“True Balanced” is a key focus for Pro-Ject, aiming to enhance sound quality even on older turntables. This concept involves a fully balanced connection between the cartridge and the phono preamplifier, minimizing interference. Pro-Ject’s True Balanced approach requires components like XLR, mini-XLR, or 5-pin connectors on the turntable, tonearm, phono cable, and phono preamp.
Streamlined Setup: The Pro-Ject X8 Special Edition turntable and Phono Box DS3 B phono preamp were chosen for this review. The Connect it Phono S 5P MiniXLR cable was selected for the connection. The X8’s sleek design and high-quality construction make it an attractive option for vinyl enthusiasts.
X8 Special Edition
|True balanced turntable
|Dimensions (H x W x D):
|Approx. 15 kg
|Ortofon MV Quintet Black
|Pro-Ject 9cc Evolution
|– 33 ⅓ rpm
– 45 rpm
|1 x five-pin socket (5P to RCA cable), replaceable
|Scope of delivery:
|– X8 Special Edition
– Power supply
– 9 inch carbon tonearm
– Ortofon MC Quintet Black
– Phono cable
– Dust cover
|+ True Balanced
+ elegant design
+ excellent workmanship
+ phono cable
+ illustrated instructions
+ height-adjustable feet
+ easy to use
Design and Build Quality
The X8 SE boasts a stunning high-gloss frame, meticulously crafted with no imperfections. Aluminum accents enhance the aesthetic, while height-adjustable feet provide stability. The turntable’s solid MDF chassis and resonance-optimized aluminum platter contribute to its impressive weight and performance.
The design and build quality of the Pro-Ject X8 Special Edition turntable are exemplary, reflecting the manufacturer’s commitment to both aesthetics and performance.
Exquisite Aesthetics: The Pro-Ject X8 SE features an eye-catching high-gloss frame that showcases superb craftsmanship. This frame is so flawlessly constructed that it almost resembles a mirror, devoid of waves, inclusions, or imperfections. The aluminum accents that adorn the frame add a touch of elegance to its appearance. The minimalist and clean design of the turntable contributes to its overall sophistication, making it look more expensive than it is.
Premium Materials: High-quality materials are evident in every aspect of the turntable. The solid MDF chassis forms a sturdy foundation, effectively providing stability and dampening vibrations. An aluminum platter with a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) ring further enhances resonance control. This combination of materials and engineering creates a well-balanced and high-performance turntable.
Functional Design Elements: The Pro-Ject X8 SE incorporates thoughtful design elements that enhance its functionality. Including three height-adjustable and cushioned feet ensures that the turntable can be properly leveled and isolated from vibrations, allowing for optimal playback conditions. These design elements contribute to the turntable’s stability and improve its performance by reducing external interference.
Timeless Elegance: The turntable’s design exudes timeless elegance, making it suitable for various interior settings. Its clean lines and high-gloss finish add a touch of sophistication to any space. The absence of unnecessary embellishments and a focus on simplicity make the X8 SE visually appealing without being overly flashy.
Meticulous Attention to Detail: Pro-Ject’s meticulous attention to detail is apparent in the construction and finish of the X8 SE. The high-gloss frame, aluminum accents, and overall fit and finish demonstrate a commitment to producing a turntable that performs exceptionally well and looks stunning.
In summary, the Pro-Ject X8 Special Edition turntable boasts a design that seamlessly combines aesthetics with functionality. Its use of premium materials, flawless construction, and timeless elegance make it a standout choice for audiophiles who value both performance and visual appeal. The turntable’s build quality is a testament to Pro-Ject’s dedication to delivering a high-quality product that enhances the vinyl listening experience.
Functions and usability
The Pro-Ject X8 Special Edition turntable offers a range of functions and features that contribute to its usability and enhance the vinyl listening experience. Here’s a detailed look at its functions and ease of use:
1. Fully Manual Operation: The X8 SE follows a fully manual operation style, which gives the user complete control over all aspects of playback. This includes manually placing and lifting the tonearm, cueing the stylus onto the record, and returning it to its resting position. While this requires more user involvement, it allows for a deeper connection with the music and a sense of engagement in the vinyl listening process.
2. High-Quality Tonearm: The turntable is equipped with the 9cc Evolution tonearm, crafted from carbon fiber. This tonearm provides exceptional tracking precision and is designed for precise azimuth adjustment. Users can fine-tune the vertical tracking angle and adjust the tracking force to achieve optimal playback performance. These adjustments are straightforward and ensure compatibility with a wide range of cartridges.
3. Ortofon MC Quintet Black Cartridge: The X8 SE comes bundled with the Ortofon MC Quintet Black cartridge, known for its exceptional sound quality and low distortion. This high-quality cartridge is pre-installed, eliminating the need for cartridge alignment and setup making it user-friendly for those new to vinyl.
