Turntable Review

Pro-Ject VT-E Turntable: You Gotta Acc-en-tu-ate the Vertical

Looking for a lifestyle turntable that might actually be worth listening to? Paul Rigby wonders if he’s found a like candidate with Pro-Ject’s VT-E

So what on earth am I doing reviewing a lifestyle turntable such as this? What, you might ask, is actually the point? Hardly audiophile, is it? Well, no…no it isn’t. But there are reasons. The first is that lifestyle turntables are a popular sector of the market for people who have no real audiophile pretensions. Other non-audiophiles potential might be searching for a blend of looks, sound and price. There may actually be those audiophiles amongst you who like the idea of having a vertical turntable but really don’t want the eBay hassle and the fact that olde-worlde variants may need servicing and repairing. Some audiophiles might even be looking for a second turntable at a low price or, and this point addresses the practical side of the vertical nature of this design, they might want a turntable but really don’t have the space to fit a standard model. For all of these people, a VT-E will be a prime target.


Unlike other, classic [cough] vertical turntables, the great thing about the VT-E, is that it has an audiophile pedigree because it’s essentially an entry level Pro-Ject Elemental turntable that even uses the same 8.6” aluminium tonearm with a very respectable Ortofon OM5E cartridge. The tonearm has been tweaked with a specialist spring that allows the arm to track the record vertically while keeping the tracking force and anti-skating realistic.

The good quality cable runs off the back of the arm with gold-plated phono plugs and a separate ground connection.


The turntable needs to be assembled but this process is minimal. Apart from placing the platter on the plinth, adding the belt plus simple power supply and building the stand, IKEA-like, with a couple of simple bolts, there’s not much to it. Everything else is set up for quick play.


When you put a record on the taller than normal spindle, the record is fixed to the platter with a screw-on clamp. Care must be taken lifting the arm to the record because you’ve got that spring resistance that wants to remove the arm from your grip but, apart from that and the fact that the manual arm cueing is at an odd angle, record play is simple and pretty straightforward.


I’ve been in a mood for The Fall of late so placed the debut album from the great unwashed head of Mark E Smith with an original pressing of The Fall’s Live At The Witch Trials and the track, Frightened.

Initially and in a slight weird way, what I was trying to do here was not really see how good the VT-E was but how bad it was. I walked into this review not really expecting much, prepared to dislike and being slightly nervous that I might be approaching this review with a bias, being ‘height-ist’, as it where.


The reality was very different and much nicer. The first thing that hit me with this deck was the bass and how punchy it was. Actually, the impact it provided was almost digital in its force and snap. Not hard or edgy, you understand, the presentation is still decidedly analogue but the movement for the lower frequencies is definitely one of tremendous focus with no room for ‘play’ in how the bass moves through the air. The downside is a lowering of any organic feel to the drums but the approach the Pro-Ject has taken is the right one. If you take a organic route for bass then you need to fill it with information and this deck is just not high enough in terms of quality to give you that. Hence, the focused and snappy route is eminently sensible. Bass thus has a power and a kick that definitely impacts at high volumes with the right sort of speakers.


This emphasis in the lower frequencies also lifts the very shy bass guitar of the review LP. Even in a top flight system, the bass on this track does its best to evade all notice but the VT-E gives the bass guitar a sense of presence because of this precision, lifting the bass guitar from the floor to a more ‘visible’ area for the ear.


The focus extends to the treble because the introductory cymbal taps are sharp and fast in transient terms. Again, the VT-E uses the focus to provide important details. It’s not subtle but its not unpleasant or offensive either. The same can be said for the electric piano in which the growl of the instrument when running at full pelt can be heard during crescendos.


Pleasantly surprised, I turned to jazz vocal and Sandra King with more optimism and listened to her sing the Henry Mancini song, In The Art of Love with a jazz orchestral backing. Because this recording was slightly compressed, the extra VT-E focus did shine a spotlight upon the upper mids which gave the King crescendos a sense of stridency, although nothing too harsh. Brass was tonally fascinating, offering heaps of detail – although rather artificially lifted from the floor of the mix by that now familiar focus ‘trick’. This also meant that the percussion, piano and even the shy acoustic guitar was now visible to the ear while the soundstage adopted a very busy air, giving the effect of extra layering to the presentation. The effect was admirable and pleasant on such a turntable and at this price point.


Considering what this turntable is: a lifestyle design that, in its category, sits among – let’s be frank about this – a heap of dross, the VT-E shines like a star of utmost purity. Derived from a turntable of class and distinction, the VT-E’s pedigree enables it to walk all over similar vertical turntable ideas and implementations. Would I recommend it as an audiophile purchase? No…but you could do a lot worse, let me tell you. But damning the VT-E in this way would be a silly thing to do because it has not been designed to compete with audiophile turntables. It’s a lifestyle design. Fun too. The Project VT-E not only works, it works well and would be ideal for the music fan with no audiophile pretensions or even as a second turntable in a cramped room. In short, its a brilliant little design and, at the price, what’s not to like?


