The Classic Evo is a modern take on a relatively long running piece of turntable design. Instead of being a solid plinth which holds the the arm bearing and motor, The Classic Evo has a main chassis with an inner sub chassis. These two sections would frequently be separated by springs but this results in a more complicated device to set up and use. Here Pro-Ject has elected to use spheres of rubber-like stuff – Thermo Plastic Elastomer (TPE). These isolate the sub platter without needing any setup.
This sub chassis mounts the bearing, into which a aluminium platter and sub platter are fitted. The motor that acts on the sub platter has electronic speed control and works via an on board voltage convertor that takes DC from an external PSU and converts it to AC on board the turntable itself. The arm is a variation on Pro-Ject’s long running and very well regarded carbon fibre type. This takes a thin aluminium tube which then has a stiffening weave of carbon fibre added to it which is then also formed into the headshell. Other than a slightly fiddly anti-skate system, where you need to fit a weight on a line to a rather well concealed stub, it’s a very simple device to set up.
As standard, the Pro-Ject comes with an Ortofon Quintet Red moving coil cartridge. You can special order it without but Pro-Ject and Ortofon have a longstanding relationship and the Quintet Red is likely to be an excellent partner that also turns up correctly aligned. One welcome feature is that the Pro-Ject has RCA connections on the back rather than a captive lead which simplifies the process of mounting it on a wall shelf or otherwise at a distance from your phono stage. Another welcome aspect of ‘Classic’ design is that you get a proper hinged lid as well. As well as a decent specification, the level of build and finish is of a decent standard for the asking price too.
There are two reasons why suspended sub chassis turntables have been as enduringly popular as they have over the years and the Pro-Ject does a fine job with both. The first is that they are impressively resistant to outside interference. The Classic Evo has no issue with footfall or unwanted vibration and this is beneficial to the performance as it reduces interference on the playing surface.
The other is more intangible… but no less significant. Suspended turntables have a grooviness to them that makes them tremendous partners with more rhythmic material. The Pro-Ject might not have a full set of springs in it but there is a rhythmic fluency to what it does that is tremendously compelling. This is a turntable that flows effortlessly through even very complex sounding music. It brings order, three dimensionality and space to everything you play on it.
This is combined with other, more traditional Pro-Ject virtues too. The Classic Evo has a very low noise floor and excellent pitch stability. This helps it to deliver a tonal balance that is consistently believable and there’s no shortage of low end drive to the performance as well. This is not the most detailed of turntables for the asking price (although changing that Quintet Red for another member of the family would go a long way to solving that) but the overall presentation is one that gets to the heart of the musical message and is unfailingly enjoyable. Across a huge spread of different genres and pressings, The Classic Evo goes about delivering the same charismatic and engaging presentation.
Thanks to the absence of springs and a good selection of accessories in the box, the Pro-Ject is easy to set up and use. The styling is gently but not overtly retro which will appeal to many and the small footprint and lid are very welcome features too.
The Classic Evo is a fine example of Pro-Ject taking a long standing idea and making use of it in a simple, convenient and cost effective way. This is an extremely appealing turntable package that delivers superb musicality
Little Feat Feats don’t fail me now
There are few better demonstrations of the Pro-Ject’s innate ability to flow through music than this fabulous piece of seventies funk rock showing a band at the height of their prowess.
Queens of the Stone Age Songs for the Deaf
This masterpiece makes its way through multiple styles, tempos and vocalists and The Classic Evo isn’t wrongfooted by a single second of it.
Joan Armatrading Me, Myself & I
The Pro-Ject is able to find the emotional core of this album in a way that even very sophisticated alternatives can sometimes struggle with. Armatrading herself sounds absolutely glorious throughout.
If the crop of minimalist turntables leave you cold, the Pro-Ject offers a classic shape without losing any of the performance or convenience of a modern design. It’s the best of both worlds.