Pro-Ject Audio Debut Pro vs X1 turntable

YorkshireLee

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A few days ago, a group of members from the Pro-Ject Owners turntable group (on FB) were invited down to the UK distributors head office to view the range of Pro-Ject turntables, perform a cartridge test of the 2M series, Quintet Series and Cadenza range as well as get our eyes (and hands!) on the brand new Debut Pro turntable.

May be an image of speaker


As part of the demonstrations, we were also teased with an X1 vs Debut Pro shoot out. This post is all about that shootout :)

The system for the test was reasonably spec'd. It featured the stock cartridges and no upgrades on the table itself (as it comes from the factory), a Pro-Ject Tube Box DS2 phono stage, a Synthesis Roma 753 AC 50w class A valve amp and Jamo C95 II loudspeakers.

Music was "You Move Me" by the Robert Cray Band [In My Soul album].

It's worth reminding ourselves of the range of turntables from Pro-Ject:

  • Elemental - a fun, beginner range for those new to vinyl
  • Primary - entry level audiophile table with a smart tone arm
  • Juke Box - all in one turntables with integrated amplifiers
  • T Line - fun turntable, glass platter, sub-platter design and 8.6" aluminium tonearm and thicker plinth
  • Debut Line - one piece, carbon/aluminium tonearm, sub-platter design with a thicker platter, quality Ortofon 2M series cartridge, steel platter and speed box
  • RPM Line - audiophile, displaced / separate motor design, incredible looks - conceptual design features with thick platters
  • The Classic - elegantly framed turntables, sub-chassis design with aluminium sub-platters, 9" tonearm - capable of MM and MC playback
  • X Line - high end audiophile turntables, designed to extract maximum detail from the groove and more natural in the presentation
  • Signature - luxury, high end turntables, no compromise on quality of components, and features.
The Debut Pro is a celebration of 30 years of Pro-Ject Audio making quality turntable for the market. And it's release comes just a year after the Debut Carbon Evo which was a Debut Carbon DC with some brilliant new features and finishes.

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The Debut series is everything that playback should be: it's easy, it's incredibly fun and it makes vinyl playback accessible and enjoyable irrespective of it's setting. The new Debut Pro features some significant upgrades over the Debut Evo. Namely:

  • New Pick IT Pro cartridge
  • New gimbal assembly, allowing VTA and Azimuth adjustment
  • Nickel-plated aluminium bearing block
  • Aluminium dampened platter
  • Upgraded dampened feet
It's priced at £699 vs the £499 of the Debut Pro and comes only in a single finish: satin black.

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The X1 is the first turntable in the X series (X1, X2, 6Perspex SB, Xtension line).

In comparison to the Debut Pro, it features:

  • a thicker plinth
  • thick acrylic platter
  • Pick IT 2M cartridge
  • VTA and Azimuth adjustment
  • Deeper/Wider platform (more overall mass)
X1-1_600x_b8fe15d4-6343-4969-80d2-3578e0e371ff_480x480.png


X1-7-768x553_600x_45f042fb-e1a4-4e0e-9f95-0d099983f753_480x480.jpg


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In terms of what each turntable range is designed to do:

  • DEBUT started life at £109 when it released in the 90's - it's a turntable that's designed to be fun, make music playback easy and accessible to all. Sound is full bodied - it's not shouty or overly "in your face" - it's very forward, incredibly dynamic in the bass and it's engaging. It's the best of the T1 + original Debut series that's evolved to bring audiophile characteristics without requiring a system that's ultra high end. It's a table designed for the everyday system and will still sound great - so if you're running it on an entry level integrated amp or an old CD/tuner/amp unit - this table is designed to grip you and give you a fun, all-rounder experience.
  • The X line however is altogether different. The X1 is the entry level table in the range but everything from the big brother (the X2) filters down here proportionally: acrylic platter, large plinth, oversized platform, adjustable VTA and Azimuth and a thicker, more dynamic tonearm. The X series is designed to extract detail. The better the cartridge - the more this table shows it's true potential. The additional mass allows you to explore more in the groove without it becoming too unrefined in terms of details and dynamic range.
So what did I find?

Well - the two tables despite being separated by only £100 couldn't have been more different....

When it came to the X1: The presentation is more balanced - more natural. You're likely hearing a closer match to how this was mixed. Smaller details are carried through - and the percussion seemed to come alive. You could really sense the "click" and the "punch" on the drum skin - and smaller details like fret adjustment and baby cymbal crashes were more apparent. Certainly the organ playback in the record seemed more prominent - and we all agreed that overall imaging and tonality was more accurate. Most importantly: rhythm and timing felt more accurate too. It's the kind of turntable that makes you really "lean in" to listen to the specific details of the track - but without it being full of high end detail that sometimes makes you turn off after a few minutes.

