How To Upgrade Your Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC
If you are the proud owner of a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon or the later Debut Carbon DC, you’ve probably been having a blast discovering new vinyl. It’s also likely you’ve shown your friends how great LP’s can sound when you play them on a first class turntable.
Perhaps you have been getting into listening to the point where you are wondering if things could sound even better? Maybe you’ve been thinking about selling your Debut Carbon and moving up to a more expensive turntable. Well, before you do that, you might want to learn about all the upgrades available to you that do not require you to change your turntable.
The Debut Carbon from Pro-Ject is one of, if not the, best selling turntable of all time. The team in Europe, who designed the Debut Carbon, is also responsible for designing turntables that go sell for as much as $14,000. To say they know a little bit about turntables is an understatement!
When you don’t have price constraints on designs, you can push the limits and discover new ways to improve turntables.
The cool part is, the engineers will also figure out a way to put the technology they learn about into less expensive models, and if they are really good, make some of it available as upgrades to existing models. This is exactly what the Pro-ject team has done! Yes, there are several ways to improve the performance of your Debut Carbon. We have never seen a company that loves to come up with add on parts for almost everything they make. It’s almost like they come from the car racing industry where tweaking is the norm!
In today’s blog, we will go over how to upgrade your Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC turntable. We will let you know how much skill, if any, they require, and we’ll even tell you about a couple of other ideas on how to further improve the sound of your vinyl!
Ground It E
Skill Level Needed: Pretty Easy
We think for most Debut Carbon turntables, the Ground It E will show you the biggest improvement. The Ground It E is a special turntable base made by Pro-Ject, designed to work with a variety of their turntables, from the basic Elemental line up, all the way up to the RPM3. The only case where we would not recommend it first is for headphone only systems or if your speakers are very small or in another room from your turntable.
When you are playing a record, the stylus on your turntable is traveling through the grooves of the record, picking up very tiny changes in movement. Anything you can do to help isolate your turntable from external vibrations will allow your stylus to do a better job. If you have speakers capable of reproducing deep bass, isolation becomes even more important.
The Ground It E is a platform made from very heavy weight MDF covered with a high gloss black paint. The underside has conical spikes that have a damping ring. The feet are also height adjustable, allowing you to get your turntable perfectly level. The whole thing weighs about 9 pounds. The combination of the damping feet and heavy base give your turntable a lot more isolation from external vibrations than a normal piece of furniture.
Installation if pretty simple, you just use a level to get the Ground It E perfectly level by adjusting the feet, then place your Debut Carbon right on top of it.
You should hear a big jump in dynamics using the Ground It E. Live music has a sense of rhythm that excites us. In the audio world, we call this timing or rhythm and pacing. It's that feeling of live sound. You will notice an improvement in timing with the Ground It E as you will hear the subtle emotional details the performers put into the music better. Instruments and voices will sound more expressive and you’ll likely be tapping your toes during your favorite songs.
Skill Level Needed: Easy
After you have your turntable well isolated, another upgrade that will improve timing and dynamics is a heavier platter. Pro-Ject actually includes this platter in the Esprit turntable, the model up from your Debut Carbon. The Acryl It, as the name implies, is an acrylic replacement platter that is heavier and larger in diameter than the stock platter on your Debut Carbon. The extra weight gives the platter more of a flywheel effect, which causes the platter to spin at a more consistent rate of speed. The surface of the platter is similar to vinyl, and we recommend using it without any type of turntable mat.
The Acryl It’s composition is a very inert material that is almost impervious to picking up any vibrations. There is also a small indentation in the center where the record label is to allow your LP’s to sit even flatter on its surface. You’ll also find the Acryl It is miles easier to keep clean than a felt mat, which will keep debris from transferring to your records. It pairs up really well with the Pro-Ject Clamp It too.
Installation is a snap, all you have to do is remove the stock platter and mat, then put the Acryl It in place.
With the Acryl It, you’ll hear an improvement in timing and you should feel like the bass tones reach deeper with more impact.
Power Box S2
Skill Level Needed: Pretty Easy
You probably observed, your Debut Carbon gets its power from a typical little wall wart type power supply. In the world of high performance turntables, power supplies are a big deal, with some turntables selling external power supplies that can cost thousands of dollars. The theory is, the better power you can send to the turntable motor, the more consistent the motor’s speed will be. Consistent motor speed results in a better sense of timing, improved dynamics, and more separation of the instruments so you can hear each one clearly.
The Power Box S2 replaces your wall wart with a much more sophisticated external power supply. Pro-Ject’s engineering team has put a lot of effort into designing a low noise circuit with an output perfectly suited to their turntable motors. It even has a couple of additional outputs to improve other Pro-Ject Box components.
Installation is very straight forward. Remove the wall wart power supply from your table. Connect the Power Box S2’s 15v power feed to the connector on the back of your Debut Carbon you had the wall wart plugged into. Then you connect the power supply for the Power Box S2 up to the 20v power in.
