We need to get this out in the open. There’s an inverted snobbery surrounding brands like Pro-Ject, Music Hall and Rega. Because these fine brands make fine inexpensive turntables by the palletload, there’s an idea that when it comes to ‘serious’ vinyl spinners, the products they make are unable to compete. The Pro-Ject Xtension 10 Evolution begs to differ.
In fact, possibly the only thing getting in the way of the Pro-Ject deck being spoken of in the sort of hallowed tones reserved for the ‘big names’ in high-end turntablism is it is perhaps too well put together. There’s none of the random box of foam, the kit of parts that might be shy one foot or comes with three extra anti-skate weights or the ‘oh just guess where it all goes’ single-sheet of paper manual… this is instead a clever and sophisticated turntable design that is designed to be a consistent and reliable vinyl partner.
Nothing is left to chance. A 50kg crate might seem overkill for a turntable, but it makes a lot of sense when you find every part in the right place. A seasoned deck-builder might take longer to take the turntable out of the box than it takes to put it together, but short of it being dropped onto concrete from a great height, the deck is going to work and work well. However, despite the weight of the box and the high-mass platter and the glossy finish, there’s not a lot of extraneous ‘bling’; the power supply, for example, is just a plug-top affair, chosen because it works and because there’s not much in the way of additional big-box power supply options that can improve upon the plug-top.
Instead, the ‘business end’ of the deck is a three-button and LED panel in the bottom right corner of the top-plate. The middle is start/stop and speed change, while the sideflanking buttons adjust the speed by +/- 0.1rpm. The 15W AC motor beneath that metal guard on the top left is powerful enough to bring the platter to speed, but not so powerful that it takes anything less than geological time to get there; fully 30 seconds from a standing start to 33.3rpm, and an additional 16 seconds to go from there to 45rpm (actually, on the review sample 45.1rpm was the default). Stopping is a lot faster, but is still measured in tens of seconds. It’s possible to play the deck at 78rpm, but this involves unscrewing the three chrome knobs that keep that metal guard in place, changing belt position on the motor guide and adjusting the built-in Speed Box to 45rpm, which is even slower than changing speeds electronically.