THERE’S a battle brewing at the budget end of the vinyl market and it’s no surprise that the opening salvos are coming from Pro-Ject Audio Systems, courtesy of its new “nude” Elemental “plug ‘n’ play” turntable, the company’s cheapest yet.
“The only plastic here is the stylus guard!” Pro-Ject proclaims, taking an obvious potshot at a number of cheap and cheerful units that the serious vinyl enthusiast on a tight budget would shun.
There’s no plinth, so to speak, or cover – the “central gravity mass point” is made from artificial stone, Pro-Ject says. This is placed directly underneath the platter bearing to absorb unwanted rumble and motor vibration. As you can see, the motor and tonearm are mounted on either end of this “base”.
The new 8.6-inch metal tonearm is an ultra low mass design that is optimised for use with the factory-fitted Ortofon OM5 series cartridge.
The two-speed, belt-drive Elemental, which uses a low-vibration DC motor, has an MDF platter with stainless steel bearings in a bronze bushing and Teflon bottom. The low-resonance platter comes with a felt mat.
Pro-Ject promises that the Elemental is ready to play right out of the box. No counterweight or anti-skating adjustments are needed as both are preset. Just remove from box, take off the bearing guards, thread the belt, slide off the stylus guard and you’re ready to explore those grooves.
There are two models, both available in red/black, white/black or silver/black combinations – the basic unit and another with integrated RIAA-equalised phono stage and A/D converter with USB output.
Price respectively at €199 (basic) and €249 (phono/USB), the Elemental appears to take simplicity and affordability to new lows. Available in October.