How To Upgrade Your Pro-Ject Debut Series Turntable

Pro-Ject Audio has been making great turntables for the past three decades. From the release of their original Debut to the brand new Debut Pro, their Debut turntables represent an incredible value. The same engineering team that develops Pro-Ject’s $15,000+ turntable designs the Debut line, making this one of the reasons that they sound so good for the money. When Pro-Ject discovers a new way to improve the sound, it eventually trickles down into their more affordable models.

Trickle-down technology is fantastic, but an even greater feature of the Debut line of turntables is how Pro-Ject has designed them to accept upgrades. Yes, if you have been getting into vinyl and wondering if things could sound even better, you may not need to sell your Debut table to pull more sound from your records. Many of the following upgrades will make a substantial difference in your audio experience. 

We thought it would be helpful for all of the millions of people who have purchased Debut turntables over the last three decades to put together an upgrade guide to help find the right one(s) for your specific model. In this article, we will go over the possible upgrades, give you an idea of how much each one might improve your sound, and help you understand the difficulty level of installing the upgrade. The list below is what we feel is the order of importance for most applications. We even put together a chart that shows you which upgrades are suited for which turntables.

For those of you whose tables are getting up in age, we will also have some maintenance tips to keep your table in tip-top shape. And, if you love hearing more sound from your vinyl records, we have some ideas that go beyond turntable upgrades, some of which are even free!

Isolate your turntable with the Pro-Ject Ground It E Equipment Base

Skill Level Needed: Pretty Easy

Models: All Debut Turntables

We think for most Debut 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, 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 heavyweight 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 is pretty simple, you just use a level to get the Ground It E perfectly level by adjusting the feet, then place your Debut turntable 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.

Upgrade Your Stylus

Skill Level Needed:A Little Care, But Pretty Easy

Models: All Debut Models

The Debut line of turntables, up until recently, all came with an Ortofon phono cartridge. Most of them came with the 2M Red, while a few have the Ortofon OM5e or OM10. The two most recent models come with the Sumiko Rainier.

The great thing about all of these models is you can upgrade them simply by replacing the stylus with the next model up!

Let’s look at your options.

Models with an Ortofon 2M Red: All Debut Carbon Variants including the Esprit
This is a great cartridge for the money from one of the best manufacturers in the vinyl world. The Ortofon 2M Red 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 Ortofon 2M 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 step up to the sound of the Blue by simply replacing the Red stylus. Watch our full overview of the Ortofon 2M Phono Cartridges to learn more about each model.

Models with an Ortofon OM type cartridge: Original Debut, Debut II, Debut III, Debut II Phono, Debut RecordMaster, Debut RecordMaster MKII, Debut III Phono SB
The OM series of cartridges are also a great value and like the 2M Red, have the ability to upgrade your sound by simply changing the stylus. For these we recommend you move to the Ortofon Stylus OM20. Like the 2M Blue, the OM20 stylus is a nude elliptical type. 

Models with a Sumiko Rainier Cartridge: Pro-ject Debut EVO and Debut PRO
These two models come with the new Sumiko Rainier cartridge, which by itself, is a fantastic model. When your Rainier stylus is worn, you can easily upgrade to the better Sumiko Olympia or even the Sumiko Moonstone stylus.

Phono Cartridge Installation or Replacement

Installation requires just a bit of care. You’ll need to pull off the old stylus, which takes a bit of wiggling to work it loose. Then you very carefully push the new stylus back in place. It's actually easier to put the new one on than to pull the old one off, but just make sure you are holding the new one by the outer edges and get it on all the way.

Watch our full video on how to properly mount a phono cartridge > 

With all of these, 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 1,000 hours of music, it's time for a new stylus anyway, so why not step up to a better one?!

  1. Ortofon 2M Blue Phono Cartridge Ortofon 2M Blue Phono Cartridge
    Rating:
    100% of 100
    $204.00 - $275.00

Reduce Vibrations with Pro-Ject Damp It Damping Feet

Skill Level Needed: Pretty Easy

Models: All Debut Turntables, but less important on the EVO and PRO or if you have the Ground It E

If you did not want to go to the expense of the Ground It E, the Damp It isolation feet will get you part of the way there. These are made from the same TPE material found in the isolation feet on the EVO and PRO Debut models. This high tech material acts as a filter for frequencies below 500 Hz to help reduce the chance of acoustic feedback with your turntable.

You simply position these directly under the stock feet on your turntable. It is best to get them perfectly centered on your old feet, which is the only reason we listed this as pretty easy.

These do have the same caveat as the Ground It E. If you are listening only to headphones, have your turntable in another room from your speakers, or your speakers do not produce much bass, you will not hear an improvement. However, most listeners will hear the same type of improvements as the Ground It E, just not as substantial. 

If you have a Ground It E, Debut EVO, or Debut PRO, we put this upgrade further down the list, but it is still beneficial. 

As a side note, these work very well under speakers that might be in close proximity to your turntable and are highly recommended in that application if your turntable is on the same shelf as your speakers.

