Two things immediately struck us when looking at the Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB budget turntable.
First: how is it that other manufacturers are able to borrow the design of the classic Technics SL-1200, the DJ's turntable of choice – Vestax, Pioneer, Hanpin, Staton, Reloop and many others have all done it – without the courts being clogged up with copyright infringement lawsuits? Baffling! And the LP120-USB is another.
Second: USB turntables are weird. You spend you hard-earned readies on some sexy vinyl, then turn it into a digital file so you don't have to play the vinyl again. I mean, why? How does that work? What's going on?
Both these questions are probably best answered by experts, which is why we look towards our more technically-inclined brethren at What Hi-Fi for their thoughts on the Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB.
What Hi-Fi say
They're quick to note the similarities with the classic SL-1200. It's not just the looks, it's the features too - The Audio Technica features direct-drive, stroboscope, target light, +/- 20% pitch control and a reverse switch. All the extras you'd expect.
What it doesn't have is the SL-1200's price: The latest version of the Technics costs the best part of three grand, while the AT-LP120-USB comes in at close to a tenth of that price, plus it'll turn your vinyl into mp3s.
The sound isn't too shabby either. "It's a tonally even-handed listen, with low-frequency solidity, mid-range detail and top-end crispness all nicely integrated," say What Hi-Fi. "It's a bit too polite to overdo dynamic shifts or to attack too fiercely, though, and doesn't offer the kind of separation or space to its presentation that other, less extravagantly specified, turntables can deliver."
Sounds good, right?