Pro-Ject Debut PRO S Turntable Package Page 2

Completing the package is a dust cover and a Connect-it E RCA cable. The turntable's internal wiring is in line with Pro-Ject's recent drive to promote balanced connections [HFN Sep '22], allowing users to make a balanced link with a suitable cable adapter and phono preamp such as the Phono Box S3 B. Of course, you'll need to change to a moving-coil cartridge to reap those balanced benefits.

sqnote Play It Loud
As mentioned, the Pick it S2 C cartridge is derived from Ortofon's Concorde line, which many would associate with a DJ deck – yet its sound in the Debut PRO S is more refined and detailed than needed for spinning discs in a nightclub. The emphasis does remain on producing a dense, massive sound, but it's one from which dynamic, bright detail still stands out. It's big and roomy, but always hi-fi.

These characteristics suited listening to 'Sonnenaufgang' from Richard Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra [Decca 028948409617], the prelude to the rest of his symphonic poem. Although less than two minutes long it is instantly recognisable – a few notes suffice, thanks to Stanley Kubrick's memorable use of it in 2001: A Space Odyssey. With the Debut PRO S hooked up to a Primare I15 amplifier [HFN Oct '18] and a set of DALI Rubicon 2 standmounts, the music filled my room.

There's a lot of sheer power and dynamics in this 1959 Herbert von Karajan recording, re-released 60 years later in a limited edition pressing from Decca and Pro-Ject itself. And while working through the piece's nine parts the Debut PRO S proved capable of handling big orchestrations, opting for a relatively largescale, weighty portrayal with a palpable sense of depth. Individual instruments were also well-defined – the church organ at the end of 'Der Genesende' and the horns in 'Das Tanzlied' appearing rich and distinct – while the soft dynamics displayed at the end of 'Das Nachwanderlied' were treated with respect.

More Than Just OK
Good definition and deft handling of midrange frequencies made rediscovering Radiohead's OK Computer OKNOTOK 1997 2017 [XL Recordings XLLP868] a lot of fun as well. This triple-LP version of the 1997 album, with its numerous B-side additions and trio of previously unreleased songs, is a diverse, genre-hopping exercise, and one which found Pro-Ject's turntable up to the task. It positioned the overdriven guitar which backs up Thom Yorke's vocal on 'Lift' out to the far left of the soundstage, keeping it detailed rather than a wash of distortion, and gave bass and percussion their own presence.


Stereo RCA sockets are mounted under the left of the plinth, PSU input to the right. Three machined feet screw into place for levelling and vibration control

Listening to some more rock-orientated albums showed this deck and cartridge to be an excellent performer with the genre, thanks to the full-range, full-size sound. There was no smearing of the image either when spinning the complex avant-garde music of Burn from Sons of Kemet [Naim NAIMLP201]. Marrying Afrobeat and Caribbean folk influences with jazz orchestrations – sometimes driven by a very fat tuba – the Kemets' music can be an acquired taste, yet the Debut PRO S had the timing and resolving ability to play these rousing songs with impressive coherence.

Comparing a Debut PRO with Pick-IT PRO cartridge to the Debut PRO S with its Concorde derivative was… interesting. Sonic differences were quite pronounced, with the Pick it S2 C cartridge and S-tonearm putting more of a spotlight on the minimalistic piano playing and vocals of Melanie de Biasio on 'Your Freedom Is The End Of Me' [Lilies, PIAS PIASL070LP] than the Pick-IT PRO. Furthermore, a little extra precision and a tad more bite to the sound better suited the overall feel of this album, which continually lurches between triphop and jazz.

The final track on side A, 'Sitting In The Stairwell', consists only of De Biasio's sultry vocals and her snapping her fingers, recorded in a reverberant space that sounds suspiciously like a stairwell. I recently played this same song on a Pro-Ject X2 B [HFN Sep '22] with an Ortofon Quintet Red MC, and the level of microdetail and envelopment was astonishing. The Debut PRO S couldn't rival that performance, but was still a very satisfying listen, and compared to the 'regular' Debut PRO there was definitely a greater sense of drawing the listener in.

The Choice Is Yours
Does that make the PRO S superior to the Debut Pro? Not per se, even though one is slightly more expensive than the other. But there really is a choice on offer in terms of sound character. And no one would complain about that, surely?

Hi-Fi News Verdict
The Debut PRO S is an enticing package, with a well-designed deck at its core, together with all the bits and bobs you need to listen to vinyl in higher quality. It lives up to its promise of offering a real performance uplift over Pro-Ject's (and other brands') entry-level players – and quite a few midrange models too. It's also a foil for the Debut PRO, with a distinct and brighter sound plus painless upgrade potential.

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