Product review: Project Essential III BT Turntable

Project Essential III BT

Project makes a beloved favourite even better by adding Bluetooth to their Essential III turntable.

Turntables are everywhere these days and their popularity is only growing, which is by no means a bad thing. It’s bringing more money in to what was almost a dead industry, getting more and more people brushing off their old LPs and reliving some classics. But we’re not just seeing an older generation getting involved. Vinyl has attracted a very young audience, with more kids than ever asking their parents for turntables and the popularity becoming so great that even some supermarket chains are starting to carry records and turntables! With this boost in the turntable world it has forced manufacturers to start pushing the limits and ultimately making turntables more appealing to a new generation, and what does the new generation of music lovers want? Wireless technology. To meet this demand, highly respected turntable manufacturer Project steps up to the plate with the Essential III BT.

Now, the idea of this will probably make some hi-fi purists grind their teeth, but the reality is that’s the way the industry has gone, and I for one fully support the idea. Project have been in the turntable game for quite some time now. Since the 1990’s they have churned out some incredible machines, and have built a very solid foundation and following that its no surprise they have decided to cash in on this new generation of music lovers! The Essential III is already a proven 5 star award-winning unit, with incredible features at a very affordable price; a very rare combination in the world of turntables. Project in all their glory have decided to further add to the platform with the introduction of the Essential III BT (which stands for Bluetooth) and in keeping with the rest of the Project range they have not cut any corners with the design, using an acoustically neutral, high-gloss MDF plinth and platter which promises the same quality of incredible sound they strive for.

Obviously this unit will bear some new technology in order for it play wirelessly without a separate pre-amp, so on board is a dedicated moving magnet phono stage allowing wireless transmission up to 10m. This can of course be turned on or off should you wish to upgrade or use a phono stage you already own. When it comes to the sound this is a very capable unit, and will give you that great sound with only a very minor loss in quality.

The Essential III’s design makes it easy to change playback speed

Bluetooth has come a long way in recent years and the drop in audio quality is almost unrecognisable. The end result will be down to the quality of the Bluetooth speaker you choose to pair the unit with. To make this a fair test, I first paired the unit with a very basic JBL Flip speaker, and whilst everything worked fine, I found myself getting annoyed at that signature crackle and warmth I’m so used to from vinyl, so I’d honestly recommend a much higher quality of Bluetooth speaker to really get the best out of this unit. After the test with the JBL, I opted for higher quality of speaker, the Naim Mu-So, and as you can imagine it was a completely different experience. As far as I was concerned, it sounded as if I wasn’t listening over a Bluetooth signal, and I would more than happily sit and listen all afternoon.

Whilst the Project Essential III BT is a brilliant unit. It’s easy to put all your faith in this unit alone and assume your basic speaker will suddenly give you that incredible vinyl sound you’re used to, but as I mentioned it will need to pair with a good quality speaker or amp set up to ensure optimal performance. Once that’s sorted, you’re on to a winner with no more horrible messy wires!

If you’re a little unsure and would like some more information on this or any of the turntables we stock, please feel free to call or swing by your local Richer Sounds and book a demonstration.

Click here to learn more about the Essential III BT

Author: Garrett, Plymouth store