Pro-Ject X2 is confusingly similar to another turntable from Pro-Ject. Namely the X1, which is one of the best buys under £ 1,000, and by far the best alternative to the Rega Planar 3, which has long been the reference in that price range.
The very well-sounding Pro-Ject X1, which comes with an 8.6-inch arm in aluminum and carbon fiber as well as an MM pickup from Ortofon, is simply a find for the price.
This is X1’s big brother in Pro-Ject’s new X-Series. It is, as you can quickly find out, built in the same way as the X1, but the X2 has a stronger plinth of 50 mm, a thicker 30 mm and 2 kg heavy acrylic plate, a slightly better tone arm, and a more expensive pickup from Ortofon.
More mass, which in theory can provide even better damping, and the total mass has increased from 7 to 10 kilos compared to X1.
In comparison, a Rega Planar 3 weighs only 6 kilos, and it comes with a heavy glass plate.
Attenuation of resonances
The Pro-Ject X2 uses a DC / AC-controlled generator that feeds the motor control with stable voltage so that the electric motor will spin quietly with minimal deviation.
The engine is mounted on Pro-Jects TPE suspension, a thermoplastic rubber suspension that will prevent resonances from propagating to the chassis. The strap is made of the same TPE material, and even the counterweight has a lining in TPE to dampen resonances by as much as 50 percent, according to Pro-Ject.
The rotational precision clocks in with a deviation of an acceptable 0.63 percent in our measurements, which is in line with Rega Planar, but no better than the direct-driven Thorens TD 402DD’s 0.22%.
The turntable is equipped with a slightly longer arm than the X1, and a better anti-skating suspension. The arm tube has an aluminum core, drawn in carbon fiber, and the armrest is height-adjustable. Pro-Ject itself says that the arm is better cushioned than on the cheaper players.
The 50 mm thick, machine-milled plinth in MDF rests on four aluminum feet with TPE cushioning and felt on the underside. The player comes with a detachable Connect it E cable, separate power supply, single adapter and pre-assembled pickup.
As on the X1, Pro-Ject has collaborated with Ortofon on the pickup that sits on the X2. There is also a Moving Magnet pickup, Pick-it 2M Silver, which uses an elliptical needle grinding and has silver-plated copper wires in the coils on the inside. The black pickup has a detachable needle, and should have 1.8 grams of pin pressure, and be connected to the amplifier’s MM input.
Detailed and dynamic sound
The big question is whether X2 is better than X1, and whether it is worth the extra money to choose the most expensive player? The imprecise answer is yes, for some it is worth the extra money, while many others will be very happy with the cheaper X1 player.
The sound quality has more similarities than differences. You get a great sound image, excellent dynamics, tight and deep bass reproduction and a sharp focus on details, in both players, but X2 has a couple of aces up its sleeve that can make the middle game over before it has started.
Because with the X2, the soundscape is a little deeper, the bass gets a little more authority and micro details come out a little better in the soundscape. A little is the key word here, because the differences are not so great. But for those who are interested in such things, and think the difference is big enough, surely the X2 is worth the extra money.
If you take the guitar sound on Dire Straits Love Over Gold, the X2 has more sound, sophistication and depth than the X1, and the bass on the title track goes deeper here, with an even more dynamic impact.
The sound from instruments in acoustic jazz such as the Keith Jarrett Trio, Still Live, is more clearly defined and the piano’s lowest octaves get better depth with the more expensive player.
The Pro-Ject X2 actually sounds so good, that it is a strong alternative to the Pro-Ject The Classic and Reloop Hi-Fi Turn5, two of the best players in this price range.
Pro-Ject X1 and X2 are two turntables with so many similar qualities, that it can seem difficult to choose. Our advice is to choose the cheaper X1 if the demonstration in the store is convincing, and you do not experience the differences in sound quality compared to the X2, as large enough to justify an extra outlay. If you are not deterred by a moderately higher price, the X2 is a better player, but only slightly. Regardless, both are obvious alternatives to the established reference from Rega.