Pros: It actually works! Plug and go, musical midrange, neat and tidy bass.
Cons: Distinctive design might draw a Marmite response.
Verdict: Best lifestyle turntable on the market.
I’ve already looked at a range of vertically standing turntables here, so the VTE-R is certainly not unique in terms of its design. What is surprising is that such a design should come from an audiophile manufacturer such as Pro-Ject.
Surely, vertically standing turntables are for pub conversations or as a pointable object during a civilised get together while carrying a glass of dry white and chewing a vol-au-vent or even as part of a retro interior design, standing next to a lava lamp and a blow up plastic chair with a slow leak. These things are not for audiophiles, surely? Yet… this is Pro-Ject. You have no choice but to treat this deck with a serious attitude until proven otherwise.
What you have here is a Pro-Ject Elemental on its side, fitted with an aluminium tonearm plus £50’s worth of Ortofon OM5E moving magnet cartridge. In terms of installation, there is little to actually do except attach a rear foot ‘stand’ with two screws, IKEA-fashion, the belt, the power supply, place the thing on a shelf or fit it to a wall with the supplied mountings and away you go.
So how does it work? How come everything doesn’t fall to the floor with a clatter? The tonearm has a special spring that allows it to track the record with the right downward force that actually works well during play. To help things along is a clamp that fits onto the fibreboard platter to keep the record in place. Hanging off the back are gold-plated RCA cables to attach to the phono connectors of your amp or separate phono amplifier.
And the sound? Unlike most of the vertical turntables that I’ve heard, this one is pretty good. Surprisingly good. The presentation is quite focused with an impressive precision within the upper mids. Strummed guitars will impress, for example, while banks of strings are infused with air and space while the bass has the admirable element of impact.
The VTE-R should not be looked at in the same way as you would consider a standard deck. This is a ‘lifestyle’ turntable not a competitor to your standard Pro-Jects and Regas out there. This is a turntable for those who are less than serious about their hi-fi and just want an element of fun in their vinyl play.
And why not? As such, this is the best deck of its type currently on the market. Pro-Ject is missing out on weird and wacky plinth shape variations, though. A plinth shaped like Ziggy Stardust, perhaps? The Batman shadow? A cheese sandwich? Pro-ject could go wild (I have the ™ on the cheese sandwich idea, though… and it’ll cost you).