The 6 Perspex has been a mid-range mainstay of the Pro-Ject turntable lineup for many years, and now it’s been upgraded with a new motor unit.
In addition to the immense Perspex plinth that gives this record player its name, a suspended sub-chassis design, and Pro-Ject’s renowned 9cc Evolution carbon-fibre tonearm, the uprated motor now throws one-button speed switching into a bargain turnable package.
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The most striking aspect of the 6 Perspex SB is that huge slab of clear plinth. It’s 20mm thick and heavy, resting on three big, height-adjustable spikes. Suspended above the plinth by a trio of powerful magnets is a Corian sub-chassis that houses the main bearing and tonearm mount.
A thick 2kg sandwich platter fits over the spindle, which is threaded to take the supplied screw-down record clamp. Pro-Ject has used these clamps for years now, but only on certain models – the company has a liking for variety, opting for different design touches and tonearms throughout its range.
I can’t say I’m a great fan of needing to screw a clamp down every time I change records or flip sides, but there’s always the option not to use a clamp at all or to replace it with a non-threaded one.
The new AC motor unit is decoupled from the sub-chassis, sitting in a well in the back-left corner of the plinth. It has a single LED-lit button for operation and two LEDs to indicate whether it’s spinning the platter at 33 or 45rpm. The speed indicators flash while the motor is getting everything to the correct pace, and then go solid when it’s time to drop the needle.
Pro-Ject’s 9cc Evolution tonearm is fitted as standard – it's a popular model that the company sells separately at £700 a pop. It’s a 9-incher with a carbon-fibre one-piece arm tube and integrated headshell, a Sorbothane-damped counterweight and a truly massive bearing housing. For the most part it’s an impressive piece of engineering.
As with all Pro-Ject’s carbon-fibre arms, however, I found the headshell’s finger lift to be a little stubby, not offering the control nor inspiring the same confidence as Rega’s more substantial designs. I also wish Pro-Ject would make the arm lift chunkier and with less flex – the one on my review sample got a little out of shape somewhere along the line and fouled the bearing housing until I bent it back into position.
There’s no cartridge fitted to the 6 Perspex SB as standard, but UK distributor Henley Designs supplied my review unit with an Ortofon Quintet Black – a £649 moving-coil cartridge that still keeps the overall price of the package below £2,000.
The tonearm cable terminates in a neat box beneath, with a pair of RCA phono sockets and a ground connection. Pro-Ject bundles its chunky £40 Connect-IT E phono cable with the 6 Perspex SB, which is a nice touch.
The whole shebang is topped by a dust cover that turns this into a really rather imposing turntable. The 6 Perspex SB actually looks like it should cost at least twice as much as it does. If you’d rather not use the dust cover, though, you’re left with some unsightly hinges protruding from the back of the plinth unless you get a screwdriver out to remove them.
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If you’re stepping up to the 6 Perspex SB from an entry-level deck, be prepared for a longer set-up time than you’re used to. Aside from removing the transport screws that hold the sub-chassis in place, then fitting the motor, platter, belt, anti-skate weight and tonearm counterweight, and then levelling the deck, you obviously have to fit a cartridge.
Then there’s the task of adjusting the tonearm’s vertical tracking angle (VTA) and tracking force (VTF) to suit your chosen cartridge. This is no plug-and-play option. If you don’t like tinkering, you’re swimming the wrong sonic stream.
Having got everything set just right (or thereabouts) for the Ortofon Quintet Black cartridge I used for testing, I plugged into a Leema Acoustics Elements Ultra phono stage and began listening…
My immediate impression was one of awesome scale and depth. The soundstage spread out around me and then washed over me like a tide. With Iron & Wine’s “The Sea & the Rhythm”, every finger-picked note seemed to float and shimmer around the wonderfully compressed vocal.
The depth and control of the bass is also incredibly impressive at this price. The gnarled, twisted basslines throughout Yeasayer’s Odd Blood album were always taut, with the liquidy bottom end on “The Children” continuing to boil but never seeping away.
Pro-Ject/Ortofon combos always seem to have a wonderfully full sound, but aren’t always the most agile. Thankfully, that isn’t a problem here – timing is spot-on and there’s a great attacking edge to the treble.
A trade-off for the wonderfully full sound seems to be a slight lack of resolution in the mid-range, with less separation and a coarser texture than you can get by stepping up to a truly high-end turntable such as the T A G 2000 R or Michell Orbe. But at this price it’s tough to complain.
For the money, the 6 Perspex SB is a truly impressive record player in both looks and sound. Sure, the Rega RP8 digs out a little more detail, but it offers less sonic depth and breadth, and costs £300 more. There are a couple of design elements that could do with a tweak, but overall this is a complete and hugely desirable package.
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Looks amazing, sounds amazing, and costs less than you’d think – a true hi-fi bargain.