When it came to the DEBUT: The presentation much like other tables in the DEBUT line was more dynamic, fun and inviting. We described it in the room as being closer to the front of the audience at a rock concert - where it made you want to dance! The Debut Pro did a really good job of bringing out more detail then you'd expect given it's purpose but the new design features really did elevate it's performance over it's older siblings. It was harder to place instruments - though sound wasn't distorted or muffled, it was just generally more focussed dead ahead with imaging having less localisation and smaller details generally being harder to visualise and separate. But none of this really mattered - because the playback had us all smiling and not running to turn it off!

So which sounded better..........?

Well define "better"...! Neither table out performed the other in terms of quality of playback. The playback was just different.

What is important to me, is less important to you perhaps and vice versa! My dad prefers a BIG bottom end sound - loads of bass and something that he can turn right up loud with his KLIPSCH speakers. He's not looking for masses of information and detail - he just wants clear vocals, great guitar and drums.

I on the other hand prefer enjoying quieter playback that's more neutral in the output which focusses on what the artist/mixer produced. If they want you to hear something over something else - I want to experience that!

For us - it was a great example of two products that are similarly priced but couldn't be more different in the playback experience. Both produce a stunning sound, ease of use and plenty of adjustability to allow you to tweak the cartridge, experience moving coils or high quality moving magnets and have a long and enjoyable experience with listening to records.

Depending on where you are on your musical journey (be it your system, the size of your record collection, your budget, your aesthetic requirements) - both tables will not let you down but one may be a slightly better match!

The Debut does come with some upgrades available it's worth noting:

  • Aluminium sub platter
  • Acrylic platter
  • Light weight puck
The X1 however has only:

  • Aluminium sub platter
Of course - there are cartridge upgrade options for both. You would need an acrylic platter however to move the Debut Pro to MC cartridges.

Upgrades won't make the Debut Pro a different turntable - they will however aid the sound quality, depth and range of the sound and compliance (speed, wow and flutter).

We hope you found this article interesting and fun! We're a Top Partner of Pro-Ject Audio and stock both products. The Debut Pro is due in September, with the X1 being an already stocked item.
 
I took delivery of an X1 this week. I am still a bit in shock at how beautiful the sound is....and it's improving each day. The depth and scale of Gods Speed's last effort brought a tear to the eye. My Charles Mingus joints had a similar electrifying effect (I'd been using an AT LP60XBT beforehand).

It's horses for courses of course but I compared a pimped out Debut Evo (acrylic platter, clamp and damping feet). For my ears there was no contest however that Pro version sure looks purdy.

I might get a 2M Bronze at some point in the future but as far as decks go I think this is my end game...any future additions will be a decent valve pre-amp or something else exotic down stream. For the moment though I'm sitting pretty and enjoying life.

TLDR: X1 FTW!
 
Excellent! The X1 has a special place here and is incredibly popular. It’s the level of detail that grips you and engages you on a different level that attracts people to it.

The 2M Bronze is my all time favourite cartridge - the best of the 2M Red + Blue and with upgraded integrals should you ever want to try the 2M Black stylus.

The Tube Box S2 is back in the UK and is a bloomin’ great valve pre amp. Plenty of options should you want to head down the route of an MC cartridge at some point in the future :)

Happy listening!
 
You absolutely KNOW I was eyeing up that exact phono amp!
I'm looking the other way with my fingers in my ears...la,la.la...I will not spend anymore money, I will not spend any more money, I will not.........it's nearly Christmas though:)
 
PMSL. When you know.....you know ;)

Come over for a play! I've got the Phono Box S and the S2 here. It's good to do a side by side.
I can load up the X1 with a Bronze for you :)
 
Grave digging this thread a little @Yorkshire AV
I have the X1 and love it, but have enough hours on it now that I'm thinking I might need to replace the stylus.

Am I right in thinking that I can move from the supplied Pick-It S2 to an Ortofon 2M Blue within the existing body - ie just changing out the stylus?

But if I want to go further - say to the 2M Bronze - I need to replace the whole cartridge+stylus?

With the Blue stylus costing around £135 and the Bronze cartridge more than double that, any comments on whether I'm getting double the upgrade for double the price, or are diminishing returns kicking in?

Any suggestions for other cartridge options apart from Ortofon 2M (that don't require me to become an expert at completely changing arm height etc etc)?
 
Another X1 owner. Love it. I can confirm that it definitely does even better with a cart change. The Goldring 2200 for me at the moment. I changed it within a couple of weeks of getting the deck as I didn't like the stock cart at all. It properly sings now.
 
