Pro-Ject helps vinyl lovers find True Balance
Sales of music on vinyl have been steadily rising for the past few years, which has also meant the return of turntables to the living room hi-fi setup. Austria's Pro-Ject launched a disc spinner back in April aimed at folks looking for true balance, and has now added another to the family.
The new model is essentially a "True Balanced Connection" update to the company's existing X2 turntable, which now makes it compatible with balanced hi-fi systems for the promise of improved dynamics, lower noise and a better signal-to-noise ratio.
Like its pricier series sibling, the X2 B turntable ships with a Moving-Coil cartridge pre-installed, though Pro-Ject has opted for an Ortofon Quintet Red instead of the Blue on the X8. Moving-Coil cartridges can pull out more detail from a record's grooves than the more common Moving Magnet counterparts, but a lower output signal does put them at risk of interference from other electronics and wireless devices, which Pro-Ject calls electrosmog.
"The use of balanced audio connections are common among professionals in recording studios or for live concerts," explained the company's press release. "It is very important to have a stable and interference-free connection, as these signals, especially microphone signals, will be highly amplified. The same applies to the connection from your turntable to the phono-preamplifier. The big advantage of a balanced connection is its ability to remove picked up noise and interferences."
In addition to the standard RCA outputs, the new turntable sports a dedicated mini-XLR port for connection to fully balanced phono pre-amps such as the company's Phono Box S3 B and Phono Box DS3 B. Listeners who want to take full advantage of balanced signal transmission will also need to stump up extra cash for a True Balanced phono cable.
The X2 B's high-mass MDF chassis – which is built to reduce resonance to "almost imperceptible levels" and stands on damped aluminum feet – is home to a suspended motor that drives the TPE belt to turn the 2-kg (4.4-lb) acrylic platter at electronically controlled speeds of 33 and 45 RPM, though 78 records are also supported with a change of belt plus a compatible cartridge.
Its 228.6-mm (9-in) tonearm with a TPE-damped counterweight is made up of three layers of carbon to keep things rigid while an aluminum inner tube takes care of damping duties. It rests on an aluminum base with variable azimuth and vertical tracking angle adjustment.
The X2 B True Balanced Connection turntable is available now for a suggested retail price of €1,599 (US$1,799), but as with the X8 before it, listeners will also need to option in a 5-pin/XLR cable and balanced phono pre-amp to get the most from the setup.
A €999 "balanced-ready" model is also available, which includes a pre-mounted Pro-Ject S2 Moving Magnet cartridge produced by Ortofon. To become part of a listener's True Balanced system, users will need to swap out the MM cartridge for a MC flavor before connecting it to that optional balanced phono pre-amp/balanced mini-XLR cable combination.