Pro-ject Audio X1/Ortofon Pick it S2 mm ! Platter / Tonearm / Cartridge. (English version)
Back to the roots
For Pro-ject Audio, all started with Pro-ject 1, the company’s first turntable released in 1991 and was the project that turned the view into a company and the company into a protagonist. A revival of this historic model – but in a clearly improved version – is the Pro-ject Audio X1 which we will be looking at in this test.
When Heinz Lichtenegger founded Pro-ject Audio in the midst of the digital revolution in the 1990s, he had a clear idea in mind. That the trend of the time may lead to CDs, but the simplest and best way to listen to music was and will be the vinyl. Thirty years later, this view is not only confirmed, but is constantly gaining in popularity, as despite the constant development and imposition of digital media on the market, either initially in material (CD) or now in intangible form (streaming and high resolution format), vinyl is anything but obsolete or “dead”. The turntable not only does not look like a machine from another distant era but is found in the homes of many music lovers, even those of the “new generation”. Pro-ject Audio certainly has a significant share of responsibility, being one of the key players in the turntable market. All started with Pro-ject 1, the company’s first record player released in 1991 and was the project that turned the view into a company and company into a protagonist. A revival of this historic model – but in a clearly improved version – is the Pro-ject Audio X1 which we will
Modernized & Classic
The X1 is based on the first implementation of the company but according to it, it comes improved at every level thanks to the use of the modern materials and newer production methods. The basic structure does not change, of course, based on the simple design that characterizes the Austrian company and the handmade construction at its factory in Slovakia. Specifically, the chassis is made of MDF and comes either covered with veneer in walnut finish, or in black or white lacquer. The walnut finish we had in our hands, however, looked quite high quality and is in line with the classic recipe mentioned above. Also classic is the architecture of the platter with a structure platter/sub-platter, with the first being acrylic, weighing 1.5 kg and 20 mm thick and the second synthetic, while the transmission of the movement is done through a belt. Essentially, the engine, resiliently suspended, drives the belt platter under which the main acrylic platter is mounted. This DC motor also offers electronic speed control with the change of speed between 33 and 45 rpm being done very easily via a switch. The manual change is necessary only for the selection of 78 turns and is done through the use of a second belt, which accompanies the platter.
The tonearm of the X1 is straight, made of a combination of aluminum and carbon fiber, while it has an active length of 8.6 inches. The reading force is adjusted with a calibrated counterweight (with damping) and the anti-slip force is applied with a threaded counterweight. As for the cartridge, the turntable is accompanied by the Pick It S2 mm made by Ortofon for which it is heard that its voicing was undertaken by Heinz Lichtenegger himself. The platter is available without the cartridge (upon request). On the back of the device you will find the classic output with female RCA (and ground socket) as no fixed cables are used so you can “play” with the cables of your choice. However, the company’s Copnnect -IT E RCA is supplied with the turntable, which is good enough to get you started. Finally, the platter is accompanied by a transparent lid.
Vinyl experience without compromises
The X1 did not need much effort to start spinning as it comes with the cartridge pre-installed and the rest of the assembly is quite easy. So, from the first turns, the main features is the quietness and the absence of mechanical noises. Having this clear background, the details of each recording were highlighted with good clarity. The vocals appeared with good flow and naturalness taking place in the center of the stage, while with quite good depth and clarity each instrument was presented on stage. The X1’s ability to deliver the stereo image and the air between the instruments in a realistic way was remarkable. In terms of sound, the X1 was balanced and “live”, with the ability to deliver bass with satisfactory volume and impact, but also a treble with a match without becoming annoying. Essentially, the X1 reaches a level where any compromises do not detract from the pleasure of the music and the special vinyl experience. Yes, it may not have the absolute control and bass speed or surgical precision that you would find on a more expensive turntable, but the sound effect is very pleasing in the way the rhythm parts are rendered to satisfy even the most demanding music lovers.
Τhe company’s goal was to offer a product without major technical compromises at the best possible price level, determining the point where you now move to the next level without “damaging” financially. But it is not worth focusing so much on prices and compromises, since the X1 plays well. With easy to use from the beginning, quality materials, careful design to avoid mechanical noise and pleasant sound that fills the space without exaggeration, it is rather difficult not to like it.
This is a balanced and competitive proposal from Pro-ject for those who want to enter the analog world of vinyl with demands, but do not intend to spend too much money. Probably a record player of this level will be what they will ever need. And for this reason, the X1 should clearly be on their list.
Pro-Ject Audio X1
Architecture: Platter /Sub-platter, belt transmission
Motor: DC, electronically controlled (33/45, possibility for 78 with manual change), tires suspended
Platter: Acrylic, 20mm, 1,5kg
Bearing: Stainless steel/brass
Tonearm: Straight, Αluminum/Carbon Fiber, Calibrated Counterweight Reading Power, Suspended Counterweight Slip Power
Cartridge: Ortofon Pick It S2 mm (mobile magnet, pre-installed)
Other features: Cable Connect It E Phono
Dimensions: 415x125x335mm (LxHxW)