Turntables

Pro-Ject Xtension 10 Superpack Turntable System

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The Pro-Ject Xtension 10 Superpack Turntable System In Use

You may have figured out by now that I found the Xtension 10 to be a first class product starting with the way it is packaged for shipping right on through to the real wood finish that covers all sides of the plinth. Performance-wise it is a ridiculously amazing value-for-money proposition! So I'm excited to talk about my listening impressions.

I started off with Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears "Scandalous" on clear vinyl. This album is a follow-up to their 2009 debut and is a rowdy, funky romp through fresh material. The instrumentation can be either minimal or dense depending on the tune and the Pro-Ject rig passed it all with great panache. There was no audible mistracking even with some of the complex instrumental and vocal arrangements.

This album has driving bass lines that might trip up lesser tables, but the Xtension 10, with its combination of mass loading and magnetic support has superior isolation. So there was no audible feedback even when played back at uncomfortably loud levels.

I was impressed by the very good staging across the whole width of the speakers and even extending a few feet beyond while maintaining a strong center image with the lead vocal. The transient attacks fell just a bit short of the best I've heard.

I wanted to test this system with an older recording so I pulled out "Bach Organ Favorites" by E. Power Biggs. This album was recorded in the mid 1960's on the Flentop Organ – in the Busch – Reisinger Museum at Harvard University. I find J.S. Bach organ compositions to be very intellectually stimulating. Performance-wise this recording is sort of mechanical, but quite precise technically.

The Xtension 10 put a up big and bold sound on a big and bold stage. Leading edges were tracked without any trace of breakup. On the back end of notes, the decay was natural with no introduced overhang. And again, the mechanical isolation was excellent. The system didn't seem to depict the entire size of the venue, however.

This is an example of an old record that sounded new and clean as a whistle. I have found this to be true with the Blackbird cartridge with many older recordings. I can't put my finger on why this is but I think the very small stylus reaches into the grooves better than others. And when implemented through the Xtension 10 table, the positive effect was magnified.

Truth be told, I picked up this record at a second hand store for $2. The quality of the reproduction I got here greatly surpassed my expectations for a $3,500 table and a $2 record. I call this "Two buck Bach" and it makes a strong case for the Xtension 10/Blackbird combination. Maybe you could get this system, forgo expensive audiophile recordings and raid every estate sale or second hand store you can find. Then you'll be in business!

I like to give our readers a good cross section of different musical styles so I chose REM "Murmur" as the pop/rock recording to evaluate for this review. The Xtension 10 and Blackbird combo let this album's primal energy shine through. It was natural and organic-sounding. Again, I felt this system was tracking the finest and most delicate parts of each passage and not just the bigger dynamic waves. And it had such a silent background.

Other highlights on this album were top notch pacing on the upbeat songs with a tight and deep kick drum. Lastly, the guitar lines stood out and shone in their audible clarity.

In keeping with my plan to mix it up genre-wise, I reached for my MFSL Original Master reissue of Art Pepper "The Way It Was". This heavy virgin vinyl record also presented a dead silent background. This meant that the cymbals and snares could simply sparkle with a lifelike nuance.

Art's horn was recorded to capture every shade of his playing and the Xtension10 brought that all to the party. The system didn't show any obvious shortcomings on the transients and my notes simply said "wow, just wow" on that point! The Xtension 10 doesn't just help with the older recordings in your collection and this was a great example where the Xtension 10/Blackbird set up helped me get maximum performance from my better records too.