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Price (when reviewed): 5350 PLN

Contact: Division of Audio Tuning Vertriebs GmbH  
Margaretenstrasse 98 | A-1050 Wien  


Provided for test by: VOICE

PM (also rpm) is short for: Revolutions Per Minute. When used to describe a turntable operation it defines a speed that record should be played with: 33 1/3 rpm, 45 rpm or 78 rpm (a long time ago there were also 16 rpm records). In Pro-Ject's 'language' it is a name of one of the oldest lines of product. When in February 2007 I reviewed RPM5 SuperPack this model had already been for a few years on the market.

RPM in this particular case means also “Round”. Unlike classic designs these ones features base with rounded edges. It's shape always reminded me of a drop of water. Its wider part measures 300mm across (just like the platter) and the narrower part hosts tonearm. Nine years is a long time and so the new RPM5 Carbon version shares only the shape with the older one, all the rest has been upgraded more than once over the years.

RPM5 Carbon

It is still a belt-driven, non-suspended mass-loader with a 9” tonearm. It features a low profile but also a sturdy appearance. Its base is made of MDF, that features additional metal weights that focus larger part of turntable's weight around main bearing. The deck features acrylic platter with a steel spindle and a hardened brass bush – a part of the main bearing. It is placed on three aluminum tip-toe feet featuring elastomer washers, the only soft element of the design.

The name of this model suggests that carbon fiber material was used and not only for a tonearm but also for the deck. A thin layer of this material was glued onto the deck which definitely improves its appeal, reminding me of the Monaco turntable by Grand Prix Audio. Also carbon fiber acts as anti-vibration element due to its very good vibration damping properties.

In the past a motor in RPM5 was integrated with the chassis and only (then) most expensive model, RPM9 featured a separate 16 V AC motor placed next to the chassis. Carbon also sports a motor placed outside chassis. It's been placed inside a heavy housing with additional, steel base placed on small silicone feet. Motor's axis features two pulleys of different diameter – changing speed is performed manually. Also the 15 V AC motor is a completely new design. Unfortunately manufacturer still does not offer an electronic controller for it.

Motor's housing sports a mechanical on/off switch and a blue LED. What a LED that is! – when it is on one doesn't need to turn the main light on in the room. One needs to be careful when standing close to the turntable – bend over, look directly at this LED and you'll be blinded for sure! OK., I might have exaggerated a bit but you should check it out for yourself – the LED is crazy bright!. The unit we received for a review was painted with a wonderful „Ferrari Red” color so definitely a red LED, maybe a white one, would complement it much better than blue one. Although a red color often indicated some sort of error, or 'off' mode, but nobody really cares about that anymore. Blue color means nothing at all and is commonly used for audio components nowadays.

The 9CC EVO Carbon is the latest version of a Pro-Ject's tonearm that's been manufactured for a long time and used also by Polish Fonika. This new version features a conical carbon fiber arm-tube made of one piece of material together with headshell. It is a gimballed arm. It is one of the lightest Pro-Ject's arms with an effective mass of barely 8 g. It should be paired with medium to high compliance cartridges; Denon's DL-103 and others alike might not be a good match.

Arm comes fitted with an interconnect that can be replaced but I don't think one should be to quick about it. Same goes for the mat provided with the platter. Yes, at some point it might be a good idea to replace it with a cork mat, like, for example, one made by Pathe Wings, but this deck performs really well already with the one you'll get with it, so maybe you should first think about spending money on records before you start looking for another mat. The turntable features also a record clamp and it's a screw-down one, so replacing it is not an option. One could, though, replace anti-scratch cups used under spikes – I used Audio Replas quartz insulators. RPM-5 Carbon is not equipped with any cover but additional 330 PLN will buy the Pro-Ject LID 4 suitable also for this deck.

Ortofon Quintet RED

This Austrian manufacturer often offers its turntables together with cartridges and I have to admit that even with inexpensive ones deck's performance is usually rather good. Also for this particular model manufacturer chose one - the Ortofon Quintet RED. If you want your RPM with this cartridge you need to add 500 PLN to the price of 5350 PLN. But you can buy it also without cartridge.