Grave digging this thread a little @Yorkshire AV
I have the X1 and love it, but have enough hours on it now that I'm thinking I might need to replace the stylus.

Am I right in thinking that I can move from the supplied Pick-It S2 to an Ortofon 2M Blue within the existing body - ie just changing out the stylus?

But if I want to go further - say to the 2M Bronze - I need to replace the whole cartridge+stylus?

With the Blue stylus costing around £135 and the Bronze cartridge more than double that, any comments on whether I'm getting double the upgrade for double the price, or are diminishing returns kicking in?

Any suggestions for other cartridge options apart from Ortofon 2M (that don't require me to become an expert at completely changing arm height etc etc)?
It's difficult to say whether the change from Blue to bronze is worth double the cost because its all relative but IMO it certainly is. It has a much larger sound stage, has much better detail and low end extension than the blue. You should always check the azimuth and VTA after a cart change but you shouldn't have to change either moving to the Bronze. Saying that, when I bought my X2 the VTA was off by quite a bit from the factory, luckily I was changing the Bronze from my old table to new so picked up on it.
 
Another X1 owner. Love it. I can confirm that it definitely does even better with a cart change. The Goldring 2200 for me at the moment. I changed it within a couple of weeks of getting the deck as I didn't like the stock cart at all. It properly sings now.
I think I'll be following you down the goldring route next time I change just for something different. Probably go for the 1042
 
Just adding also - I too have an X1 and changed out the poor pick-it silver for a Goldring 1042. It was a little awkward to set up, I refitted the shim plate that was on the top of the pick-it back onto the Goldring and bumped the VTA up a touch to get the tone arm nice and level, spent a not inconsiderable amount of time getting the cartridge aligned just right and used a digital scale to set the VTF The results were worth it, this TT and cart now really bring any record I play into a whole new level. It is worth putting in the effort to reap the rewards.
 
It's difficult to say whether the change from Blue to bronze is worth double the cost because its all relative but IMO it certainly is. It has a much larger sound stage, has much better detail and low end extension than the blue. You should always check the azimuth and VTA after a cart change but you shouldn't have to change either moving to the Bronze. Saying that, when I bought my X2 the VTA was off by quite a bit from the factory, luckily I was changing the Bronze from my old table to new so picked up on it.
That's fair enough.
For now I think maybe trying the Ortofon blue to see what that does over the standard feels like a pragmatic step. Reviews seem to suggest it's a noticeable upgrade If I like it, it gives me grounds to suggest a further step might be worth it next time. Then I can have the Ortofon bronze/black/Goldring 2200 debate!
Happy days
 
That's fair enough.
For now I think maybe trying the Ortofon blue to see what that does over the standard feels like a pragmatic step. Reviews seem to suggest it's a noticeable upgrade If I like it, it gives me grounds to suggest a further step might be worth it next time. Then I can have the Ortofon bronze/black/Goldring 2200 debate!
Happy days
It definitely is a step up from the red and an easy upgrade to make. I really like the blue but it does take a while to break in. It softens up after about 20-30 hours. Mine sounded a bit 'analytical' until this point which I know others have experienced too.
 
Sorry for coming in late to this.

You can indeed install the 2M Blue with the body but anything above this, the return will be minimal.
You would need to go to the 2M Bronze full cartridge to get the benefit of that and/or the black stylus.

Similar to the PickIT Pro on the Debut Pro - the max benefit is at the Blue before a cartridge change is needed.

As others have suggested - something like the 1042 from Goldring is a very good move.
You can also order different couterweights if you wanted to try a heavier cartridge too :)
 
I contacted Ortofon directly about this some time ago and the posters are correct. They confirmed a Blue stylus will plug straight into the Pick it body that comes with the X1 and suggested it was a simple and worthy upgrade.

The Red, Blue, Silver and OEM Pick it styluses are all interchangeable in the same cartridge body. However, the Bronze and Black require a full cartridge upgrade (I eventually got the Bronze...I'll probably have a fit of the vapours at some point and buy a Black Ludwig van Beethoven stylus for it.

If you like the Ortofon sound and don't want to fiddle with a new cartridge just yet or fork out a fortune you'll definitely hear an improvement moving to a Blue.
 
I hope you do. Then you can let me know if its worth the extra cash before I do the same 😂😂
My Bronze is barely broken in...it will be a while if I don't win the pools but it's there at the back of my mind. I think an aluminium sub platter is the next upgrade.
 
Yeah I'm in the same boat. I'd love to listen to the black so I can hear the difference but the Bronze is such a nice cart I think I'd struggle to justify the extra cash on the black unless it is a big improvement. Diminishing returns has got to kick in at some point. Its like 600 odd quid for the LVB stylus 😶
 

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