A new belt-driven, three-speed, super-budget turntable is to be released by the Austrian outfit (which appears to need a long holiday, if the press releases are any indication)
I’ll get to those press releases in a moment but let’s get the hard news out of the way first. Pro-Ject has announced a new 3-speed (that’s right, 78rpm is featured), belt-driven turntable aimed at super-budget users.
Featuring a speed stability control and an isolated motor design, the bulk of the deck is contained within a MDF chassis covered in eight layers of hand-polished paint (real-wood, satin-waxed veneer is an alternative option) that sits on height adjustable feet.
The tonearm bearing is a Kardan “ultra-low friction” variant. On that sits a 8.6”carbon/aluminium sandwich tonearm design with a TPE damped counterweight. Both azimuth and VTA can be adjusted.
A 1.5kg acrylic platter rests on a sub-platter which is driven by a stainless steel bearing. You can buy the turntable with a Pick It S2 moving magnet cartridge (€799) or without (€699).
So, that’s the turntable and very nice it looks to. But I have to add a personal note to this one. There is an intriguing and troubling theme that runs throughout the Pro-Ject press releases relating to the X1. I don’t know if it reflects the current state of mind in the company or whether the intention was purely innocent and the effect mutated in translation but the upshot is rather confusing.
Initially, it made me want to put an arm around the company’s shoulders and comfort it. So what’s going on?
Pro-Ject appear to be rattled and in several ways. Firstly, the company appears to be shaken by its competition. It states, in slightly stilted English, “Today we see many designs which are far away from a correct turntable and everything we know and stand for is just neglected. Price and features dominate over real quality and engineering.”
It’s also worried that other turntable companies may be stealing its thunder and the hard work it has done in terms of research and development, “Nowadays, this seems to be threatened as so many companies of the industry but especially also simple START UPS try to jump onto the train and get the benefit from this very hard work we did.”
Finally, it is also worried as hell at the perceived high cost of the X1. As the text proceeds, it desperately wants to justify the cost of the X1 turntable while adopting a defensive attitude. I am clueless why. This is just a few of the worrisome, hand-wringing and anxious notes that I picked out of the text at random.
“A proper machined resonance free platter costs 8 times more than a pressed steel with a rubber mat. That’s a simple fact.”
“A proper shielded, symmetrical cable costs X-times more than just a standard cable. You will agree, that’s a simple fact too.”
“The X1‘s luxury 8 layers of painting and the hand-polished finish are 3-4 times more expensive than simple foils.”
“Inside, it houses a sophisticated DC/AC generator board which, combined with the convenient speed control board, delivers clean and stable power to the quiet-running motor. This adds additional cost…”
“MDF is 2-3 times more expensive than standard particle boards, not to mention a plastic chassis, but sounds and feels way better.”
“The Pro-Ject X1 is NOT cheap and we don’t want it to be the cheapest, because we need to tell the customer again that real quality, handmade in Europe…”
The press releases are quite extraordinary. You might not be aware but this is not how hi-fi companies normally behave. To fixate on the competition, price and value in this manner and then to repeat those concerns over and over again, even to the extent of adding capitalised words to prove a point, looks like the writer was building to a minor frenzy.
I’ve never seen this slightly unhinged approach taken in any press release relating to hi-fi before. For myself, it’s taken as read that a more expensive turntable utilises more expensive components. The price is relatively high but so what? Those people who can afford one will be interested in purchasing it. Those who cannot afford one won’t buy. Why beat yourself up over it? Besides, we’re talking about a €699/€799 turntable here. Why stress over it?
So should we be reading more into this statement? Am I confused? You betcha.
To learn more, click www.project-audio.com
[Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]
Martin Tousignant14th April 2019 at 4:34 pm
The X1 looks like the step up from the Debut Esprit but the Pick-It cartridge looks like an Ortofon 2M (painted over) Red. If it really performs better then it should also get a better cartridge.
Joel14th April 2019 at 5:51 pm
It is strange, especially because the X1’s competition isn’t even the cheap budget tables, but the more upscale Rega P3.
Paul Rigby15th April 2019 at 10:40 am
It is odd, I agree Joel
james11th December 2019 at 4:29 am
I disagree with your use of the word “confusion”. What’s the confusion? Maybe the press release writer could have stated his words differently, but he or she is solidly standing up for his product. Sure, it will not be politically correct for some people and the competitive marketplace is a nasty place, but when I read these comments I intuitively see pride and hard work and someone who will speak slightly unfiltered, which I admire. If Pro-ject adheres to the work ethic that I perceive them as having, they will be #1.
Paul Rigby11th December 2019 at 11:40 am
Thanks for your words of support, James.
