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.

Comparison Table

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.

Cressi XS2/AC2 Piston Regulator
  • o Cressi is a REAL diving, snorkeling and swimming Italian brand, since 1946.
  • o Made in Italy with non-corrosive long lasting material.
  • o The XS second stage features a comfortable mouthpiece and an easy to purge button.

Regulator specs

  • First stage type: Unbalanced Piston
  • Second stage type: Downstream demand valve
  • Outlets: 1HP, 4MP
  • INT version weight: 635 grams (1.4 pounds)
  • DIN version weight: 495 grams (1.09 pounds)

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



How we reviewed

ScubaPro MK11/C350

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.

Scubapro MK11/C350 Regulator
  • Air-balanced diaphragm design delivers constant and effortless airflow unaffected by depth, tank pressure, or breathing...
  • Marine grade brass body has sealed internal parts to prevent water and pollutants from fouling the inner mechanism while...
  • External intermediate pressure adjustment enables technicians to fine-tune performance quickly and easily.

Regulator specs

  • First stage type: Balanced diaphragm
  • Second stage type: Downstream demand valve
  • Outlets: 2HP, 4LP
  • INT version weight: 635 grams (1.4 pounds)

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


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.

Aqua Lung Titan Regulator, Quick Connect (Closeout Sale)
  • Nitrox Compatible to 40%
  • Diver Adjustable venturi to prevent unwanted free-flow
  • Rugged, Reliable and Affordable

Regulator specs

  • First stage type: Balanced diaphragm
  • Second stage type: Downstream demand valve
  • Outlets: 2HP, 4HP

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


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.

Mares Prestige 12S Scuba Diving Regulator
  • First Stage Features:
  • Balanced Diaphragm
  • DFC System

Regulator specs

  • First stage type: Balanced diaphragm
  • Second stage type: Downstream demand valve
  • Outlets: 2HP, 4HP

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


Pros and Cons



Our Verdict

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.

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