For anyone who has not gotten into vinyl because the idea of setting up or operating a turntable scared them, the Pro-Ject A1 will be the perfect solution. This is a true performance turntable that is fully automatic, and incredibly easy to use. It will take great care of your records while delivering wonderful sound.
An Automatic Turntable for Vinyl Lovers
From the best-selling brand of audiophile turntables, the A1 is the perfect turntable for anyone worried about how to use a turntable. Unlike most Automatic turntables, the A1 is a real turntable with great performance. Just push play and enjoy beautiful vinyl sound.
The Best of Automatic & Manual
All past Automatic turntables had a mechanical component that added noise or friction to the system. The A1 uses a unique mechanism that totally disengages while the record is playing. This gives you the performance that has made Pro-Ject turntables famous and the ease of use of a fully Automatic turntable.
Total Plug & Play
We can not imagine a turntable being any easier to set up than the A1. Everything is pre-adjusted so literally, all you have to do is unpack it, plug in the power cord and cables to your speakers or receiver and push play.
Overview and Company History
Pro-Ject Audio launched its first product in 1991, the Pro-Ject One. This was a very well-designed turntable made to offer outstanding sound for the money with no frills. It was a huge success, which led to their Debut series of turntables being introduced in the late ’90s. Anyone who is into great turntables has heard of the name Pro-Ject as they have become the best-selling audiophile turntable brand in the world.
And, what is even more interesting, in this day and age of globalization, Pro-Ject turntables are all completely assembled in their factories in Europe with Pro-Ject even sourcing raw materials from local suppliers.
Design & Build Quality
The Automat A1 is certainly a unique turntable for Pro-Ject to introduce. Most audiophiles cringe when they hear the word “fully Automatic turntable”. We have to admit, we thought, “what the heck” when we first heard about this new turntable, but after learning from Pro-Ject as to why they wanted to come out with it and then finding out how they implemented the Automatic system, we got it.
Pro-Ject’s goal as a company is to introduce people to the joys of listening to music on a system that sounds great. Like our team at Audio Advice, they are all into vinyl and the fun it can bring and want as many people as possible to experience it. They felt like there was a large group of people who wanted to enjoy vinyl but were just scared of damaging either the fragile stylus or their records. While we feel like it is really not that hard at all to use a manual turntable, we understand how some people could feel that way.
For those of you just jumping into turntables, we should explain what we mean. If a turntable is manual, this means you must push the power button, then move the tonearm over the record lead in the groove and gently lower the arm onto the record surface using the cue lever. When the record ends, you must use the cue lever to lift up the arm. Fully Automatic turntables are just the opposite. You push one button and the arm moves over to the right spot all by itself, then when the record ends, the arm Automatically lifts up and returns to its rest. These have a big advantage too — if you decide to move to another room and just let the record play, you don’t have to worry about rushing back to lift up the stylus at the end.
The problem in the world of fully Automatic turntables, up until now, is all of them had mechanical systems that would interfere with the turntables’ tonearm being friction-free and reducing sound quality.
The new Automat A1 is Pro-Ject’s first turntable using an Automatic system that has zero detrimental effect on the sound.
One of the most impressive parts about this turntable is the fact it is 100% assembled in Germany with 99% of the components used either made in their factory or sourced from local companies, with the exception of the Denmark-made Ortofon phono cartridge. While the Automat A1 does not have the same fine watch-like fit and finish as Pro-Ject’s higher-end turntables, it is extremely well put together for its cost with some components you typically only see on more expensive turntables.
Features & Technology
The big feature of the Automat A1 is of course the fact that it is fully Automatic. The technology Pro-Ject pulled from their vast knowledge of turntables, along with the zero interference Automat system, is what makes it really impressive.
We like to start with the bottom and work up, so here we go.
Pro-Ject developed some tech for better damping feet for their new Evo turntables in 2021. Damping feet help keep external vibrations out of the turntable which can degrade the sound, especially when you crank up the volume. The version of the feet for the Automat A1 uses a silicone layer to decouple the turntable from the surface it is sitting on.
The plinth that holds the turntable parts is another important component of a turntable. In the A1, it is made from MDF panels glued together to reduce resonance. It’s a basic black, but nicely finished.
The platter is really pretty cool and gets trickle-down tech from the bigger Pro-Ject tables. It’s a German-made aluminum piece that has a special damping ring installed around the perimeter to both reduce resonance and improve speed stability with a better flywheel effect. The great part is each platter is individually balanced and tuned to deliver very low wow and flutter. That is something you normally only see on more expensive turntables.
The belt drive motor system is isolated from the platter bearing, to again reduce noise and resonance.
