Review: Pro-Ject A2

Convenience is key

If you're willing to make compromises for the easiest possible operation, this is the turntable for you.

Published 2024-02-23 - 8:00 am
Pro-Ject A2
Lasse Svendsen

Playing records doesn’t easier than this. Even those with ten thumbs and an aversion to touching anything technical can play music with a fully automatic turntable. Put on the record, press start and sink into the sofa. And enjoy.
No frills and no hassle. You may need to dust the record with a record brush from time to time, but that’s it.
When one side finishes playing, flip the vinyl over and repeat.
The selection of fully automatic turntables is not very large. Pro-Ject makes a cheap version that does a good job, but without much enthusiasm. The cheap Pro-Ject A1 is also not aimed at audiophile enthusiasts with a growing record collection.

Also check out Fully automatic turntable with limitations

With fully automatic playback, Pro-Ject has made it easier to enjoy music on vinyl. But compromises are aplenty.

Pro-Ject has tried to do something about this with the A2. It’s also a fully automatic player, but technically far more lavish – for those who are more than moderately interested in sound quality.

(Photo: Pro-Ject)

It’s just as easy to use as the cheaper A1. You take the disc out of the cover, put it on and tilt the start lever to start. Seconds later, music pours out of the speakers. When the disc side is finished, you lift the lever, which returns to the start position and the player stops. Flip and repeat.

What separates an A2 from an A1 is a much better damped belt-driven chassis. An A2 weighs almost two kilos more and the player’s moving parts, platter and arm, are mounted on a separate plate that rests on the sub-chassis with flexible damping in between. This prevents resonances from interfering with the pickup.

Can also play at 78 rpm. (Photo: Lasse Svendsen)

The player is only available in matte black, and all the plastic parts make it look cheaper than it is. But details like cables, connectors and the arm are of good quality.

Ortofon 2M Red

The included cartridge is the well-known Ortofon 2M Red, a better pickup than the OM10 pickup that comes with an A1. The MM pickup comes pre-assembled. If you follow the exemplary assembly instructions, you’ll be ready to play music within minutes of unpacking the turntable.

A better quality detachable cable is included (Connect it E) but the player does not have a built-in phono amplifier and must be connected to an amplifier that does or via a separate phono amplifier for MM pickups.

(Photo: Lasse Svendsen)

Our running accuracy measurements showed that the player is better than the A1 player in one respect and worse in another. We measured a rotation speed of 32.49 rpm, which means a deviation of -2.53%. In other words, the player is too slow. Wow and Flutter had a deviation of 0.37%. This is actually very good and shows that the player is at least stable, even if it is too slow.

Ortofon 2M Red. (Photo: Lasse Svendsen)

Balanced and defined sound

The A2 player’s arm does not have a removable pickup housing, but the arm, which rests in a four-point aluminium bearing and uses an aluminium tube, has easy adjustment of anti-skating and needle pressure.

When we tested the A1, we found it to deliver a rather slack and disengaged sound. Thankfully, that’s not the case with the A2. Here, the sound is more engaging, there’s more dynamic contrast in the music, and the bass has a nice weight and fullness.

The sound is nicely focussed on Dire Strait’s Love Over Gold. The acoustic guitar sounds warm and rich. The bass reproduction may lack a bit of bite and depth, but the bass is well-defined and has enough weight to ensure that the percussion on the recording is well-balanced with the rest of the sound.

(Photo: Lasse Svendsen)

The vocals sound a little dry and I miss some dynamic contrast. The percussion plays a significant role on the title track, and it doesn’t throb with the same conviction from the bass drum as it does on a Pro-Ject Debut Pro or X2 from the same manufacturer.

With Keith Jarrett’s live recording from Bordeaux on the player, I found that the player presented me with a large soundstage where the piano sound came through well. Perhaps not quite with the same timbral palette as I can get from a Reloop Turn X or Rega Planar 6, but the tonal qualities are light years better reproduced than from an A1.

(Photo: Lasse Svendsen)

The rhythmic precision and dynamic contrast of the music is audibly better on Rega’s much cheaper – and fully manual – Planar 3. Another example, the Pro-Ject X2, which is in a lower price range than the A2, is far more engaging and presents the music with greater insight, air and atmosphere.

But I think the fact that you can get better sound for your money in other players may not be a big deal for many people. Simply because ease of use trumps the desire for audiophile qualities.

Also check out Best turntable in its class

The well-playing Pro-Ject X2 is the turntable to choose in this price range.

Conclusion

The expensive Pro-Ject A2 is the turntable to choose if ease of use is a top priority. Enjoying your record collection doesn’t get much easier. The sound is perfectly smooth and far superior to the cheaper A1 player. Unfortunately, it’s not on par with what you can get from other players in the same price range. This is important to realise. If sound quality is most important, choose something else, and if you’re looking for a player that can be easily connected without the need for a separate phono stage, there are alternatives to the A2.

Karakter
Pro-Ject A2
Premium

We think

Very user-friendly, balanced and well-defined sound. Relatively good damping of resonances. Easy to set up. 78 rpm speed setting. Cheap plastic details detract from the impression of quality. Lacks a little weight in the bass, dull dynamics. Significant speed deviation.

1 thought on “Pro-Ject A2”

  1. Any idea what the effective mass of the tonearm is? What type of cartridge upgrades could one use with the A2?

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