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Pro-Ject AUTOMAT A1 – The first fully automatic record player

The Pro-Ject AUTOMAT A1 is a completely new chapter in the long history of Pro-Ject Audio Systems. For the first time, a so-called fully automatic record player bearing the Pro-Ject Audio Systems logo is available.

The new Pro-Ject AUTOMAT A1 is not only the first product to emerge from the exclusive cooperation signed between Audio Tuning Vertriebs GmbH and Fehrenbacher GmbH in autumn 2021 – here is our detailed report – it is also a solution with which Pro-Ject Audio Systems is breaking new ground.

The new Pro-Ject AUTOMAT A1 is the first turntable designed as a so-called fully automatic record player, bearing the Pro-Ject Audio Systems name. Until now, Pro-Ject Audio Systems relied solely on purely manual turntables, and that after all since the founding year 1991.

Pro-Ject AUTOMAT A1 – Paradigm shift?

The fact that Pro-Ject Audio Systems has so far been such a vehement advocate of purely manual turntables has, of course, good reasons from the company’s point of view. Pro-Ject Audio Systems has always pursued the goal of developing the best-sounding solutions at prices that are affordable for many users.

In doing so, it was important to concentrate first and foremost on the really decisive features of a solution, to set the focus of the developers here in order to achieve the most attractive price point possible, while at the same time offering the best possible sound. In the case of a record player, for example, this means deliberately making do with a purely manual drive, and this has been the strategy pursued by Pro-Ject Audio Systems for years.

The development of the market, however, shows that an ever-increasing number of customers also attach great importance to simple handling and maximum comfort in use, especially those users who see records as part of a modern lifestyle.

From the point of view of Pro-Ject Audio Systems, the range of automatic record players grew noticeably, with the majority of these solutions coming from the Far East and, in the opinion of the world market leader in record players, not meeting the quality that is ultimately decisive for appealing music reproduction from records.

Exclusive cooperation with Fehrenbacher GmbH

The cooperation that Audio Tuning Vertriebs GmbH, the parent company of Pro-Ject Audio Systems, was able to conclude with the German company Fehrenbacher GmbH in autumn 2021 proved to be perfect.

“If someone had told us a year ago that Pro-Ject Audio Systems would produce a fully automatic turntable, we would have confidently declared them crazy. But times change and technology evolves too.”

Pro-Ject Audio Systems

Pro-Ject AUTOMAT as a new product line

Part of the agreement between Audio Tuning Vertriebs GmbH and Fehrenbacher GmbH is the establishment of a completely new product line of the Pro-Ject Audio Systems brand, namely the new Pro-Ject AUTOMAT Series, the name of which already indicates that it now includes fully automatic record players. The new Pro-Ject AUTOMAT A1 is the starting signal.

Foto © Pro-Ject Audio Systems | Pro-Ject AUTOMAT A1
Foto © Pro-Ject Audio Systems | Pro-Ject AUTOMAT A1

New standards in the design of automatic record players

The declared aim of the Pro-Ject AUTOMAT Series product line is to develop automatic record players without sacrificing sound quality. This is made possible by the reliable technology of the German specialist Fehrenbacher GmbH, which has been optimised over many years, combined with the sound and philosophy of Pro-Ject Audio Systems. According to Pro-Ject Audio Systems, this makes it possible to reach completely new customers and make high-quality hi-fi at affordable prices palatable to them.

The new Pro-Ject AUTOMAT A1 is the starting signal for this strategy, says Pro-Ject Audio Systems in the corresponding press release.

The Pro-Ject AUTOMAT technology

A very decisive feature of the new Pro-Ject AUTOMAT A1 is that it relies on an automatic control unit, which is actually only used when it is required as a start and stop, while it is completely off and decoupled during the actual playback of the record.

The fully automatic control unit is activated when the start button is pressed and the tone arm moves automatically to the infeed groove. During playback, the mechanism is completely decoupled and does not affect the playback quality – the free movement of tonearm and turntable – in any way, according to the manufacturer’s promise. And because the automatic system is completely mechanical – no additional electronics are needed – it does not affect or degrade sound quality during playback.

Solid chassis

The Pro-Ject AUTOMAT A1 relies on a heavy wooden chassis, according to the manufacturer, with explicit reference to avoiding hollow spaces. All components are precisely embedded in the cabinet to lose as little mass as possible. A high mass ultimately ensures that unwanted resonances are reduced to a minimum.

