Downsides? If you frequently switch between 33 revolutions per minute and 45 rpm, then the T1 BT might be frustrating. Unlike most turntables, there’s no simple switch that toggles between speeds. Instead, you need to remove the glass platter, hook the belt drive to a different part of the motor pulley, and put the platter back in place. I don’t have any 45 rpm records, so this isn’t an issue for me.
The bigger problem is the lack of an auto-stop feature, something that’s found on many entry-level turntables (like the Fluance) but is somewhat rare on pricier record players. When one side of the record ends and the tonearm heads into the run-out area of a record, my Fluance RT80 stops the platter from spinning. The T1 BT doesn’t stop until you manually toggle the switch off. I’ve come to not mind this as much now, but I initially had to get used to standing up and walking over to it to turn it off. There have been a few occasions where I left it spinning a good deal after the record stopped, which reduces the life span of the stylus ever so slightly. It does mean I listen even more intently, which may be a good thing.
Whenever I use the aluminum tonearm, precision is the word that comes to mind. The locking mechanism that keeps the tonearm resting securely in its cradle is a lot more elegant than the flimsier one on the RT80. Also, moving the Pro-Ject’s tonearm over a record just feels more, well, precise. It doesn’t flail around, which sometimes happens on the Fluance.
Pushing the cueing lever down is satisfying too, as the needle floats gently down into the groove. Better yet, the factory-installed Ortofon OM5e cartridge doesn’t have a huge headshell, so I can actually see the stylus needle. That makes it easier to place it at the correct starting point of a record, which I sometimes had trouble with on the RT80.
Elegant Looks, Warm Sound
From the first record I played (Arcade Fire’s soundtrack for Spike Jonze’s Her), I picked up a slightly wider soundstage from the T1 BT over the Fluance. I noticed slightly less surface noise, and while songs overall sounded clearer, bass can occasionally get overwhelming. To be fair, I connected it to Klipsch the Fives speakers, which are very bass-heavy.
The pleasant, warm sound still comes through. But is the overall music fidelity leaps and bounds better than the cheaper RT80 I was previously using? No. It’s a noticeable but very, very small improvement. The problem is, if you spend just $50 more, you can get one of the best-sounding turntables out there at the moment: Pro-Ject’s very own Debut Carbon Evo, which my colleague Parker Hall raves about. It uses higher-quality materials, like a carbon-fiber tonearm, but with no built-in phono preamp, it does require a little more setup (and potentially more cash).
The T1 BT is nicer for newcomers, but there are much cheaper turntables you can buy with more features. Regardless, Pro-Ject Audio has them beat in design and feel. The T1 is just much more pleasant to touch and use, and the satin white and walnut finishes are gorgeous. (If you don’t care for Bluetooth, the standard T1 is a full $100 cheaper.)
That said, there’s something even more special with the Houseplant-styled model. The eggshell-like matte texture of the finish is lovely, and the slightly off-white plinth generates a wave of nostalgia as if it rode a time-traveling rainbow straight from the ’80s. The bit of color gives it some pizzazz and makes the Fluance look positively dreary next to it. It’s a statement piece, and it’s freaking Seth Rogen’s record player.
Houseplant says its record player is a limited run, so if you like the look, you’ll want to grab it fast. The company says it’s deliberating whether or not to produce more once the current stock sells out.