Peter KH6th March 2021 at 11:18 pm
I wondered if you had any plans to carry out a review of the Pro-ject X1 any time soon. I’m thinking of treating myself to a new TT a couple of months after UK exits lockdown and the X1 is on my short list.
I currently have a Pioneer PL550 that I bought new back in 1977 or thereabouts and over the last few years its turned into a money pit for repairs to keep it running (over £250 so far). I don’t want to spend any more time/cash on it so its time it was retired.
I did upgrade to a Rega Planar 3/RB300/A&R P77 in 1982 and much preferred the Rega sound to the Pl550 (which had an Ortofon VMS20E on it the time). I disposed of the Rega in the early 1990s during the great vinyl purge and kept the Pioneer for sentimental reasons (my first proper Hi-fi table after a couple of basic Garrards). I actually bought a Technics SL1200 mk7 in early 2020 as an intended replacement for the Pioneer but to be honest I didn’t think it sounded any better (compared them both with an AT VM95ML). I also thought the build quality wasn’t as good as the Pioneer. Fortunately the Technics developed a fault after a couple of weeks (the strobe light stopped working) which gave me an excuse to return it for a refund just four days before first UK lockdown.
So now I’m thinking about a new belt drive TT and on the list are NAD C588, Rega Planar 3 and Pro-ject X1. I’m also intrigued by the Debut EVO and look forward to the article you said you may do on EVO upgrades because an upgraded Debut EVO could be an option for me.
The one thing I didn’t like about the Planar 3 I had was the glass platter which rung like a bell so I have reservations about the platters on the NAD and Rega. Because the NAD uses parts from Pro-ject I wondered whether the glass platter could be replaced with the Pro-ject acrylic platter. However that would push the NAD price over £800 which makes the X1 look like the better deal. Do you have any opinions on replacing the NAD platter with an acrylic one? How about an acrylic platter on the Rega? I also have reservations about the X1 and EVO because of the the Pro-ject reputation for motor hum. Hopefully they’ve fixed it now.
I’m fortunate in that I live mid-way (three miles each way) between two dealers (with real shops!) that both stock Rega and Pro-ject so as long as they make it out of lockdown I should be able to audition both brands. At the moment I’m tending to favour the X1 but if you could get your hands on one for review I would really like to know what you think of it.
PS I liked your videos on the NAD and Debut EVO
PPS Sorry for the lengthy post!
Paul Rigby10th March 2021 at 9:14 am
Hi Peter, the X1 seems to have passed me by – or I it, or both. I don’t have immediate advice re. the NAD platter I’m afraid but let me ask my NAD contact and I’ll see what I can drag up. And thanks for your kind comments. Other turntables to think about include the Funk Firm Gett! (exclamation mark included) although it’s not the most sturdy of designs. Great sound though.
Paul Rigby16th March 2021 at 10:18 am
I talked to NAD about this and one of their chaps kindly supplied the following: “Anyway, with regards to the C588 change of platter, I’m fairly confident that one could exchange the glass platter for e.g. the Perspex platter of the Pro-Ject X1, (I believe the sub-platter is the same for both, but I don’t have either to hand here to check), Judging from a picture, the X2 platter may be too high, making the necessary the tone-arm’s VTA adjustment range out of range. Whatever the choice, correct VTA setting is vital.
Having said that, changing platters will substantially change the sonic character of the turntable all else being equal with correct settings. It’s the combination of materials/components in a turntable that define its sound and on which our team spent quite some time to get that right. I would think the C588 has a very organic flow to its sound, not as uptight as on one end of the spectrum (nice tight bass but detached midrange/treble) or the other end, a loose (somewhat muddled bass but with good timing) as with some turntables.
I’ll see if I can find out a bit more on the subject but generally speaking, we’d advise against it as the results are unpredictable and chances are that it may be disappointing.”
Peter KH18th March 2021 at 2:21 pm
Thanks for asking NAD about the possibility of replacing the glass platter on the C588 with the Pro-ject acrylic platter. Based on their recommendations then it would be best to keep the stock platter if I go with the NAD. I’m hoping to be able to visit a few dealers after we exit lockdown so I can get to see the Planar 3, Debut EVO & X1 (and hopefully the NAD C588 although the nearest dealer is 30 miles away).
Following on from your mention of the Funk Firm Gett! (which is now at version 2) I had a look at their web site. They list 3 dealers, one of which is closed during Covid and only has a temporary website operating, and neither of the other dealers show the Gett! on their web sites. A quick Google didn’t find any other dealers. So at the moment the Gett! only appears to be available direct from Funk Firm.
Thanks for taking the time to ask NAD about the platter swap.