Pro-Ject Classic Evo Turntable Page 2

For most listeners, what defines the deck will be its smooth tone. Although clearly not in the super-sumptuous territory, the Classic Evo takes hold of UB40's reggae classic 'Don't Let It Pass You By' [Signing Off; Graduate Records GRADLP 2] and delivers it with a fulsome and thick bass. The kick drum comes over with lots of energy and thump, and backed by a pile-driving bass guitar line that pushes the song along with gusto.

The Classic Evo served up serious amounts of heft here, giving a more rounded account of the instrument than expected. However, this turntable's sheer low-end grunt can make things seem a little leaden if there's already a lot of bass energy packed into those grooves. For example, it didn't sound quite as fleet of foot with Dire Straits 'Private Investigations' [Love Over Gold; Vertigo 6359 109] as perhaps it might.

Going Organic
Despite this, the Classic Evo's performance was never less than enjoyable, and typically underscored by a detailed and communicative midband. It has a naturally open and organic sound that's fairly transparent yet doesn't 'machine gun' detail at the listener. I could easily discern the keyboard part playing right through the song; this can often get subsumed into the overall mix, but it remained clearly audible here.

At the same time, the deck threw out lots of little percussive flourishes from the rhythm guitar and tomtoms that kept my interest. I wouldn't claim it approaches an etched or forensic sound, but there's still a decent degree of clarity on offer here that's more than commensurate with the price.

This detailed midband certainly complements the turntable's admirably spacious nature. So while the Dire Straits recording is famously open and expansive, the Classic Evo wasn't shy about expressing this. It set up a big recorded acoustic with that delicate classical guitar work on one side and the piano panned far across to the other, while Mark Knopfler's vocals were set securely at centre stage.

I feel confident in declaring this infusion of air and space to the sound, and good stage depth, is rather better than you'd expect from a turntable of this price. For my part, it was all underlined by the Evo's treatment of 'Arabian Knights' by Siouxsie And The Banshees [Once Upon A Time; Polydor POLS 1056], which sounded more spacious than expected, with an airy ambience that gave the song a compelling, almost ethereal feel.

Perfect Partner
This track also confirmed my suspicions that the Ortofon Quintet Red MC cartridge is a very good match for this deck. It is naturally balanced, albeit with a gentle touch of brightness in the upper midband that accents percussion and vocals. This lends the Classic Evo a slight fillip, perking its rhythmic performance up a notch.

Perhaps as a result, the Evo is particularly entertaining with electronica, old and new. For example, while The Pet Shop Boys' 'I'm Not Scared' [Introspective; Parlophone PCS 7325] has a complex and compressed mix with some deep, powerful bass, this still sounded lively and energetic as the deck took a skillful swipe at the densely-packed musical layers.

Otherwise, I also found the Classic Evo happy playing lower paced, and perhaps slightly 'sparser' recordings such as Randy Crawford's 'Rio De Janeiro Blue' [Secret Combination; Warner Bros Records BSK 3541]. Here its charms really came to the fore – the deck/cartridge combination proving itself with an attractive and open sound, typically stepping out of the way and beckoning the listener into the performance at hand.

Sweet And Creamy
Meanwhile, the Classic Evo's resolution of dynamic light and shade also helped with the backing instrumentalists, contrasting the gently brushed snare with hard-hit bass drum on this occasion. So this classic jazz/soul song was conveyed with some sensitivity, the deck doing a fine job of rendering the singer's soaring vocals. Her voice came over as enjoyably sweet and creamy, yet still had all the tension of a coiled spring – able to surge from quiet and tender to all out thunder in a flash.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
Pro-Ject's new Classic Evo does what it says on the tin. It isn't a forensic retriever of detail, nor is it an ultra-grippy, taut and tight renderer of bass. Instead, it's aimed at mainstream buyers wanting something that sounds smooth, spacious and enjoyable – and in this it clearly succeeds. Factor in the fine build quality, ease of set-up and excellent bundled cartridge option, and it's an impressive package.

Pro-Ject Audio Systems
Supplied by: Henley Audio Ltd, UK
01235 511166