What makes an expensive turntable worth it? Pro-Ject's X Series shows us.
Pro-Ject X1 / X2 / X-Series Turntable Review + Comparison
Pro-Ject's X Series (X1, X2), first introduced in late 2019, solidifies the mid to high-end price point in Pro-Ject's turntable offering. Although Pro-Ject has several models in this price range, the X1 represents a clear progression above the popular Debut Series. In this review, we'll explore how they made this progression.
1.0 X-Series Upgrades
Using the industry standard Debut Carbon DC Esprit ($599) as the baseline, here are the areas in which the X Series has been upgraded.
- overall mass / weight
- cartridge + adjustment
- various parts including motor + feet
1.1 The most obvious visual difference between the Debut Carbon DC Esprit and the X Series is the size and mass of the turntables. Mass is important in audio quality, because a larger, heavier turntable will be more resistant to external vibration (both through deflection + absorption), resulting in a cleaner sound signal. The X Series achieves more mass with a) larger plinth / body, b) thicker acrylic platter and c) more layers in the finish.
1.2 The tonearm has been completely re-designed using technologies found in various Pro-Ject high-end ($1000+) turntables. The most noticeable upgrade is the gimbal (the pivoting mechanism) design, now more robust offering more precise tracking. In conjunction, the bearings have been upgraded for even smoother performance.
The tonearm tube on the X Series has been upgraded to an aluminum / carbon fiber composite. This lighter, stiffer design features improved resistance to external interference. The counterweight at the end of the tonearm has also been upgraded with an aluminum / TPE composite design. In layman's terms, the counterweight features a plastic-rubber polymer that helps absorb unwanted vibration.
1.3 The X Series comes pre-installed + fully calibrated with Sumiko Oyster cartridges. The X1 comes with the Ranier model ($149 when purchased separately) and the X2 comes with the well-reviewed Moonstone ($349). For the X1's Ranier Cartridge, note that you can swap out just the stylus to perform easy upgrades. Like the Ortofon 2M Series, the bodies of the Oyster series are the same, and the stylus can all be swapped interchangeably.
For advanced users who may want to swap the entire cartridge in the future, the X Series also adds azimuth + VTA adjustment capabilities (in addition to the stock anti-skate adjustment).
1.4 Lastly, the X Series features multiple upgrades that aren't readily apparent. The motor system has been upgraded with a new suspension system. This new design provides more isolation between the motor (a source of unwanted vibrations) and the turntable's drive mechanism.
The turntable feet have been completely re-designed and represents a major uprgrade. The new design takes notes from after-market style upgrades, with improved dampening characteristics (uses similar aluminum / TPE material combination as the counterweight) and the ability to be individually leveled (a leveled turntable offers more accurate playback)
⇉ IN SUMMARY
Buying a high-end turntable can be a daunting, "flying blind" activity. When talking about multi-thousand dollar turntables, a common question we get asked - "is this turntable really worth it?" With the X Series, it takes away a lot of the guess work. You get the conveniences that many high-end turntables lack (pre-installed cartridge, electronic speed change, hinged dustcover), plus the clear feature progressions when you use the Debut Carbon Esprit as the baseline. Bottom line, you have a better idea what you are paying for when you choose the X Series.
🔎 COMPARISON TABLE
|Debut Carbon Esprit SB||X1||X2|
|Size (w x h x d)||
16.3 x 4.6 x 12.6"
|16.3 x 4.9 x 13.1"||18.1 x 5.9 x 13.3"|
|Weight||10.8 lbs||15.4 lbs||22 lbs|
|Platter||acrylic 2.8 lbs||acrylic 3.3 lbs||acrylic 4.4 lbs|
|Gimbal / Bearing||standard||upgraded||upgraded|
|Ortofon 2M Red ($99)||Sumiko Ranier ($150)||Sumiko Moonstone ($299)|
Adjustable Azimuth / VTA
|RCA Cable||Connect-It E||Connect-It E||Connect-It E|
|Plays 78 RPM||yes||yes||yes|
|Feet||standard||upgraded / leveling||upgraded / leveling|
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