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

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

  1. DarkAudit

    DarkAudit Well-Known Member

    Got my Jico from Turntable Needles. Showed up earlier than expected... not that there's anything wrong with that. :)

    (And the last couple of weeks has shown a strong possibility that my SL-D2 is in need of tonearm repair... no channel issues whatsoever with the LP120.)
     
  2. Joshua T. Anderson

    Joshua T. Anderson Member

    Location:
    Ohio
    Well, I am extremely proud to say that I DID IT!!!! :pineapple:

    I would like to thank FrankieP for his incredible instructional video, without which I wouldn't have been able to do this with my fledgling electronics skills. Also, a huge thank you to vwestlife for really popularizing this mod and figuring out how to do it.

    Anyway, I'm now a believer! I can definitely tell an immediate difference. The soundstage opened right up, the highs are more clear than ever, and my listening experience just improved ten-fold. This mod is NOT difficult for those who are on the fence. I have barely any experience doing this kind of stuff, and I was able to do it.

    I am EXTREMELY happy with this modification and would encourage fellow budget audiophiles with this table to do this mod, too!
     
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  3. ascot

    ascot Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin

    Now the real fun begins. :righton:
     
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  4. Ben Adams

    Ben Adams Forum Resident

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ, USA
    Fantastic! Glad to hear. :)
     
  5. Luca

    Luca Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Torino, Italy
    Still curious to know if the AT-LP1240 suffers from the same issue and would benefit from the same tweaking.... because that's a turntable that I would like too buy by the end of the year....
     
  6. Ben Adams

    Ben Adams Forum Resident

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ, USA
    That's a good question. I guess the easiest test would be for someone who has an AT-LP120 and has already performed the mod to listen to the AT-LP1240 and see if it sounds veiled in comparison. Both TT's would need to have the same carts installed.
     
  7. Joshua T. Anderson

    Joshua T. Anderson Member

    Location:
    Ohio
    Could you contact Audio Technica and ask them if they're wired similarly? Don't know if you'd want to say, "Did you limit the capacity your turntable has in terms of sound quality in both models?" ha
     
  8. Luca

    Luca Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Torino, Italy
    I wrote to Audio Technica... but I don't expect a fully honest answer! ;-)
     
  9. Joshua T. Anderson

    Joshua T. Anderson Member

    Location:
    Ohio
    Ahhh, nice. Yeah, I wouldn't either! One can hope!
     
  10. Luca

    Luca Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Torino, Italy
    Guess what? Music must be a pleasure. If I have to tweak, look on the web for potential design faults, etc, it's not a pleasure anymore. So today I found a Technics 1210 MK2 in very good conditions in my town. I went, the owner let me try it, I liked it, I bought it. 450 EUR, less than a new AT-LP1240. And goodbye to all these modern turntables with unwanted crap inside.
     
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  11. Joshua T. Anderson

    Joshua T. Anderson Member

    Location:
    Ohio
    Wow! Way to go! Good for you, enjoy! :thumbsup:
     
  12. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Location:
    Arizona
    With that cart, it would be better to remove that preamp in the turntable!
     
    Ben Adams likes this.
  13. Ben Adams

    Ben Adams Forum Resident

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ, USA
    It's a smart move. If I'd known how crappy the internal preamp was in the AT-LP120 -- to the extent that it affects the sound quality even when supposedly bypassed! -- I wouldn't have bought it.

    On the other hand, tweaking my AT-LP120 has taught me far more about turntables than I ever knew before, and I love having the knowledge I have now.
     
  14. JimSpark

    JimSpark Forum Resident

    Yeah, if I'd have known about that issue, I would have bought a different table than the AT-LP120.

    That said, I'll be removing that internal preamp in mine in the near future, and if I hear the same improvements others do, I guess it'll be worth the trouble!
     
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  15. vlds8

    vlds8 Active Member

    Agreed 100%. The experience and knowledge gained is a large chunk of the fun. Then again, I can't fault those who just want to buy something that is solid out of the box, because that's really the way it should be. Either way, the important thing is to keep the records spinning and enjoy!
     
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  16. Joshua T. Anderson

    Joshua T. Anderson Member

    Location:
    Ohio
    Well, I caved and just ordered a JICO SAS for my Shure M97XE cart. Can't wait for it to get in. Will offer my thoughts after I get it set up!
     
  17. cokebabies

    cokebabies New Member

    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    I've been reading a few threads like this, and carefully watching a few of the how-to videos.

    While I'm no electrical whiz, I can do the red to red cap off type stuff. The one step that worries me is the ground wire.

    In the video in the OP, it seems to show an existing ground wire on the TT being attached to a ground wire on the receiver. But on another video I'd seen, he mentioned adding a ground wire. So that's my big question - will I need to add a wire, or am I working with splicing two existing ground wires.

    In case it depends on the receiver, this is the one I will be getting:

    http://www.amazon.com/Sherwood-RX-4...=1399854008&sr=8-1&keywords=sherwood+receiver

    So I don't have it on hand to confirm if it comes with a ground wire.

    I'm still pretty new to this world, but I want to get started on the best footing I can, hence the looking into modding a TT before I've even used it oddness.
     
