First turntable: Audio Technica AT-LP120 or AT-LP3?

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mnit1965
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First turntable: Audio Technica AT-LP120 or AT-LP3?

Post by mnit1965 » 18 Dec 2018 11:10

Hi all from Spain!

I'm new in here and I need advice about buying a new turntable.

There's been almost 25 years since I sold my old Sony turntable and I'm now going back to vinyl again and I want to buy a starter turntable.

The problem is, my budget is fairly low (about 200 - 250 Euros) and I'm thinking about the Audio Technica AT-LP3 or the AT-LP120.

I can get them for 200/250 Euros (the price difference is not a deal breaker), I now that AT-LP120 has features that I will not use (pitch control, usb out, for instance) but I saw it live and it feels solid, heavy, a nice piece of kit.

On the other hand, the AT-LP3 got an award from What Hi-Fi magazine for the best turntable under £200 and has good reviews.

For those who knows these 2 turntables, which one would sound best right out of the box?

I know that AT-LP120 even with the preamp turned off still colors the sound, is the same with the AT-LP3?

Even with a better upgraded cartridge on both turntables (and not counting with features), is the AT-LP120 a superior sounding deck or is the AT-LP3 the winner?

Thanks in advance!
Martim

Vinylfreak86
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Re: First turntable: Audio Technica AT-LP120 or AT-LP3?

Post by Vinylfreak86 » 18 Dec 2018 11:44

None of them. Then better to find an entry level DD Sony from eighties on the web and you will save some money. And after some years it will still work, which is hardly the case with chinese audio-technika turntables.

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Re: First turntable: Audio Technica AT-LP120 or AT-LP3?

Post by jledwards » 18 Dec 2018 17:39

I have the LP-3. I found a one on Ebay for $45 that was in need of some TLC. I too I have just started getting back into playing records and didn't have a lot of money to spend. I started off with a AT-LP60 I bought used, it sounded good enough to get me wanting better. I have no experience with LP-120 but, I'm liking the LP-3. It has the features I was looking for and the ability to upgrade the cart. Now I will say the preamp is not very good, sounds extremely veiled. I think it has the same preamp as the LP60 as well as everything else under the deck. I got a cheap Pyle P999 preamp and that helped alot. I had to borrow the ATN3600L stylus from the LP60 as the stylus was snapped off. I have it tracking at 3 grams with no skipping issues. The plinth is made of plastic that has a metal plate mounted on the bottom to Help with resonance I guess, I was thinking about applying some Dynamat on the inside just for giggles. For now I just plan on upgrading the stylus and getting a better preamp. Even though I'm liking this TT, I'm glad I only paid what I did for it. For $200 US new, I think you could find much better for the money. As for me, I'll take the money saved and invest in more records and enjoy the music!

Belmont
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Re: First turntable: Audio Technica AT-LP120 or AT-LP3?

Post by Belmont » 19 Dec 2018 01:46

Vinylfreak86 wrote:
18 Dec 2018 11:44
None of them. Then better to find an entry level DD Sony from eighties on the web and you will save some money. And after some years it will still work, which is hardly the case with chinese audio-technika turntables.
I'd like to counter that last point. My brother has owned, or shall we say abused, his PL120 for a good 10 years now-dragging it all over creation, spinning countless hours of records, leaving it in the garage overnight, suspending it in midair, modifying the preamp, etc., and it still works perfectly. Certainly could use some cosmetic TLC, but the dang thing is quite rugged. Certainly on par with some of the more run-of-the-mill vintage 'tables, if not a 1200 killer. That being said, dollar for dollar, it's certainly quite easy to find a nice older 'table in good fettle for less than or equal to the $200 for the LP3 or $300 for the LP120, but there is definitely something to be said about the pride of pulling something out of the box for the first time, and not having to worry about if your turntable is developing a fault in the bearings, replacing the cartridge (extra $$$) or some important part has bit the dust because it was made out of the cheapest plastic the '70s had to offer.

