Whether you’re a beginner getting your first regulator or a veteran getting a backup, picking the right affordable scuba regulator can be a challenge. The Cressi XS2/AC2 is a promising candidate for this role.
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But how can you tell? My suggestion is to focus on what you want from your regulator, rather than get too concerned with materials and tech and fancy-sounding stuff that’s hard to tell if it really does anything good. I like to keep it simple, and I like to look at the classics. Cressi XS2/AC2 has both those qualities.
The Cressi XS2/AC2 Scuba Regulator
The Cressi XS2/AC2 regulator is Cressi’s budget-friendly option. It features the beloved classic AC2 piston first stage. Combined with the XS2 first stage, it makes a simple, reliable regulator that promises high performance for the price.
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The XS2 uses a lateral valve downstream system and has an adjustable orifice. It consists of hi-tech polymers, and the design is straightforward. Happily, this means it is dependable and low-maintenance. Fortunately, it’s easy to use. It injects a stream of pilot air into the mouthpiece for better performance. In addition, it features a flow deviator which uses the Venturi effect, and the Venturi is adjustable. Also, there is a dive/pre-dive feature.
The A4C2 is a traditional piston first stage. While it has an unbalanced design, it’s reliable enough to challenge balanced equivalents. The bush system provides responsive regulation of intermediate pressure. You get one high-pressure port and four low-pressure ports, arranged for optimal alignment. And you can choose between DIN 200bar, DIN 300bar, and INT versions. Unfortunately, the downside to only having one high-pressure port is that your choices are very limited when it comes to diving computers.
The wide hoses give you have a maximum air capacity of 2,100 liters-per-minute. You’ll find it easy to breathe with the Cressi XS2/AC2 in all conditions. The conical filter keeps it clean. It performs up to 200% better than ordinary flat models.
Overall, the Cressi XS2/AC2 is a lightweight regulator and doesn’t have a lot of moving parts. So it’s easy to keep in working order. And if you need a spare part, they’re abundant and inexpensive.
In the water
The Cressi XS2/AC2 makes it easy to adjust your rig without picking it apart. There’s a rotating nut which you unlock with a special key when you want to adjust things. Fortunately, you won’t have any trouble putting it together either. Combined with the low price, this makes it very beginner-friendly.
It has a big, responsive purge button. The purge valve is large. Fortunately, this means you won’t get many bubbles in your face. The mouthpiece should prove comfortable for long diving sessions. With its good airflow, you’ll find it easy to breathe down to about 100ft. However, the Cressi XS2/AC2 may breathe a bit wet if you’re used to more expensive regulators. And you may encounter some freeflow at times in certain positions.
Other than that issue, the Cressi XS2/AC2 is a high-performing regulator for its price range. I’d feel comfortable diving with it in most conditions. It’s CE-certified and meets the UNI EN 250 standards for all temperatures down to 4°C (39°F).
Users report that it’s a great, affordable regulator and give it a 4.5 average rating.
It’s not at the very cheapest price bracket. But it’s a low-cost scuba regulator. You can find a Cressi XS2/AC2 from various online scuba gear vendors for between $ and $$. Check it out here.
To give you a better idea of how the Cressi XS2/AC2 performs, let’s compare it to a few competitors. We’ve chosen the ScubaPro MK11/C350, the Aqua Lung Titan, and the Mares Prestige S12.
How we reviewed
The brief reviews presented here are the result of hours of researching user reviews from the web. Web shops such as Amazon are the primary source. In addition, we consider product specifications and performance.
This regulator is a bit more hi-tech and more expensive than the Cressi XS2/AC2. It’s a solid choice for divers who seek a dependable diaphragm regulator for varied conditions.
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The main strength of diaphragm-based first stages is their cold-water performance. They’re environmentally sealed, meaning no water gets to the inner mechanism. The rapid air flow and pressure drop can cause below-freezing temperatures inside the first stage. So if water got in, it would freeze. To make it even more freeze-resistant, the MK11 has a thermal insulation system. The over-balanced diaphragm also ensures smooth breathing and high performance even when air runs low. You get too high flow ports for difficult dives, two standard low-pressure ports, and two high-pressure ports. So it gives you more options than the XS2/AC2.
The C350 is a very light second stage. Its compact size makes it easy to pack. It has a control knob for adjusting breathing effort, and a VIVA (Venturi-Initiated Vacuum Assist) dive/pre-dive switch. The innovative poppet valve design lets air flow with less obstruction to make breathing smoother. It also reduces whistling and vibrations.
This regulator features a 3/8 inch threaded hose. Its super-flow bore provides excellent airflow.
In the water
You can tell they’ve gone out of their way to facilitate smooth and controlled breathing. You’ll have optimal flow in all reasonable conditions. And the ability to adjust breathing resistance means it’ll be just right for you. The attention to detail makes it a comfortable regulator for all types of diving.
The insulation and dry chamber aren’t the only cold water optimizations. Also, it’s designed to prevent free flow in cold conditions. Free flow is rare in general; this regulator performs reliably.
