How much do you love ya Daddy? Cause this stunning pack of audio components is the kind of gift that keeps on giving. Pro-Ject Audio’s Essential III with automatic speed control, Rotel’s grunty 60W per chan RA-630 integrated amplifier with Wofson DAC and inbuilt phono preamplifier, and a pair of Andrew Jones’ personally curated Elac Debut B5’s are destined to have Dad rocking the house down. Everything you need to play some serious analogue tunes plus a few digital ones too!
Pro-Ject Audio’s Essential III range is the latest turntable release from the Czech audio manufacturer, replacing the Debut Carbon as their first audiophile-grade offer in the lineup. What makes the new Essential range so good is that Pro-Ject have moved away from particleboard plinth and platter constructions, moving instead to a more premium-grade material with MDF. This further dampens vibration and improves sonic quality. But, they’ve also given the cartridge, cables, stylus, bearing and motor electronics a touch too, meaning the Essential range is a ground-up rebuild of the previous model. Perhaps what gives the Essential III SB the nod over competing tables of its grade are the little additions you can apply over time. Both platter and cartridge upgrades can be made, significantly improving sonic quality over the life of the table. Switch to either Ortofon’s 2M Red or Blue and welcome richer bass, snappier highs and improved imaging detail. Add the Pro-Ject Acrylic-it E to your turntable and enjoy as the soundstage instantly becomes bigger and more open, further improving detail and presentation. And with the inclusion of an automatic speed change from 33rpm to 45rpm, switching between LPs and seven inch single has never been easier. It’s these little differences the competitors don’t offer that makes the Pro-Ject Essential SB – well, honestly, an “essential” part of your analogue audio experience.
The heart of any hifi system is its amplifier and Rotel’s RA-630 is all heart. This 60W per channel beast has four analogue inputs, four digital inputs, one Pre Out and a phono preamplifier for measure. All that’s missing is the partridge in the pear tree. But seriously, this is a powerful amplifier with a lot to offer. In addition to the onboard phono stage for you vinyl collection the RA-630 comes packing a serious Wolfson WM8740 24 bit/192 kHz DAC. Meaning it’ll extract a superior level of audio quality from your digital tunes (CD/Blu-ray and Apple authorised USB inputs). In a world where we’re doing just as much streaming as we are playing records a serious onboard DAC is essential to getting the most from all of your music sources. The quality of Rotel amplifiers cannot be overstated. They’ve been a manufacturer of high-end audio and video equipment since the sixties. The most important elements of production, such as their toroidal transformers, are manufactured in-house using raw materials selected from proven, trusted suppliers. Each amplifier is built from carefully selected components and put through rigorous performance and durability testing to ensure you get nothing less than beautiful audio.
So what makes the B5’s so good and why would daddy love em? Speaker pioneer Andrew Jones (a father, himself), formerly of KEF, Pioneer and TAD labs designed and built these babies from the ground up. Every component within the Debut series has been custom made (no off-the-shelf parts) with the express idea of delivering unrivalled performance in the entry-level market, which is a busy market for speaker manufacturers, indeed. Silk dome tweeters, custom-designed woofers with aramid-fibre cones, multi-element crossovers with high-grade components; it’s all fancy speaker jargon but does any of it actually mean much to the average listener? Not really. But the audio quality they work to produce sure as heck does. On balance, integration and timing, Elac’s Debut B5’s deliver. Their high’s are sweet without being sickly, mids detailed and focused. The rear bass ports allow you to adjust low-end brawn depending on speaker/wall proximity and to great effect. And when you wrap all of this in a luxuriously textured vinyl finish it’s hard to question the validity of their top-tier ranking. A beautiful speaker and the perfect addition to Dad’s killer hifi pack.