The Pro-Ject RPM-1 Genie 3 is built exactly how a budget turntable should be; solidly and precisely constructed with no clumsy mechanical or complex electronic devices to spoil the sound.
It's also from a company whose Debut and Genie ranges have not only brought new blood into the vinyl market, but tempted back the more mature audiophile with basic, but well-engineered decks. Decks that are perfect for playing a favourite disc from a prized record collection.
The Genie 3 is typically evolutionary of Pro-Ject, yet features some pretty impressive technology at this price point.
The decoupled motor unit stands out-effectively preventing noise and vibration from the motor interfering with the sensitive pick-up. A two-step pulley allows for the playback of both 33 and 45s by manual belt change, while the brand new 8.6 tonearm (ike the famous Rega RBs) is now a one-piece, aluminium design for improved rigidity.
Internal wiring is silver-plated, high-purity copper and, as before, the counterweight is under-slung, lowering the centre of gravity and, hopefully, improving the tracking ability. Anti-skating is now adjustable via a thread and weight system, while the plinth thickness is up from 24 millimetres to 30 millimetres for improved mass and rigidity and sits on three, fixed, plastic cones.
Included with the Genie is an Ortofon OM3E MM cartridge which, on its own, is worth about £40. Not included, however, is any form of lid or soft plastic cover.
For the money the Genie 3 is exceptionally well made. The motor unit is weighty and features a non-slip, damping pad. Its MDF platter is thick, but let down by the thinnest felt mat I've ever seen!
The re-profiled MDF chassis is neatly finished with glossy, evenly applied paint and no nasty sharp edges; black and white finishes are also available. The tonearm is terminated by gold-plated phono sockets that allow a choice of leads.
Given its price, the Genie 3 sounds exceptionally good. Listening first with The Black Eyed Peas, I found the performance instantly involving with a cohesive, well balanced sound quality. Vocals are naturally portrayed and cleanly separated from the rest of the mix, while the soundstaging is good enough to compete with turntables from a class above.
Although the bass is on the rich side and certainly not as incisive as more expensive turntables, the timing is fine and the depth of sound trounces similarly priced digital sources. The treble response is surprisingly well detailed although frequency extremes, such as high female vocals do expose some rough edges.
Classical music shows a realistic instrumental timbre and good layering of the orchestra. By the way, the Genie 3 is well able to withstand cartridge upgrades, so try an Ortofon 2M Blue for added refinement and bass precision.
In terms of sound and build quality it's difficult to fault the Genie 3. A lid and a thicker mat would be worthy additions, but these complaints seem churlish next to the thoughtful spec and excellent construction.
Equally, the sound is slightly compromised at frequency extremes, but overall offers a cohesive and seamless balance. A class leader.
Follow TechRadar Reviews on Twitter: http://twitter.com/techradarreview