Audio Technica LP120USB
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- Colossal spec
- even-handed sound
- Sounds slightly small-scale
- USB recordings are noisy
The list of features most record players tend to incorporate is a short one, but that's hardly the case here. The Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB is, as they like to say in the motor industry, fully loaded.
It looks very similar to the late, lamented Technics SL1200/1210 – and that's no bad thing. A direct-drive design, it has a stroboscope, target light, +/- 20% pitch control and a reverse switch.
It's supplied with an aluminium platter, Audio-Technica AT-P2 cartridge and a tone-arm, and plays at 33.3, 45 and 78rpm.
Around the back there's a switch for the built-in preamp (meaning the AT-LP120-USB can be used with an amplifier's line-level input as well as with a dedicated ‘phono' input) and a USB output.
This last means you can connect the Audio-Technica directly to a PC or Mac where, thanks to its analogue-to-digital convertor and the bundled Audacity software, records can be copied straight to a hard-drive.
All of which makes the AT-LP120-USB look like a formidably priced proposition.
Polite but pleasing sound
Playing a heavyweight pressing of Four Tet's There Is Love In You, the Audio-Technica demonstrates the sort of deft facility with timing and rhythmic organisation that makes vinyl many listeners' format of choice.
It's a tonally even-handed listen, with low-frequency solidity, mid-range detail and top-end crispness all nicely integrated. It's a bit too polite to overdo dynamic shifts or to attack too fiercely, though, and doesn't offer the kind of separation or space to its presentation that other, less extravagantly specified, turntables can deliver.
Digital copies made from the USB output are equally tentative, with more surface noise apparent than the AT-LP120-USB generates through loudspeakers.
But that doesn't alter the fact that this is a sturdy record player that does everything one could expect, at a very reasonable price.