Price: £269

Tel: 01235 511166

Website: www.henleydesigns.co.uk


UK – https://amzn.to/38b3E4G

USA – https://amzn.to/3oX9aOH

EUROPE – https://amzn.to/3mFh0u0

GOOD: a vertical design that works, midrange focus, bass impact, detail, easy to set-up

BAD: don’t expect a cultured audiophile sound output




Rega RP1 turntable

Trichord Dino phono amplifier

Rega Brio-R amplifier

Spendor S3/5R2 speakers

Tellurium Q cables

Harmonic Resolution Systems Noise Reduction Components
All vinyl was cleaned using an Audio Desk’s Ultrasonic Pro Vinyl Cleaner

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  • Reply
    Jeroen Rosman
    2nd January 2018 at 7:14 am

    Hi Paul!
    Hoping you could help me out regarding buying my first turntable? Been looking at turntables in general for a while now, but never really had the chance to really buy one. I’ve now decided to really go for a turntable but, with help of your website and reviews, I can’t really decide what to go for. Based as I’m still quite new, I do however want to buy something good that will lasts a while. No easy way out haha! Based on this, and based on the external look of some turntables (I like the clean, easy, no-nonsense look) I’ve now created some sort of short list with the following items (of course I’m open for advice of other turntables here):
    – the Pro-ject VT-E vertical (more based on the looks)
    – Rega Planar 1 (based on your review and the clean look)
    – the Pro-ject Primary (based also on your review and the clean look)

    To give you some more info budget wise, I’ve thought about a budget for the turntables around 400 euro’s max probably. That being said, I don’t really have a clue yet what I would need more to actually play some music next to the actual turntable. Hoping you could guide me some bit through this experience!

    Thanks in advance,

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      2nd January 2018 at 10:10 am

      Hi Jeroen – what is your priority in terms of the turntable? Is sound quality uppermost? Or is it looks and style? Small footprint? Price? Something else?

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      2nd January 2018 at 10:20 am

      If it is purely sound quality, for that budget, I would look at a Rega Planar 2. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rega-Planar-Turntable-Carbon-Cartridge-White/dp/B01GS9V8NY
      That said, what amplifier will it link to?

      • Reply
        Jeroen Rosman
        3rd January 2018 at 8:23 am

        Hi Paul!
        Thanks for the quick response. Well probably music quality, but also a little but of both. I like the simplicity look of the Rega Planar 1 as a example. Price wise i’m still a bit on a budget, because i haven’t really look into what kind of amplifier i would need + any extra’s i’m not aware off yet haha. If i base my all in buget at 400/500 euro, what would you recommend?

        • Reply
          Paul Rigby
          3rd January 2018 at 11:09 am

          Hi Jeroen

          I would advise looking at a hi-fi budget, in that case, as opposed to just a turntable thing. So, can I confirm that I have €500 to play with here for a turntable, amp and speakers? More the better 🙂

  • Reply
    Jeroen Rosman
    4th January 2018 at 9:16 am

    Hi Paul!
    Well i assume i’ll have arround €500 to get for everything yes.. If the budget is to “small”, please also advise if i should rather wait till i have some more money for this move.

  • Reply
    30th September 2020 at 8:26 pm

    Great review, and I know it’s been a while since. Are there any other vertical units available in this pricepoint, but possibly better sounding? I need to put this in a shallow cabinet that will mostly remain closed, only opened to change the record. The wife wants an entirely clean aesthetic, no amps or cables or turntables, but we both enjoy great music, just…hidden.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      1st October 2020 at 9:28 am

      There are other vertical turntables Sule but the sound quality of the new designs I’m aware of is not up to the VT-E standard while others are classified now in the vintage section and too often in need maintenance to get going.

  • Reply
    4th November 2020 at 10:43 am

    Hi Paul,
    First of all great review! I am thinking about renewing my vinyl installation, right now I am using my dad’s.
    I was first looking at a combination of new; speakers, turntable and amplifier, this way I could still connect a CD player as well.
    But yesterday I read about the bluetooth variant of the VT-E (BT).
    Would you recommend the combination of the Pro-ject VT-E BT with Klipsch R-41PM, or would you recommend me buying other (bluetooth) speakers with this turntable?
    I really like the looks of both of them, but besides that I don’t know for sure if they link well.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      5th November 2020 at 9:21 am

      Yes, the pairing should be fine Pieter.

  • Reply
    16th November 2020 at 7:45 pm

    Hi Paul,
    Thanks for this very nice review.
    Could you please tell me the length of the RCA cable coming with the VT-E ?
    Many thanks !

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      17th November 2020 at 2:31 pm

      I can’t remember, to be honest. I sent the thing back after the review. Let me ask Pro-Ject for you.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      17th November 2020 at 3:17 pm

      OK, you’re in luck because I already have a reply! And they said, “Our cables are 1.23m”

  • Reply
    17th November 2020 at 4:13 pm

    Ok great, thanks a lot.
    This length is perfect for my setup.
    Have a nice week.

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