For audiophiles who are also fans of the minimalistic aesthetic, there are more than a few turntable options out there. I personally enjoy the sleek, clean look they provide, but the verdict of what wins my vote is always up to audio quality.
That’s why we’re comparing two of the more popular options under this category; the Rega Planar 2 vs. Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo.
Rega Planar 2 vs. Pro-ject Debut Carbon Evo Overview
The two turntables might look similar, but it seems the Rega Planar 2 went full speed ahead with the minimalism concept. It lacks an electronic speed-changing control and even the power switch is under the plinth. The Pro-Ject Debut offers both controls, albeit out of sight, plus a heavy damped steel platter for superior audio quality.
What Is Rega Planar 2?
Rega is a British-based manufacturer that got its name from making quality turntables and tonearms since 1973. They introduced the first Planar turntable in 1975, and the Planar 2 followed shortly.
After going away for quite some time, the Planar 2 returned in 2016, which was great news for all the audiophiles interested in this company’s affordable options.
That said, the new Rega Planar 2 was different in almost every way. Apart from the glass platter the original boasted, this new design was straight out of the new millennium, if not the next one!
Sleek, shiny acrylic gloss plinth with no controls in sight. The surface shows just the platter, the tonearm, and a signature “P2” to tell you -and everyone looking- which model this beauty is.
It has an optional dust cover that’s completely clear to show off your eye-catching turntable without dust settling in the cracks. Though some customers say you should beware of flimsy hinges.
The new Planar 2 turntable was engineered to address some of the issues the original, and other Planar iterations had.
The redesigned feet offer the most stability and the least amount of vibration transfer. This is important if you have speakers on the same surface as your turntable as part of your setup.
The 10mm Optiwhite glass platter is heavy, providing better accuracy and further stabilizing the record via the flywheel effect. That’s not without its fault, though, since you need to lift that platter for manual speed changes between 33 and 45 RPMs.
The RB220 tonearm that comes with the setup is made of aluminum, which is both lightweight and accurate. However, the automatic bias, or anti-skate, seems to cause a little bit of trouble for audiophiles who like to adjust the arm exactly the way they want it.
The Planar 2 comes with a standard Carbon cartridge, although the options for upgrades are endless. The most popular being Ortofon or an O&B MMC, but you can also go for the Exact or the Bias from Rega.
Must read: Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo Vs. Rega Planar 1
What Is Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo?
From Pro-Ject Audio Systems, a relatively newer name in the field, comes the Debut Carbon Evo. The company has only been around since 1991 but has also carved a niche in the market for innovative, high-quality hi-fi systems, as well as unusually shaped turntables.
So far, Pro-Ject released several collaborations with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jack White, and Metallica. Pretty cool for an audio-system company!
The Debut Carbon Evo is one of the company’s entry-level turntables and is priced as such, that is if you’re on the lookout for a handmade, not mass-produced, turntable.
The “Carbon” stands for the one-piece, carbon fiber tonearm, and the “Evo” stands for evolution. So let’s see how that checks out!
The turntable is super minimalistic, with only the platter and tonearm visible. No logos, markings, or controls are on the top of the plinth, which gives the unique satin finish a chance to shine.
You see, the Debut Carbon Evo comes in 9 different colors and finishes, from satin yellow to walnut and high-gloss red. This sure makes it a show-stopping decor piece in your living room, and a great complement to your furniture.
This beauty is also functional, boasting a whopping 3.7-lb stamped steel platter with TPE damping. This is a great way to ensure stability during playback, while also adding heft to the final product.
Pro-Ject redesigned the motor suspension for this turntable, which makes for less vibration and humming noise. Paired with the heavy, damped steel platter, and you get an excellent flywheel effect for super smooth sound.
The Debut Carbon Evo also has a rocker switch to change speeds between 33 and 45 RPMs without having to remove the heavy platter. However, since this turntable is also 78-compatible, you’ll need to manually adjust the belt if you want to play one.
It comes out of the box with a Sumiko Rainier phono cartridge, a satisfactory addition that elevates the sound coming from this turntable pretty well. It also qualifies the product for a warranty from Sumiko should anything happen to the cartridge.
The feet are a bit of an odd feature on this turntable. There are only 3 of them and they’re height-adjustable. This should help with balancing the turntable on uneven surfaces, but some users report it’s a little trickier than the usual 4 legs.
How Are They Different?
At first glance, the Rega Planar 2 and Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo are almost identical in shape. The Debut Carbon Evo is just so noticeably larger than the Planar 2. This can prove less practical if the space you have for the system is limited.
The Planar 2 has a glass platter, while the Debut Carbon Evo opted for steel instead. Since there are sound preferences in this area, you take your pick of what sounds right to you. But it’s also less likely to break a steel platter by dropping it than a glass platter.
The tonearm on the P2 is made of aluminum, whereas the Carbon Evo is, well, carbon fiber. Both are lightweight, but carbon fiber feels a lot lighter in the hand.
