On day 11 of Best Buy’s 12 Days of Christmas celebration, here’s a great gift idea for a true music lover. The perfect way to enjoy music in today’s most popular format. No, it’s not a Bluetooth speaker (although it does have Bluetooth wireless capability). The absolute hottest way to buy music is on vinyl, and one of the best ways to listen to that record collection is on a Pro-ject turntable. Today’s featured gift is the Pro-Ject T1-BTXW Belt Drive Turntable with Bluetooth, a Best Buy exclusive!
Vinyl is more popular than ever
For people who enjoy listening to music, subscription streaming music services like Spotify and Apple Music are awesome. A library of millions of tracks available on demand for a low monthly fee—what’s not to like? Streaming music combined with smartphones has led to the explosive popularity of portable Bluetooth speakers and Bluetooth wireless headphones.
But … Somewhere along the way, music fans rebelled against this all digital future and began to snap up records at garage sales and used record stores. Vinyl records had been left for dead by the CD in the 1980s, but the warm analog sound of vinyl has staged a remarkable comeback. For the past decade, record sales have been increasing yearly and in 2019, Rolling Stone says that vinyl sales are on track to surpass CDs for the first time since 1986.
The resurgence of records has made turntables a hot gift item. Arguably no company is better known for turntables these days than Pro-Ject.
Pro-Ject turntables featuring European quality
Founded in 1991 (just when many audio brands were getting out of of the business), Pro-ject is an Austrian company that specializes in premium quality turntables. They are manufactured in Pro-ject’s own European factories to ensure the highest quality control, and made from the company’s own catalog of precision components. Some of the turntables made by this company cost as much as my last car!
But I’m not suggesting you take out a second mortgage to give a record lover on your holiday shopping list a great turntable. You don’t need to when Pro-Ject also makes quality premium turntables like the T1-BTXW that includes technology, components and know-how that trickled down from those audiophile luxury models to its mainstream offerings.
Pro-Ject T1-BTXW, a great turntable for vinyl fans
I reviewed the Best Buy-exclusive Pro-Ject T1-BTXW turntable in October, and this is a very impressive model. You can read the full review here for more details, but the great impression started with the look of the Pro-Ject T1-BTXW.
This is a thin, minimalist turntable, yet its low profile design doesn’t sacrifice audio quality. The warm, walnut grain veneered plinth is just 2 cm thick, yet its still hefty enough to isolate the stylus from vibration. The key is Pro-Ject’s use of precision, CNC-machined audio grade MDF. No hollow plastic here. No hollow space at all for that matter, with just enough space cut out to house the mechanical and electronic components. Noise isolating feet also help to keep the audio pristine. Adding to the minimalist look is a complete absence of switches or controls on the surface of the plinth (this is a two-speed belt drive turntable, but switching speeds requires manually changing the belt position).
The tone arm is a one-piece straight aluminum model with an integrated head shell (which also helps to minimize vibration), and low friction bearings. Wow and flutter—a key measurement of audio accuracy—is just 0.25%.
An integrated, switchable pre-amplifier means you can connect this turntable to a traditional stereo system’s PHONO input, or to the AUX input on virtually any mini stereo system or portable speaker. Speaking of connectivity, the pack-in RCA cables are also of premium quality to ensure the best quality audio performance.
Two of the components included with this turntable are worth spiking out because they are a big part of its high end sound—and both are often considered added-cost upgrades for many turntables in this price range.
The first is a blasted glass platter instead of the usual aluminum or steel. This doesn’t just look cool (and it does), the heavy glass platter also reduces static, and improves both low end response and speed accuracy. The second is an Ortofon OM5e moving magnet cartridge with an elliptical diamond stylus. This is a high quality cartridge that brings out the best in a record collection. I’ve also found it is very forgiving with used records that may not be in perfect condition, able to play through scratches that make other cartridges skip.
Turntable setup doesn’t get any easier
One of the reasons the Pro-Ject T1-BTXW turntable makes such a great gift is that it is dead easy to set up. Most turntables in this class require a bit of precision work in order to get optimal audio. In particular, the tone arm has to be balanced, the counterweight adjusted for the cartridge tracking weight, and the anti-skate setting adjusted.
With the Pro-Ject T1-BTXW, all that’s required is to slip the belt on and place the platter on the spindle. The cartridge is pre-mounted, the tone arm is factory balanced, and the counterweight perfectly set at the factory. The lucky recipient can be playing records on their new turntable in minutes.
It’s got Bluetooth!
The big extra on this turntable is a rarity for Pro-Ject. It has integrated Bluetooth capability.
Simply turn on the side-mounted Bluetooth switch and the Pro-Ject T1-BTXW can be paired with a Bluetooth speaker, for wireless playback of records. This is ideal for situations where space is limited, you don’t want to see cables, or the turntable recipient doesn’t own a stereo system. It also makes it easy to stream records to wireless headphones.
Remember, the Pro-Ject T1-BTXW Belt Drive Turntable with Bluetooth is a Best Buy exclusive. And if there are more people on your holiday shopping list, be sure to check out the rest of the great gift ideas in Best Buy’s 12 Days of Christmas.