Audio-Technica LP120-USB – Quality for Budget?

Are you someone who’s looking at toying around with a comfortable budget in getting a good quality turntable? In this post, we are going to focus on one of the good options out there by Panasonic – the Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB. This model has recently soared with popularity. Largely due to this model’s quality of music, accuracy of its speed, it being durable of course with a very acceptable price too. To be honest, its hard to find a better machine for this price range.

When it comes to real tip top quality turntables, the price can go up really steep for many of us. Perhaps you have the ability but just want to experiment with something good yet without breaking the bank, this may be the perfect model. With high ratings coming from existing users, you need not worry.

What makes this turntable attractive?

First, this model allows you to always constantly improve your music quality as long as you diligently upgrade its components. This turntable works well for audiophiles looking at digitalizing their music while not losing sight on quality. It can be done because of its connection to PCs through USB or to those analog audios. But, if you are someone looking for quick and hassle-free solutions in porting your albums to your portable machines, you would have to put in some extra effort with either using a software or performing some calibration.

Did you know this model can also become a good disk jockey starter turntable? This is due to its high torque direct drive motor coupled with other good features such as fast start stop, accuracy in speed, reverse playback. Of course to do all these well, it needs an appropriate stylus. For some people, it’s a good substitute for owning the Techniques 1200, mainly due to price reason.

Completely manual for the hands on people

If you are looking for the good ole experience back in the old days, this is perfect because it does not come with automatic tonearm or any other auto features. But for the starters, no stress if its your first time setting up your own turntable – because set up for this model is super simple.

All you need to do is just to follow the instructions step by step which are very detailed on both written notes or by watching tutorials online. Well, if dealing with components and adjusting them isn’t your forte or what you would like to do, you may want to consider something fully automatic for e.g. the Audio-Technica LP 60 USB.

You know what you want – if you don’t mind a completely manual experience at this reasonable price yet good quality turntable, you will find this a great choice.

Option for future upgrading

The Audio-Technica LP-120-USB has a dual magnet phono cartridge being pre-installed on a universal headshell. The benefit of starting with a standard headshell gives you the option to upgrade your cartridge in the future when you require something of a higher quality. The pre-mounted cartridge is of high performance when it comes to quality, where it produces detailed, precise yet clear music – the AT95E.

Handling with care

When you are hands on with this model, I would advice you to be very cautious and careful because the cantilever is extremely fragile or delicate, so it can break very easily. However in the event that you need to find a new replacement, its easily available on Amazon. All quite taken care of in the worst case scenario. When it comes to replacing only the stylus, you just need to go specific in your search – type AT95E just like that.

Is this good for DJ-ing?

Both yes and no, there are supporters on both fences. Usually for yes, they point to DJ beginners and simple scratching requirements, with less emphasis on juggling. If you are looking specifically for DJ-ing, this is likely not the model you should focus on.

Issue on playback of 78 rpm

This turntable can support playback of 33 1/3, 45, 78 rpm vinyl records, but this model does not include the best most suitable cartridge. You might recall that 78 rpm records comes with wider grooves, which are also monophonic. If you use the cartridge that comes along with it to play 78 rpm records, it may potentially damage or destroy your stylus and vinyl. I would recommend you to use the Shure M78S which is one of the highly sought after – as it’s a special monophonic cartridge.

Direct drive motor yet with little rumble?

This model has a high torque motor. It means the motor has the ability to quickly reach the desired speed. This type of motor function is also widely used by DJ-ing. In general, most of the time direct drive machines create more noise compared to belted machines, yet there is little noise on this one. Some are able to hear the motor noises in the middle of the playback so they suggest to change the felt mat with a rubber one to lessen the noise. The drawback of doing so is that it may affect you when you use it for scratching.

It comes with S-shaped Tonearm

This model has the S-shaped tonearm coupled with an adjustable counterweight and tonearm height adjustment. What difference does the S-shaped tonearm bring? It actually aids in lowering tracking errors. Furthermore, the tonearm rest has a lock clamp to keep the arm very secured while you are bringing it around. However, please note that the lock clamp is fragile so you need to be gentle with it to prevent breaking it easily.

In obtaining the unparalleled sound quality and music performance from this model, you would need to adjust and assemble the components of the tonearm. How do you do it? Very simply, you would need to balance the tonearm with an appropriate tracking force for certain cartridges. Is it your first time doing this? Not to worry, its really quite simple. All you need to do is to follow the instructional manual and maybe also watch the video tutorial by AT. Many of us prefer the visual doing i.e. video tutorial an easier option that reading the paper manual.

When it comes to tonearm height adjustment…

Do not belittle adjusting the tonearm’s height. Because by adjusting for the thickness of the vinyl record that you put on this model, you will be able to derive the maximum benefits. In addition, remember to adjust the height in the way such that the tonearm is placed parallel to the surface of your favorite record.

Also do not forget that you have to manually operate the tonearm, as this AT-LP-120 doesn’t have the automatic arm return. This means once the needle reaches the last bit of your record, someone has to be there to lift the arm for it to return to rest position. Some of the audiophiles out there actually lament the lack of auto return feature, with it, it will be perfect.

What are you looking for?

Good sound quality at an affordable price? Looking to try it as a DJ starter turntable? You want to digitise your favorite old records at good sound performances? If your answer is yes to the above then this would be worth your buy.

You want something automatic or semi-automatic? Then maybe you should look at other models in the market such as the Thorens TD 295 MK IV or even the TD 190-2… With many excellent comments and ratings, coupled with good customer service at AT, you would be in good hands. As always, make an informed decision. Hope this is of use to you, feel free to leave your comments so others can also benefit.

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