Quintet RED is a MC cartridge delivering signal of 0,5 mV with a recommended loading of more than 20 Ω. In my case 50 Ω was OK, but 200 Ω setting in my RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC phonostage offered optimal performance. Even though it is a medium compliance cartridge, recommended tracking force is quite high, like for Denon DL-103 for example, as it ranges from: 2,1 to 2,5 g (21-25 mN), (suggested value is 2,3 g; 23 mN). For me 2,4g sounded best.


RPM5 Carbon requires from its user a bit more effort than other 'plug&play' models. After all elements are unpacked one starts with screwing the three tip-toe feet onto the threaded bolts located on the underside of the plinth. One should screw them all way down, and level the deck only after placing it on a flat surface where it is supposed to operate. A small level one finds in the box, will help with that process. When facing the turntable one should see the tonearm on right-hand side.

The next step will be mounting the platter – one finds it deeper in the box. First one has to take off a protective cup from main axis and then carefully lower the platter over the axis. Finally one should put a mat on the platter. Next one needs to set up motor – I suggest to place it next to the deck on the left-hand side, close to deck's front. Manufacturer provides user with a template that helps to set the proper distance between motor and the base. Finally one connects a power cable first from power supply to the motor, later from power supply to the wall socket.

Turntable (if ordered with cartridge) comes with the arm and cartridge already set up, all one has to do is to put a counter-weight on the arm. Four counter-weights are delivered with the deck to fit different cartridges. Since the counter-weight should be placed as close to tonearm base as possible I used the one marked as 29. To adjust VTF one has to follow instructions in the manual, it's not that difficult at all. If one cares about setting VTF very precisely one needs a proper electronic weight. One should use 2,4 g setting – this should work better then 2,3g recommended by manufacturer. Last but not least one should connect interconnect at the back of the turntable and voila – RPM is ready to rock'n'roll.

PRO-JECT in „High Fidelity”
  • TEST: Pro-Ject PRE BOX RS – D/A Converter, see HERE
  • TEST: Pro-Ject BOX DESIGN MaiA – integrated amplifier, see HERE
  • YEARLY AWARD 2014: CD BOX RS + PRE BOX RS DIGITAL – transport Compact Disc + D/A/preamplifier, see HERE
  • TEST: CD BOX RS + PRE BOX RS DIGITAL – transport Compact Disc + D/A/preamplifier, see HERE
  • YEARLY AWARD 2014: Pro-Ject 1XPRESSION CARBON CLASSIC + Ortofon M SILVER - turntable + cartridge, see HERE
  • TEST: Pro-Ject 1XPRESSION CARBON CLASSIC + Ortofon M SILVER – turntable + cartridge, see HERE
  • TEST: Pro-Ject Box CD SE + DAC Box FL – CD Player + DAC, see HERE
  • TEST: Pro-Ject ART-1 (+ Denon DL-A100) – turntable (+ cartridge), see HERE
  • TEST: Pro-Ject RPM6 SB + PRO-JECT PHONO BOX SE – turntable + phonostage, see HERE
  • TEST: Pro-Ject 2XPERIENCE – turntable, see HERE
  • TEST: Pro-Ject RPM5 SUPERPACK – turntable, see HERE
  • TEST: Pro-Ject HEAD BOX MkII – headphone amplifier, see HERE
  • TEST: The Pro-Ject Saga, part one, see HERE
  • TEST: The Pro-Ject Saga, part two, see HERE

  • Records used for the test (a selection)

