Pro-Ject launches its first fully automatic turntable
Sales of vinyl records have been steadily rising over the last few years, with a whole new generation of music lovers looking to get in the groove. Austrian hi-fi brand Pro-Ject has launched a new series of vinyl spinners aimed at ease of use. The company's first fully automatic turntables start with the entry-level Automat A1.
The A1 is the first fruit of a partnership announced last year with the Fehrenbacher GmbH turntable factory in Germany, where the original Dual decks were produced, giving Pro-Ject access to proven automatic drive tech while also enabling the Automat line to be handmade in Germany using mostly locally-made components.
Automatic start/stop setups are far from new of course, but are something of a rarity in modern hi-fi systems. The A1's mechanical system works pretty much as you'd expect. Instead of having to manually raise and set the tonearm, users will just need to set the playback speed and press start.
The automatic drive mechanism then lifts the tonearm, moves the cartridge end over to the lead groove of the spinning vinyl record and then gently lowers it for playback. Pro-Ject says that the wholly mechanical drive is disengaged and decoupled until the stylus reaches then end grooves. And there is a lift lever for manual control too.
The belt drive turntable offers electronically controlled 33 and 45 rpm playback speeds, features a damped metal platter to keep wow and flutter (speed fluctuations) low, and comes with an 8.3-inch aluminum tonearm that ends in a carbon fiber-reinforced polymer anti-magnetic headshell. This is home to an Ortofon OM 10 cartridge, with tracking force and anti-skating pre-adjusted for a plug-and-play experience.
The damped wooden chassis rests on damped feet to help nip resonance in the bud, and the turntable comes with its own phono stage – though this can be switched off if the hi-fi amplifier it's cabled to already rocks its own pre-amp or the listener prefers to use an external unit.
Pro-Ject has started shipping the Automat A1 to dealers, where you can lay down US$499 and take one home. There's no word at this time when we can expect other Automat models to appear, but higher-spec models are likely incoming.
Product page: Automat A1