The second stage construction with precision-molded carbon fiber and techno-polymer makes it nice and light. And an orthodontic mouthpiece built for comfort makes those deep dives more enjoyable. You can grip it with ease with no detriment to airflow. Additionally, the big purge button with improved sensitivity makes purging easy with big gloves. And the added circulation from the holes under the purge button improves sensitivity.
Being a more high-end regulator than the Cressi XS2/AC2, it will cost you a bit. Expect to pay between $$ and $$. You can get it from many scuba webshops or on Amazon.
Aqua Lung Titan
With more than 70 years in the scuba industry, Aqua Lung is one of the top brands for regulators. Their excellent safety features and ease of use make them very popular. The third iteration of their Titan regulator improves upon the tried-and-true design with new technology.
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It is a rugged yet lightweight regulator with an impact-reducing outer skin. The first stage has a T-shape design that makes optimal hose routing easy. It uses less brass than the average first stage, which makes it lighter. Fortunately, this doesn’t make it any less capable of keeping the mechanism safe from salt and pollutants. An open yoke screw protects against water retention.
The second stage consists of an innovative reinforced polycarbonate material and allows for right-hand and left-hand configuration, including the Venturi knob. Side slits in the front prevent free flow if you ride a scooter or swim into a current. It has a unique Comfo-Bite mouthpiece, which uses a palate bridge to reduce jaw fatigue. Happily, the clip comes off for easy changes.
Its in-line Venturi knob provides progressive adjustments with an ergonomic design that’s easy to use even with thick gloves. A polyurethane purge cover improves durability, inhalation effort, and purge efficiency.
In the water
It’s consistent in performance and easy to adjust. With some sharp inhalations, you may experience a bit of venturi. But you won’t feel much resistance, even when you go deeper than 100 feet. It can handle different positions without trouble.
The second stage is light, and the Comfo-Bite mouthpiece keeps it firmly in place without much jaw strain. It has a clever purge with a large cover that’s easy to press and purges water fast. There is a grid in the exhaust that breaks up the bubbles for better clarity.
The classic option has a swivel nut for the second stage, while the quick connect option lets you remove the second stage without tools. The latter option only works with Aqua Lung hoses.
Buyers like the quality and value. But what they don’t like is that it’s not as well-built as most Aqua Lung products. They give it 4.5 stars on average.
It’s in the same general price range as the Cressi XS2/AC2. And you’ll find them in the same places. It costs between $ and $$. Check it out here.
Mares Prestige S12
High performance at a low price is the promise of the Mars S12. It has a stylish design and sophisticated technology that ensures easy breathing.
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Like many other Mares regulators, it has a tri-material first stage valve consisting of brass and two types of polyurethane. This technology is more resistant to the wear and tear of diving under variable conditions. It makes the regulator safer and more dependable.
The Mares Prestige 12 counters intermediate pressure drops during inhalations with the patented Mares DFC system. It makes sure you get enough air even when you need a lot during a deep dive. The Vortex Assist System of the second stage helps this further. A bypass tube feeds air into the mouthpiece to create a vortex that holds the diaphragm down as you inhale. This makes breathing smooth and responsive.
Its second stage has a smart, hydrodynamic design with a fluid dynamic deflector and an ergonomic, compact exhaust tee. The deflector helps direct the air from the bypass tube in an ideal way; it’s the result of in-depth studies of fluid dynamics. This makes breathing even smoother. A techno-polymer casing holds it all together, so it’s light.
The two stages connect with Mares’ signature Super flex hose. It’s very bendy and light to reduce movement restrictions and jaw fatigue. It has 3/8 inch threading. And it is 31.5 inches long.
In the water
The elaborate breath-improving technology makes this a real smooth breather even at depths of more than 100 feet. One thing to keep in mind with smooth breathers like this is to keep an eye on your pressure gauge because you don’t always notice when air pressure starts to get low.
Thanks to the ergonomic design and low weight of the second stage, you won’t have problems with jaw fatigue. The exhaust tee does an excellent job at keeping the bubbles out of your face. However, sometimes you may feel the hose pulling at your second stage.
If you want a comfortable, affordable, and dependable regulator without the bells and whistles of fancy ones, this is a solid option. Although, the Cressi XS2/AC2 is a better fit for that description.
Buyers say it’s a high-quality regulator with great performance overall, with no significant flaws. This lands it at a 4.5-star average.
It’s close to the Cressi XS2/AC2 in cost. You’ll find it for between $ and $$ in various scuba shops. Check it out here.
Pros and Cons
With all that technical analysis out of the way, let’s summarize what we’ve learned. Here are the strengths and weaknesses of the Cressi XS2/AC2 regulator.
The Cressi XS2/AC2 supplies all you could want from a basic regulator. Few things can match it in its price range.
If you’re a diving computer power user, the lack of a second high-pressure port makes the Cressi XS2/AC2 a lesser choice. Other than that, it’s comparable to the other three, your personal preferences of features and details should determine.
All in all, the Cressi XS2/AC2 is a solid regulator at a reasonable price. If you’re looking for a basic regulator that performs well, this is one of the best options out there. The Cressi XS2/AC2 is dependable, safe, and low-maintenance. Naturally, you’ll have a good time diving with it.