on August 26, 2010
I will not and actually cannot improve on the other reviews for this turntable. Right now Led Zeppelin I is playing as I type this and it sounds magnificent. My comments, after two days, are as follows:
1. The hum, I don't have one. Perhaps the most important problem that was identified in the reviews, I was prepared to rig up a ground wire but it was not necessary.
2. The power supply. Turned on just fine. However, I made sure that the connection to the the turntable was firm, give the plug a good push and you will feel it seat itself.
3. The on/off button. Yup, it's funky, but it turns on and off just fine.
4. The audio cables. Too short as noted, had to buy a pair of RCA couplers to connect to my receiver at an additional cost of 10$ for the gold plated variety. I actually would have preferred that AT just provide the ports and I would be pleased to supply my own cables.
5. The cartridge. I am not an audiophile and it sounds fine tracking at the 3.0 grams, which, according to a review may be underestimated.
6. Assembly. A bit of a pain, but I proceeded slowly and methodically. I also read the instructions twice before proceeding, sort of the measure twice cut once school of thought.
7. Tone arm adjustment. A bit tedious but I read the recommendations from the reviews here and consulted a Youtube video on line.
8. Connections. Connected to a Yamaha RXV367 5.1 A/V reciever via the Audio 1 ports. The built in preamp is a pleasant surprise and works just fine. I was more than prepared to purchase a preamp if necessary.
9. Overall, a great value. A direct drive turntable at about half the price of its competition. My Technics SLBD20D has just been cleaned and adjusted and will be dedicated to converting my vinyl to digital. I would have preferred to buy a non-USB version of the AT but obviously they do not have a 120 non-USB.
10. The service. Ordered through AMAZON and delivered as promised. But it is a heavy sucker and make sure you consider that the platter is taped underneath the turntable when you unpack it.
11. Remember, this is a manual turntable, there is no auto shutoff like my Technics.
on May 22, 2010
So, what do you do when you want to get current with a new turntable
and you find the field swollen with overpriced gear and on the other
side, cheap Junk??
You shoot for a Technics SL1200....at least that's what I thought..
Sorry, but at $7+ bills-for a guy who never
spent over $170 for a turntable back in the day they were King, not going
for that. So what we have here with the Audio Technica AT LP120 USB
to be realistic, is a chinese knockoff of theFamous Technics Table.
So I bought one!
The bad first: On my unit, the finish on the top
of the turntable at three spots shows signs of the 'finish paint' not being
properly sprayed. In another words, it looks like someone took a pencil
eraser and went back and forth a few hundred times over the top finish
and wore out the finish coating. Ok,not good but something I could live
with cause it's not that bad, but, it doesnt make it look splendidly new either!
Do I want to take the time to send it back, no. I'm 51 and I still love my wife.....so
Now the good: Ok, after reading many many Amazon customer reviews and others
on the Internet, and knowing a little bit about this thing I unpacked it, which, speaking
of packaging was good and bad. Everything was packaged very well but the styrofoam
they use broke in like 6 places, but the good news is that the turntable itself was not
damaged, nor were the parts like the counterweight and such.
Put it together and I will say, definitely, it IS a very good looking turntable!! Different in
composition than the Technics: whereas the platter on the Technics is a Part of the motor,
the AT is not. The motor is mounted well to the top plate of the TT and the Platter itself
is kinda not heavy, but is much beefier than 90% of the USB turntables out there, and at
a $200 priceline, is MUCH more than expected!! And it is brushed Aluminum and therefore
looks like the real deal, just a few oz lighter than my older Pioneer PL550's MASSIVELY
heavy platter. But that was 1976 and this is 2010, times have indeed changed.....
Now, many others have talked about the stock cartridge in the AT120. For DJ'ing
it's ok. But for TLC of vinyl for Audiophile purposes it's out of the question. I got the
Shure 97 on j&r for $59 and two 78rpm stylus's on Amazon for $22 each.(!) The stylus
is interchangable, so if you want to play 78's, just get the stylus for it and plug it into
the 97's body, re-adjust the stylus pressure and go for it!! At least that's what i've read
on the internet so we'll see if it actually happens. Worst case I'll have to pop for the 78
cartridge and have two spares, not bad actually either way.
I then ran the turntable for 13 hours at the 78 speed forward and backward to see if
the motor would fail, it Didn't. Turned it off, went to work, came home, turned it back
on, 33/45/78 all nailed-no drift, no slowdown or speed up. So Ok, the Motor seems
heavy duty, should hold up to years of use.
