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Review of Audio Technica AT-LP 120 USB Direct Drive Turntable

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Ok lets get down and take a look at a pretty decent turntable for those of you who either do not have one or are looking to upgrade from the cheap one you already may have.

We’re going to look at the Audio Technica AT-LP 120 which is a very nice turntable for a very affordable price. This turntable will not harm your vinyl records in the least. I have seen a lot of favorable reviews on this turntable and not many have anything bad to say about it. I’m going to try and make this easy to understand for you who are new to record collecting and explain this in as simple non-technically as I can so its easy to understand. If you want a more technical review, there are plenty of them to be found on the internet.

There are lots of products for sale on the internet but the Audio TechnicaAT-LP 120 is something I do not hesitate to recommend as I have complete confidence you will not be disappointed in this turntable.

 

 

 

If you want to skip this review and go directly to Amazon and read about it there click HERE (Affiliate link)

 

 

Why The AT-LP 120?audio-Technica AT-LP-120 USB vinyl record player

In my opinion, choosing the Audio Technica LP 120 is a no brainer. I picked the audio technica because of it’s popularity and very high customer ratings and because the audio quality is very good for a moderate priced turntable. High quality turntables can be very expensive so this one should be perfect for the new collector and not break your wallet.  Another benefit of this LP 120 is you can improve it by upgrading some of its components.

The AT-LP 120 has a USB connection for those who may want to digitize their vinyl records. It can be hooked up to a computer via USB or analog audio, but it is not an easy one button push solution to transfer your records to CD as you will have to have and learn some audio software.  But, the capability is there if you want give it a try. Free Audacity audio software (PC and Mac) is included in theAudio Technica 120 package

This would also make a decent disk jockey beginner turntable if you purchase a different “upgraded” stylus, as the one that comes with it is not really suitable for DJing. The Audio Technica is also very easy to set up as it comes with very detailed and easy to follow instructions. One thing to keep in mind is this turntable is completely manual so it does not have an automatic tonearm return or auto-stop feature. So, if you tend to fall asleep while listening to music you may want to consider a fully automatic turntable like the Audio-Technica AT-LP60USB.

See my blog on things to consider when buying a turntable HERE and also HERE to learn a little about various turntable components.

Headshell, Cartridge and Stylus

Headshell review

Headshell

Cartridge audio technica

Cartridge

Without getting technical here let me just say the at LP 120 has a cartridge premounted on a universal standard headshel,l which means that you can easily upgrade the cartridge in the future if you desire a little better quality. The cartridge that comes standard (AT95E) is a high performance cartridge that produces a nice clear sound. Be warned though that the cartridge that comes standard is not appropriate for DJ scratching so it you want to DJ you will need to upgrade.

This LP 120 supports playback of 78 rpm records, but it does not include an appropriate cartridge for 78 RPM record playback. If you read any of my other blog posts you may remember that a 78 record groove is about 4 times wider than a 33 rpm groove and is monophonic, meaning they contain a single audio channel. So, the cartridge that comes with this turntable is not recommended for 78 rpm playback. If you think you may want to switch back and forth between 78 and 33 rpm often contact me and I will make recommendation on what you need to do.

Tonearm and Adjustments

tonearm and cartridge

Tonearm

The Audio Technica AT-LP 120 comes with an S-shaped tonearm and has an adjustable anti-skate, counterweight and height adjustment. It also has a lift cuing lever and a tonearm locking clamp.

For best sound quality it does need to be assembled and adjusted which means balancing the tonearm and setting the correct tracking force and anti-skate. It sounds more difficult than it actually is but there are easy instructions and a video that shows you everything you need to know.

audio technica turntable review

Tonearm adjustments

 

Also remember as I mentioned earlier thie LP 120 is completely manual operation so when the stylus gets to the end of the record you need to manually lift the tonearm and return it to it’s resting position.