Moving on to the tonearm, it is an 8.3” low mass aluminum design. The headshell is made from a carbon fiber-reinforced polymer. Pro-Ject chose the Ortofon OM10 moving magnet phono cartridge, which is a very good value cartridge. We also like the fact you could upgrade it later when you go to replace the stylus by going with the stylus for the OM20 cartridge. This particular series of cartridges were designed for low-mass arms like we have on the A1.
Now here is the part where Pro-Ject leaned towards ease of use over future upgradeability. Everything on the arm is fixed, there is no way to adjust tracking force, tonearm height, or anti-skate. The big plus of this is that the A1 is totally plug and play, with no adjustments needed for setup. The con of course is you have to stick with the OM cartridges. In our minds, this was the right choice for an entry-level turntable like this as it makes it just so simple to install.
We were super impressed when we looked at the back and saw Pro-Ject chose their Connect It E cables for the leads. We expected a basic set of cables here, but these are purpose-made cables just for turntables that cost about $60 separately and are great cables.
The Automat A1 also has a built-in phono preamp you can turn on with a switch located under the platter. It comes with this engaged, which means you can connect the A1 up to powered speakers, or an amp that does not have a phono preamp. We think the A1 will be very popular with some of our great powered speakers as a simple, easy-to-use vinyl rig.
To operate the A1, you simply choose 33 or 45 and push start. The platter will start spinning, the Automat mechanism will engage to move the tonearm over the record, then lower it. The great part is, right after the arm drops, the Automat system is completely disengaged. When the record ends, the Automat system kicks back in and safely returns the arm to its rest. Should you wish to raise or lower the arm manually, there is a cue lever and there also is a stop lever that will bring the arm back and shut things down. All and all a great system that makes playing vinyl a piece of cake!
Unpacking and setting up the Automat A1 was just as easy as Pro-Ject told us it would be. All you have to do is remove a protective piece or two, connect it to power and your powered speakers or receiver, take off the stylus guard, and push play.
We also discovered the A1 can be used as a semi-Automatic turntable. When you move the tonearm over, the platter Automatically starts spinning and will still lift up and shut off at the end of the record.
Being the critical audiophiles that we are, we had to play around with the tonearm and see how well damped the platter was, but that is really not what the Automat A1 is all about. From the first record we played, we could instantly tell, the A1 is a real turntable capable of pulling out the sound from vinyl we know and love.
The first thing that struck us was how right it got rhythm and pacing. We were literally tapping our toes to an Automatic turntable, a definite first! To see how well it was isolated from acoustic feedback, we cranked things up using some large full range speakers and never had a trace of feedback. Pretty darn impressive.
We have always felt Ortofon cartridges were very good performers for the money and it’s no surprise Pro-Ject chose the OM10 for this model. It tracks really well and is able to pull those tiny little musical details out of the record grooves. We played some complex vocal tracks and the A1 was able to reveal the subtle harmonies we knew were there.
We suspect some people will be compelled to compare the Automat A1 to Pro-Jects other turntables in roughly the same price category, the Debut EVO. In our minds, there is no comparison, the EVO is hands down a better turntable in all aspects, but if you want an Automatic turntable to take all the worries away, the EVO will never be that turntable.
In the end, our assessment was, the Automat A1 just does not do anything wrong. It lets the music flow through with that ease you expect from a good turntable while being fun to listen to and a pleasure to use.
We are 100% convinced Pro-ject accomplished exactly what they set out to do with the A1, getting more people to experience the joy of vinyl. If you have been thinking about jumping into vinyl but have been worried about not having the skill to set up or use a manual turntable, the Automat A1 is the answer you have been looking for. You will be able to hear what draws people to the sound of vinyl while starting to grow your record collection.
However, Pro-Ject and other good turntable companies make manual turntables that are better performers. If you are not worried about your skills, please stick with a manual turntable choice.
We have a feeling many people who start out with the A1 will realize, a turntable is nothing to be scared of and will eventually get a better manual turntable. But for anyone who is scared of a turntable, the Automat A1 will make you fearless!
Audio Advice is an authorized dealer of high-performance audio products from great brands around the world. If you have questions or need audio advice, you can chat with an expert at AudioAdvice.com, call us or visit one of our world-class showrooms.
The Automat technology in the A1 allows Pro-Ject to finally bring the Pro-Ject sound and philosophy to an entirely new audience. All the pieces of the super-complex automatics are entirely built and assembled by hand in Germany by a traditional manufacture, known for their superb reliability and outstanding sound quality. The chance to get access to this technology is a once in a lifetime opportunity and allows Pro-Ject to reach new pinnacles in automatic turntable design. And It all starts with the A1.