While the Planar 2 comes with automatic bias (anti-skate), the Debut Carbon Evo’s anti-skate weight is fully adjustable. This can make it a bit finicky and difficult to figure out for beginners, though.
The Rega Planar 2 only comes in 3 high-gloss colors; black, red, and white. As for the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo, you get these exact 3 colors, plus 6 more satin finish options:
- Fir Green
- Steel Blue
- Golden Yellow
How Are They Similar?
Both the Rega Planar 2 and Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo are considered entry-level, beginner-audiophile-friendly turntables. These usually don’t have a bunch of fine-tuning options, which is the case for the two turntables.
The minimalism displayed by the two turntables gives them a similarly futuristic vibe. There’s also a similar overall plinth design, although the size varies.
Both turntables don’t have a built-in phono preamp, as well. So, if you get either, make sure to budget for one.
The two turntables are handmade in Europe, with the Planar 2 made in Rega’s plant in the South East of England, and the Debut Carbon Evo in the Pro-Ject turntable factory in Czechia.
Related: MoFi Studiodeck Vs. Rega Planar 3
What’s Better About the Rega Planar 2?
The Rega Planar 2 is perfect for those who like a smaller turntable for insufficient space or aesthetic reasons. The difference in size is quite large between the two turntables, with the P2 being super compact.
It’s also a less fussy option for beginner audiophiles who don’t want anything to do with anti-skate adjustments.
The glass platter does give the P2 an edge when it comes to sound, which isn’t a small feat. However, changing the speed manually can be a little annoying if you’re not that experienced with it.
What’s Better About the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo?
The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo has a few points going for it, like the 6 more color options you get to choose from. It also has adjustable-height legs, which can help with the looks and functionality of the turntable.
The Carbon Evo comes with a steel platter, a better choice than glass from a practical standpoint.
The adjustable weight on the anti-skate control helps you get the exact sound you want. It also doesn’t slide back to rest position like the automatic bias sometimes does.
The greatest advantage the Carbon Evo has is the electronic speed control. It makes switching between 33 and 45 a breeze, which is super beginner-friendly.
A great thing about it is that it comes with a high-quality Sumiko Rainier cartridge right out of the box, so you won’t need an upgrade to get it to sound its best.
The Pro-ject Debut Carbon Evo is also much heavier than the Rega Planar 2. Some people consider this a quality metric, as it indicates it’s a better build.
Last but not least, the Carbon Evo is less expensive than the Rega Planar 2, so you can get similar sound results for a couple hundred bucks less.
Who Should Get the Rega Planar 2 (And Why)?
The Rega Planar 2 is aimed at audiophiles still at the start of their journey with hand-crafted turntables. Its simple design and lack of complex controls allow for a streamlined, plug ‘n’ play experience.
Rega knew its target audience while designing this turntable; people who wanted a fairly basic setup, while also wanting a higher-end product than mass-produced turntables with awful sound quality, or the debut player Rega offers, the Planar 1.
And that’s what the Rega Planar 2 offers. The superior components, like the MDF plinth and the 24-volt low-noise, brushless motor provide a harmonious experience for better playing.
The one-piece aluminum RB220 tonearm is a step up from the Planar 1, which uses a two-piece tonearm. This change is instrumental in making the tonearm more stable and accurate.
The same goes for the 10 mm Optiwhite glass platter, another upgrade from the phenolic platter of the Planar 1. It’s heavier and helps the turntable achieve the desired flywheel effect with ease.
Unfortunately, though, the Carbon cartridge is nothing to write home about. That’s why most audiophiles will upgrade to a higher-quality cartridge, either right from the start or somewhere down the line.
Most of the true upgrades, like external speed control and the much better Elys cartridge, are a feature of Rega’s higher-up model, the Planar 3.
So, if you want a better Rega turntable than the Planar 1, while also not wanting to spend more than $1000, like you would with the Planar 3, then the Planar 2 is a happy middle.
Users Also Read: RP1 vs RP2
Who Should Get the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo (And Why)?
It can be pretty confusing to look for a good first turntable if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
Thankfully, the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo is a pretty excellent first turntable for a beginner audiophile. Its super sturdy build and great sound, along with the features it includes, make for a solid competitor to turntables at a similar price point.
In fact, many users report they chose the Debut Carbon Evo as a replacement for some of their older, no-longer-working turntables. So, if it’s good enough to replace a well-built, 40-something-year-old machine, then, Pro-Ject must be doing something right!
The turntable design is very well-thought-out. Things like TPE damping on the metal platter and feet, the carbon fiber tonearm, as well as the speed-control rocking switch, make for smooth and convenient operation.
I won’t forget to mention the wide selection of colors and finishes to choose from, some of which are pretty daring, like the yellow satin finish. Like it or not, a turntable is a very visible part of your sound system. So, if people are going to look, better give them this beauty to look at!
Lastly, the price of this unit also gives it a bit of an advantage here. If you’re on a budget but still want to get a good turntable, the Carbon Evo is a great choice. That way, you can save up for the other setup components, like amps and speakers, but still get the experience you’re looking for.