To get back to the question at hand, the LP120, which comes with the AT95E cartridge stock, is definitely better sounding out of the box, but if you were to buy the LP3 and buy an AT95E separately, you'd have something that sounds just as good for less. Spend 100 on a new cart, and you'll get something that would beat it out for the same price.

MetalT75
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Re: First turntable: Audio Technica AT-LP120 or AT-LP3?

Post by MetalT75 » 19 Dec 2018 09:26

With LP120 you can prepare yourself to non-working antiskate and VTA adjustment that won't go low enough even for the stock cartirdge AT95E.

Vinylfreak86
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Re: First turntable: Audio Technica AT-LP120 or AT-LP3?

Post by Vinylfreak86 » 19 Dec 2018 10:27

Belmont wrote:
19 Dec 2018 01:46
and not having to worry about if your turntable is developing a fault in the bearings, replacing the cartridge (extra $$$) or some important part has bit the dust because it was made out of the cheapest plastic the '70s had to offer.
I don`t see any cheap plastic on 70`s to 80`s turntables, not outside not inside. Majority of them have MDF plinth and also those models with plastic plinth are far more quality made than AT-LP120. Yes in the 70`s plastic looked like a plastic, today you can make a lot of fakes, which means that cheap materials look more expensive. Bearings? All serious turntables back in the days had metal tonearm bearings, these new things have plastic one. Metal tonearm bearings are made to last for decades. I won`t say that AT-LP120 cannot last for a decade, but performance is poor and because of not working AS and tonearm 40% made of plastic it is not friendly to your records. Also motor inside is poorly designed.

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Re: First turntable: Audio Technica AT-LP120 or AT-LP3?

Post by lenjack » 19 Dec 2018 21:07

The antiskate problem on the 120's was aknowledged by AT. New ones have fixed the anti skate problem as of 1/2017.

Belmont
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Re: First turntable: Audio Technica AT-LP120 or AT-LP3?

Post by Belmont » 19 Dec 2018 23:07

That is interesting. Has Audio-Technica issued a recall/warranty replacement on previously affected units? My turntable (purchased 7/2016) seems to have working anti-skate, but it generally needs to be turned up higher in order to make the arm stand still on a blank disc. Not sure how ineffective it is on my brother’s.

As for plasticy vintage units, barring the obvious BSR record scratchers, some fairly high-profile companies like Pioneer, Philips, and Onkyo were known (or even notorious) for having plastic in critical spots, which have failed today and make their repair somewhat challenging. Fine turntables otherwise, merely built to a price, as things are today. Not all old is gold, not all new is poo :)

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Re: First turntable: Audio Technica AT-LP120 or AT-LP3?

Post by lenjack » 19 Dec 2018 23:33

No recall that I've heard about. They have made available a stronger antiskate spring which can be retrofitted to older units. Not free, but not expensive, and I understand, tricky to install, although there is a video floating around somewhere showing how. I'm guessing your antiskate spring will become less and less effective as time goes by.

I just found, on another forum, AT's response to another customer's complaint, from 2016, about this problem. I'm enclosing it here. The following was AT's response:


"The AT-LP120-USB was designed as a DJ turntable. Due to its excellent sound, quality and low cost, audiophiles started using and recommending it as an audiophile turntable. The AT-LP120 was designed with the DJ in mind and has features to meet that need such as being able to reverse the direction of the turntable and robustness for record scratching. According to one manufacturer of high end phono cartridges and tone arms, a somewhat weak anti-skate mechanism might be just right for low-compliance, DJ-oriented cartridges and one of our other competitors even recommends setting anti-skate to zero for DJ use. Therefore, the AT-LP120-USB does not have the same anti-skate adjustments that you would find on a high end (and high cost) audiophile turntable. You may look into the AT-LP5 which is more designed for audiophiles and has a stronger anit-skate."

lenjack
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Re: First turntable: Audio Technica AT-LP120 or AT-LP3?

Post by lenjack » 19 Dec 2018 23:43

I have more on this from the same above forum. Suggest you read the entire 3rd page from that forum, which explains how to order the new part and install it. Here is the link:

https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/ ... 822/page-3

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