you don't often see photos of - this was fine to start with, but hasn't aged too well, attracting a good deal of discolouration and dust. That said, it's kept the rest of the turntable pristine - so it certainly does its job well.
A detail that may not be immediately apparent from the attached picture is that the arm is counterbalanced by a small weight, which hangs over a little arm attached by, what looks like, fishing line. This gives a real sense of simplicity and is a little old-skool, but it works brilliantly.
Build quality in the Debut is extremely pleasing for the price point (mine was around £120). It feels satisfyingly weighty and the few parts you see that move against each other do so with a gentle, fluid motion.
A detail that, again, is often overlooked is that there is no speed selection on the exterior of the turntable - in order to switch between 33 and 45 (there's no 78 as standard), you must lift the platter off and move a belt between two gears using the tool provided. This may sound a little awkward, but it's one of the things I love most about the turntable.
What I love about records, generally, is that you have to make a bit of an effort to listen to them. So, to start a record I'll:
* Choose what I'm going to listen to.
* Turn amp volume down
* Change the speed setting on the turntable, as above
* Get the record out of it's sleeve, place on turntable
* Use anti-static brush to clean record
* Start turntable
* Place arm on turntable
* Turn amp volume up
- A few seconds, I guess - but if you do it every song, you end up with a very different experience to just sticking a CD, or some MP3s on in the background...You get a sense of ceremony - and as you're going to have to do the whole thing again in three minutes' time, there's no time to start the washing up, wander off, read a magazine etc...you just sit and listen to the music - which is, I think, a wonderful thing. Anyway, having to pull the thing to pieces (although it's extremely quick and easy) every time you want to change speed really does just make it seem like you've really *worked* to listen to the record - so it better be good.
Thankfully, with the Pro-Ject Debut, the record, however awful, will sound brilliant - the cartridge dances through even the oldest, most loved of records making them sound young and fresh again. Across the range, the sound produced is excellent. I am, sadly, no audiophile - but I can tell the difference between good sound and bad sound - and the sound on the Debut is good enough that I've never felt the need to upgrade. The speakers, amp and CD player that accompanied it as my first hi-fi have now gone on to happier places, but my Debut lives on...and on...and on...
In 9 years of moderate, if sporadic, use, I've never had a single issue with the turntable...it just keeps going. 100% reliability.
In terms of negative points - there aren't *that* many features - and it's a little fiddly to change speed settings - but both of these things I consider to be strengths, rather than weaknesses.
I've also every confidence that there are better sounding turntables around - if you've money to burn. But if you've just got a normal listening ear and have any kind of budgetary limitation, you're going to find it hard, or impossible, to beat the Debut for value for money.