It has fully automatic start/stop with the automatics being completely disengaged and decoupled during the entire runtime of the record. The fully mechanical automatics are engaged when you press start and the tonearm is automatically moved to the lead in groove of the record. Once playing, the automatics are completely taken out of the equation and are not affecting the playback quality - the free movement of the tonearm and platter - at all! And because the automatics are working entirely mechanically – no additional electronics needed – they are truly not influencing or degrading sound quality during playback!
Controlled 33/45 RPM speeds
In typical Pro-Ject fashion, the motor is electronically controlled for the most accurate and stable playback speeds. Easily switch between 33 and 45 RPM with the push of a button.
Switchable built-in phono preamp
The built-in phono preamp makes the A1 incredibly versatile and allows you to connect it directly to any input on your amplifier or to an active speaker-set. The phono preamp can also be switched off, which allows you to use your own phono preamp or your amplifier’s phono input.
Ultra-light-mass aluminium tonearm
The A1 features an 8.3” ultra-light-mass aluminium tonearm. Together with the Ortofon OM10, which fits this design principle perfectly, we get extraordinary fast response and detail in terms of transients and microdynamics. A little-known fact is that the OM series of cartridges have their developmental roots and legacy in ultra-light-mass tonearm designs.
Tracking force and anti-skating are factory pre-adjusted which make the A1 plug & play ready within a few seconds. This makes it perfect for vinyl beginners and experienced listeners alike as the sound quality is carried by all the audiophile features the A1 has on offer.
Carbon fiber reinforced anti-magnetic headshell
The headshell is a completely new design especially for the A1. It is made of carbon fiber reinforced polymer which makes it super stable and rigid, all while keeping the weight at a lowest to work perfectly with the ultra-light-mass tonearm design. The polymer/carbon composite material results in excellent internal damping of resonances.
Heavy MDF chassis
The wooden chassis consists of the upper outer console made out of 8mm thick MDF panels. The automatics, platter bearing and tonearm are mounted on a solid and 2cm thick MDF base plate.Hollow spaces are avoided wherever possible, with just enough space to precision fit all the inner workings of the A1. As a result, the chassis’ heavy mass reduces unwanted resonances to a minimum and decouples the A1 from outside influences.
Semi-symmetrical phono cable with gold plated connectors
The A1 comes with our Connect it E phono cable. It is a semi-balanced, low-capacitance cable, with superior shielding. Compared to other digital and analog music sources, the signal coming from a turntable cartridge is very fragile in nature and cheap RCA cables often do not provide the ideal conditions for getting a phono signal to an amplifier.
The Connect it E is purpose-designed for this exact application and unique in this price class.
Damped aluminium platter
The aluminium platter is 100% made in Germany. In three operations it is first stamped, bent and perforated. After that, it goes directly to our next local German supplier for phosphating and de-oiling. A damping ring on the inside is added to increase weight and reduce resonances.
In an extra step, it is then turned and precision balanced to receive its fine edges and lowest wow and flutter deviations. Finally, it receives its smooth paint job, adding to the all-black stylish and clean looks of the A1.
New feet with silicon damping
The new feet effectively decouple the turntable from the surface it is placed on using an internal silicon damping layer. This is an essential feature for every good turntable as it acts as yet another mechanism to ensure your vinyl playback is not influenced by outside interference and resonances.
Handmade in Germany
The A1 is fully handmade in Germany and looks back on decades of experience in turntable manufacturing. 100% assembled and adjusted by some of the best engineers the branch has to offer.
Even all the individual components of the A1 are 98- 99% made and produced in Germany – in the factory and its immediate vicinity. The entire region is so rich in turntable tradition resulting in totally unique quality and products. We can build on this tradition and develop it further. Fuse it with Pro-Ject technology and ideas. Set new standards in automatic turntable design.
The A1 is the beginning of a new Pro-Ject story.
- Speed: 33, 45 (electronic speed change)
- Drive principle: belt drive, fully automatic
- Platter: damped aluminium platter
- Wow & flutter: 33: +/-0,27%; 45: +/-0,25%
- Speed drift: 33: +/-0,75%; 45: +/-0,65%
- Signal to noise: 65dB
- Tonearm: ultra-light-mass 8.3” aluminium tonearm
- Effective arm length: 8.3"
- Overhang: .77"
- Included accessories: 15V DC / 0,8A power supply, dust cover, 7‘‘ single adapter, feltmat, phono cable
- Power consumption: 1,5W
- Turntable Dimensions:
16.93 in x 5.12 in x 14.37 in (W x H x D)
15.625 in H with dust cover open
12.35 pounds NET weight
- Package Dimensions: 21 in x 9.25 in H x 19.25 in D, 15.4 pounds gross weight (7kg)
- Weight: 12.35 lb net
|Phono Stage Built-In||Yes|