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Lifewire / Jeff Dojillo
Easy to set up
Made out of plastic
The Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK is a modern turntable with great customization options and the ability to convert vinyl records into a digital audio format.
There’s been a massive resurgence of analog music in the past few years and the popularity of vinyl records has continued to rise. The Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK is a beautifully designed, premium turntable that not only plays your favorite records but can digitize your record collection. We tested Audio-Technica's latest way to ride the vinyl trend to find out if it was easy to set up, play records, and convert your favorite albums into digital files.
The Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK is a lightweight turntable with a modern design. The all black, polished metal turntable comes with a professional-grade, anti-resonance, die-cast aluminum platter and a felt mat to help reduce vibration when playing records.
The turntable is equipped with an S-shaped tonearm, which lends it a modern look compared to traditional straight tonearms. The tonearm accepts the AT-HS6 universal ½"-mount headshell and AT-VM95E Dual Magnet phono cartridge with 0.3 x 0.7 mil elliptical stylus, and the stylus can be upgraded to further enhance the audio quality and listening experience. A stylus upgrade will help produce richer tones and sharper aural details.
The Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK is a lightweight turntable with a modern design.
Unlike much of its competitors in the premium turntable space (which are often built from polished aluminum and high quality wood), the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK is made primarily from plastic, including the knobs and dials. It’s an odd choice, and serves to somewhat diminish the high-end feel and presentation of the player, which otherwise looks really nice.
To keep the Audio-Technica turntable clean, there’s a removable hinged dust cover. Dust is a major issue when playing vinyl records as any debris on the record will cause records to crackle, hiss, and skip, so the cover is a welcome addition. It not only keeps the turnable clean, it helps reduce vibration from speakers during playback.
Removing the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK from the box, we were able to assemble it pretty quickly, though the instructions were a bit vague. We installed the platter and the felt mat on the turntable easily, and the headshell and phono cartridge on the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK were also a breeze to install. Balancing the tonearm was fairly straightforward as well, it just required a few trial and error adjustments of the counterweight.
While testing the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK, we realized that it not only looks great, it performs well. After placing a record on the turntable we found it easy to choose the correct speed to play the record, with controls for 33/45/78 RPM right next to the start button.
The Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK contains a direct-drive, DC servo motor under the platter that allows it to spin up very quickly. The direct-drive motor allows the turntable to spin freely without resistance which allow for almost immediate pitch adjustments. The ability to spin freely makes this turntable perfect for DJs that mix records because this device can easily match tempo.
The built in preamp on the Audio-Technica AT-LP120USB-SV is really helpful for those that do not have stereos with a dedicated phono line. We were able to switch between the dedicated amp and the phono line out with a flip of a switch located on the back. It’s also great for vinyl enthusiasts who don’t have powerful stereo systems with dedicated amps.
The Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK generally sounds great, but audio quality can vary significantly depending on the system to which the turntable is attached. When testing the AT-VM95E Dual Magnet phono cartridge with a dedicated stereo amp it created a wonderful soundstage with crisp high tones and rich bass. Even though our tests were positive, the sound produced from the turntable relies more on the quality of speakers, amp, and sound dynamics of the room than other models.
The Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK generally sounds great, but audio quality can vary significantly depending on the system to which the turntable is attached.
According to the instructions that were provided with the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK, all we had to do to convert vinyl records to digital audio was to connect the turntable via USB and download Audacity recording software. Converting analog audio to digital was then as simple as selecting the turntable as our input device. This turntable is perfect for those looking for a simple way to record their favorite records or archive a rare vinyl collection.
Retailing at around $250 the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK is a great direct-drive turntable. Geared toward those that enjoy high-definition music through vinyl records, this is a great turntable that not only looks wonderful but delivers great functionality.
Coming in at around $178, the Sony PS-LX310BT is a great entry level turntable that has Bluetooth connectivity and, like the AT-LP120XUSB-BK, has the added benefit of connecting to your computer via USB to convert records to digital. Both models are plastic, but both are also reasonably attractive and won’t stand out in a negative way like some of the cheaper eyesores in this category do. The Sony model edges out the Audio-Technica based largely on price; the latter’s audio quality is so drastically better as to justify a $121 price bump.
An excellent premium option for serious audiophiles.
The Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK is a great turntable for those that are looking for a serious, enthusiast option. Vinyl lovers that are serious about sound will want this turntable due to its customizable features and excellent sound quality—as long as it’s paired with a similarly high-end system.
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