4. True Balanced Connection: One of the standout features of the X8 SE is its support for True Balanced connection. This fully balanced connection, facilitated by a mini-XLR socket, minimizes electromagnetic interference and ensures an interference-free signal flow from the turntable to the phono preamplifier. This feature enhances audio quality significantly and is easy to set up.
5. Adjustable Feet: The turntable features three height-adjustable and cushioned feet, allowing users to level the turntable and minimize vibrations. Proper leveling is crucial for optimal playback performance, and these adjustable feet make the setup process user-friendly.
6. Symmetrical Signal Paths: The X8 SE provides symmetrical signal paths, allowing users to take full advantage of the True Balanced connection. This feature is useful for minimizing noise and interference in the audio signal, resulting in cleaner and more detailed sound.
7. Easy Cable Connection: Connecting the turntable to a compatible phono preamplifier is straightforward. The mini-XLR socket is recessed in the bottom of the turntable, ensuring a secure connection. Additionally, the turntable comes with a mini-XLR to RCA cable, simplifying the setup process.
8. Adjustability and Versatility: The X8 SE offers various adjustment options, including azimuth adjustment, vertical tracking angle adjustment, and tracking force adjustment. These adjustments cater to audiophiles who wish to fine-tune the turntable’s performance to match their preferences and the characteristics of their vinyl records.
9. User-Friendly Instructions: The turntable includes clear and illustrated instructions for setup and adjustments. This ensures that users, whether beginners or experienced audiophiles, can easily configure the turntable to their liking.
Precision Tonearm and Cartridge: The X8 SE features the 9cc Evolution tonearm, crafted from carbon fiber, allowing for azimuth adjustment. The tonearm’s inverted, height-adjustable bearing further refines its setup. The included Ortofon MC Quintet Black cartridge, known for low distortion, complements the package.
Versatile Connectivity: The X8 SE’s design allows flexible placement options, making it ideal as a room divider. Connecting the turntable to the phono preamp is straightforward, with a mini-XLR socket on the turntable’s underside. A mini-XLR to RCA cable is provided, enabling conventional connection methods if desired.
Advanced Phono Preamp: The Phono Box DS3 B boasts a solid steel chassis with aluminum panels to reduce electromagnetic interference. It offers extensive adjustment options, including termination capacitance and gain settings for various cartridge types. The input impedance can be continuously adjusted, catering to both MM and MC cartridges.
True Balanced Connection: True connections eliminate interference in analog signal paths, ensuring pristine audio quality. This symmetrical setup prevents audible disruptions between tracks and during silent moments. Pro-Ject’s commitment to True Balanced enhances the overall listening experience.
Comparing Signal Paths: A comparison of the unbalanced and symmetrical signal paths revealed subtle yet significant differences. The symmetrical connection provided greater detail, dynamics, and overall sound quality. While the unbalanced path sounded excellent, the symmetrical setup improved neutrality and resolved intricate musical nuances.
In conclusion, the Pro-Ject X8 Special Edition turntable combines user-friendly features with precise adjustability to cater to a wide range of vinyl enthusiasts. Its fully manual operation, high-quality tonearm, True Balanced connection, and bundled Ortofon cartridge make it a compelling choice for those seeking ease of use and outstanding sound quality. Whether new to vinyl or a seasoned audiophile, the X8 SE offers a rewarding and user-friendly vinyl playback experience.
Elevated Listening Experience:
With the symmetrical connection, the X8 SE and Phono Box DS3 B delivered a more engaging and detailed performance. Records came to life with enhanced dynamics and precision. The setup excelled in resolution, capturing fine details and nuances.
Immersive Sound Quality: Various records, including “Running Up That Hill” by Theo Bleckmann, showcased the setup’s immersive soundstage and clarity. The Pro-Ject duo rendered music with exceptional transparency, inviting listeners to explore every element.
Dynamic Bass and Freshness: The Pro-Ject X8 SE and Phono Box DS3 B delivered powerful bass and a sense of freshness and liveliness. Tracks like “This World Today Is A Mess” by Donna Hightower showcased dynamic bass reproduction, creating a lively and captivating listening experience.
Preserving the Magic of Vinyl: The Pro-Ject X8 Special Edition and Phono Box DS3 B combination offered outstanding craftsmanship and sonic performance. The True Balanced connection elevated the listening experience, adding depth and precision. Vinyl enthusiasts can easily upgrade their setup to enjoy a richer and more authentic sound.
The Pro-Ject X8 Special Edition turntable delivers exceptional sound quality that audiophiles and vinyl enthusiasts will appreciate. Its sound characteristics are marked by precision, detail, and an engaging musicality. Here’s an in-depth look at the sound quality and a description of a sound test:
1. Clarity and Detail: The X8 SE impresses with its ability to render audio with utmost clarity and detail. The cartridge’s stylus, in this case, the Ortofon MC Quintet Black, is known for its precision and low distortion. This translates into a rich and detailed soundstage where every nuance of the music is faithfully reproduced. Instruments and vocals are well-defined and easily distinguishable.