The chassis rests on newly developed feet with silicone damping. This provides optimal decoupling, which is crucial for the best possible reproduction of any record player free from external influences.

Damped aluminium platter

Aluminium is used for the turntable, which is manufactured in three steps. First, it is stamped, bent and perforated, then a damping ring is inserted on the inside to increase weight and minimise resonance. Then the platter is turned and precision-balanced, the edges are polished and finally a smooth lacquer finish is applied.

According to the manufacturer, all this takes place in Germany, and the entire turntable is manufactured in Germany, to a large extent by hand.

  • Foto © Pro-Ject Audio Systems | Pro-Ject AUTOMAT A1
  • Foto © Pro-Ject Audio Systems | Pro-Ject AUTOMAT A1
  • Foto © Pro-Ject Audio Systems | Pro-Ject AUTOMAT A1

Electronically controlled motor

Of course, the new Pro-Ject AUTOMAT A1 is equipped with an electronically controlled motor, so that you can select the speed between 33 and 45 revolutions per minute at the push of a button. The turntable described above is rotated by means of a belt.

Ultra-light aluminium tonearm

It is interesting to note that Pro-Ject Audio Systems uses a very special tonearm for the new Pro-Ject AUTOMAT A1, which they describe as an 8.3 inch aluminium tonearm with ultra-light mass.

A special feature of the tonearm is a headshell with a completely new design, which was developed especially for the Pro-Ject AUTOMAT A1. It is a headshell made of carbon fibre-reinforced polymer, which the manufacturer claims is super-stable and stiff with the lowest weight and promises excellent internal damping of resonances.

The new Pro-Ject AUTOMAT A1 comes with an Ortofon OM10 MM cartridge mounted on the headshell, which fits the tonearm perfectly and guarantees a flawless performance.

By the way, as a true plug & play turntable, the new Pro-Ject AUTOMAT A1 is ready for use within seconds, because the tracking force and anti-skating are already preset at the factory, so that the buyer can actually get started immediately.

Integrated phono preamplifier

The new Pro-Ject AUTOMAT A1 is equipped with a phono preamplifier, so that the turntable can be connected directly to a line in of the amplifier without any further investment. But of course the phono preamplifier in the Pro-Ject AUTOMAT A1 can also be deactivated, so that you can bring an external solution into play.

The RCA connectors are gold-plated and the Pro-Ject AUTOMAT A1 comes with a high-quality cable, a premium semi-symmetrical Pro-Ject Connect it E phono cable.

A matching cover is also included, this should not be forgotten to mention. Also a 7 inch single adapter, a felt mat and of course a 15 V DC 0.8 A power supply is part of the delivery.

The new Pro-Ject AUTOMAT A1 measures 430 x 130 x 365 mm and weighs 5.6 kg.

Prices and availability

The new Pro-Ject AUTOMAT A1, the first fully automatic record player of the Pro-Ject Audio Systems brand, should be available in specialist shops within the next few days. The turntable will be offered in black at a recommended retail price of € 399.

Getting to the point

It is a new chapter that Pro-Ject Audio Systems is opening with the presentation of the new Pro-Ject AUTOMAT A1 and thus the first offspring of the new Pro-Ject AUTOMAT Series. For the first time, the company is focusing on fully automatic drives, an alternative to the purely manual drives that have been propagated as the ideal solution for decades and will of course continue to be offered. In order to properly address the issue of automatic drives, Audio Tuning Vertriebs GmbH, as the parent company of Pro-Ject Audio Systems, has secured an experienced partner, namely the company Fehrenbacher GmbH from the Black Forest, which, as a proven expert with decades of experience, is also responsible for the production of the new Pro-Ject AUTOMAT Series. The fact that there are certain similarities with models from other brands is evident from the history of the company from St. Georgen in the Black Forest, but the new Pro-Ject AUTOMAT A1 has decisive features that distinguish it from other “similar” models on the market.

PRODUCTPRO-JECT AUTOMAT A1
Price€ 399,-
BrandPRO-JECT AUDIO
ManufacturerPro-Ject Audio Systems
Distribution AustriaAudio Tuning Vertriebs GmbH
Distribution GermanyAudio Trade Hi-Fi Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH
Distribution SwitzerlandMarlex GmbH – Audiophile Produkte
More about this manufacturer at HiFi BLOG

Michael Holzinger

Michael Holzinger, founder and editor-in-chief of HiFi BLOG and sempre-audio.at, has been working for years as a journalist in the fields of IT, photography, telecommunications and consumer electronics.

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