Today I have a new turntable to present in a new Pro-Ject Automat A1 Review.
- 1 Intro
- 2 Pro-Ject Automat A1 Specifications
- 3 Construction & Design
- 4 Pro-Ject Automat A1 Set Up
- 5 The Ortofon Cartridge
- 6 Manufacturing Quality
- 7 Pro-Ject Automat A1 Video Review
- 8 Final Verdict
Many DJs prefer to use turntables that are manual and have no automation. They manually place the needle on the record and rarely use the tonearm lift, which is a feature that gently lowers the cartridge on most DJ turntables since the Technics 1200 series set the standard.
However, not all vinyl lovers are DJs and some may want a simple and convenient record player for their home that does not have a pitch fader or a scratch-capable direct drive. That is why I decided to test the new Pro-Ject Automat A1, a stylish player that has a fully automatic and belt drive.
The Pro-Ject Automat A1 is a fully automatic belt-driven turntable. It features an ultra-light aluminum tonearm, a carbon fiber reinforced polymer headshell, a built-in switchable phono preamplifier and a pre-assembled Ortofon OM10 cartridge. What makes it so special?
Pro-Ject Automat A1 Specifications
- Speeds: 33, 45 (electronically switchable)
- Drive Type: Belt-drive, fully automatic
- Turntable: Damped aluminum platter
- Wow & Flutter: 33: +/-0.27%; 45: +/-0.25%
- Speed Variance: 33: +/-0.75%; 45: +/-0.65%
- Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 65 dB
- Tonearm: Ultra-Light Mass 8.3″ Aluminum Tonearm
- Cartridge: Ortofon OM10
- Tonearm Length: 211 mm
- Overhang: 19.5 mm
- Accessories: Ortofon OM10 Cartridge, 15V DC / 0.8A Power Supply, Foldable Dust Cover, Single Adapter, Felt Slipmat, RCA Phono Cable with Grounding Wire
- Power Consumption: 1.5 W
- Dimensions: 430 x 130 x 365 mm (WxHxD)
- Weight: 5.6 kg (net)
Ortofon OM10 Specifications
- Type: Moving Magnet
- Stylus Type: Elliptical
- Frequency Range: 20 – 24,000 Hz
- Frequency Response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
- Channel Balance: 1.5 dB / 1 kHz
- Channel Separation: 22 dB / 1 kHz
- Channel Separation: 15 dB / 15 kHz
- Output Voltage: 4 mV
- Load Resistance: 47 kOhms
- Inductance: 580 mOhms
- Recommended Tracking Force: 15 mN
- Compliance: Lateral 25µm/mN
- Weight: 2.5 g
- Compatible with Ortofon OM 20/30/40 stylus
You can download the manual here->Pro-Ject Automat A1 Manual
Construction & Design
The Pro-Ject Automat A1 arrives relatively complete in a simple brown box. Included in the package are a 15V DC / 0.8A power supply, a dust cover with hinges, and a single adapter. The included Ortofon OM10 cartridge is already pre-mounted, the very thin felt slipmat is already placed on the turntable, and the RCA phono cable with grounding wire is securely connected to the A1. The only assembly required is to click together the hinges and attach the dust cover gently. Otherwise, no further assembly is necessary, following the “plug-and-play” principle.
The Automat A1 features a fully automatic start-stop system in which the automatic mechanism is completely disengaged throughout the entire playing time of the record. It only comes into play during the start and return processes. By using the start lever, the mechanical automation is activated, and the tonearm is magically guided into the groove of the record. Once the needle reaches the end of the record, it is automatically retracted, and the turntable is subsequently turned off. This means there is no risk of the needle continuing to rotate all night or scraping loudly against the inner label.
On the flat white surface, to the right of the turntable, you’ll find the transport block with the lightweight 8.3-inch aluminum tonearm, the headshell made of rigid carbon fiber-reinforced polymer, and the Ortofon OM10 cartridge. Tracking force and anti-skating are pre-set from the factory.
