Pro-Ject X1 B Turntable Reviewed

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The Pro-Ject X1 B (buy at Crutchfield) is a $1,299 mid-range, belt-driven audiophile turntable that is a clear step above the plethora of $350 to $500 more entry-level players flooding the market today. The Pro-Ject X1B turntable features 33, 45, and 78 RPM speeds, it comes in three finishes (real-wood walnut veneer, hand-painted gloss black or gloss white), a three-pound acrylic platter, with a carbon/aluminum tone arm and a Sumiko Rainier moving magnet cartridge, as well as many other features. Pro-Ject is one of the most popular manufacturers of turntables on the market today, and this particular model is handmade in Europe, which tells you the quality and care that this Austrian company strives for in their products. They could easily make a record player like this in China or Viet Nam, but it just wouldn’t be as lust-worthy and rock solid in terms of its build quality and stability. 

The Pro-Ject X1 B turntable comes in a real walnut wood veneer as well as hand-done high gloss white or black paint.
The Pro-Ject X1 B turntable comes in a real walnut wood veneer as well as hand-done high gloss white or black paint.

What Makes the Pro-ject X1 B Turntable Special?

  • Easily accessible speed controls are a great feature for turntables. One of the first things I look at on turntables is how easy is it to change the speeds. I completely understand that there will be newer vinyl listeners who will wonder why this is important, but anyone who has an older collection can appreciate not wanting to have to adjust the belt every time they want to go from listening to a 33 RPM vinyl record, to a 45 RPM, or a 78 RPM. The Pro-Ject X1 B has a button that sits on the bottom left of the unit that you process to change speeds.
  • The Pro-Ject X1 B features adjustable feet under the unit. We all know how important having your audiophile equipment leveled is, and it is nearly impossible to get the best sound out of your turntable if it isn’t level. Having adjustable feet is a great feature to ensure that your turntable is level without having to deal with adding pieces of cardboard or various other things that audiophiles have used to ensure their turntables are level.
  • This turntable has balanced outputs. Pro-Ject makes this possible by offering their own mini-XLR cables, but you will need to have a phono preamp that supports balanced inputs as well, such as Pro-Ject’s own Phono Box S3B. Most audiophiles at this level use unbalanced (RCA) connections, and that is perfectly fine, but the fact that this Pro-Ject has balanced outputs makes it unique. 
  • The tonearm is quite adjustable. Said adjustability means that you can change both the azimuth and the vertical tracking angle. This flexibility allows you to always ensure that you have the tonearm properly set should you upgrade the turntable mat or change the cartridge. The tonearm is carbon fiber wrapped aluminum.
A LP-level look at the Pro-Ject X1 B audiophile turntable
A LP-level look at the Pro-Ject X1 B audiophile turntable

Why Should You Care About the Pro-Ject X1 B Turntable?

With so many people getting into (or back into) listening to vinyl more and more, those who started with an entry-level turntable are going to be curious about what they might get from a more expensive player. The Pro-Ject X1 B is a great example of what you get when you take a step or two up from entry level, as it does deliver an easily noticeable upgrade over less-expensive record players. Audiophiles get a lot of features that really aid your vinyl listening experience and, not only that, you have a turntable that will look great in any room, whether your preference is wood grain (like mine) or black or a sleek, modern white gloss. The electronics used in this turntable produce basically no noise. You can turn it on, and put your ear right beside the component, and you won’t even hear the platter turn. It is that quiet, and that level of excellence at this price is tempting to a lot of people who want more and more performance from their growing collection of LPs.

A close-up of the Pro-Ject X1 B turntable's carbon fiber tonearm
A close-up of the Pro-Ject X1 B turntable’s carbon fiber tonearm

Some Things You Might Not Like About the Pro-Ject X1 B Turntable

  • The Pro-Ject X1 B is no phono stage built-in, as you see in more entry-level units. If you’re someone who started with their vinyl journey using the phono stage that was built into your turntable, this product will require that you add a phono-preamp to your audiophile system. There are affordable options in the external phono stage market that we like that are in the $100 to $250 range from Schiit and Andover Audio, as well as options available from Pro-Ject. An external phono stage is likely going to give you better performance, mainly because of the beefier power supply or better internal components. It just comes at an additional expense, be it inside of a better audiophile stereo preamp or as a standalone audiophile component. 
  • There are easier turntables to put together for the first time. While Pro-Ject provided a large set of directions that included helpful pictures for each step, I found myself desperately looking for some of the needed parts. The directions were not the issue. It was that, in order to package the unit for shipping to ensure it arrives safely, the pieces sometimes are hidden away in the Styrofoam itself. Few things can be as panic-attack-inducing as thinking you’re missing pieces when you have a piece of gear that you’re looking forward to put into your audiophile system. I would recommend getting some small bowls from the kitchen and putting the parts inside of them to keep a close inventory of what you got when setting up this turntable, and you won’t get as freaked out as I did at stage one. 

Listening to the Pro-Ject X1 B Turntable…

I performed my testing with the Pro-Ject X1 B turntable with both the LEAK Stereo 230 (read the review) as a phono stage and amplifier (115 watts per channel of class D power), and with the NAD C 3050 integrated amplifier (read the review) and its phono stage and amplifier (100 watts per channel of new-school, class D power). With both integrated amplifiers, I was using the MartinLogan Motion XT F100 floorstanding speakers.