The tone arm is very well made and calibrated. Going down to 1 gram of stylus weight
just to see, the balance and bearings were very fluid, which tells me that if they didn't
know what they were doing, the tone arm would choke under a slight weight balancing
test-it didn't. The arm slowly went up and down with my changing oh so slightly of the
counterweight with no points of friction. Good Bearings and initial calibration at the
Tone arm lift is gentle going down and very firm going up, with how fast your finger
is telling it to go.
Platter is as stated solid. When going to 78 the mis alignment in the dots does rear
it's ugly head, but then again, at 33 or 45 you hardly notice it, no big deal.....
ONCE AGAIN, THIS IS A STREET PRICED $200 UNIT COMPARING IT TO A $700+ UNIT!!!!!
Very favorable imho. To get this kind of quality at a $200 realistic price point, is
very impressive. And the Technics does NOT play at a 78rpm speed. For me, this was
a major issue. I did not want two turntables to deal with!!! (Oh yeah, I'll impress people
with my $29 bsr poc next to my Mirage Speakers!!) NOT!!
And I must admit, AT did their homework. Again, not in the same OVERKILL QUALITY
league as the Technics 1200, but in all honesty, almost Overkill at a $200 price point.
Lastly, I opened the sucker to see if any screws were loose, which has been a factor
with EVERY piece of Electronics I've bought in the last 5 years that was made in china.
A B+ grade on this. Some screws needed very little tightening and the motor screws
were dead on snug! The construction inside was around 7 years behind the times
but clean. Compared to modern day factory construction of electronic gear, it wouldn't
win any prizes, but then looking at the guts of the Pioneer 550, judging it in this present
day, it wouldn't either. So there you go. For me, it fits the Bill perfectly, it's like the girl
you really think is hot except for her slightly crooked nose, you sort of accept it, but
you wish it was perfect, but you know it's not going to be. This Turntable is exactly
that. You'll probably fall for it and wish it was a Technics, but day after day, you'll
look at it and say, 'Damn, what a cool looking Turntable', and when you install that
Shure 97 and put on your old Mobile Fidelity copy of Steely Dan's AJA, you'll smile
all the way to the bank. Hell, you might even buy an extra one if Amazon ever
decides to make it a 'Deal of the Day' for a cool $100!!!! I would!!!!
I could go on for ever, but then I would bore myself to death........
Enjoy this Turntable and the Music.
July 2010 Update:
The AT continues to rock my world. On 78's with the Shure 78 stylus, it operates flawlessly. And there have been No incidences of tonearm meandering or anything like that. This is a very good turntable and at $200 it's an absolute steal!!
December 2010 Update:
This thing is STILL Rocking! In the last two months I've purchased four Jimi Hendrix Vinyl Box sets, (West Coast Seattle Boy being one for $64!! on Amazon!!!!) and SunDazed Records 10Lp MONO Vinyl Bob Dylan set for $149!!!! (And yes, you get TWO more lp's than the Columbia box for alot less, the remastering is exquisite!!!) and more Hendrix vinyl from other retailers to pass on to my kids when I croak. And except for finding a good turntable mat, (this one comes with a felt mat, which is fine, but i'm a real nit picky type of schmuck so I search and I search for the holy grail without ever finding it...go figure.) it still is not giving me ANY problems. So, overall, after a year or so, It's still soooooooo worth the money I paid for it.
I wish you ALL a VERY MERRY Christmas!!!
January 2011 update:
Have gotten alot of questions about hookup, obviously there are alot of people not familiar with the old fashioned record player so here it is as simple as I can put it,
This Record Player/Turntable is a Stereo 'Component', which means that you HAVE to connect it to some kind of Amplifier or Stereo/Home /Theater Receiver in order to hear your records being played. It's NOT like an iPod, which has an internal amplifier and you pop your headbuds on and your in business.
So, you can't just pop a record on this and really hear anything, you have to connect it to some kind of amplifier in order for it to work properly.