    Grant likes this.
  18. Budysr

    Budysr Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Pensacola, FL.
    You are adding a ground wire to the TT while you are doing the mod. It's what you are splicing into the ground wire inside the TT. This will be something that is part of the TT now and will connect to the preamp you use, or the ground of the amp you use that may have it's own phono inputs
     
  19. cokebabies

    cokebabies New Member

    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    hm, okay. I'll have to look much more into that since I didn't get that from the videos, and I know nothing about adding wires, just splicing them.
     
  20. FrankieP

    FrankieP Active Member Thread Starter

    If there was one thing I would change in the video it would be to go thru the ground wire connection in more detail. But like I mentioned, take a moment to look at and TRACE the wires before cutting them. Make a mental note or take pictures. By doing this, it'll all make sense.
     
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  21. cokebabies

    cokebabies New Member

    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    I definitely don't mean to knock the video - just watching it has been a great help in giving me the mental momentum to actually attempt this, and when I actually do it the step by step will be a huge help. But yeah, for people like me a bit more detail for the grounding would have been a bonus.

    I get where the grounding wire is connecting, I am just unfamiliar with adding wires, so I'll be looking into that information before doing anything with the TT.
     
  22. JimSpark

    JimSpark Forum Resident

    Look Ma, no built-in preamp! :tiphat:

    [​IMG]

    Just did this last night. Much clearer sounding on the top end now, and it seems it was well worth the time to perform. Am going to have a marathon listening session today and tomorrow (off from work) to enjoy it. :cheers:

    I really don't know electronics very well, and I had similar apprehensions before starting. There were a couple sections of FrankieP's video that I had to review about 10 times before I felt confident that I was on the right track. FrankieP's video is great, but he'd have to make it 40 minutes long if he were to show every single step with foolproof accuracy for electronics novices like me.

    The place where I got most tripped up was when it came to handling the grounding wires after I had already stripped them, but I figured it out correctly. In reattaching the stripped TT channel wires to their respective RCA cable wires, I used 2 smaller 22-16AWG wire connectors, one to twist and cap the reds, and another to twist and cap the whites. After doing that, I was left with three wires, all of which were for grounding. I twisted all three of those together, and capped them with one 22-14AWG wire connector. A 22-14AWG cap is slightly larger than a 22-16AWG cap. Those parts are shown in the video, and there are captions, but for some reason I was still doubting whether I did it right, it even after I had watched it about 10 times.

    Regarding the additional grounding wire that you must add yourself -- and I'd recommend getting one ready before you even open up your TT cover to start this -- you should obtain one separate 3 to 4 foot (or 1.0 to 1.3 meter) long wire of the same thickness as the TT's internal black ground wire, which appears to be 14 gauge (may someone correct me if I'm wrong about the proper gauge). Both ends of your new ground wire will need to be stripped so that there's about 1/2 inch (or 1 cm) of bare wire at each end. At one end, I attached a 16-14AWG spade connector at the end of that new grounding wire -- that will eventually attach to the grounding post on your external preamp. (Note: some might find it easier and better to wait until the TT is all reassembled before even worrying about stripping the end of the ground wire that will attach to your external preamp. Also, a spade connector is not a requirement, but using one can just be easier for you to attach and reattach to your preamp's ground post than a bare wire would.) Next, I took the other end of the new ground wire, and twisted it to the original TT black ground wire (located on the other side of the spring, the video illustrates this) before capping it with another 22-16AWG wire connector.

    Once the ends of the new ground wire were done, I ended up setting the new grounding wire onto the very bottom of the black plastic clip (right on top of its hinge), then inserting the RCA cable into that same clip on top of the ground wire, then pinching the black clip securely so that it slides into the metal clip. You may need to attempt inserting those cords several times to ensure you have just enough length on each cord to fit comfortably inside your TT, and that both cords point upward when the metal clip is screwed back on. You'll want both your RCA cord and your new ground cord threaded outside your TT's bottom cover to be long enough to reach your external preamp when you're ready to hook everything back up. In my case, both cords being three feet long out of the bottom of the TT was sufficient for me, and since they both hook up to the same external preamp, it's probably best that they both be of the same length coming out of the TT.

    Also, anyone attempting this should fully understand that you will have to strip about 8 different wire ends in this process. Unless you've stripped lots of bare wires before with a knife, I'd recommend you have a wire stripper tool handy. I was able to strip the necessary wires with a very sharp knife against the interior surfaces of the TT since I couldn't find my wire stripping tool, but I was worried I could have fouled that up somehow by cutting too far down, or accidentally cutting some other wire.

    Hopefully some of the above might be of help to electronics novices (like me) who attempts this. The important thing is doing it right! :edthumbs:
     
  23. ascot

    ascot Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin

    Congratulations on the successful surgery of your TT.
     
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  24. rockclassics

    rockclassics Forum Resident

    Location:
    Arkansas, USA
    I'm a bit surprised that AT has not caught on to what people are doing and just sell a version of this turntable WITHOUT that damn preamp. They could probably even charge more for the unit without it. ;)
     
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