One of he first tracks that I listened to was “Carpet Crawlers” from Genesis’ legendary progressive double album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. I was able to find this record used yet in superb condition, as I am developing quite a taste for classic progressive rock these days. When playing “Carpet Crawlers” on the Pro-Ject X1 B turntable, the track sounded notably clear and smooth. When I close my eyes and listen, it often feels like something of a fever dream with the opening of the track, as Tony Banks’ piano sounds almost like a harp. The clarity of this track really stands out when you get to the first time Peter Gabriel sings “Carpet Crawlers,” as you can clearly differentiate Gabriel’s voice from that of Phil Collins, who is layered over Gabriel. You can also hear Collins’ beautiful work on the drums come through on this track, particularly regarding the cymbals. You can hear each strike of the cymbal and, in this track, that is a massive part of the beat that he is laying down. It is easy to lose this level of resolution and detail on lesser, more entry-level record players, as I’ve got a host of them here at my house and the Pro-Ject X1 B was a revelation to listen to, even if it only costs a few hundred dollars more than the cheaper record players. You truly get what you pay for here. 

“Carpet Crawlers” from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway…

Another track that I took note of in my listening was “Living For the City” from Stevie Wonder on his 1973 release Innervisions. This track is in Wonder’s early years of working with the T.O.N.T.O. synthesizer. Wonder also played every instrument on this song, with some assistance in setting them up from his recording engineers. This recording starts to blur the lines and define what Wonder’s career would become going forward, as he started to move away from the classic Motown sound and a lot of ballads into more politically-charged R&B. This song is another case where the dynamics of the track are shown off well by the Pro-Ject X1 B turntable. The deep bass that is constant on the track is always felt, while Wonder’s voice and the synthesizer come through clearly and are easy to isolate.

Living for the City by Stevie Wonder

The last listening example I want to note is “Corcovado” from Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto. This track is from their genre-defining 1964 release Getz/Gilberto. The common issue that people bring up when talking about the vinyl format is that it doesn’t have potential dynamics that digital formats have. On this bossa nova composition, you wouldn’t know it. The dynamics on this track are very present-sounding and totally musically engaging. The song opens with vocal of Astrud Gilberto and a piano, which is then taken over by the bass guitar, which comes through both deep and clear, and the tenor saxophone of Stan Getz, which opposes the bass in higher octaves. This is a beautiful track, and the warms that you can hear while listening to this on the Pro-Ject X1 B only add to the beauty of this recording.

“Corcovado” is a true audiophile classic and stylish too….

Does the Pro-Ject X1 B Turntable Have Any Resale Value?

With the Pro-Ject brand being well-known, well-marketed and well-respected, paired with this being a turntable that holds very few flaws, I expect this turntable should hold its value well, as long as vinyl remains popular. 

Should the vinyl bubble burst, then it may provide more difficult, but that has little to do with the quality of the Pro-Ject X1 B turntable, as this player could be the last turntable that you ever buy. It has the sound and the build quality to last for decades of listening pleasure. 

The Pro-Ject X1 B installed in Andrew Dewhirst's reference audiophile system
The Pro-Ject X1 B installed in Andrew Dewhirst’s reference audiophile system

Who Is the Competition For the Pro-Ject X1 B Turntable?

If you’re looking for a direct-drive turntable in this price range, you can look at the Technics SL-1500C. The Technics player is the same basic price range as the Pro-Ject X1 B turntable, but it has many of the same features, as you can change speeds with a button press, and adjustable feet. This turntable has a curved tonearm, and also has some more modern features, such as automatic shutoff to lift the tonearm when it detects that you have reached the end of the side of the record.

When we are talking about belt-driven turntables in this price range, we must mention the Rega Planar 3 ($1,000). The British manufacturer is globally known for their Planar line of turntables and, from everything I know, the Rega Planar 3 is worth a look, and it comes in a slightly lower price. Rega offers a couple of options for cartridges to go with the turntable, and the plinth comes in three different colors. They even allow you to upgrade the power supply, should you so choose. The one thing that stands out though from looking at this turntable that the Pro-Ject X1 B does have is, it doesn’t appear that it is easy to adjust the RPM speed on the Rega, so you should keep that in mind if you’re considering this model.  

Also in this range is the NAD C 588 ($899 – buy at Crutchfield). I reviewed NAD’s turntable, which is one step down from this one the C 558. The upgraded version is a very similar turntable, but with an upgraded cartridge. I enjoyed the NAD C 558, with my only real complaints being that it wasn’t easy to change the speeds, and it only comes in gloss black. The C 588 seemingly inherits both of those issues.

The Pro-Ject X1 B turntable in High-Gloss White paint finish.
The Pro-Ject X1 B turntable in High-Gloss White paint finish.

Final Thoughts on the Pro-Ject X1 B Turntable

Whether this is your first turntable, or maybe your first step up from entry level, there is a lot to love about the Pro-Ject X1 B turntable. In my many hours of listening, it was rare that I heard any of the pops or clicks that your vinyl can be (in)famous for. My records always played smoothly, and there was never a time where you could hear any physical noise coming from the turntable itself. As I mentioned earlier, this turntable is wonderfully silent in its physical operation. 

The Pro-Ject X1 B turntable is easy to recommend to anyone who loves vinyl and already has a (or who is willing to invest in a modest) phono stage/preamp. The Pro-Ject XB 1 turntable looks great, but most importantly, it sounds great on top of that. There are countless options out there for audiophile turntablesso spending nearly $1,000 can feel like a lot for playing a music format that nearly qualifies as ancient. However, I promise you that it’s worth it. The X1 B is the best turntable I have reviewed in this price range, and it’s no wonder that so many people think of Pro-Ject when they are looking for a turntable, as the quality of this product is superb.

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