Pro-Ject seems intent on creating a turntable to suit absolutely everybody and its range is expanding on a seemingly daily basis. The classic decks, of which the entry-level 2-Xperience Basic+ is now a part, sits somewhere above the Essential and Debut ranges and runs parallel to the RPM series.
The deck itself looks more like a beefed-up Debut, than a member of the RPM series. The Acrylic plinth is roughly the same size as a Debut and is joined by a thick, particle board platter. But there are some neat touches that mark it out as being more upmarket than the Debut. The three spiked feet are high quality and allow for easy and effective levelling, while the motor is a more sizable affair than the smaller models and once up to speed, is impressively quiet. The only slight visual anomaly is the presence of the relatively thick white silicone belt on an otherwise all-black deck. A deliberate move, we’re sure.
The 8.6 tonearm is lifted from the entry-level Essential model (HFC 347). This is a unipviot design (as opposed to the majority of Pro-Ject arms, that use a more conventional bearing arrangement) and it says something of Pro-Ject’s confidence that they have lifted it off a £150 turntable and attached it to a deck that is four times the price. The 8.6 is also mounting a rather more sophisticated cartridge than the basic Ortofon OM5 on the Essential. The Project Pick It is a high-output, moving-coil design and represents an impressive piece of equipment to be fitted to a turntable at this price point.
In the great Pro-Ject tradition, setting up the 2-Xperience basic+ is as simple as can be reasonably expected for a turntable. From opening the box to cueing a record, ought not to take more than twenty minutes, even if done very carefully. The fit and fi nish is also good for the asking price. The piano black surface is smooth and even and all of the components feel fairly solid. The lack of supplied lid, however, is a minor annoyance and the tonearm doesn’t feel as solid as the carbon fibre efforts on the other Xperience decks, although equally, it doesn’t feel like it is going to give way any time soon.
Placement-wise, the deck gives the best results on a separate shelf, but the spiked feet give sufficient isolation to allow for placement on the top of a rack. The deck itself does not seem too affected by footfall or vibration from speakers that can bedevil unsprung designs.
The presentation of the deck is dominated by an openness and space. A real sense of the environment in which a piece was recorded is conveyed. The Pick It cartridge is also extremely quiet and is free of surface noise, which further aids the sense of airiness. This generally gives music space to breathe and allows incidental detail to be easily perceived.
Tonality is good, too. The Pro-Ject handles voices and instruments well and sounds believably real. Where it is less assured is in the bass. What there is of it is fast, tuneful and detailed, but the real low-end shove that some records possess is somewhat absent. This has an effect on the perceived timing. Recordings of any tempo have a pleasing flow to them, but with faster and more energetic material, the Pro-Ject doesn’t necessarily get the toes tapping.
The overall impression of the Pro-ject is of a very natural and unfatiguing-sounding turntable.Perhaps, the biggest issue it has is the newly arrived Rega RP3. This offers sensational performance at a lower price than the 2-Xperience. It isn’t a walkover – the Pro-Ject has a better cartridge supplied as standard and a sense of air and space that the more closed-in RP3 lacks. There is much to like about the 2-Xperience even if it faces stiff competition at the price.
LIKE: Open and natural sound; easy to set up; good cartridge included
DISLIKE: Limited bass extension; no lid as standard
WE SAY: A solid performing deck at a good price, but not without competition
Pro-Ject 2 Xperience
• Acrylic plinth
• Unipivot tonearm
• Pick It high
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