Considering the Audio Technica ATLP120...

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Leggs91203, Apr 13, 2019.

  1. Leggs91203

    Leggs91203 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Right now the turntable I own is a Marantz TT170. It does alright except a little IGD on most LPs.
    The problem with it though is it could use a new belt and has no dust cover. Not sure what it is but the few times I see a TT170 on ebay, they are always missing the cover...

    Anyways, my TT170 has an AT92E cart which has an elliptical stylus. Overall everything sounds good. Probably not worthy of a "audiophile" but I cannot complain. So that is where I am at now.

    I do not have a fortune to spend on a turntable but would really like something a little nicer and less worn. I have been keeping an eye out for something used that is good but it is often the same story - someone selling basically junk for too much money.

    NOW to get to the actual point -

    I noticed the Audio Technica AT-LP120XUSB. What caught my attention is this turntable seems to be loaded with several features I would enjoy. Plus the necessities like anti-skate adjustment, counterweight, and a silly ol dust cover. PFFT who needs that...

    But anyways, the cart, an AT-VM95E, is an elliptical and looks to have some decent specs. 4 mv output, 20 - 22K frequency response, etc.

    I saw a brand new one listed for $250, it seems like a decent deal.
    But I must ask you folks, would this be a good move? When I picked up my Marantz TT170 for $10 at thrift, it was just something to get by with since I knew nothing. I suspect the A.T. will have better sound, hopefully less IGD than the TT170...

    My receiver does have a dedicated phono input. Right now I am really excited about this. Everything I want and need for a price even I can afford. I do not care about the USB.
    So here it is with the specs, does it look alright or would I be in for some kind of unpleasant surprise AFTER I spent the cash? Thank you.
  2. DCDi

    DCDi Active Member

    The reason for your IGD is either a cartridge or too short tonearm.
    You should try any Audio-Technica microline cart. It fights IGD like no other.
    AT-LP120USB turntable is a joke. Literally!
    Noisy motor, non working antiskate, platter too low-tonearm too high, noise causing preamp.
    And the biggest joke is a big piece of lead on the bottom plate to make it look heavy which does nothing to help isolation whatsoever.
    I bet Technics is laughing their asses out right now how AT was not even capable to copy them correctly!

    Keep your money and stay away from that crap!!
    bluemooze, englishbob and harby like this.
  3. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    The AT should be a nice upgrade over the plasticky Marantz TT170.

    The platter on the AT does tend to ring, so I suggest swapping the stock felt mat with the rubber mat from the Marantz. That should tighten the sound and fill out the bass better.

    Have you also considered the U-Turn Orbit? User reviews have been generally positive, and U-Turn offers a wide variety of upgrades to add on as you like. Made in the USA too!
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
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  4. MYKE

    MYKE Analog Upstairs, Digital Downstairs

    bluemooze likes this.
  5. ColonelMoutarde

    ColonelMoutarde New Member

    I have one and love it too however I do get a slight bit of pulse motor noise - it's a bit like a throbbing, rhythmic pulse at very low noise levels but I doubled up a felt mat and rubber mat and the issue has largely gone away.
  6. Claude Benshaul

    Claude Benshaul Forum Resident

    I had an LP120 and it's a good entry level TT I found it solidly built and liked the fact that it did not require any additional accessory. It's easy to set up and sounds decent. The only problem I had with it was the anti-skate mechanism which is rather weak and ineffective.
  7. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    IGD is down to the cartridge a lot of the time. Moving from a cheap bonded elliptical cart to another cheap bonded elliptical cart is not going to banish away IGD - that's not how it works. You want to get rid of IGD? Buy a better cartridge and align it properly on the turntable. The cheapest cartridge with a true advanced stylus (e.g. Shibata, Microridge, Gyger, Line Contact, VDH, etc.) is around $200. Not gonna happen with a sub-$50 cartridge.

    Your Marantz, if the Google image pics I see are correct, is a passable p-mount TT from the dying days of records - not one of the better decks from the glory days. Not worth dumping a bunch of money into. A dust cover really isn't that important for playing records unless you have a cat or something. A new belt should not cost too much money. With pmount your cart options will be severely limited these days.

