Sony's first tangential Biotracer - trying to square the round peg for the new decade.
However, the X800 didn't start at all as it is known today.
Throughout the 1970s Sony had refined speed accuracy, resistance to load and even included in its first (radial) Biotracer the damping of the resonant peak and many other problems by way of V and H sensors.
What was left to achieve was to drastically reduce the overall noise floor - beyond what could be done with a 1978 Biotracer.
Being very coherent, Sony devised in 1980 a turntable which would have a fixed tonearm and a moving platter - in other words what would be done for the CDP-5000 or the later CDP-XA7ES, CDP-X5000 or CDP-R10 !
This however was deemed too expensive to manufacture properly, especially for a dying format such as LP, kicked as it was then by blank cassettes on on side and the upcoming DAD on the other.
Exit early FPM, enter the PS-X800, rushed into production. The electronic problems many X800 are afflicted with have nothing to do with the Biotracer itself but with the way it was implemented inside the X800 chassis - read the "USER" section !
Otherwise, the X800 is a gem.
The tangential Biotracer lowers the resonant peak by 3dB, does antiskating duties electronically, automatically and gradually from outer to inner groove as inside force increases, it goes wherever you want with its two-speed pads and has like the previous Biotracers an on-the-fly tracking force adjuster.
There are two motors for the arm : one for fast or slow positioning (belt-driven) and one for actual tangential tracking (BSL again) - see the "USER" section again and the drawing below for the structure !
The three motors (1x platter, 2x tonearm) are electronically linked together and so are, naturally, their speed detection & control - complex.
The base is made of a single block of SBMC (Sony Bulk Mold Compound), the feet are gel-filled and height-adjustable, the platter is dynamically balanced and damped on its underside.
The platter motor is a sturdy BSL and platter speed is controlled by way of Sony's usual Magnedisc : barium-ferrite imprint read by an 8-pole magnetic head.
The mat is a basic rubbery mat but it seems (to me) to be a bit low, pushing the VTA angle too much - one may try to experiment with this...
Headshell-wise, the X800 is worth using with a carbon-clad Sony SH-160 but, weight-wise, it will be too heavy unless one adds the supplementary counterweight at the back of the arm's assembly... Said supp. cw have been lost most of the time so, if unavailable, better stick to lighter headshells.
Well reviewed in Japan and one of the best affordable tangential turntables ever made - it looks like a toy but it really is not.
Somewhat better but mostly more reliable than the ultimate PS-X555ES which cost half the price, the X800 sold very well worldwide.
Looks-wise, however, the PS-X800 is at the same time elegant and bulky, beautiful and not really "finished" : the metal control strip echoes the back arm's metal cover but the back light, buttons and scripting are clearly inherited from another mold...
Making it wider didn't fit the newly "efficient" decade so it is a 44x44cm square with very fragile dustcover attachments and captive output cables (low pF nevertheless)...
Rushed to production as it was, the X800 wasn't made available under the Wega name and its beautiful hellgrau color (very light grey) like the PS-X7 was - pity.
I am the proud owner of one (which will be refinished in hellgrau one of these days :) - paired with a Sony XL-44L I've got musical bliss and rythm.
Never mind the snobs.