We had many requests for the comparison of the Music Hall MMF 5.3 and the Audio-Techica LP120, with many in a dilemma on which would be a better purchase for their needs. While there isn’t a strict winner in this fight between the two products, they do serve different purposes and different needs. Each product has its merits, and ultimately, the most integral and important thing would be the match between your needs and the product.
Here, we will bring out the pros and cons of these two products to help you to make the best choice in your purchase. By making an informed decision, this will help you to obtain the most enjoyment from your purchase that meets your needs, knowing that you’ve picked the right one.
Is there a better brand: Music Hall vs Audio Technica
First, let’s start with a comparison of the two brands– Music Hall and Audio Technica. Needless to say, both brands are highly established and are well-known in their field, both having their roots firmly implanted in history. Music Hall was founded in 1985, and has its emphasis almost exclusively on 2-channel stereo. This makes it one of the rare companies with such a specialised focus, given the eminence of multi-channel products today. All of the turntables from Music Hall are manufactured in the Czech Republic, in a factory who has a history of making quality products for over 50 years. Their range includes integrated amps, CD players, receivers, phono amps and D/A converters.
On the other hand, Audio-Technica similarly has a long history of making audio products. Established since 1962, it now creates high performance AV products for both home and professional use. Audio-Technica caters to a wide range of buyers- be it entry-level audiophiles or serious, experienced ones. This is reflected in their products, ranging in features and also the price point.
Are they targeting the same audience?
The two products are at relatively different price points– the Music Hall MMF 5.3 being priced at $999.99 and the Audio-Techica LP120 being priced at a more entry level price of $299.99. However, a product’s features are not only reflected in its price, so we will now go on to examine the differences in its features. Given the higher price of the MMF 5.3, one might expect a better and more extensive list of specifications compared to the LP120. However, is that true?
A closer look into the actual specifications of these products does not seem to reflect that. Firstly, both turntables are manual in operation, so if you are truly a beginner who is not interested in the process of setting it up before using it, these turntables might not be for you. However, if you are looking for the full experience of setting it up manually before listening to your vinyl records, read on!
Playback speed difference
Looking at the playback speeds of the Music Hall MMF 5.3 and the Audio-Techica LP120, the MMF 5.3 only allows you to spin your 33-1/3 rpm and 45 rpm records. However, the LP120 provides an additional option of allowing you to also spin your 78 rpm records. Here, deciding which turntable for you will depend on your needs. Would you want something fuss-free and easy to operate, or are you someone who truly enjoys the process of prepping the turntable before being rewarded with your favourite tunes?
Belt Driven Music Hall MMF 5.3 vs Direct Drive Audio Technica LP120
The Music Hall MMF 5.3 is a belt-driven turntable. While it performs its function or spinning 33 rpm and 45 rpm vinyl records, it is definitely not built for the DJs. Unlike the MMF 5.3, the LP120 has a direct drive motor. It allows you to play 78 rpm records, and will also be adequate for simple DJ gigs. However, if you are looking for something to fulfil more serious DJ duties, this might not be for you. It is also good to note that the LP120 has a high torque motor commonly used by DJs, allowing you to reach the speed you want quickly and without too much delay.
If you’re looking for noise-free devices, both turntables are good options. The MMF 5.3 has a precision stainless steel main bearing sheathed in Teflon for noise-free operation, while the LP120, despite using a direct driver motor, achieves a fluid low-noise operation. This is great news for audiophiles who cannot stand hums and additional noise while the machine is operating, allowing them to enjoy a cleaner sound.
Does both Music Hall MMF 5.3 and Audio Technica LP120 allow future cartridge upgrades?
For those who are seriously considering picking this up as a hobby that was last throughout the years to come, it will be good to hear that both turntables allow future upgrades. This turntable might be of sentimental value to you- especially if it is your first, and this option will be great to have when you still want to keep it, but would also want an upgrade as you become more sophisticated in this field and have greater demands for your audio equipment. The MMF 5.3 comes with an Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge, while the LP120 comes with Audio-Technica’s own AT95E cartridge, that will serve the needs of most beginners.
Do you want to digitalise your music?
If you are looking to digitalise your vinyl records, the MMF 5.3 might not be what you are looking for. It does not allow for USB output, unlike the LP120. Hence, if you want to digitalise your vinyls, the LP120 will be the better choice. The process is simple- just connect the LP120 to your computer with the USB port, and you will be able to listen to your collection of songs on the road too.
Sound quality of Music Hall MMF 5.3 vs Audio Technica LP120
With regard to the sound quality, having spun my vinyls on both, it is hard to pick a clear winner. This is probably due to the wow and flutter of the MMF 5.3 being 0.1 that of the LP120 being a close 0.2. To the average ear, the records played on both turntables are indiscernible in quality, but perhaps a more sensitive listener would be able to pick out the difference in the sound produced by both machines.
Which turntable is for you: Music Hall MMF 5.3 vs Audio Technica LP120
If you are an aspiring DJ, and would like to digitalise your vinyls to enjoy the convenience of having your favourite tunes with you when you are out and about, the LP120 is for you. However, perhaps if you are looking for something more traditional, and have a larger budget set aside for this purchase, the MMF 5.3 might be for you.