    RE: the LP120, it's a cheap knockoff version of a 1200 but if you get a "good one" it will do the job with some minor tweaks and mods. I would suggest buying a decent used consumer TT from the late 70s or early 80s instead, preferably quartz lock direct drive, that can take a decent cartridge. That'll be a far better use of your $250. Try to find something locally, ask local record shops if they know anyone that is selling used gear. I don't know your city, but in some cities there are repair shops that sell used turntables.
    gmcjj, englishbob and Helom like this.
  8. Leggs91203

    Leggs91203 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    This is interesting. Some saying it is junk and others love it. I am not sure what to think at this point.

    Oh yeah, the Marantz mat will be used on the A.T.

    I have not owned any U-turn units but I am not crazy about the appearance nor the fact that most do not come with even a cue lever. To me that is like having a cassette player without reverse.

    The 70's/80's deck may have been better but the problem with buying used is that WHEN defects show up (always seems to happen AFTER the sale, even though everything was fine before) sellers tend to be like, "Screw you buddy, it is your problem now." Like it works fine the day of purchase but a week later some weird problem shows up like the motor failing or whatever.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
    timind likes this.
  9. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Keep in mind the people that are primarily buying it have no reference point for anything TT related. When you've handled both the knockoff and the real thing (I have) the differences become readily apparent. For awhile they were shipping with non-working anti-skate. That eventually got fixed after enough people complained but the examples I have seen have very sloppy tonearm bearings. For someone that knows what they are doing and has the tools, that can be adjusted. Same thing with the crap built in phono preamp. The deficiencies in the motor system (high W/F for a DD deck) can't be fixed.

    In person, they look cheap and feel cheap because they are cheaply made. You could do worse, but I was not impressed. High w/f though, worse than 70s broadcast radio standards. That's even if you upgrade to an acrylic platter that costs more money.

    This is why you check out stuff and do a little bit of research BEFORE you buy. A lot of us are running decks that are 20, 30, 40+ years old and they work fine with minimum maintenance. Buying blind off eBay is not recommended as most sellers don't know how to pack. Don't think new decks under $500 don't have problems either - they all do. Many folks only discover the pitfalls and problems after the return or warranty period is over.

    The truth is it's a lot harder and more expensive to get good to great sound out of vinyl compared to digital formats. Consider that carefully before you get in too deep.
    4011021 and nosliw like this.
  10. Zatoichi

    Zatoichi Well-Known Member

    I have the AT LP120
    After Pre-Amp removal and replacing the anti-skate spring (not necessary on new models) I still feel the table lacks in two big area's. Platter height and Platter wobble.
    Sure it has VTA adjustment, but the platter still sits too low. Platter wobble.. just google it and you will see this model has warped platters.
    I was able to get a minty Technics SL 1300 MK1 for super cheap. Sure its 40+ years old, but it SOLID. only lacking adjustable VTA easily a fixed with platter mats.
    My advice. look for a cheap used Technics SL table. Buy an ART DJ Pre II - good amp for the price and much better than the AT LP120. and spend most of your money on a good cartridge.
    If you go vintage I would watch Craigslist & Facebook marketplace .. rather than ebay. Buy in person.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
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  11. DCDi

    DCDi Active Member

    If for whatever reason you want to stick to Audio-Technica, why not try AT1240?
    Now that IS a seriozs player! But it costs 400+$!

    I tried Stanton ST150mk2, AT1250USB and AT-LP120USB. All supposedly DJ TTs.
    Believe me 120 is not worth your money!
    Another thing it don't have the rubber damping on the platter bottom. No wonder it is ringimg all the time+ the motor noise.

    Why not just get a Fluance, it got really good reviews. But it is not direct drive.