Now go and hunt down those cool records you've been dying to here!!
on February 1, 2010
Overall I'm fairly satisfied with this turntable. It has a nice strong motor, a decent solid metal platter, and an okay factory cartridge. I say Okay because AT makes much better cartridges (like the AT95 series, that are still fairly inexpensive) than the one that comes on this thing and for this kind of spend, it wouldn't have killed them to throw one in. Plus the included cartridge tracks at "3-5" grams. That's a viciously high tracking force. I have an AT95HE that I mangled the needle on...once I replace the needle, I plan to swap it in. Hey, at least it really includes a magnetic cartridge and not the typical crap ceramic cartridge that the vast majority of these USB turntables come with, and at least it's a standard mount so you can swap it for something better, which you also can't do on most of those crappy tables. This is one of the few USB turntables out there that actually let you adjust tracking force and antiskate at all.
One other nice feature is that the table plays 78's, though you'd probably want to get a needle that was better optimized for them.
The turntable is easy to set up and operate. Some assembly and tonearm calibration is required, but the instructions are crystal clear. The controls are easy to use. It sounds really good through my amp and that's how I mostly use it. One major complaint, however, is that the audio cable is both too short and not removable/replaceable. I was able to kluge it longer by stringing together all the included adapters and use another RCA cable I had lying around, but that's not very satisfying as a long term solution.
I've had some issues with the USB recording as well. For reasons that no one can seem to explain the thing sends a very low amplitude recording out the back end of the A/D. I've got the input level cranked all the way up in Audacity and it still comes out very quiet. There don't seem to be any means of adjusting the amplitude. This limits the ability to make a high quality recording on a computer. The alternative, running the audio signal through the audio input on a sound card works great, if you use the line out level option on the table, but for someone looking to do it through USB this seems to be a problem.
on July 4, 2013
3/8/15 update - After a year and a half with this turntable, it continues to be a joy. I've digitized about 125 albums using Vinyl Studio (highly recommend Vinyl Studio for $30 if you plan to digitize) and it's worked great. I did have a random low level humming issue early on that was driving me crazy. It was particularly noticeable when digitizing an album. Once I realized it happened every time our pool filter kicked on, it was easy to solve. I purchased an RCA ground loop isolator from Radio Shack. Problem solved. The only minor complaint I have is when setting the needle onto the album using the lever. Sometimes it goes down nice and slow while other time it goes down fast. When it goes down fast it tends to cause the needle to skip into the recorded area of the album. Continue to highly recommend this turntable!
Initial Review - Couldn't be happier with this turntable. So far it has performed perfectly and seems to have great build quality. I won't go over everything that's been stated by other reviewers. It's simply a fine piece of equipment and looks awesome on the shelf. We actually purchased two as my son also bought one.
One thing I will mention which might help others. This is actually the second turntable received. The first one had an intermittent sound issue with the right channel. (seems somewhat common from reading the reviews) After troubleshooting the issue it was definitely the turntable and not my home setup. After sending it back and waiting for the replacement (a very simple process by the way) I did stumble across the following information on the Audio Technica site. Follow the procedure below if you having a problem with sound from one channel.
"If you are connecting to a stereo receiver please swap the red and white RCA connections into your receiver to see if the dead channel follows the cable. In other words, plug the red RCA connector (Right channel) into the left input and the white RCA connector (Left channel) into the right input of your receiver. If the dead channel remains on the same side then there could be an issue with the receiver. If the dead channel follows the red connector, then this is obviously an issue with the turntable. If it is the turntable it is possible that one or more of the pins in the tone arm has become stuck or not moving freely. This can cause the issue of sound not playing on one side. Disconnect the turntable from AC power. Remove the head shell and look inside the tone arm. You will see 4 pins. Using a non conductive item such as a chop stick or wooden meat skewer, press each pin in several times. They are spring load and should pop back out freely after you push them in. Reattach the head shell."
And for those that wonder why in the world would you convert vinyl to MP3's? Well this turntable is much too heavy to cart around in the car, take on walks or deal with the sand at the beach. Not to mention needle skipping is a big problem in those environments! Seriously this is an awesome feature to be able to find a used classic 70's album for a couple bucks to enjoy but then also to convert to MP3's for the car etc. You also get the necessary cables included. I would also suggest VinylStudio over the included Audacity (thanks to a previous reviewer for mentioning this piece of software!). I've used Audacity in the past with success but it requires plenty of time learning the ins and outs. Great functionality but takes time. VinylStudio is an awesome product for $30. Let's you easily record, cleanup your recordings, convert to mp3's and also burn cd's. Highly recommend for the $30 price tag. You can download it free and digitize up to 5 albums to give it a try. Additionally I found the turntable line level via the USB too low. Much better using the "Tape Out" from my receiver and using the input on the sound card. Or if you don't have that ability, try taking the RCA output directly from the turntable into the sound card using the built-in preamp. This should also be better then the USB.
