Review: Project 1 Xpression Turntable

Category: Analog

Having been in this hobby since 1957,and once a dealer,have seen a lot of product good,bad and indifferent in 47 years of doing this. In this period of time, in my opinion there are only about fifty products that have stood the test of time and offer to this day extraordinary value in the price/performance category. Certainly Dual,Thorens and Miracord owned that category outright for many years,although some of their products left a lot to be desired. But nonetheless these products established the price/performance category and to this day some of these products from Dual,Thorens,and Miracord command some very high prices in the vintage market place, with some selling for more now, than when they were new. Now thats value.

Enter now the Project 1 Xpression turntable with the Project Carbon Fiber tone arm. Here is a turntable I believe in the years to come will establish itself as one of those hallmark audio items to withstand the test of time. It has already served noticed to the industry,that the bar of performance has been raised considerably and that to compete in this price/perfomance arena, there is little to compete with the Project 1Xpression. At this point in time it clearly outpaces the contenders in the similiar products listed and at $449.00 retail it is a no brainer to pick the Project 1Xpression.

The Project 1 Xpression is a fully contemporary turntable of the time,aware of the errors of the past and firmly placed in the present and future.

The construction and build quality is exemplary at this price range. Plus the Carbon Fiber tone arm, clearly puts the table at the head of the list. Although the supplied Sumiko Oyster Phono Cartridge, is no where near what this table demands. This table just begs for a higher end cartridge and if one should acquire this table, consider the supplied cartridge nothing more than an emergency back up. I feel that a Denon DL 110 would be ideal for this table.

Although in it's matt grey finish and its overall cosmetic,some may deem it a somewhat pedestrian and austere in the overall cosmetics of this table. But rest assured the project 1Xpression is a world class performer, by any standard.

Specs Below:

Pro-Ject 1 Xpression Turntable

Manual Turntable with a Carbon Fiber Tonearm & Pre-Mounted Sumiko Oyster Phono Cartridge

Pro-Ject 1 Xpression Turntable Features:

Cast aluminium platter with felt mat

Low-tolerance chrome-plated stainless-steel axle runs on a polished ball bearing in a brass bearing housing

Motor decoupled to reduce vibration

Available in matt grey

Dust cover included

Pro-Ject 9c Carbon Fiber Tonearm Features:

9" precision tonearm with carbon-fiber armtube

Conical carbon-fiber armtube avoids standing wave reflections

Inverted bearing design with four hardened ABEC7 spec ballraces

Solid armbase permits accurate height adjustment of armtube and VTA (vertical tracing angle)

Single-screw fixing of armtube allows rotation for easy adjustment of needle azimuth despite fixed headshell

Highly flexible top-grade copper internal wiring.

Conical carbon fiber armtube allows adjustment of needle azimuth despite fixed headshell

Vertical tracing angle adjustable

Tonearm bearing comprises inverted hardened stainless-steel points and sapphire thrust-pads

Pro-Ject 1 Xpression Technical Data:

Dust cover yes

Supplied counterweight cartridge weight 4 - 6g

Optional counterweight cartridge weight 6 - 9g

Nominal speeds 33,33/45,11 r.p.m.

Speed variance ±0,5 %

Wow and flutter ±0,1 %

Signal to noise -70dB

Down force range 1 to 3 Grams

Effective tonearm length 8.6 " (218,5mm)

Effective tonearm mass 8.7g

Overhang 18.5mm

Platter weight/diameter 2,2kg/300mm

Dimensions (lid open) 370 x 415 x 400mm

Dimensions (lid closed) 118 x 415 x 320mm

Weight with lid 6,3kg

Mains power supply : 100 - 110V, 60 cycles

Power consumption 2W

So if looking in the Rega P2,P3 or Music Hall MMF 5 or MMF 7, or Goldring GR1, here is a solid alternative at a very nice price and in my opinion clearly and without question is sonicaly superior to these tables. This is not meant to disparage the Regas,Music Hall or Goldring. They are very fine tables and worthy of anyones intention in new turntables on the market today.

However it is my opinion that the Project 1Xpression is a cut above and when it comes to price, there is little to consider.

One can do a lot worse than not choosing the Project 1Xpression and It would be a pity, though, if all the $1,000.00 turntables that are better built but don't sound nearly as a good outlived it to pollute the ears of our children.

Associated gear
Click to view my Virtual System

Similar products
Rega P2,P3, Music Hall MMF 5, MMF 7,Dual CS 455,CS 435. Goldring GR 1, Thorens TD 158

I've same turnable and the same cartridge of pics: Project 1 Xpression and Sumiko Pearl. Could you send me your settings (VTA, tracking force, anti-skiting, ecc.)?
Is it good a clamp for this record-player ?
I can't help but feel this is a cheap table dressed up with a nice arm. And, nice as the arm is, the Rega RB250 and RB300 are now and will remain the gold standards in budget tonearms probably for the rest of our lives. In 2005, a hangy-downy weight on fishing line just seems like cutting corners, not to mention a headshell that's fused on, and not integral like the Regas.

Which brings me back to the Rega tables -- they look better built because they are. Even the dustover is thicker and more durable. But most importantly, they have an all-of-a-piece design with synergy as the goal. If the Xpression works, I feel it does so by accident. Also, my experience with the Czech built Music Halls (made in the same factory, I believe) was downright rotten.

So, if the Xpression does in fact have an edge in sound quality, it's at the expense of long-term reliability and pride of ownership. I'm listening to a 25-year-old Rega Planar 3 right now and it looks and sounds as good as ever -- second only, at the time, to the LP12 (though obviously the state of the art has advanced considerably since). I don't know if any of the Pro-Ject designs will have that kind of longevity. Time will tell.