    Or just add 50$ and get a Technics 1600mk2 in near mint condition like i just did. Far better than ATLP120 will ever be.
    HiFi Guy likes this.
  12. Having had 2 of the AT-LP120's, with great experiences, the new "X" model appears to be more of a cheapening exercise than anything else. I notice that the 45 rpm adapter now appears to be plastic. Tone arm height adjustment has been eliminated. The AC conversion adapter is now external, supposedly for noise reduction. The one good thing is that it has detachable RCA cables. You can rest assured that it will definitely be an upgrade for you. But if I had to do it again, I'd still go for the AT-LP120-USB, or if I didn't need the 78rpm speed, the AT-LP5. I have never used the built-in pre-amp or USB functions. I recently had to physically bypass the internal pre-amp in my oldest AT-120LP because it had developed a 60 hz buzz, even in the bypass mode. Bypassed, no more buzz.
    Concerning IGD, it is caused more from the mastering of the record than anything else. If you don't have IGD on every record, then you probably don't have a problem with your equipment. Proper adjustments are necessary for good tracking. Having had a multitude of turntables over the years, those with a "J" or "S" type tone arm, like the AT 120's, track much better than a straight-shaft tone arm. You will definitely notice the difference.
    The features are there. The adjustable anti-skate, for me, is a must. Recently, I was playing some old records which would skip with the turntable set at proper settings. By adjusting the anti-skate to max and tracking weight to minimums, the records played through without a hitch.
    The direct-drive TT's start with a bump, compared to the smooth start-up of a belt drive, but the speed accuracy and stability is great with DD. Another great alternative might be the belt-driven AT-LP7.
    The ability of interchangeable headshells is a must, especially if you play different formats of records. I have different cartridges mounted in different headshells to best accommodate the type or record I am playing at the time.
    The latest AT cartridges are in their "VM" series. I'm surprised that they didn't put the AT95EX in. I bought one of these recently and have found that is very good.
    The machined, balanced aluminum platters are great. If you think that they can ring, then spray the underside with a rubberized undercoating. With the non-adjustable tone arm height, if there is a problem, change to a thinner of thicker mat. You would probably be better off with a cork or rubber mat. I went to cork to reduce the creation of static electricity.
    Hendertuckie likes this.
  13. Leggs91203

    Leggs91203 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I took a chance on the AT-LP120xUSB. I figured if it is THAT bad, I can just return it.
    After setting it up and playing various tracks off different LPs, here are my findings -

    Though I do need to double check the cart alignment, it seems to have less IGD than the TT170.
    The anti-skate does work, I had to do the CD method. Even if that is inaccurate, the anti-skate DOES at least work.
    If there is some weird motor noise, I could not hear any.
    I didn't see any warpage of the platter. Not sure how that could even happen
    I use the phono option as my receiver has a dedicated phono input.
    The output of this turntable doesn't seem as powerful as the TT170 but that is really not an issue.
    This is sad but having a turntable that even has a dust cover is an upgrade at this point. This unit is everything hooped it wold be and better than what I expected.
    I feel guilty about spending the cash but do not regret it. I finally have a turntable that is at least alright and complete. I guess I will see how things hold up over time but right now it is okay.

    They had to spend money to fix the motor noise and anti-skate problem, so maybe they cut corners in other non-essential areas to compensate.
    Yes the 45 adapter is plastic. With the tone arm height adjust, I read somewhere that even at the lowest setting it was too high so maybe they figured being able to adjust it higher was not of use. With the external transformer, that could have advantages and disadvantages. And yes, it IS an upgrade from the TT170 for sure. I still do not feel it was a "bad" unit, it just didn't have the features I wanted. The LP120 sounds a little better but not by a lot, just a little less IGD. As far as 78 speed, I imagine I will never need that. All my music is 70's and 80's on 33's.

    NOW let us talk about the buying experience. Get ready for mis-tracking, distortion, and noise.
    I go in and said I was looking for an Audio-Technica turntable. He leads me back to where the DJ equipment is and point out, some kind of scratch machines.I said, "No, I need one of these" and picked up the box and he said, "Oh, you mean a record player!" (cue a needle scraping across an LP). Well I had to explain things...
    "record player" PFFFT that kid got real nerve insulting my brand new turntable calling it a "record player". That would be like calling chrome headers on a 454 an "exhaust manifold".

