Heat and eat
No turntable? No phono stage? No problem!
Debut Phono turntable. $699
Although CD has been with us for 20 years many still prefer vinyl. The manufacture of turntables, cartridges, arms and phono stages (needed now as most modern amplifiers no longer have a phono input) continues apace, as are some new and plenty of reissued vinyl releases.
Used vinyl of every variety can be bought for a pittance and save for the rare/collectible stuff second-hand vinyl is far cheaper than the equivalent CD reissue and I speak from experience.
Im one of those unreconstructed analogue fanatics who despite owning a fine CD player and a respectable CD collection most often prefer the original vinyl. Why? One reason really it sounds better. SACD, HDCD, 24bit, DVDA, 96/24, DAT whatever format so far a good vinyl rig will see them all off.
Ive managed to build up a very respectable (1000+) vinyl collection from scratch in three years and for a fraction of the cost a similar CD based collection would retail for. Furthermore for all pre 80s releases you have the original format recorded, mastered and mixed as the artist intended.
Okay, so you want to try out this vinyl thing. What turntable is best for a vinyl newbie? Project based in Czechoslavkia has throughout the 90s risen to prominence especially in the budget/beginner turntable market and the Debut Phono (which includes both arm and a basic Ortofon cartridge and an onboard phono section) is purpose built for you. I only wish it was about when I first got into analogue.
Essentially what it offers is plugnplay analog sound for under $700. Thats hard to beat and yes I can assure you that all those horrid tales of incredibly confusing turntable set-ups dont apply here.
Setting up the Debut Phono is limited to undoing two transit screws, the positioning of an anti-skating weight (can you tie your shoelaces? Then you can do this) then you put the belt on, position the platter, plug it in and congratulations your turntable awaits! The cartridge comes already attached to the arm so all you have to do is remember to remove the stylus guard! Time elapsed 5 minutes.
So Project has made the Debut idiot-proof but how does it sound? Well, right from the get go the Debut impressed with its involving, relaxed musicality. As Im a bit of a fanatic (snob?) regarding my turntables Id expected little from the Debut (Id heard budget turntables before) yet when I slapped on John Hiatts Slow Turning LP it had the same drive, the same irresistible swing as I enjoyed on the Rega 3 (which all up retails for over twice the amount of the Debut and thats minus the phono section dont forget!).
Simply the Debut Phono got right to the heart of the music. Inevitably instrument separation, detail and resolution (bass and highs) werent as tidy or impressive as the Rega yet the great thing about the Debut Phono is that within its own ambit the music is totally uncompromised, the mechanics et al get out of the way and let the music do the talking. I was right there in the car beside Hiatt drivin south/with the one you love. Sure more expensive turntables will bring out finer detail yet the best thing about the Debut is that the listener doesnt obviously miss anything. Quite an achievement for a budget table.
Build quality is fine, with Project opting for the light and functional design approach - good thinking. A clear perspex dustcover is included. Speed was reliable and steady. To change it you lift the platter and stretch the belt over the other pulley as on the Rega turntables, a couple of seconds work. Do make sure that the table is level and stable on a sturdy platform and not too close to either speaker as turntables are far more susceptible to vibration than CD players.
Finally the Debut Phono is the ideal solution for those who have a few LPs tucked away in the closet or for those who are totally new to the format. Think of it as an easy to use no-BS starter kit. It gives a hint of how good analog sound can be - and although many will find the Debut all the turntable theyll ever need - a few will continue on up the analog ladder, until like me their living-room floors are stacked high with LPs!
The Debut Phono offers a wonderful introduction to analogues joys at a truly unbeatable price, opening up a whole new world of music in the process.
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