If you are more of a headphone listener, you might make the Power Box S2, the first upgrade. Headphones can usually reveal more fine details than most speakers, so you’ll really appreciate all the subtle nuances you hear more in your sound with the Power Box S2. The more resolving power your speakers or headphones have, the bigger the differences will be with the Power Box S2.
Upgrade Your Stylus to an Ortofon Blue
Skill Level Needed: A Little Care, But Pretty Easy
All Debut Carbon turntables came with an Ortofon Red cartridge. This is a great cartridge for the money from one of the best manufacturers in the vinyl world. The Red model comes with an elliptical stylus. Stylus tips come in a variety of formats, but the idea is, as you go to a better one, it makes more contact with the grooves in your record. You can read more in our turntable buyers guide. The Blue has a nude elliptical stylus. This means it is mounted directly to the cantilever, which reduces tip mass. This allows the stylus to pick up more subtle movements in the record grooves.
The Ortofon Red and Blue have the exact same body and magnet structure, so the only difference is the stylus. This is pretty cool that you can set up to the sound of the Blue by simply replacing the Red stylus.
Installation requires just a bit of care. You’ll need to pull off the Red stylus, which takes a bit of wiggling to work it loose. Then you very carefully push the new Blue stylus back in place. It's actually easier to put the Blue on than to pull the Red off, but just make sure you are holding the Blue by the outer edges and get it on all the way.
You’ll hear a greater sense of dynamics and improvements in small details. You’ll almost feel like a veil has been lifted off your music. If you have had your table for a while and feel like you have played around 1000 hours of music, it's time for a new stylus anyway, so why not step up to the Blue.
Connect It RCA
Skill Level Needed: Easy
Your Debut Carbon came with some pretty decent audio cables to connect it up to your phono preamp. If you remember when you set it up, they connect to the RCA jacks on the back side of your table.
The Connect It RCA is an upgraded phono cable specifically designed for the low level signal coming out of a phono cartridge. Phono signals are so low in level, any noise the cable picks up can degrade your sound. Pro-Ject supplies these same cables with their multi-thousand dollar model turntables as they are made to reject external noise emitted by audio components and all of the high frequency radio signals in the air these days from wireless access points to cell phones.
They designed these cables to have very low capacitance and almost perfect shielding. They are all handmade in their European factory using very high end parts for the leads, plugs, and the dielectric. The Pro-Ject team even did listening tests on the materials. They went so far as to listen to different lengths and decided the 1.23 meter cable length was ideal for transmitting a phono signal.
Installation is very simple. First turn off the power to your amplifier or phono preamp. Remove the old cables. Install the new paying attention to the left and right and connect the ground wire at both ends. We find it easier to connect the ground wire first, giving your fingers a little more room.
The improvement in sound you will hear is a quieter background and a more open sound. If you have your speakers set up to reveal a nice three dimensional sound stage, you will feel your soundstage get even better, allowing you to sense the space around instruments better.
Skill Level Needed: Fairly Easy but Individual to Each Record
There has been some debate over the years in the analog world about the benefits of record clamps. You’ll find all kinds out in the market, from super light weight push on plastic models, to very heavy weights. Putting the wrong weight on a turntable can actually degrade the sound if it adds too much additional pressure on the platter bearing. Some weights can also cause the outer edges of your record to lift up off the surface of the platter- we certainly do not want that.
Pro-Ject has come up with an elegant, lightweight clamp that you can actually fine tune to each record, the Clamp It. It is a really well machined piece of gear that not only works great, but is a joy to use and admire on your turntable. Getting a slightly warped record to lay flat on the platter will improve the sense of speed accuracy and let you hear more small details.
How you use the Clamp It will depend on the record itself. If the record is relatively flat, you want to push the Clamp It down gently, but not so far as to cause the edge of the record to rise any off the platter. You then twist it to tighten it around the platter’s spindle. If the record is warped, you’ll push down more or less depending on the warp, but the idea is to get the record to lay as flat as you can. This does require a little “eyeballing” to get it right.
We’ve found the improvement offered by the Clamp It to vary a lot from disc to disc. It seems like the more warped your disc is, the bigger change you will experience. But in any case, it also just looks super cool sitting on your table!
These are not really part of your Debut Carbon but should be considered by anyone who loves the sound of vinyl.
Improve Your Phono Preamp
As you may know, the sound coming out of your cartridge is at a very low level and needs to have an equalization circuit called RIAA applied before it makes its way to your amplifier. (You can read more in our turntable buyers guide). The quality of the phono preamp can make a huge difference in the sound of your system. We feel, with the Debut Carbon, you will easily hear an improvement over the built-in phono preamp in most systems.
One model that is a very good value is the Phono Box S2 Ultra. It has a whole bank of switches on the bottom allowing you to fine-tune it for a moving magnet, high output moving coil, or low output moving coil. Very high-quality components are used throughout resulting in a clean, effortless sound with many more subtle details revealed to your ears. You’ll also notice a big improvement in bass over most built-in phono stages.
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If you’ve read through this entire article and still have questions, please feel free to chat with us -- not only are we happy to help you decide, but we love doing it!