Audio-Technica AT-LP120 Preamp Removal (Detailed Instructions Video)

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by FrankieP, May 20, 2013.

  1. FrankieP

    FrankieP Active Member Thread Starter




    Audio-Technica AT-LP120 USB Turntable Preamp Removal
    (based on vwestlife's modification videohttp://youtu.be/T8sUuaclrZ4)

    WARNING: Please remember that if you choose to follow the steps and instructions contained within this video and perform the modification to your turntable, I will not be held liable and responsible if something goes wrong. And doing so is your own risk.

    If you want to hear the sonic difference to the sound of this turntable before and after the mod, you can download the needledrops here:

    http://www.sendspace.com/file/91y4xg (unmodded using the original built-in preamp)
    http://www.sendspace.com/file/t6zf3a (modded with the built-in preamp removed)

    Judge for yourself if you can hear the difference. Then make a decision whether you want to go ahead and do this modification.
     
    Jam757, DoF, Ghostworld and 7 others like this.
  2. FrankieP

    FrankieP Active Member Thread Starter

    I cannot stress enough the warning above and I recommend downloading the needledrops first and listen to them before doing this mod. If you think you hear the difference between the two, then you can make a decision if this is something you want to do. To me, the sonic difference is night and day and i'm happy that I did it. I want to say thanks to forum member Ben Adams for his original thread and link to the vwestlife video. Hope this video will help some people that are on the fence of doing this mod. It was pretty easy to do and hope this proves it. Enjoy!

    BTW, excuse the porn music bed!o_O:laugh:
    Had to drown my kids who are bickering like crazy in the background!
     
    Grant and DML2112 like this.
  3. ascot

    ascot Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Thank you for posting this, Frankie. I don't see myself trying this alone, but I may know someone who could do it.
     
  4. Ben Adams

    Ben Adams Forum Resident

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ, USA
    This is great, thanks for putting it together, Frankie!!
     
    David Loyd likes this.
  5. David Loyd

    David Loyd New Member

    Location:
    Washington DCish
    Thank you Frankie! This is much more detailed than the original video. Looks easy enough that I am going to try to perform this task this upcoming weekend when I have some free time.
     
  6. David Loyd

    David Loyd New Member

    Location:
    Washington DCish
    Frankie I have a question, or really to anyone who might know the answer. Would it be better to connect the ground from the AT to my receiver, or better to connect the ground from my pre amp that the AT will be hooked up to directly into my reciever? Would one option be better than the other?
     
  7. Ben Adams

    Ben Adams Forum Resident

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ, USA
    Your preamp should have its own ground connection. That's where you'll attach the ground lead.
     
    David Loyd likes this.
  8. ascot

    ascot Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    I have a question, too. One of my relatives says he can perform this operation over the weekend. What supplies do I need to get? It looks like four wire caps and a spade connector for the ground wire. Anything else? What size caps? I know nothing about these.
     
    David Loyd likes this.
  9. David Loyd

    David Loyd New Member

    Location:
    Washington DCish
    Ascot I think these will do. You will need a crimping tool if it's not included in a set like the one I posted. Not sure if you have a harbor freight near you, but its def cheaper to get them there than say amazon.

    http://www.harborfreight.com/305-piece-solderless-terminal-kit-67684.html

    http://www.harborfreight.com/158-piece-wire-connector-assortment-67520.html
     
  10. Stefan

    Stefan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Excellent video. Makes me almost want to run out and get one of these.

    I'm curious about the circuit board (usually pictured in the top right corner of the screen) where the wires from the tonearm are connected. I don't believe it has any purpose for the signal coming from the cartridge to the pre-amp, so I wonder why AT didn't route the wirese directly to the pre-amp. That connection of running the tonearm wires to that circuit board through a small loop then out through the wire that was cut between it and the pre-amp adds nothing but extra length and thus capacitance. One could lower the internal wiring capacitance by taking the leads coming from the tonearm and connecting them directly to the output cables or else to a set of RCA jacks and a lug for ground (actually a lot of SL-1200 "modders" are running the ground through the RCA cable ground).
     
  11. ClausH

    ClausH Forum Resident

    Location:
    Horsens, Denmark
    Excellent video! Does anybody know if the same can be done with the AT-LP1240 turntable which also has a build-in pre-amp?
     
  12. Stefan

    Stefan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    I've also wondered about that as the 1240 looks really beautiful.
     
  13. Stefan

    Stefan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    I definitely hear a difference. The highs are much more open on the modded version. To be honest (assuming these were done with your AT440MLa), I know people on here who would prefer the unmodded version as they prefer a warmer sound with subdued highs, but if you'd done this with a warmer cartridge, the unmodded version would have been really dull.

    Tell me, is the unmodded version through the built-in preamp or with it bypassed and through your external preamp?
     
