I am a huge fan of the AUDIO-TECHNICA LP120 and actually, I am hoping to get the chance to check out the AT-LP120XUSB which is the new version of this classic turntable that I have had a great time with in the past. Anyway, as this is a popular turntable from the good folks at Audio-Technica I thought I would take a look at it and try to help you guys who have a muffled sound or some other kind of distortion going on.
Collecting vinyl records is one of the most awesome hobbies around, but you do sometimes have to roll your sleeves up and do some work! I say this because I recently fired my AUDIO-TECHNICA LP120 up for the first time in a while and noticed that the sound was off and it was an issue with my needle that I was having. That is really the inspiration for looking at some of the common causes as to why the sound you are getting may not be to your liking.
Oh, by the way, if you want to check out this AUDIO-TECHNICA LP120 review that we did on the site a while back.
Check the Phono Preamp!
I never actually had this problem with my LP120, but in doing my “homework” I actually found thanks to sites like Reddit and Sonos that many people have had problems with this record player due to their phono preamp. Some times it is a case of them one, not actually using one or two there being some kind of problem with their phono preamp. Phono preamps can be really fiddley so be sure to make sure it is all connected properly and that it is working. Also, if you can check your phono preamp out with another turntable that can help too.
I have reviewed a ton and I mean a ton of phono preamps over the years. Be sure to look at these phono preamp reviews if you do find that you need to buy a new one.
Do You Need To Replace Your Needle?
I am saying this because I know that my own AUDIO-TECHNICA LP120 as much as I loved it, needed the needle replacing rather quickly. I actually came across this fun guide on replacing your turntable needle which is a great watch. If your needle is worn down then the sound is going to be poor, in some cases, it might just be downright awful. Thankfully getting a new cartridge is not as expensive as you would think and you can probably get one for the LP120 for under 50 bucks on Amazon.
One extra bit of advice I want to give you before you go and replace your cartridge/needle is that you need to give it a good look. Many people will clean their records, turntable and make sure that is spick and span. However, they can sometimes forget all about the needle! The needle can get all dusty, which can prevent it from making solid contact with your record player. Cleaning your needle is very easy to do as seen in this video guide. You can buy a record cleaning kit like this one that comes with all you need to not just keep your records and turntable clean, but your stylus too for around 20 bucks.
Is There A Problem With Your Records?
Look, I hope that this is not the case, but I must admit I have a few friends that I flat out refuse to let borrow my records as they do not take proper care of them. Recently I wrote a piece about warped sounding records and I recommend you check that out. If your records are not in good condition that is going to greatly affect the sound that you are experiencing. I always suggest that you try and keep your records as dust-free as possible.
Also, be sure to check your records before you put them on your turntable. First of all, you can see if there is any dust on them and you can get it all off before you play it. Also, you can see if the record is warped, scratched or has any damage at all. Records need to be stored properly or they can have problems! If it is one record or just a couple of records in particular that sound muffled, it could be the actual records and not your LP120 that is having the issues.
Reconnect It All!
After you have made sure that your record player and the needle is not all covered in dust. One step that I highly suggest you do before you go running out and spending money! Is to check all of your connections. I am talking from your turntable to your preamp, to your speakers to your receiver if you are using one! Just check all of the connections, sometimes unplugging and plugging back in can fix a problem. I know that this sounds incredibly basic, but it is always I step that I suggest people do if they are having trouble with their record player sounding muffled.
I still think that the AUDIO-TECHNICA LP120 is a great record player and one that has some really cool style as well as great sound. It has that Audio-Technica quality all throughout and it is a record player I had many years of use out of. Like I said in the intro I really hope to check out the newer version of this at some point. If you are one of the people who are having trouble with your LP 120 having a muffled kind of sound or some other issue with your sound quality. Be sure to try out some of the steps I have suggested up above and hopefully you will be back to listening to your vinyl in the quality you like in no time at all!