I had long wanted to gradually switch to vinyl records, either for mixing or simply listening purposes. I have bought myself an LP120 vinyl turntable from Audio-Technica for Christmas and I just LOVE it! If you’re looking into switching to vinyl records from CDs or even digital music and/or if you’re wondering what turntable should you get, then you’re at the right place: these are my first thought as a vinyl newbie and my mini review of the AT-LP120-USB.
So let’s get straight into it, I’ve always been a pretty big music listener, and I like composing/mixing too as I created my band a few times ago (house & complextro stuff if you want to check it out). So obviously, sound quality matters to me and I always used to download my music either in lossless or in 320Kbps+ format. When I find one particular artist/band especially awesome (such as Daft Punk, Jamiroquai and more…), I like getting their music directly on CDs because having the hardware media always feels much cooler than just buying a simple file. In the past few months, I’ve become more and more interested in getting my first vinyl turntable ever. So I’ve spent a lot of time stumbling-upon and Googling to find the one that would suit my budget and my needs as a beginner in the vinyl world. After a pretty long decision period, I’ve chosen to get myself the LP120-USB from Audio-Technica, this is a really nice-looking turntable (same layout as the Technics SL-1200) that is direct-driven and has a pitch control knob (important for DJing) for a pretty reasonable price.
When I came to an electronics store in my town to buy one of these, the first impression that I had as someone who had never ever touched a vinyl turntable was the weight of the package. It’s really heavy, and I seriously mean it, the whole thing weights about 12Kg, sure it’s a token of quality but it’s quite surprising when you take the package for the first time! Anyway, after unpacking everything, I set the whole thing up really quickly. It’s quite easy to understand how to assemble all the pieces, even for a complete beginner as Audio-Technica provide a little quick-guide to get started with the LP120.
Now after having set everything up came the moment to play my first vinyl record with this turntable. I bought myself “The Wall” by Pink Floyd, such a masterpiece, that’s a real pleasure to re-discover it in vinyl! The sound quality is awesome, even with the included AT-95E cartridge. As said previously, the LP120-USB features a fully professional metal tone-arm on which you can set the counter-weight and the anti-skating amount. It also has a pitch control knob with a 10-20% button to change the speed factor and a “Quartz” button to get back to the original pitch value without having to move the fader.
One thing that I love on this turntable is its global look-and-feel, it looks completely like a Technics SL-1200. Everything is shaped like one, the red light inside the on/off switch is there, the tone arm is almost exactly the same (high quality metal, curved shape), buttons are placed in the same way, even the target light is there! Trust me, next to an SL-1200, the Audio-Technica logo removed, it’ll be difficult to differentiate them. The only con I can relate concerning the look-and-feel of this turntable is the body itself, it looks like metal but it’s actually not, it is just made out of a metal-styled plastic that looks nice but feels a bit cheap when you touch it.
The other thing that made me buy this one is that the platter is direct-driven, no belt in there which is perfect for DJing/scratching. Of course I bought a turntable to be able to play vinyl records, but I also wanted it to be suitable for DJing. If I ever want to get myself a vinyl setup, I’ll just have to get a mixer, a second LP120 and two needles to get started; no need to get two turntables! Plus it has a switch on the back that enables you either to use the built-in preamp, or the phono output. Note that this turntable only has – in addition to the USB output – a pair of male RCA plugs that are soldered. It means that if you break them you’ll have to re-solder new ones by yourself or contact Audio-Technica.
In a nutshell, I really love this turntable and am completely satisfied, as a beginner. I think it’s probably the best one you can get for this price, it looks nice, feels nice to use, sounds great with the included cartridge and the built-in phono preamp… If you’re looking for the best vinyl turntable you can get within this price range, then go ahead, you won’t be disappointed.