DJ Info Guide

17 Sep

Audio – Tecnica Turntable on review

Most of us as DJ’s don’t have access to phono preamps to be used with our new equipment. So Audio-tecnica came to the rescue of the new and the old alike. It even will play the old 78’s. It just about does all you need as a dj and what you need to record some of those oldies that you just can’t find anywhere else. so now you can decide for yourself with the review that I read.

A Review of the Audio-Technica AT-PL120

by Barry Montgomery

A detailed look at this Audio-Technica turntable, which offers great sound and flexibility that all vinyl fans will love, plus a wealth of DJ-friendly features.

While rummaging around in a charity flea market a few months back, I overheard an argument between a mother and daughter (I’d guess their ages to be about 40 and 15, respectively). The disagreement concerned a used turntable the daughter was holding. It ended with the mother stating emphatically, “We were listening to records back when I was your age. It’s a dead medium. You are not getting this record player. Case closed.” If the insistent mother had looked over her shoulder, however, she would’ve seen me and four or five other folks (all in our twenties or thirties) crammed into one of the flea market’s smaller rooms, eagerly thumbing through a huge selection of LPs.

Even though vinyl is marginalized to non-existent in most modern-day music shops, it still plays an important role in many a music lover’s collection. And it’s not just used LPs and turntables that aficionados are snapping up — production and sales of new LPs has increased significantly in the past few years, and new turntables continue to sell to the relatively small but very devoted legion of LP lovers.

When I was given the chance to review one of several new turntables, I opted for the Audio-Technica AT-PL120. Why? Because it’s easily one of the most versatile models in its price class, offering a built-in phono preamp, 3-speed operation, and plenty of DJ-friendly special features. And, as I found out after spending some time with this turntable, it also sounds great.

The AT-PL120 offers good looks and great sound.

Setting up
Like all turntables fresh out of the box, the AT-PL120 requires minor assembly. To those unfamiliar with the process of setting up a turntable, some of the tasks involved might sound intimidating — assembling the platter, mounting the cartridge on the tonearm, balancing the tonearm, setting the tracking force, and adjusting the tonearm height. But the included literature explained everything in detail and the entire procedure took only about 20 minutes to complete.

One of the AT-PL120’s handiest features is its built-in phono preamplifier. Many turntables do not include such a preamp, and therefore can only be connected to a receiver or preamplifier with a designated phono input. If you switch on the AT-PL120’s phono preamp, however, you can plug it into any auxiliary input on a receiver — a very useful feature, since a good number of latter-day receivers do not include a phono input. And for LP lovers who are interested in archiving their albums to CD via a computer CD burner, the built-in phono preamp is great news, since it lets you connect the turntable directly to your PC, without having to employ a receiver as a “middle man.” You’ll most likely have to buy a stereo RCA-to-miniplug adapter to achieve the connection to your soundcard, but this is an expense of only about $4.

Bringing out the best in your LPs
From the first notes of the first record I put on the AT-PL120 — Stevie Wonder’s Hotter Than July — I was impressed with the warm, rich sound of this turntable. The bass was punchy and well-rounded. The drums were dynamic and sharply defined, with a crisp cymbal sound that steered well clear of the brittleness you often hear from lesser turntables. Each instrument in the mix came through clearly and cleanly, and Wonder’s vocals were reproduced with real presence. So far, so good.

I played a variety of records on the AT-PL120, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it handled every genre in my collection with aplomb. I tried a number of different jazz records — ranging from the astringent free jazz of Ornette Coleman’s This Is Our Music to the richly layered harmonic palettes of Duke Ellington’s early 40’s classics — and was pleasantly surprised at how good each one sounded. Undercurrent, an album of duets between pianist Bill Evans and guitarist Jim Hall, sounded especially gorgeous. In this case, I was able to compare the LP to a CD version of the same album. The CD had slightly better definition, but sounded thin and brittle when compared to the fuller, warmer, more intimate sound of the LP.

When I sampled the spectrum of pop and rock albums in my collection, the AT-PL120 demonstrated similar versatility. The textured layers of strings and brass that slowly build over the course of John Cale’s Paris 1919 were recreated with precision and a palpable sense of depth. Switching gears, I next sampled the bracing (but surprisingly well-recorded) art-punk of Pere Ubu’s The Modern Dance, and was knocked out by what I heard. This album is a series of sonic maelstroms, with siren-raid synthesizers blasting aural shrapnel across the upper end and massive, monstrously propulsive bass lines anchoring the bottom. The AT-PL120 brought each track to life with visceral punch and a convincingly three-dimensional soundstage.

Plays 45s and 78s, too!
Of course, this turntable isn’t just for LPs. Naturally, it also offers 45 rpm (rotations per minute) operation so you can enjoy your classic 7” singles all over again. More unique, however, is the AT-PL120’s ability to play 78 rpm 10” records — very few modern day turntables in this price range offer that capability. I don’t own any 78s, so I couldn’t test out this feature myself. But for anyone who’s got a stack of old 10” records stashed away somewhere (perhaps formerly owned by your parents or even your grandparents), this turntable can open up a door into the dimly lit musical past.

To read the rest of the review, go to: Turntable

Thank you and keep on reading.

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