2. Musicality and Engagement: Beyond its technical prowess, the X8 SE delivers an engaging and musical listening experience. It balances analytical precision and emotional engagement, allowing listeners to connect deeply with the music. Whether playing classical compositions or rock classics, the turntable brings a sense of musicality that makes the listening experience enjoyable and immersive.
3. Bass Response: The turntable’s bass response is noteworthy, offering a controlled and articulate low end. It reproduces bass frequencies accurately, delivering the punch and depth in the original recordings. The bass is tight and well-extended, enhancing the overall musicality of the playback.
4. Midrange Clarity: The midrange frequencies are beautifully rendered, focusing on clarity and transparency. Vocals, in particular, benefit from the X8 SE’s midrange performance. They are lifelike and expressive, allowing singers’ nuances and emotions to shine through. The midrange presence adds warmth and character to the sound.
5. Treble Precision: The treble frequencies are handled with precision and finesse. High-frequency details are crisp and well-defined without ever becoming harsh or fatiguing. Cymbals shimmer realistically, and delicate high-frequency instruments are presented with precision.
Sound Test: Consider a specific sound test scenario to evaluate the Pro-Ject X8 Special Edition’s sound quality. Imagine playing a vinyl record with a well-recorded jazz trio performance. Here’s what you might experience:
As you gently place the needle on the record, you’re immediately greeted by the subtle sounds of instruments being prepared—the gentle clinking of cymbals and the pianist adjusting their seat. These delicate details are faithfully reproduced, setting the stage for what’s to come.
As the jazz trio begins to play, you’ll notice the upright bass delivering deep, resonant tones with precision and control. Each pluck of the bass strings is felt and heard, adding to the authenticity of the performance.
With its intricate chords and melodic runs, the piano is rendered with clarity and precision. You can follow the pianist’s fingers as they dance across the keys, and the tonal nuances of the piano are fully revealed.
The drum kit, including the delicate brushwork on the snare drum and the subtle shimmer of the ride cymbal, is captured with lifelike detail. The X8 SE’s ability to resolve micro-details allows you to fully appreciate the drummer’s artistry.
As the saxophonist enters with a melodic solo, you’ll be struck by the instrument’s expressiveness and the raw emotion conveyed in each note. The turntable’s midrange clarity and precision make the saxophone’s performance truly captivating.
The Pro-Ject X8 Special Edition remains unobtrusive throughout the performance, allowing you to immerse yourself fully in the music. It faithfully reproduces the recording’s dynamics, preserving the subtleties and nuances that make this jazz trio performance a true musical journey.
In summary, the Pro-Ject X8 Special Edition turntable offers a sound quality characterized by clarity, detail, engaging musicality, and faithful reproduction of instruments and vocals. Its performance shines across all frequency ranges, making it a superb choice for audiophiles and music enthusiasts seeking a top-tier vinyl playback experience.
The Pro-Ject X8 Special Edition’s impeccable design and performance, combined with the benefits of True Balanced connections, make it a compelling choice for audiophiles. With minimal effort, this turntable and phono preamp duo can transform your vinyl listening experience, revealing hidden details and enhancing overall enjoyment. Pro-Ject’s commitment to innovation ensures that your vinyl collection will shine, making it a worthwhile investment for the future.
- Exceptional Sound Quality: The Pro-Ject X8 Special Edition delivers outstanding sound quality, characterized by clarity, detail, and musicality, making it an excellent choice for audiophiles.
- True Balanced Connection: Including a True Balanced connection ensures interference-free signal transmission, reducing noise and enhancing audio fidelity.
- High-Quality Components: This turntable features a carbon tonearm and comes with the renowned Ortofon MC Quintet Black cartridge, offering high-quality materials for precise playback.
- Flexible Setup Options: The X8 SE allows for unbalanced and symmetrical (True Balanced) connections, providing flexibility to users based on their preferences and equipment.
- Build Quality: The turntable boasts solid construction, including a resonance-optimized aluminum plate, delivering durability and stability for optimal performance.
- Price: The Pro-Ject X8 Special Edition falls into a higher price range, which may be less accessible to budget-conscious consumers.
- Complex Setup: While the turntable offers flexibility in connection options, setting up the True Balanced connection may require some technical knowledge, potentially posing a challenge for beginners.
- Cartridge Cost: The included Ortofon MC Quintet Black cartridge is of high quality but has a relatively high replacement cost, which should be considered for long-term ownership.
- Maintenance: Like all vinyl record players, the X8 SE requires regular maintenance, including cartridge alignment and stylus cleaning, to ensure optimal performance.
- Limited Features: The turntable focuses primarily on delivering exceptional sound quality, which means it may lack some advanced features in more feature-rich turntables, such as built-in phono preamps or USB connectivity.
While the Pro-Ject X8 Special Edition offers remarkable sound quality and flexibility, potential buyers should weigh its advantages against the price and consider their level of expertise in setting up and maintaining a True Balanced connection. Additionally, ongoing costs, such as cartridge replacement, should be factored into the overall ownership experience.