    • BING CROSBY, The Best of Bing, Decca/MCA Records MCA2-4045, 2 x LP (1973)
    • CLUTCH, Psychic Warfare, Weathermaker Music WM042, 180 g LP (2015);
    • DEAD CAN DANCE, Into The Labyrinth, 4AD/Mobile Fidelity MOFI 2-001, Limited Edition No. 1545, 2 x 150 g LP (1993/2010)
    • HERBIE HANCOCK, Takin’ Off, Blue Note/Cisco CLP-7050, 180 g LP (1962/2006)
    • JULIA HOLTER, Have You In My Wilderness, Domino Records WIGLP341, 180 g LP (2015);
    • ROEDELIUS & MURAGLIA, Ubi Bene, Passus Records 1, TEST pressing, 2 x 180 g LP (2015)
    • ŚWINIE, Świnie, Polton LPP-020, LP (1985)
    • TANGERINE DREAM, Thief, soundtrack, Elektra/Audio Fidelity AFZLP 221, Numbered Edition No. 0033, 180 g LP (1981/2015)
    • THELONIOUS MONK, The Riverside Tenor Sessions, Analogue Productions APJ 037, Limited Edition No. 1543/2000, BOX 6 x 180 g LP (?)
    • THELONIOUS MONK, Solo Monk, Columbia/Music On Vinyl MOVLP843, 180 g LP (1965/2014)
    Japanese issues available at

    So called 'brand's sonic signature' might be a blessing or a curse. It might be an added value as it leads to creating a group of loyal customers who know exactly what to expect when upgrading their model with a better one, thus replacing what they have with a newer/more expensive model of the same brand. Having clearly set up priorities, accepting certain compromises helps a brand to improve certain qualities of the sound over time. Within certain clearly set boundaries designers often are able to improve strengths of said design, sometimes reaching incredible results.

    But such boundaries, such “sonic signature” limits possibilities of development and improvement in certain areas. There is no one widely acceptable standard of the “right” sound as it is always different than live performance. A sound of acoustic instruments playing in a friendly acoustic environment is a basic reference point, but it is not the only one. So there there are many different 'sonic signatures' and many of them might be considered to be 'correct'.

    Anyway, a change of brand's sonic signature for one product, or even a group of products might be a bit risky. Unless it is done the way Pro-Ject does it, with small steps policy.

    Revolution devours its children and obviously managers of this Austrian company know that very well. From time perspective one can clearly see how big job they did over time improving both, design quality and performance. Carbon with Quintet Red, Pro-Ject's mat and interconnect delivers a performance that has some qualities known from expensive and even very expensive turntables made by other brands.

    Let's start with a general impression: this turntable offers a warm, deep, rich sound, but with an open top and well extended bass. There is slight emphasis placed on a soft mid-bass and on part of upper range responsible for an open presentation of vocals. Initial assessment of correctly set up Carbon says that it is a 'warm' sounding turntable. This impression might even be even deeper if this deck is used with other components of similar sonic character, say with Clones Audio 25i amplifier, Epos K2 loudspeakers and Pro-Ject, model E phonostage.

    This impression might be somehow influenced by the way this machine plays vocals. These are particularly prominent, present, palpable and presented close to the listener. Even with such poor quality release as the re-issue of 1973 The Best of Bing (MCA) album, with voice being masked by noise a cracks, this aura that involves listener in the whole musical event is still present. All these technical imperfections won't be gone. pops&cracks will be there, but richness and presence of the sound will be as distinct as when you play a fantastic Speakers Corner re-issue of Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Cole Porter Songbook on a double, 180g vinyl.

    Large portion of my listening session I spent at nights listening via headphones. Sound Carbon delivers is so immersive that I couldn't help but wonder how this or that album could sound like played on this deck. I even listened to few albums for the first time using this Pro-Ject and even Julia Holter from Have You In My Wilderness, that we had graded rather poorly before, sounded OK, well, even more than OK – it was enjoyable this time. This deck with this cartridge brings out something more from recordings than just melody, rhythm and details.

    With this sort of midrange presentation I found it surprising how fast the sound also was, how good was pace&rhythm, how real timpani's and drum-roll's timbre, how well even bright guitars sounded like. Also bass was nicely extended, which was sort of Achilles heel of all Pro-Ject's turntables in the past. The less expensive ones had problems with lower end control and definition, the more expensive ones, including those of RPM series, offered bit dry, not rich enough bass. It could be corrected with proper cartridge, phonostage, but using particular components should not be about correcting problems with other elements of the system, but about supporting, complementing them. Carbon presents rich, almost 'fat' bass – it is well defined, with proper attack and decay phase but also with proper sustain.

