Review: Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO vs. DC Turntable

Review: Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO vs. DC Turntable

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Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo Vs. Debut Carbon DC Turntable

2020 marks the first year that vinyl sales have surpassed CDs since the 1980s (according to CNET). So it's no surprise that turntable design and the category in general is at the top of its game. And, among the most popular turntables are those from Pro-Ject, who recently released the Debut Carbon Evo (short for Evolution) as an update to their widely lauded Debut Carbon DC. Pro-Ject essentially took their most popular design and improved every aspect of it. 

So, what's the difference between the Debut Carbon Evo and its predecessor? At a glance, here's what we found: The EVO includes more stable, height adjustable and damped aluminium feet (also note that Pro-Ject uses 3 feet, not 4 to make leveling a heck of a lot simpler)... and has electronic speed selection via a simple rocker switch on the bottom (no more removing the platter!). The Evo comes in 9 color and finish options. Yes, that's NINE! The new turntable also includes a suspension system borrowed from the higher-end X1 and a hefty aluminum platter, weighing in at about 3.7-pounds. for the US, Pro-ject included a factory-mounted Sumiko Rainier phono cartridge (a $150 value). Like the original Debut Carbon, the EVO includes a one-piece carbon-fiber tonearm, the same premium gold-plated RCA jacks, and a hinged adjustable dust cover.

Different Strokes

 Let's take a look at some of the most important elements side by side:

Element

Debut Carbon DC

Debut Carbon Evo

Feet

Vibration-resistant

TPE-damped aluminum, wider, height adjustable, more stable

Motor Mount

Motor hung on special rubber bands to damp vibrations

Motor encased in steel EM shield mounted to plinth using TPE isolation washers

Speed Control

Must take off platter and move the belt to change speed

Electronic control changes speed with a flip of the switch, provides more stable signal to motor for more consistent speed

Platter

Stamped-steel platter has no damping

Thicker, heavier stamped-steel platter with TPE damping ring; less chance of platter vibrating with sound from speakers

Cartridge

Ortofon Red included

European version includes Ortofon Red; US version includes Sumiko Rainier

Reg. Price

$399

$499

On Your Feet!

Starting at the bottom, the DC has perfectly serviceable vibration-resistant feet, but the Evo greatly improves on them with new TPE (thermoplastic elastomer)-damped aluminum feet that are wider and more stable. Pro-Ject uses this material in its more expensive models, so it's great to see it here. Even better, the Evo feet are height-adjustable, making it a simple matter to level the turntable. The use of three feet (instead of four) also makes it easier to ensure a level positioning on near any kind of surface surface.

Motor Function

The motor is the same in both models, but the way it's mounted is completely different. The DC suspends its motor on special rubber bands—which works well to isolate the motor from vibrations—while the Evo motor is mounted in a steel shield mounted to the plinth (the base of the turntable) using TPE isolation washers, which prevents any vibrations from being transmitted from the motor through the plinth to the cartridge. In addition, the shield isolates the motor from stray electromagnetic energy that might interfere with its smooth operation.

The Evo offers a big improvement in the speed control as well. With the DC, you had to remove the platter and move the belt to change from 33 1/3 to 45 RPM. The Evo provides electronic speed control that changes speed with the flip of a rocker switch on the bottom of the plinth. In addition, this provides a more stable signal to the motor, so its speed is more consistent over time. Plus, the placement of the rocker switch streamlines the design of the turntable in general. And that's one of Pro-Ject's design philosophies - keep it simple. A turntable should never have more than it needs - this is not the category where you want more bells and whistles or "flair" of any kind, in function, form, and design. The less there is to interfere with the mechanics and aesthetics, the better it will perform and isolate the sound... and the better it will look!

Platter-tudes & High-Caliber Cartridges

While the inner platter and platter bearing have not changed, the outer platter represents another significant upgrade. The DC uses a stamped-steel platter with no damping, whereas the Evo's platter is thicker stamped steel with a large TPE damping ring around the inner perimeter. That damping ring makes the platter much heavier, so there's less chance it will vibrate in response to sound from the speakers.

The highly regarded carbon-fiber tonearm with sapphire bearings is identical on both units. Then there's the cartridge—the DC comes with an Ortofon Red, which costs $99 on its own. The European version of the Evo also comes with an Ortofon Red, while the US version comes with a Sumiko Rainier, a $150 value by itself. In both cases, you can opt to upgrade the cartridge or even just the stylus if you so desire.

More Colors & Finishes

Some might not be concerned with appearances, but if you are, Pro-Ject's got you with nine finishes and colors. The Evo offers new satin finishes and also includes a real-walnut veneer option. And there are no switches, buttons, or printing on the plinth for a super-clean look in any décor. Again, keeping it simple. 

Bottom Line

The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo clearly represents a significant upgrade over the already excellent Debut Carbon DC. So, it's no surprise that the Evo lists for $100 more. But in the world of turntables, even $499 is still a pittance compared with the many thousands of dollars one can spend on an LP spinner. And from what we've seen, you get a whole lot of bang for your buck with this one. If you're a budget-conscious vinyl lover in search of a new turntable, the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo must be at the top of your shortlist!

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evolution Turntable

Available in 9 colors.

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Video Transcript

"Hi, everyone. This is Brian from World Wide Stereo. I'm here to talk to you about the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO turntable. ♪ [music] ♪ Before I talk about the turntable itself, I'll talk a little bit about Pro-Ject as a company. They started putting out turntables in the early '90s, you know, when CD sales were booming, and vinyl was going away.