  14. FrankieP

    FrankieP Active Member Thread Starter

    Bypassed. Unmodded to an ART DJ Pre to an EMU 1820m. My cartridge is an AT440ML/occ (previous version prior to the AT440MLa). Not sure if there's a big difference between the 2 but indeed it is brighter than the stock one that came with the ATLP120. I did do some needledrops using the stock cart prior to the mod. I have to see if I still have it though. I might have deleted it. If i do, then i'll do a needledrop of the same record with the same stock cart so we can compare.
     
  15. Stefan

    Stefan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    The 440ML was supposed to have been even brighter than the 440MLa, but yours sounds quite nice. I believe your turntable came with the AT-95e, which is not a bad cartridge in itself. It'd be interesting to hear your old needledrop and compare it to both the 440ML unmodded and modded.
     
  16. Budysr

    Budysr Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Pensacola, FL.
    Great video for those with this TT and on the fence about removing the preamp! I removed mine a few weeks ago and went with an ART preamp as well. The difference was significant to my ears. I can't help but notice that Music Hall mat you have Frankie. How do you like that? Did you notice any improvement from the mat? I replaced the stock mat on mine with an old rubber mat from a trashed TT but that cork mat has me wondering if it would be even better. It is a bit expensive though....
     
  17. Stefan

    Stefan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    You could actually make one by travelling to your local hardware store and picking up some cork sheeting plus little stick-on cork discs. It's just a matter of getting the right thickness. For the center, you could either use an extra sheet cut to roughly the size of the label (round coffee cans are good for this) or else place some of the little stick-on discs around the center.
     
  18. Stefan

    Stefan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Speaking of cork mats, I was looking for something else just now and came across a DIY version at the excellent analogdept.com website:

    http://www.theanalogdept.com/spotmat_8.htm
    [​IMG]

    Check the whole site out as there are lots of useful articles there on alignment, etc.
     
  19. Ben Adams

    Ben Adams Forum Resident

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ, USA
    I tried a DIY cork, but feel my thick rubber mat is better.
     
    Antares likes this.
  20. Budysr

    Budysr Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Pensacola, FL.
    How thick of a rubber mat are you using Ben? The one I got is pretty thin and there are some pretty think ones at this place that I could get. I was worried about using a mat that was too heavy for the table?
     
  21. Ben Adams

    Ben Adams Forum Resident

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ, USA
    Mine's 2.5mm. You don't have to worry about a thick mat being too much for the table . . . it's a strong direct drive motor. There are people who use record weights with their AT-LP120s.
     
    Budysr likes this.
  22. Budysr

    Budysr Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Pensacola, FL.
    Awesome. I m gonna go back by the used record store soon and get one of the thicker rubber mats in place of the one I have now. This guy had a pretty stout one that came off a Sony TT that I was gonna get originally. He will sell it to me for a buck(if he doesn't just let me have it for free).
     
  23. Antares

    Antares Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Flanders
    :agree: I don't think cork couples very well with an aluminum platter. I do use a 2 mm thin cork wall tile cut out on top of my TT rubber mat to correct VTA (don't want to shim the cartridge) and am happy with that. The cork-rubber-alu sandwich sounds better than rubber-cork-alu. :)
     
  24. Stefan

    Stefan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    That reminds me of a turntable mat I once tried that was cork with a vinyl disc on one side. I was in a gardening section of a hardware store and saw these discs of various sizes that were designed to go under plants. They were cork on one side and beige vinyl on the other. They had one exactly 12" in diameter, so I bought it, carefully drilled a hole in the center, and voilĂ  instant mat. It was thick so I had to raise the arm to get the VTA right, but at the time, it sounded quite nice on my Project Debut in comparison to the felt mat. Things seemed much livelier and acoustic guitars especially gained a lot of weight. However, the best sound seemed to be with the vinyl side up.

    Once I got the acrylic platter for my Xpression, I found that the sound was similar to the cork/vinyl mat so I stopped using it.

    This brings up one good advantage of the AT-PL120, as well as the super OEM turntables (AT-LP240, AT-LP1240,Stanton St.150, etc.) and the Technics SL-1200-1800 MkIIs, the ability to easily adjust VTA with arm height when trying different mats, etc. I hated that my Debut had no arm height adjustment and have always avoided Rega's for that reason. The mid-line and higher Projects and Music Halls aren't quite as bad since they have little allen screws at the back, but it's still tedious compared to simply flipping the unlock switch and turning a ring. That ease of adjustment and the removable headshells have me constantly envious. I'm about to try a moving coil cartridge and I still have my Ortofon 2M Black as well as an oldAT150MLX and Ortofon OM20 Super that both just need new styli, so it'd be great to be able to swap them out easily with headshells. I like that little secene one of the AT-LP120 preamp removal videos where the guy opens a drawer full of cartridges mounted on headshells.
     
    Ben Adams likes this.
  25. David Loyd

    David Loyd New Member

    Location:
    Washington DCish
    I'm going to attempt this mod tonight. One question, will this dampen the 'boom' you hear when you tap or close the turntable cover? Or is that just normal?
     

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