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Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB Turntable

Audio-Technica has long been a distinguished player in the vinyl market; a company with a rich history in audio production and sound equipment manufacturing. Having been established in 1962, in 2012 the company celebrated its 50-year anniversary with the release of the AT-LP120-USB turntable – a record player that harnesses decades of quality audio design in a modernised package. It still stands as a winning example of ingenuity, a professional turntable designed to thrive in the hands of DJs and flourish in the comfort of a household.

A BREATH OF FRESH AIR
The LP120 weighs in at a compact 10.7 kg, constructed with an all-plastic base and a die-cast aluminium platter. Without the use of high-grade materials Audio-Technica has gone to great lengths to ensure there’s substantial dampening in what is a solid and sturdy unit. The tone arm is an all-metal affair, S-shaped with a standard adjustable counterweight. A pre-assembled AT95E cartridge ensures setting up is a straightforward process, its elliptical stylus and dual magnet setup offering a high level of performance without any necessary modifications, or the hefty audiophile price tag. Emphasised in every design feature is a welcomed level of simplicity that’s geared towards professionalism, a prime example of which is the hydraulically dampened cueing lever. This enables a measured tone arm descent that will keep your records, for the most part, unscratched and out of harm’s way. Where this level of design is found lacking, however, is in the hard-wired RCA connectors. If they ever break or fail, replacing them won’t be easy.
 
TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE
At the height of this turntable’s versatility is an internal stereo phono preamp. This useful feature makes it possible to connect with audio systems that don’t have a phono input. It also offers the option to bypass the preamp, and play the turntable through an upgraded, external preamp. This duality is mirrored by the turntable’s USB output, which directly connects to your computer and enables the conversion of vinyl records into a digital format. It comes with Audacity recording software, which is a nice place to get started when digitising your analogue collection. 
 
LATE NIGHTS AND EARLY MORNINGS
There’s a range of DJ-oriented features on board the LP120 that make it a sound choice for the live setting. The direct drive, high torque motor produces instantaneous starting and stopping, with the added benefit of being able to reverse the rotation direction (a unique feature for deciphering those secret messages fused into records of old). While the 0.2% wow and flutter can catch the ear at times, it’s only when speakers are turned down significantly, unlikely to ever be noticed in a DJ setting. The turntable can play at speeds of 33, 45, and 78RPM, while other DJ-savvy functions include the ability to alter the pitch of your music, and a popup stylus target light that makes cueing up a track in minimal light a much easier feat.  
 
MAXIMUM SATISFACTION, MINIMAL FUSS
Whether you’re looking for a smooth entry into vinyl, or require a live setup that’s both functional and affordable, this turntable has you covered. The seamless setup, easy manoeuvrability and careful descent of the tone arm make it a joy to use. And when coupled with USB connectivity, an internal preamp, and DJ capabilities, it delivers an all-round rewarding record playing experience.  
 
BY CHRIS SCOTT