Additional controls include the start-stop lever, a lever for adjusting the two speeds, 33 RPM for 12-inch LPs, and 45 RPM for 7-inch singles, as well as the dampened record-lift lever. Even with the compact placement of these controls, the design of the wooden chassis minimizes empty spaces. Combined with the damped aluminum platter, this should ensure that unwanted resonances are reduced to a minimum.
For the available connections, Pro-Ject has opted for a high-quality solution: the in-house thick, transparent Connect it E phono cable is permanently attached to the A1, eliminating the need for a separate cable connection. The two RCA connectors are individually gold-plated with 24-karat gold for a secure connection.
The high-purity, semi-balanced Connect It E cable boasts low capacitance, effective shielding, and an integrated grounding wire, and is also available separately.
All the permanently installed components of the Automat A1 are of high-quality construction. Cost-cutting measures have been implemented where users can easily make improvements themselves: the “puck” is a cheap plastic part, and the slipmat is quite thin. However, both of these can be readily replaced. For instance, the slipmat can be upgraded with turntable platter mats made of natural cork or leather, which are also available from Pro-Ject.
The A1 is a “Local Hero” as it is handcrafted in Germany, and according to the manufacturer, about 98% of its components are also manufactured here.
Integrated Phono Preamp of the Pro-Ject Automat A1
The A1 features a built-in switchable phono preamplifier, allowing it to be used with both line-level and phono inputs. The switching is done via a small switch located beneath the turntable platter. It would have been nice to have an additional USB port in conjunction with the dedicated preamplifier for direct vinyl-to-computer digitization. However, this would require additional peripherals.
Pro-Ject Automat A1 Set Up
The Pro-Ject Automat A1 gets up to play super quickly. You really only need to pay attention to whether the internal phono preamp is turned on or off, and then you’re ready to roll. Just place the record, engage the start lever, and the turntable starts up fully automatically. The needle starts moving, landing accurately on the record’s lead-in groove. This whole process takes about 13 seconds.
The return journey from the run-out groove back to the resting position of the needle also takes time. It finally switches off automatically after approximately 14 seconds. So, the A1 isn’t a turntable for the impatient; it requires patience, but it rewards that patience with enjoyment.
The Ortofon Cartridge
The sound quality is truly impressive because Pro-Ject doesn’t skimp and ships the A1 with a pre-installed and perfectly adjusted Ortofon OM10 cartridge.
This cartridge is compatible with the higher-grade OM 20/30/40 styluses, which can significantly enhance the audio quality of the A1.
However, it’s worth noting that an OM40 stylus, priced at around $650, costs more than the turntable itself. In any case, with the Automat A1, you’re getting a turntable with room for upgrades and substantial potential.
There’s nothing to complain about when it comes to mechanical quality either. The elegantly simple white finish complements Scandinavian furniture designs exceptionally well and almost visually disappears on my IKEA sideboard. It’s pure understatement.
In full-automatic turntables, motor power is typically not the primary concern, as scratching isn’t the focus here. The platter turns smoothly thanks to the belt drive, and the full automation is ideal for easy listening through entire album sides.
However, when we want to listen to a specific track, we use the damped needle drop lever. While it may not feel particularly high-end, it reliably places the needle above the desired blank groove. By the way, it’s also very close to the run-out groove, where some full-automatic turntables start their return journey. That’s a plus.
Pro-Ject Automat A1 Video Review
The Automat A1 is explicitly labeled by Pro-Ject as an entry-level turntable, but this entry is at a pleasantly high level. The components are well-chosen in terms of quality, and the design is clean and unadorned. There’s nothing to complain about in terms of sound quality already, and for those who desire a better cartridge, an upgrade to the Ortofon OM40 is possible. I really like the simple and elegant design, and so I would recommend the A1 to any vinyl enthusiast – except for DJs. It’s worth noting that the white model from Pro-Ject comes at an additional cost. For those who want a more budget-friendly option or simply prefer black, you can go for the Pro-Ject A1 Black.
Pro-Ject Automat A1 Review
- High-quality audio playback
- Affordable price
- Simple operation
- Ideal for leisurely listening
- Not suitable for DJ use
- Limited automatic features