We don't find the manual functionality a big problem either. When we're listening to vinyl we tend to be more focused on listening anyway, so we're ready when it ends. I do believe they should mention it somewhere in the description though. One other thing this turntable has done is re-energize our music enjoyment. It's a blast stumbling across records at antique stores, flea markets etc. Also we have a number of local record stores with great selections of new and used vinyl. Just a very good time.
To wrap it up the turntable is awesome and a great value. The side enjoyment of searching out used vinyl has become a very enjoyable pass time. For those like my wife and I who lived the vinyl era it's an awesome blast from the past and for those like our son it opens up a new world of enjoyment. Oh and while definitely not audiophiles the depth and quality of sound is unmatched!
on December 25, 2010
I LOVE this turntable! It has all the features I want, and very easy to set up and operate. The original phono cartridge on this unit is nearly worthless. Buy a new one at the same time you order this unit. I bought the Shure M97xE High-Performance Magnetic Phono Cartridge, and am very glad I did. This turntable has direct drive, reverse mode, three speeds (33 1/3, 45, 78), hydraulic arm lowering, anti-skate adjust, arm height adjust, 45rpm adapter, analog (RCA) and digital (USB) output, switchable pre-amp, auto-leveling feet, and a clear hard plastic hinged dust cover. This unit weighs 30 pounds, therefore requires a very solid base. EDIT: My only complaint with this unit WAS that when nearing the very end of an LP, the counterweight interfered with the closed dust cover. However, I was being stupid! Another user [Hawkeye, thanks!] told me that he had no similar issues, which prompted me to look into it again. I quickly discovered that I had installed the counterweight backwards! After reversing the counterweight, and moving the cartridge all the way back in the mount, I had no interference problems. So, other than the low-end supplied phono cartridge, the rest of the unit's quality and value is fantastic. I highly recommend purchasing this turntable. Its features and quality, especially in direct drive, equals or exceeds those of units far exceeding the price of this unit. Just make sure to install a high-quality phono cartridge to greatly enhance this already wonderful turntable.
on December 25, 2011
I got this item, the Audio Technica AT-LP 120, as a Christmas gift. You need to be careful since there is another model the AT-PL 120, notice the different placement of the letters LP versus PL. According to many reviews in Amazon the PL version is better than this product (the LP version). These reviews say the circuits inside are of better quality on the earlier version -the PL. This is why you may notice a great price difference between these two.
However, all you have to do is switch to "phono" at the back of the turntable. I personally use an external pre-amplifier which you can get for $40 to $60, or use the "phono" input of your stereo system -if it has one. This is because today's system do not have the "phono" pre-amplifier system built into it. Records produce a very low signal which needs to be increased in order to be properly heard when you plug it in the AUX input of most modern audio systems.
I was going to get a Technics turntable worth nearly a thousand dollars but this turntable is solid, keeps the speed perfectly accurate, has all the adjustment controls you would ever need and does a terrific job which for under $200 dollars is impossible to beat.
I am experienced with audio and video technology and I know that once you get a good level of quality, it takes thousands of dollars to get an improvement, that many times most people don't even hear.
I am using my own cartridge and needle, not the one provided. I use a Sure System, not the most pricey but up there as far as quality is concerned. Remember that the Cartridge and needle is what influences THE MOST the sound of your turntable. You could have a below standards turntable which sounds awesome if your have the proper combination of cartridge & needle.
One thing worth mentioning is that unless you are a DJ you may not be used to a fully manual turntable such as this one. Most turntables are automatic or semi-automatic. This means that, for example, when the needle gets to the end of the record, the tone arm is lifted, returned to its starting position and the record stopped.
This product does not have that feature, it is fully MANUAL, this means the tone won't be lifted and the record won't be stopped. This is a very minor inconvenience but that in my opinion you need to be aware of.
The turntable comes with a 115V/220V switch which allows you to use it in Europe and the rest of the World, this is very convenient.
It doesn't have a ground cable which most turntables used to have, that worried me during the installation, however I have not detected any humming or noise which is characteristic of ungrounded systems, therefore they seem to have solved this issue too.