There is one enduring story for which 2019 will be forever remembered. For many, it is an era-defining change that has been a long time coming, the severing of ties to one of the great menaces of our time. Others have protested, prophesising a near-apocalyptic vision of the world should the decision not be overturned post-haste.
But McDonald’s is not the only company to have made a point of ditching plastic: you’ll find none in the plinth, platter or tonearm of Pro-Ject’s new T1 turntable, either.
This is for differing reasons, of course, as you’ll understand if you give this deck an audition. Few will be compelled to throw it to the depths of the ocean, instead, this is part of Pro-Ject’s aim to construct a well built and sonically adept turntable for less than £250.
The CNC machined chassis, available in High-Gloss Black, Satin White and Walnut veneers, not only avoids the use of plastic but, Pro-Ject says, has absolutely no hollow spaces, avoiding unwanted vibrations.
The T1 also shuns plastic or lightweight metalwork with its 8mm blasted glass platter. When lifting it from the box, you’ll notice how satisfyingly weighty the platter is – you almost want to carry it around like a trophy.
It’s only this platter and the belt you need to place on the turntable yourself, so drop it carefully onto the newly-designed sub-platter mounted into a main bearing, toleranced to 0.001mm, with hardened steel axle and brass bushing – as found on Pro-Ject’s successful Essential III decks.
Everything else is done for you. All forces are already set for the included Ortofon OM 5E moving magnet cartridge. The T1’s one-piece aluminium tonearm has a headshell integrated, again to avoid any further unwanted resonances.
Even the power lead and phono cables – Pro-Ject’s own shielded, semi-symmetrical and low-capacitance design – are attached, so you’ll just need a phono stage at the other end.
The T1 is ideal for anyone buying their first turntable, or who don’t want the hassle of construction, but also means you’re a lot closer to sampling the T1’s talents when you get it home.
Those talents will be familiar to anybody who has previously heard one of Pro-Ject’s rather impressive turntables. The T1’s weighty, full-bodied presentation is instantly recognisable, though here it is even more pronounced than usual.
Bass frequencies aren’t the cleanest, leanest or most detailed we’ve heard, and some will prefer a more even balance, but the scale of the low-end is unmistakeable. Kick drums thud, while you’ll feel pulsating bass notes deep in your stomach. It also props up a smooth midrange that treats vocals in particular with a generous and loving hand.
Speeds 33, 45
Manual speed change Yes
Belt drive Yes
Power consumption 3W
Dimensions (hwd) 10 x 41.5 x 33.5cm
On the face of it, this Pro-Ject might seem most at home rendering tracks with lots of low-end, but songs stationed in the middle of the register actually feel most natural. The warmth offered here is pleasant and, while there appears to be some rounding off of the treble, we’re treated to a generally cohesive performance.
Sparser arrangements are also beneficial, however, because this isn’t the most spacious of soundstages and can sometimes be cluttered by a throng of instruments. Detail can be lost, and the presentation somewhat muddied.
A keener eye for timing and organisation might help that. The T1 isn’t messy as such, but it doesn’t quite snap in the same way as its main rival, Rega’s Planar 1. Where the latter locks each part like a jigsaw, the Pro-Ject’s performance is more loosely connected.
The Rega betters the T1 in terms of dynamics too, but then it has bettered most rivals over the past few years. There is still enough feeling here for an entertaining performance, it just isn’t the subtlest performer available for this money.
The Planar 1 doesn’t quite possess Pro-Ject’s ability to wrap its arms around you and hug; it’s a leaner performance, which musically we prefer, but might not sate those coveting a taste of home cooking.
Pro-Ject would also argue the T1 is easier to set up than its Rega rival, and with that we couldn't disagree. It might only be the difference of 15 minutes or so spent gauging weights, but that could understandably be pivotal for those looking for an easy entry into great vinyl sound.
That’s part of why there’s plenty to love about the first deck we’ve reviewed from Pro-Ject’s new T-line. If the T1 decks with in-built phono stages and Bluetooth are comparable sonically, we can predict this to be another successful line from what has become a reliable turntable company.
- Sound 4
- Features 5
- Build 5