    Of course, as every other design, this one also has its issues. These are not more significant than the ones of competitors from the same price range. Unlike with many other Pro-Ject models, pops&cracks on RPM5 Carbon are quite loud. It is simply a particularly resolving device and its treble is not rolled off. Expensive turntables tend to place pops&cracks 'behind' music, in a different plane, thus removing them from the center of attention. Carbon does not emphasis them, doesn't hide them, it delivers them just the way they are. So the owner should keep his records and stylus clean.

    Don't expect particular depth of the soundstage. It shall be proportional, dense, full, but not particularly wide, nor deep. Focus is on the events in the front of the stage. Everything that's happening behind is there, has some weight, but there was no impression of real depth. I also never felt as if there was lot of treble. I mean it was there but it didn't have that much energy.


    RPM5 Carbon stands out not only by its appeal but also with its performance. It offers, especially in the mid-band, a combination of highly resolving and vibrant sound. All records sound good with it, which makes it a true all-rounder. I haven't had a chance to audition new, 'carbon' versions of RPM9.1 and 10.1, but basing on my experience I'm going to risk an opinion that RPM5 Carbon is the model with best price/performance ration. And it looks great in 'Ferrari red”! If you're ready to take proper care of your records' cleanliness and you don't mind this blue LED this might be a turntable for many years.

    As I mentioned at the beginning RPM5 Carbon is a successor of RPM5 model that's been in production for many years. It features a water drop shaped base, with tonearm mounted on its narrow side. Deck can be leveled using adjustable feet. These are three large spikes placed around main bearing housing.

    Motor is placed next to the deck. Manufacturer provides a proper template that helps to establish a proper distance between motor and deck. Speed change is performed manually by moving a belt from a smaller to larger pulley or other way around.

    Usually motor is placed on the left side of the deck, close to its rear. But I've been using a different placement for years – I rather put it on the front left side in line with the tonearm's and main bearing's axis. One advantage of such setup is better bass definition and the other is better access to on/off switch. Although is this case the blue LED might blind you... The 15V AC motor is powered by a small, outboard power supply.

    Turntable features a 300mm acrylic platter. A felt mat is placed on top of the platter. The platter features a steel spindle and a hardened brass bush – a part of the inverted main bearing. The platter rests on a small ceramic ball.

    The 9cc EVO Carbon tonearm's effective length measures 230 mm with 18mm overhang. It's a very light arm – just 8 g, so it is suitable most of all for medium to high compliance cartridges. It features arm bearing housing of solid ring type. The massive outside ring is open to avoid resonances. Arm sports classic anti-skating solution – a small weight hanged on a thread. Tonearm features also azimuth and VTA adjustments.

    The Ortofon Quintet RED belongs to the Quintet family together with models Blue, Bronze, Black and Mono and it is the least expensive among them. It features neodymium magnets, copper coils and elliptical stylus r/R 8/18 μm. It sports a solid ABS (Acrylonitrile/Butadiene/Styrene) body. It is very light but also rigid. Regular shape of the body makes setup process relatively easy.

    Specifications (according to the manufacturer)

    RPM5 Carbon
    Wow & flutter: 33: +/- 0,12% | 45: +/- 0,10%
    Nominal speeds: 33: +/- 0,17% | 45: +/- 0,08%
    S/N: - 73 dB
    Outboard power supply: 15 V DC/800 mA
    Power consumption: 5 W (max)/< 0,3 W (standby)
    Dimensions: 430 x 150 x 323 mm (S x W x G)
    Weight: 8 kg

    9cc EVO carbon
    Effective tonearm length: 230 mm
    Effective tonearm mass: 8 g
    Overhang: 18 mm
    Downforce range: 0 – 25 mN