They wanted to make sure that people had access to quality equipment to listen to music on what they felt was the best format. Pro-Ject released their Debut series in the late '90s, '99 to be exact. So Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO priced at $499 is the much-anticipated replacement to Pro-Ject's long time, bestselling Debut Carbon. According to Pro-Ject, they've taken their most popular turntable design and improved every aspect of it.

While nine finishes seem like a lot, Pro-Ject keeps design simple. There are no buttons, switches, or printing on the plinth. And the speed control switch has been moved to the bottom of the plinth, allows you to change speeds with a push of only a single button for more accurate and stable playback speeds. So when you first open the box for your Debut Carbon EVO, you're going to see the setup manual.

And the nice thing about the setup manual is they give you a picture, step-by-step guideline on how to set everything up, and actually how to take everything out of the box. And that's one of the nicest things that you can have because a lot of things with turntables are mysterious to people especially if you're new to it and you haven't had one for years, you may think that "I'm going to set it up wrong," or, "I'm going to do something wrong, and I'm going to do something so wrong, I'm going to break it."

So one of the important things that Pro-Ject did with the EVO is they added these metal dampening feet that are also adjustable, so you can easily level the unit. Now when I took it out of the box, I checked my table, made sure that was good. Popped it onto the table, took my trustee LP leveler, and put it on. And within a minute, because of the adjustable feet, you know, in the front and the left and the right and in the back, I was able to really adjust it to get it to a level point where I'm okay with playing it.

Now another important thing and the last thing that you do during the setup process is setting up the anti-skate weight. Now let me take off the cover, and show you where that is. So what they do in the instructions is they actually tell you where you're supposed to put it, and how you're supposed to put it on. ♪ [music] ♪ Ta-da.

What Pro-Ject did was made sure that they gave you a nice cable in the box, so it was one less thing that you had to worry about. And what they did was they gave you a semi-balanced cable. Now, this is the semi-balanced cable. Now what's important to know about this cable, in particular, is one has this yellow to yellow side, one does not have this little yellow side. And what is important about that is the semi-balanced portion of it.

So this yellow side is what's supposed to be plugged into your preamp. So whether or not it's a standalone preamp from Pro-Ject, or it's one that's built into your receiver or your stereo, whatever you're going to be plugging this into, you're going to have to because this doesn't have the phono preamp. Now a semi-balanced cable has three individual conductors in each individual cable.

So it's going to use one for the tip and one for the sleeve. Now the third cable in this is going to get connected to the jacket. What it does when it connects to the jacket is it creates a better shielding from exterior noise. So electromagnetic interference, RF noise, it's creating just that one step better protection, so you're hearing more of your record and not anything from the outside world.

Also, the same as its predecessor, the Pro-Ject EVO's gold-plated sockets provide the best kind of connection. To talk about the EVO is really important, we'll kind of disassemble this. We'll kind of work a little backwards so... Now one of the nice things about the Pro-Ject EVO is it already comes with the cartridge mounted on it. This is their first level of the three levels that you can get in this interchangeable series.

So if you're ever wanting to, you know, have a slightly better experience, you can jump to their next level. Now you can look at the tonearm itself, and it's something Pro-Ject's always been known for is the quality of their tonearms. So it's a super-stiff, lightweight, carbon fiber tonearm, and it has a very nice smooth pivot. So that's one of the really nice things that you will get with Pro-Ject turntables is the arm itself is nice, and rigid, and light, and it's not going to adversely affect the playback of your record.

So it comes with a little dampening mat which is nice which I would operate to our core World Wide Stereo one. And then we have our platter itself. So the platter itself is super-heavy metal, and it also has right in here the thermoplastic elastomer. And that's going to add some dampening material to it as well. So what Pro-Ject did with the motor assembly is they took something from their higher end, their X1 series, and brought it down into their Debut series.

So they're using a suspension motor with the TPE breezing to, you know, reduce vibration which gives you a better playback overall. So let's put this back together. So one of the important things with this table is, what I found out it is, it's really good for someone that really wants to get back into listening to vinyl, or really wants to step up their game.

So it really is a good turntable for someone that really wants to take listening to music seriously. What I really enjoyed with this piece was, I really got to listen to, what I did was test out a bunch of 7 inches. And if you don't know about 7 inches, a lot of people will call them 45s, but they play at both 33, and they play at both 45 revolutions per minute. And one of the nice part about this piece, in particular, is because it has the speed adjustor built into this toggle switch in the front, I can easily switch between a 33 record to a 45 record without having to pull the new unit apart, change the belt, and change where the timing is going to be.

One of the things I really like about this cartridge is, not as much the turntable itself, but the cartridge that was mounted with it, the Rainier has this little cutout in the front. And what I like to do is I will listen to certain tracks on an LP which most people say you start at the beginning, you end at the end, but sometimes, you just want to listen to that one track. So with the Rainier cartridge, it has a little slot in it to make it a lot easier to find the track that you're looking for."

So one of the big things that the Pro-Ject EVO does for you is it's an easy setup, it's easy to use, and allows you really to focus on enjoying the music, and not worry about how you're going to set it up. This has been the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO. You can view this item online at worldwidestereo.com, or if you happen to be in the area, please, stop in at either our Ardmore or Montgomeryville showroom to check it out in person.

We offer a 60-day return policy, free shipping, and we're authorized dealers for everything we sell. If you have any questions or comments, please, leave them in the comment section, or do not hesitate to call us or email us at any time. Don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel, and catch us on all our social medial platforms. This is Brian from World Wide Stereo.

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