Pro-Ject Essential II Matte Black Turntable with Ortofon OM 5E Cartridge Review

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Updated: October 2017. The belt driven Pro-Ject Essential II Matte Black Turntable with Ortofon OM 5E Cartridge makes an excellent foundation if the ‘vinyl’ bug has bitten you.

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Or if you’re ready to take your vinyl listening to the next level.

With a silent-running motor and upgraded motor control, this turntable has minimal vibration, producing crystal clear sound.

It’s light, weighing in at 3.9kg when fully assembled. But don’t be fooled by this – it’s solid and sturdy, with decoupled feet raising the turntable from any surface for extra balance.

Product NamePro-Ject Essential II Black Matt Turntable
BrandPro-Ject Audio Systems
SpeedPlays at 33 and 45 RPM
DriveBelt Drive
Built-in Phono PreampNo
Wow & Flutter0.12%
Warranty2 Years

The tone arm is straight and crafted from a single piece of aluminum with makes it super easy to install.

Not only does the Pro-Ject Essential II Matte Black Turntable give high class, industry leading sound quality.

But because it comes with a state of the art Ortofon OM 5E Cartridge you can enjoy listening to your vinyl treasures without the worry of your vinyl being damaged.

When you use this turntable you’ll think; “precision and performance”.

Each project product is backed by a  2 year warranty.

Unboxing the Pro-Ject Essential II Matte Black Turntable with Ortofon OM 5E Cartridge

Upon opening the box that your new turntable is in, you’ll notice that it’s partially disassembled. This is to ensure it stays safe during transport.

You’ll immediately notice the solid sturdy plinth, a felt slip mat with a platter that rests on a synchronous motor. You’ll also find a silicon belt that drives the platter and a straight 8,6“ aluminum tonearm with a single-pivot bearing.

The Project Essential II also comes with a power supply cable, dust cover, RCA cables, and grounding wire.

You’ll find a thorough user manual showing you exactly how to assemble the parts and possible settings for optimal sound. And don’t worry; it’s not in broken English!

Features of the Pro-Ject Essential II Matte Black Turntable with Ortofon OM 5E Cartridge

Let’s take a look at all of the important features of this powerful turntable and how you can get the most out of it. Understanding the features and their uses will help you to get the most out of your new turntable.


The Pro-Ject Essential II comes with a two speed transmission playing at either 33 or 45 RPM.

The speed switch can be manually adjusted. Since most vinyl records are cut at 33 or 45 RPM you should have no problems spinning just about any vinyl. 78 RPM vinyl is rare and this turntable will not play at this speed.

One feature I really like is that the belt is exposed.  So all you have to do to change speeds is slip the belt on to the correct speed.  Believe me, this is much more convenient than having to lift the platter to change speeds like with other Pro-Ject models.

<< See the Pro-Ject Essential II Turntable with Ortofon OM 5E Cartridge on Amazon >>


This model is a belt driven, which produces less vibration through the tonearm making for a more crystal-like sound. The belt is made of durable silicone and fits snugly around the stepped drive pulley.

Plinth (Chassis) and Platter

The plinth is designed with lightweight and very firm particleboard. This turntable has a low-resonance platter crafted from 300mm MDF which is driven by the silent-running synchronous motor.

The platter bearing is made of a stainless steel spindle and bronze bushing with a Teflon bottom where the soft felt mat fits over. This along with ingenious tonearm construction (which we’ll get to next) any resonance is virtually eliminated.


The 8.6” tonearm and headshell is crafted from a single piece of aluminum with a stainless steel single pivot bearing giving exquisite tracking over the vinyl grooves.

The tonearm has a length of 218.5 mm, a mass of 8.5g and an overhang of 18.5mm and has a tonearm finger lift for easy cueing.

This turntable requires manual cueing, so there’s no auto return. It comes with a tonearm counterweight and support rod to ensure perfect balance and alignment.

With its unique design and effortless movement, any resonance is transferred into the base of the tonearm and chassis leaving behind only high fidelity sound.


The Pro-Ject Essential II it’s fitted with a pre-mounted Ortofon OM 5E Cartridge. The OM 5E is a moving magnet cartridge (MM). It has an elliptical-shaped stylus, which is the preferred shape to provide balanced and distortion-free playback.

When it’s time to replace the stylus, this one won’t break the bank but despite its affordability, it is still considered a cartridge that offers superb performance.

This turntable comes with an anti-skating weight adjustment scale. This gives you more control over the horizontal force of the tonearm and will prevent the cartridge from ‘skating’ across the surface of the vinyl.

<< See the Pro-Ject Essential II Turntable with Ortofon OM 5E Cartridge on Amazon >>

Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

Do I need a phono preamp for this TT?

Yes, the Pro-Ject Essential II does not come with a built-in phono preamp. For the sound to be amplified you’ll need to connect it to a phono preamp made for an MM cartridge.

Do I need speakers?

Yes, to hear the audio signal you will need to hook up your turntable to speakers

Does this turntable come with a cover and cables?

Yes, a dust cover, RCA cables, and a grounding wire are included with this turntable.

Does this come with USB?

No, this model does not come with a USB interface. However, there is another Pro-Ject Essential II that comes with a built-in USB interface.

Should You Buy the Pro-Ject Essential II Turntable with Ortofon OM 5E Cartridge?

It comes down to this. If you are looking for state-of-the-art turntable that’s reliable, provides crystal clear sound that won’t break the bank this turntable might be exactly what you need.

It’s a precision-crafted unit and there’s a lot of scopes for future upgrades to make it even better.  It’s great for casual listening but still has the power to keep up if you’re using it every day.

And it comes with a great sounding cartridge, so it won’t damage your treasure vinyls.  Overall it’s a great turntable at an affordable price.

Some folks have reported a slight hum.  But it turned out they didn’t have the deck grounded properly.  So make sure you connect the grounding wire to the grounding socket.

<< See the Pro-Ject Essential II Turntable with Ortofon OM 5E Cartridge on Amazon >>

Check out my review of the Ortofon OM 5 E which comes standard with this Pro-ject.  It’s a fantastic cart for the money and it’s under 100.

Check out my review of the Ortofon OM 5 E which comes standard with this Pro-ject. 

2 comments… add one
  • Clint Franklin Link Reply

    Does this turntable support the Stanton 681eee cartraige and stylus?

  • Clint Franklin Link Reply

    TPhe diisplayed turntable is everything I need in a turntabkli except the ability to put my Stanton 681eee cartridge and stylus which runs about $150.00. Do. you have a turntable with a belt drive, a straight tone arm and a variable counter balance ( maybe a pi

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