    Ortofon Quintet RED
    Output voltage (1 kHz/5 cm/s): 0,5 mV
    Chanel separation:
    • 1 kHz: > 21 dB
    • 15 kHz: > 14 dB
    Frequency range (-3 dB): - 20 – 25 000 Hz
    Frequency response (20-20 000 Hz): +/-2,5 dB
    Compliance, dynamic, lateral: 15 μm/mN
    Stylus type - Elliptical
    Stylus tip radius - r/R 8/18 μm
    Tracking force range - 2.1-2.5 g (21-25 mN) 
    Tracking force recommended - 2.3 g (23 mN)
    Recommended load impedance - >20 Ohm
    Cartridge weight: 9 g

    Dystrybucja w Polsce:

    VOICE Spółka z o.o.

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    - Turntable: AVID HIFI Acutus SP [Custom Version]
    - Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory KANSUI, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory SHILABE, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory ZERO (mono) | Denon DL-103SA, review HERE
    - Phono stage: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC, review HERE

    - Compact Disc Player: Ancient Audio AIR V-edition, review HERE
    - Multiformat Player: Cambridge Audio Azur 752BD
    - Line Preamplifier: Polaris III [Custom Version] + AC Regenerator, regular version review (in Polish) HERE
    - Power amplifier: Soulution 710
    - Integrated Amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE

    - Stand mount Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic, review HERE
    - Stands for Harbeths: Acoustic Revive Custom Series Loudspeaker Stands
    - Real-Sound Processor: SPEC RSP-101/GL
    - Integrated Amplifier/Headphone amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE
    - Headphones: HIFIMAN HE-6, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-300, review HERE | Sennheiser HD800 | AKG K701, review (in Polish) HERE | Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, version 600 - reviews (in Polish): HERE, HERE, HERE
    - Headphone Stands: Klutz Design CanCans (x 3), review (in Polish) HERE
    - Headphone Cables: Entreq Konstantin 2010/Sennheiser HD800/HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE

    - Portable Player: HIFIMAN HM-801
    - USB Cables: Acoustic Revive USB-1.0SP (1 m) | Acoustic Revive USB-5.0PL (5 m), review HERE
    - LAN Cables: Acoustic Revive LAN-1.0 PA (kable ) | RLI-1 (filtry), review HERE
    - Router: Liksys WAG320N
    - NAS: Synology DS410j/8 TB
    System I
    - Interconnects: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, review HERE | preamplifier-power amplifier: Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo, review HERE
    - Loudspeaker Cables: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, review (in Polish) HERE
    System II
    - Interconnects: Acoustic Revive RCA-1.0PA | XLR-1.0PA II
    - Loudspeaker Cables: Acoustic Revive SPC-PA

    System I
    - Power Cables: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300, all system, review HERE
    - Power Distributor: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu Ultimate, review HERE
    - Power Line: fuse &#8211; power cable Oyaide Tunami Nigo (6m) &#8211; wall sockets 3 x Furutech FT-SWS (R)
    System II
    - Power Cables: Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version, review (in Polish) HERE | Oyaide GPX-R (x 4 ), review HERE
    - Power Distributor: Oyaide MTS-4e, review HERE
    - Stolik: SolidBase IV Custom, read HERE/all system
    - Anti-vibration Platforms: Acoustic Revive RAF-48H, review HERE/digital sources | Pro Audio Bono [Custom Version]/headphone amplifier/integrated amplifier, review HERE | Acoustic Revive RST-38H/loudspeakers under review/stands for loudspeakers under review
    - Anti-vibration Feets: Franc Audio Accessories Ceramic Disc/ CD Player/Ayon Polaris II Power Supply /products under review, review HERE | Finite Elemente CeraPuc/ products under review, review HERE | Audio Replas OPT-30HG-SC/PL HR Quartz, review HERE
    - Anti-vibration accsories: Audio Replas CNS-7000SZ/power cable, review HERE
    - Quartz Isolators: Acoustic Revive RIQ-5010/CP-4

    - FM Radio: Tivoli Audio Model One