Improve timing & dynamics with the Pro-Ject Acryl It Acrylic Platter Upgrade

Skill Level Needed: Easy

Models: All Debut Turntables except Debut Carbon Beatles 1964, Debut Carbon Esprit (AC powered), Debut Carbon Esprit SB DC, & the Debut Carbon RecordMaster HiRes — these models came with the Acryl It, debatable on the Debut PRO

After you have your turntable well isolated, another upgrade that will improve timing and dynamics is a heavier platter. 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 turntable. 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 Its 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 LPs 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. Plus it just looks really cool. Some creative Debut owners have put tiny little colored LEDs on the plinth under the platter for a neat look as they cause the Acryl It to glow!

The Debut PRO already comes with a fantastic platter, so we would recommend doing the next upgrade for the PRO before the Acryl It.

Reduce resonance with the Debut Alu Sub-Platter Upgrade

Skill Level Needed: Easy

Models: All Debut Turntables

The sub-platter is the part of your turntable the main platter rests on top of. It also includes the bearing that sits in the bearing well of your turntable. When you replace the composite material with the precision-made Alu Sub-Platter, you will get a couple of improvements. The aluminum sub-platter is made with a diamond cutting process which means it is made to much tighter tolerances than the standard sub-platter. It is also heavier, which adds mass and improves damping. 

Adding the Alu Sub-Platter is a snap as you simply take off your outer platter and replace the sub-platter with the new one. The technical result will be less resonance with better speed accuracy which will translate to your ears, hearing those tiny emotional dynamic changes that really draw you into the music. It is similar to some of the changes you hear with the Ground It E, but for different reasons. 

For those of you lucky enough to have a Debut PRO, this is the next upgrade after you do the Ground It E. 

For headphone-focused listening, this will be a bigger improvement than any of the earlier isolation upgrades we have talked about.

Create consistent motor speed with a power supply upgrade

Skill Level Needed: Easy

Models: All Debut Turntables

You probably observed that your Debut turntable 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.

There are two different power supply upgrades that will totally depend on which version of the Debut turntable you have.

Speed Box S2 Turntable Speed Controller & Stabilizer - All AC motor Debut Turntables

The Speed 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 a crystal generator to supply an output perfectly suited to their turntable motors. It even adds the ability to switch from 33 to 45 on the unit.

Installation is very straightforward. Remove the wall wart power supply from your table. Connect the Speed Box S2’s 16v power feed to the connector on the back of your Debut you had the wall wart plugged into. Then you connect the power supply for the Speed Box S2 up to the 18v power in.

High Power It Grounded High-Current Power Supply - All DC motor Debut Turntables

When Pro-Ject moved to a DC motor for their Debut models, they added much of the tech inside the Speed Box to these turntables. However all of them still just come with the small wall-wart power supply. Pro-Ject has recently introduced a beefier external power supply called the High Power It. This simply replaces the existing power supply with a high current type. It also provides another benefit for some systems. Many of today’s home theater receivers or small integrated amplifiers you may be using with your turntable have started to use a floating ground with just a two-prong plug. Using the High Power It will give your turntable a true ground with its three-prong plug, potentially reducing some low-level hum for a more silent background that allows you to hear details better when listening at lower volumes.

  1. Pro-Ject Speed Box S2 - front Pro-Ject Speed Box S2
    $199.00

Upgrade your turntable RCA Cables

Skill Level Needed: Easy

Models: All Debut Turntables

Most Debut turntables come with some pretty decent phono cables. We were able to confirm all of the models had detachable cables except for the very early ones, where we are not sure. 

The Connect It E and Connect It RCA-CC are upgraded phono cables 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 the RCA CC 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 the RCA CC 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 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.

The Connect It E is a more cost-effective version of the RCA CC with less expensive parts. 

Installation is very simple. First, turn off the power to your amplifier or phono preamp. Remove the old cables. For the RCA CC, we suggest you just pull off the ground wire from your original cable and use it as the ground as the RCA CC does not include the ground wire. The Connect It E does have the ground. Install the new cable 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. We suggest the RCA CC version for most systems, although the Connect It E is better than what you find on the earlier models. Bear in mind the Debut EVO and PRO already include the Connect It E.

  1. Pro-Ject Connect It E Phono Cable, RCA to RCA Pro-Ject Connect It E Phono Cable
    $69.00 - $79.00

Reduce record warp with the Clamp It

Skill Level Needed: Fairly Easy but Individual to Each Record

Models: All Debut Turntables

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 lightweight 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. 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 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!

There is a new PRO Clamp designed for the PRO turntable, however, it is just a weight and we much prefer the way you can fine-tune the Clamp It to the amount of warp the record might have and recommend the Clamp It over the PRO weight.

Leather It or Cork & Rubber It 1mm Mat

Skill Level Needed: Easy

Models: All Debut Turntables

Either of these nice replacement mats can be the icing on the cake of your upgrades, or if you live in an environment where you have a lot of static electricity, they can be a must. Both of them help reduce resonances just a tiny bit, although hearing the effect on most systems is difficult. 

