I have been hearing a lot about this turntable so I decided to write an Audio Technica AT-LP120 review. This record player costs about $250 and straddles the line between the budget $100 vinyl players and the more expensive $400 in not only price, but in quality as well.
I will give you a detailed review of my findings and you can decide for yourself if it’s the right choice for you.
Audio Technica AT LP120 Setup and Usability
This turntable does require some setup and adjustments before you can use it. It’s not very difficult and the included manual and videos are well written and easy to follow.
The fact that you need to preform some setup and adjusting is a good thing though. This means that the parts of the record player are replaceable and can be upgraded if wanted.
Here is a quick video of someone setting it up in less than 10 minutes:
This turntable has several features that make using it a delight. One is the pitch adjust control. This is used to slightly speed up or slow down the platter in order to adjust the pitch. This is useful for DJ’s for beat matching and mixing, but also for regular listeners who want to make small adjustments when listening to old records.
You have the option of listening to 33 1/3, 45, and 78 RPM LPs. However to listen to 78 RPM records you will need to switch out the cartridge to one appropriate for that speed. Failing to do so could result in the vinyl being damaged.
This turntables tonearm is fully manual. You will have to manually place the tonearm to start playback, and replace it when playback is done. This is a bigger issue to some people than others. If you fall asleep while listening to your music then you may want to look into a turntable that has an automatic return.
This vinyl player has strobe dots built into the edge of the platter. These dots are use to visually verify the accuracy of the speed. The top row of dots indicate correct speed when listening to 33 1/3 LPs, and the lower row verifies 45 RPM.
There is a USB out that allows you to create digital recordings of your analog records. It’s not a difficult process, but it can be time consuming as you will have to learn a new software program in order to do it. Check out Audacity if that is something you are wanting to do.
The turntable comes with an internal pre-amp, but you can bypass it and use your own if you wish. You will of course then need to run the audio through your amplifierreceiver and then into your speakers.
A minor quibble is that the RCA cable is hardwired and is a little shorter than I would like. Not a big deal, but I thought I would note it.
Audio Technica AT LP120 Sound Quality
This turntable has a lot of things going for it that produce a very warm and full soundscape. The included cartridge is the Dual Magnet Audio Technica AT95E. This is a well reviewed cartridge that produces detailed and clear music. It uses an elliptical diamond stylus that track very well and provides great playback.
A note on this cartridge however is that it is not appropriate for DJ scratching. If you are interested in being a DJ, then you should purchase a cartridge like the Shure M44-7 which goes for about $50 on Amazon.
This is a direct drive turntable which means that the motor directly spins the platter instead of turning a belt which then turns it. This produces the higher torque that DJ’s need, but can also produce a slight “rumble” noise. I did notice this noise when playing records, but only on when the music was stopped.
A felt slip mat is included and is the type of mat that you would use as a DJ. It provides a low friction barrier for scratching so that you don’t damage your records. If you replaced the felt with a rubber mat then that should eliminate the motor “rumble” noise.
The tonearm is metal and S-shaped, which helps with tracking. It has an adjustable counterweight, height, and anti-skate. To get the best sound you need to carefully set all 3 of those adjustments. It sounds complicated, but it really isn’t. Very clear instructions come in the box as well as videos.
Here is the official Audio Technica video explaining just how easy it is:
Audio Technica AT-LP120 Build Quality
This is a well made turntable. I already detailed most of the components in the previous sections. The plinth (or base) of the record player is solid and heavy. It comes with a clear dust cover that can be open or closed during playback, or removed all together. Both the cover and base are made of high-impact plastic. The tonearm and platter base are both made of steel.
The turntable comes with adjustable feet that have dampening material on them. This helps to eliminate outside vibrations.
You can get this turntable in either black or silver. For some reason the colors are usually not the same price. At the time of this writing the silver one is $50 more expensive, but I have seen the opposite true as well. I’m not really sure what that’s about.
The player feels and looks like a high quality turntable.
The Audio Technica AT-LP120USB is really a great turntable. At only $250 it easily competes with the $400 turntables on sound quality and only the most experienced audiophiles will be able to hear much of a difference. It completely blows any of the $100 record players out of the water.
This table can accommodate both the average listener and those wanting to try their hand at being a DJ.
This is my recommendation for best overall turntable. If you want to upgrade your low-end turntable or want to discover the joy of analog music, this is the table for you.