    So then I get to the counter and some young woman working there asked "Oh so you play vinyls?" (MIS-TRACK! vinyls? VINYLS?) But ANYways, as I am giving my name and phone number (for receipt/warranty info, figured I wouldn't fib for once as it is important) this "vinyls" lady and some other young guy were acting stupid and I was having to yell my phone number over their mouths. Yep, distortion.
    She asked where the best place to buy "vinyls" was and believe me, I wanted to say "Lover's Lane". I behaved though.

    Well I am going to go put on some vinyl, and then I will play an LP.
  14. DCDi

    DCDi Active Member

    Well i have IGD on some very bad mastered records made in east Europe but guess what, Audio-Technica microline stylus removes it all. Go figure!

    I would say the shortness of the arm is more what's not helping with IGD than its shape.
    That's why i do not like tangential arms.
  15. Leggs91203

    Leggs91203 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    DCDi, if I were to install a Crosley ceramic conical stylus and track it to 12 grams, would that help with IGD?
  16. DCDi

    DCDi Active Member

    No but it would help destroying your records.
    I just looked at the new AT120X turntable.
    With no VTA adjustment they should have aswell ceased production.
    It is 2019 not 1974!
    Just how are you supposed to make the tonearm level if using a cartridge with bigger height?
  17. Zatoichi

    Zatoichi Well-Known Member

    Has anyone found out if the newest AT LP120 line out completely bypasses the internal pre-amp circuitry?
  18. Clonesteak

    Clonesteak Forum Resident

    Kalamazoo, MI
    I have a AT-LP 5 and it seems to by pass the built in on phono out. I bypassed the built in on my AT-LP 120 and added a cork mat, added more weight to the counter weight, changed to an Ortofon headshell and an Ortofon Red. With those changes it sounds great. Great sound if you want to spend the time and resources to upgrade. The Antiskate in my LP 120 is pretty much useless.
    My next turntable will be costing me $1,000 but probably won’t be for some time. Maybe in 10 years when the kids are out of school???
    They should make an AT-LP 120 without a built in preamp.
    Stanton56 likes this.
  19. DCDi

    DCDi Active Member

    They do. It is called AT140x but costs over $140.
  20. Clonesteak

    Clonesteak Forum Resident

    Kalamazoo, MI
    I guess I haven’t looked at their new offerings. AT must of read enough comments and videos to appease the customers.
  21. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Don't think so. More than likely it does not.
  22. Tangential? I don't understand. I'm not sure if tone arm length has anything to do with IGD. I collect the old RCA-type 45 rpm record changers with their close to 6" tone arms. Mounted with a modern cartridge, they track very well without much IGD, unless it's in the record. As the high-end turntable manufacturers learned decades ago, an "S" shaped tone arm was superior to a straight shaft. I was looking at a BBC video the other day from 1959 and it showed multiple Garrard 301 turntables and they had "S" style tone arms, even back then. It took into the 1970's for U.S. professional TT manufacturers to start offering "S" style tone arms. I see that even today, TT manufacturers are upgrading to "S" style tone arms, like Pro-Ject's "Signature" series.
    On a commercial basis, commercial TT manufacturers realized decades ago that "S" style tone arms solved a lot of problems.
  23. tables_turning

    tables_turning In The Groove

    Mid Atlantic, USA
    I have an AT120 equipped with a Shure M91ED as my standby table. With heavy rubber platter mat installed and internal preamp bypassed, it performs respectably at its price point, and is more than adequate for my needs.
    Stanton56 and MYKE like this.
  24. Leggs91203

    Leggs91203 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    AT120XUSB I assume?
    Actually they did cease production, here is the story -
    One of the bosses asked what the date was, wondering if it were still 1974. When he found out it wasn't, he went to the factory floor and yelled, "alright, stop making AT120XUSB's, everyone is laid off!

    As far as carts - there are probably ones to choose from that are within specs physically and electronically.
    Aftermath likes this.
  25. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Uppsala Sweden
    Its seems you dont quite understand how IGD or cartridge tracking works. Would you like to know?

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