The reason to get one of these is all about static electricity and keeping your mat clean. It seems like the stock felt mats attract hair and dust like crazy. You can put a clean record on a mat and when you pick it up to flip it over, it is now dirty. Both the leather mat and combination cork and rubber mat are very easy to clean and have antistatic properties. We find the leather version the easiest to keep clean of the two.

If you did the Acryl It, do not use either of these mats. It will reduce the effectiveness of the upgraded platter, and the Acryl It is by far the easiest one to clean and has no issues with static.

  1. Pro-Ject Leather It Turntable Platter Mat Pro-Ject Leather It Turntable Platter Mat
    Rating:
    100% of 100
    $69.00

  1. Pro-Ject Cork & Rubber it Pro-Ject Cork & Rubber it
    $49.00 - $79.00

Additional Upgrades

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.

One model that is a very good value is the Phono Box S2 at $199.00 . 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.

Really Clean Your Vinyl

A very clean record sounds far better than one that has not been properly cleaned. You’ll experience a huge reduction in surface noise, allowing you to listen more closely to the individual instruments. As you get the grime out of the way of your stylus, it will track deeper in the grooves, picking up more nuances of your music. A very clean record compared to a dirty one is analogous to the difference between a dirty window vs a clean window!

The only real way to get your vinyl seriously clean is with a wet cleaning system. Pro-Ject actually makes a great record cleaning system called the VC-E for $499.00 . It is a great wet cleaning system with a vacuum to remove all of the debris the wet cleaning lifts out of the grooves, leaving you with a pristine surface. If you have some friends who are into vinyl, it's not a bad idea to share the cost and share the machine as you only need to do a wet cleaning once if you handle your records with care.

Pro-Ject also now has two pretty cool record sweepers to keep your vinyl clean as it plays called the Sweep It E and Sweep It S2. These are great to use after you have given your records a good wet clean to remove any residue they might pick up inside the record sleeve.

How to Clean Vinyl Records and Care For Them Properly >

Maintenance

If your Debut turntable is more than 2 years old, it is likely that you could use a new belt and some oil in the bearing. These are inexpensive parts we normally have in stock. The oil is called Lube It, and the belt is easy to change out.

Free Tips

Acoustic feedback getting into your turntable can have a very negative impact on the sound. The larger your speakers are and the closer they are to your turntable, the more likely this can happen. You will hear feedback as a howling sound and once you hear it, you will know what we mean! 

You can prevent feedback by not having your turntable and speakers on the same shelf and placing your turntable on a solid surface.

Another consideration is how you route the cables coming out of your turntable. They are carrying a very low-level signal and you want to keep them as far away as possible from AC power cords. If you have to cross an AC cord, do it at a 90-degree angle. Never tie the phono cables and power cable together for neatness, keep them far apart. You should also never try to extend the length of your phono cables. They are short for a reason. 

We hope these tips and suggestions on how to upgrade your Debut turntable make your world of vinyl listening even more fun.  If you have any questions, give us a call at 888.899.8776, chat with us, or stop by our award-winning showrooms. If you have any questions at all, feel free to reach out to us at www.audioadvice.com. We are excited to help you improve your musical experience while having fun along the way.

Pro-Ject Debut Upgrade Compatibility Chart

Ground It E Isolation Base* Stylus Upgrade Damp It Feet* Acryl It Alu Subplatter Power Supply Upgrade Connect It E or RCA CC Clamp It Leather It or Cork & Rubber It 1mm Mat** Record Sweep It or Sweep It 2
Debut RecordMaster MKII Ortofon OM20 High Power It or Power Box S2
Debut III Phono SB Ortofon OM20 High Power It or Power Box S2
Debut Carbon EVO Sumiko Olympia High Power It or Power Box S2 RCA CC
Debut PRO Sumiko Olympia Debatable High Power It or Power Box S2 RCA CC
Pro-Ject 1 Unknown Original Speed Box S2 Unknown
Debut Unknown Original Speed Box S2 Unknown
Debut II Unknown Original Speed Box S2 Unknown
Debut III Ortofon OM20 Speed Box S2
Debut II Phono Ortofon OM20 Speed Box S2
Debut Carbon (AC powered) Ortofon 2M Blue Speed Box S2
Debut Carbon DC Ortofon 2M Blue High Power It or Power Box S2
Debut Carbon Beatles 1864 Ortofon 2M Blue High Power It or Power Box S2
Debut Carbon Esprit (AC powered) Ortofon 2M Blue Speed Box S2
Debut Carbon Esprit SB DC Ortofon 2M Blue High Power It or Power Box S2
Debut RecordMaster Ortofon OM20 High Power It or Power Box S2
Debut Carbon RecordMaster HiRes Ortofon 2M Blue High Power It or Power Box S2
Debut SB S-Shape Unknown Original High Power It or Power Box S2

* Not recommended for headphone only listeners
** Not as important if you did the Isolation Base or use headphones only

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