Pro-Ject 6 PerspeX Turntable And Sumiko Blackbird MC Phono Cartridge


Setup of the Pro-Ject 6 PerspeX Turntable and Sumiko Blackbird MC Cartridge

As with most any other turntable, some assembly is required. I found the assembly time for the 6 PerspeX turntable to be about normal for most turntables on the market today. That is to say it took me around an hour to get it unpacked and set up to where it was functional. The arm was already installed and all I needed to do was install the feet, motor platter, pulley and cartridge.

As mentioned above, Pro-Ject provides a decent spirit level with the 6 Perspex. It is not a bull's eye level, but is adequate for the job of leveling the platter. Just check two normal axes with it. Pro-ject suggests that you level the equipment shelf before placing the table on it. I agree with that. Even though the feet and the sub-chassis are adjustable, it is best that you don't rely on these systems any more than necessary to level the platter. And it is also desirable that the motor, platter and belt ride in the same, level pane. I strongly recommend that you take the time to ensure your shelf is leveled.

So I used the supplied level to balance the shelf in my rack before placing the 6 PerspeX turntable on it. The three threaded adjustments that balance the sub-chassis essentially control the spacing of the magnets in the passive magnetic suspension system. These controls are relatively easy to access. But be careful anyway. One of the knurled screws is near the headshell and it would be possible for you to bump the stylus when adjusting the sub-chassis at this point. The final adjustment of the Vertical Tracking Angle (VTA), the Horizontal Tracking Angle (HTA) and azimuth took a little more time than with some arm, headshell and cartridge combinations. The 9cc Evolution tonearm is indeed fully adjustable, but the adjustments are not spring-loaded or controlled by shims as with some other arms.

The biggest concern here was that the VTA and HTA adjustments interacted. Once you loosened the set screws to adjust the VTA, you could easily throw off the HTA. So I tried to get the HTA as close as I could and I simply raised or lowered the arm mount with each subsequent adjustment to dial in the VTA. If I threw off the HTA a little, then I could make the fine adjustments by loosening the cartridge and using the play in the headshell to fix the length and angle relative to the spindle. This took some trial and error to get it right, but the payoff in the sound quality department was worthwhile. I found the Blackbird cartridge was especially sensitive to changes in the VTA. Slight differences in rake angle made substantial differences in the tonal balance and time coherence of the sound. The way I resolved this was to set the VTA for a 200 gram pressing. When I played thinner records, I used one or more mats to raise the record surface to the optimum level. Voila, best sound achieved!

The anti-skate control uses a small weight and machined brass pivot. It worked OK with my only complaint being that it was behind the tonearm's large pivot ring and it was difficult to access.

The manual that comes with the Blackbird cartridge was very useful in providing guidance on how to use your listening skills to dial in the angles, tracking force and anti-skating force. I recommend this manual to anybody adjusting a tonearm/cartridge of any ilk. It is a very useful treatise on the subject. Here is the online link to the Blackbird Manual.