Finally, there is no upgrade path with the Xpression. With the Regas, you can upgrade the counterweight, try an acrylic platter or take advantage of any number of aftermarket tweaks. I think it says something that the aftermarket ignores Music Hall and Pro-Ject designs. And also that parts and upgrades from the manufacturers are scarce. If I were an owner, I'd be concerned that I was sold a "throwaway" built like a $200 DVD player and meant to be tossed out as soon as it malfunctioned.

I can agree on the Denon DL-110 cartridge -- unquestionably one of the finest HO moving coils made and, along with the DL-160, one of the best values as well.

But for me, Rega stands apart because even their cheapest tables can be a lifetime investment that will be supported by the factory for as long as you own them.

All that said, the more the merrier. Competition only serves to make everyone's products better, and despite my concerns about its build quality and long-term "ownability," the XPression does indeed seem to offer some serious competition.
While the Project Xpression is one fine sounding turntable and I remain impressed with it at its price point. And Ed certainly has made some valid considerations in regard to this table.

However recently I was able to acquire a VPI HW 19 MK II with MK III upgrades with the VPI PLC, that came with the unit. It also has the very nice Technics EPA 100 tone arm as well. So the Project has since moved on. But while it was here it was a delight to use. As far as long term longeivity, reliability and future upgrades remain a question mark for the future.

Certainly the VPI has none of these issues and sonically is several steps beyond the Xpression. However the price differential is substantial. When comapring retail to retail the Xpression is $449.00 while the VPI with the PLC was $1.225.00 when new and the tone arm when new was $380.00.

VPI is a U.S. made product and the service and support is exceedingly good. My many contacts with VPI have reassured me that VPI will be there when I need them. Always easy to talk with and very helpful. This is the kind of service and support I remember from years gone by. Nice to see it is still alive and well at VPI.

But getting back to the Xpression at its price range and for what you get it is very good indeed. Although the Regas certainly remain a contender in this price range. Over the years the Rega tables have become an icon product,little to argue with there. Lets see if the Project in the ensuing years will have the same following as the venerable Rega P3. Maybe for once Project will support this table with upgrades and the like, instead of putting out a table to replace it.
I'd like to buy the 1Xpression but I have not read one "glowing" review of the Sumiko Oyster cart. that is installed on the Xpression. In England they supply the OM10. What to do?
Figure that any cartridge that is included with the sale of a turntable is a startup to get one going. Replace it with a cartridge of higher quality and keep the one that came with it as a back up. For what this table is quality wise I would not spend more that $300.00 on a phono cartridge. Should work well with a Denon DL 110, Shure M97XE,Audio Technica 440, or Sumiko Blue Point or Sumiko Pearl. All of these can be had for well under $300.00 and will add additional performance to this table.

Better yet forget the 1Xpression and get a Rega P3 or Planar 3. Better overall performance and upgrade path is clear and well defined as budget dictates. The Rega RB 300 tonearm is better as well than that on the 1Xpression.

Just my opinion. I think your dollars better spent on Rega.
Would I be crazy in spending extra for the Clearaudio Emotion in lieu of the Xpression? In both cases, I need to find a cartridge which will work harmoniously with either component and not "break the bank." What do you think?

Thanks so much.

I'm holding onto the Emotion as a first choice but a dealer yesterday recommended instead the Thorens 295 MKlV which comes with either the OM10 or the AT-98E cartridge.

Which way do you suggest I go finally?


Can someone give me his/her opinion/experience with the SOTA MOONBEAM/COMET decks?


If all my old records were recorded at 33 and one-third speed, how will a SOTA MOONBEAM work effectively if the table is set at 33 speed?
Another cartridge that one might want to consider for the Xpression table is the Ortofon X5 high output moving coil which lists for $329. I picked one up recently for my Pro-ject RM-5 and am extremely impressed with it. The counterweight on the RM-5's tonearm, which I think is very similar to the tonearm on the Xpression, is as far forward as it will go though because the Ortofon is a very light cartridge (4.1 grams).
Several years back I owned a p3. Together with a Benz Micro Silver cartridge it made me fall in love with my vinyl all over again. What a great table. However after upgrading to a Music Hall MMF7, there was little doubt that it thrashed the p3 in performance. Rega lovers are loyal, but not all that open minded.
I'am ready to purchase a better cartridge for my excelent sounding 1 Xpression Turntable.I'am considering various low output alternatives because my preamp , Audible Illusions Modulus 3a has the optional MC board which will only accept low output moving coils because of its unusually high gain .I've been considering a Denon 103R but I'am not sure if the turntables Carbon Fiber medium mass tonearm would be a good enough match . Can anybody out there in audiogon land help me? By the way , I completely concur with ferrari's assesment of the 1Xpression turntable . It's an extremely musical performer ,way above what one would expect from its price .
Because of the weight of the Denon 103R it may not fit. Unless you have the optional counter weight. The standard counter weight is for 4 to 6 grams of cartridge weight. Overall I would recommend the Benz Micro Gold, which weighs in at 5.7 grams and tracks at 2 grams VTF. Low output MC at 0.4mV Very good Benz signature. Have used one now for about 3 months no problem.
Thanks ferrari for your response. I do have the optional Counterweight so I don't think that the extra weight of the Denon would be a problem. I am however concern with Mass of the tonearm vs compliance of the Denon , being the Denon of very low compliance and the mass of the tonearm on the medium scale of the equation.The Benz Gold together with the Audio Technica oc9 are the other two cartridges that I have considered.Thank you again Ferrari .
After further research the only Denons compatiable with the Project tonearm are Denon DL305, DL1000A, DLS1, DL 304 and DL 103S. The Audio Technica OC9 is not recommended as well. The Benz Micro Gold however is recommeded. Also the Lyra Clavis I have posted on Audiogon will work as well.