Platter and Motor

The Audio-Technica AT-LP 120-USB turntable has a high torque, direct drive motor, which means the motor will rapidly reach the correct speed. It is a direct drive meaning the platter mounts directly to the motor’s shaft so there is no need for a belt. Some say direct drive has a bit more noise than a belt drive but the noise on this turntable is barely noticeable.

The turntable comes with a felt matt on a light-weight die-cast aluminum platter. The platter has strobe dots on the edge that can be used with a strobe light to indicate speed accuracy if you wish to get really technical. TheLP 120 motor supports the three standard rotation speeds of 33 1/3. 45 and 78 RPM. Again it is worth mentioning that the cartridge and stylus are not compatible with 78 rpm playback so it you want to listen to 78s then you will have to purchase a separate cartridge.

Without getting into the technical aspect I will mention that the wow and flutter fluctuations are inside the parameters of what the human ear can detect. There is a pitch control where the pitch can be slightly changed if necessary.

Outputs

There are many possible audio setups for this turntable and the AT-LP 120 outputs are as follows. There is a USB cable included. A phono RCA cable is hardwired into the unit and it has a pre-amp selector switch that turns the pre-amp on and off.
There are also 2 cable adapters included to be used with the line output. Dual RCA to stereo 3.5 mm mini plug (male) and also same thing with a female mini plug. You can buy other adapters if need be but these are the two most common. The RCA cord is rather short so you may need to buy RCA extensions or an extra cord with a pair of couplers.
Phono cartridges produce a very weak electric signal and that signal needs to be boosted in order to be controlled by other audio devices such as an amplifier or receiver. The LP 120 has an internal pre-amplifier. This pre-amp can be bypassed by selecting PHONO on the selector switch. You would use this if you have a receiver or amp with a PHONO input or a high quality external pre-amp

 

 

Conclusion

The Audio Technica AT-LP-120USB comes with: Slipmat, Pre-mounted cartridge, removable dust cover, Mac and PC compatible Audacity recording software, RAC cable, USB cable and various adapter cables. This turntable is very easy to set up and use and everything you need is included. All you need to add is a sound system and speakers with an Aux/phono input.

If you have any specific questions feel free to ask me. If you click the link below and go to the Amazon page you can read many user reviews on this turntable and look over all the questions potential buyers have had. As I said earlier this is a very favorably reviewed item and I don’t think a person can go wrong with this turntable. Click the link below and go see for yourself.
You can go HERE (affiliate link) to Amazon website and get complete specifications and check the current price. This is a very low-maintenance turntable that I am sure will not disappoint you. There is a short video on this LP 120 by clicking the link above.

 

 

 

 

Craig

10 Comments

  1. Dear Craig,

    Thanks for the detailed review on “Audio Technica AT-LP 120 USB Direct Drive Turntable”.

    In your article you provided complete information covering it all. This review for sure save time for us. Keep up the great work.

    Your Friend,
    Paul

  2. Craig,
    The AT-LP 120 looks like a quality turntable. I like that it is moderately priced. Do you feel a moderately price turntable is a good choice for older collector’s albums? If you have a valuable album, you want to make every effort to take care of it. Will a more expensive turntable, preserve the album in any way, or am I ok buying a moderate priced turntable?

    • That’s the beauty of the AT-LP 120. It is an excellent turntable at a moderate price and comes with a quality tonearm and cartridge this will not harm your records in the least, Sure there are upgrades you can make that will improve audio quality and perhaps a fully automatic turntable would be a nice feature but out of the box this one is of excellent quality at an affordable price. This is perfect for the beginner or seasoned collector and you can be very confident in this selection.

  3. What an informative review this was, Craig. I sold (or gave away) my entire album collection, some even signed by the artist at concerts I attended way back when. And, if I had known there were turntables with a usb for digitizing albums, I would not have lost so much. Thanks for this terrific write-up!

    • Is too bad you had to get rid of your collection, but if you downsized and not live in an RV I know your space is limited. Guess you will need to stay with CDs or streaming service to better fit your space restrictions. I know Spotify or Apple Music has a lot of the older music available.

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