The Audio-Technica LP120 is one of the most impressive turntables that we reviewed. It plays 33, 45 and 78 rpm records; it also features reverse playback capability and pitch adjustment. This unit creates some of the most accurate LP to digital conversions we have heard. This turntable is a little pricier than others we reviewed, but it is a high-quality digital record player that is accurate and reliable.
Our focus was to determine how well each turntable converted LPs into digital files. We digitized a handful of LPs – "Rubber Soul" and a 45-RPM of "Let It Be" by The Beatles and "Lazaretto" by Jack White. The old Beatles albums were both not in the best shape, while "Lazaretto" was brand new. "Rubber Soul" had its fair share of scratches and "Let It Be" was both scratched up and slightly warped. The conditions of the records were to simulate conversion conditions of all kinds. We believe it is safe to say that not all of your records from the '60s and '70s will be in pristine shape.
The Audio-Technica LP120 comes with the audio editing software Audacity. We installed the software and used it to record the LPs. We converted one side of each LP and then compared the conversions to a digital download of the same content. We first compared the song, "Norwegian Wood," to its downloaded counterpart. This was one of the better conversions of this song among the USB record players we reviewed. One of the only discrepancies between the conversion and the download was the static noise at the beginning of the recording, noise that is usually associated with vinyl records. We later used Audacity to clean up the noise and the conversion was almost a spot-on match with the download.
We then compared the conversion of "Lazaretto" to the digital download. We volume matched all conversions to ensure that the volume was the same across all turntables. Even still, the volume on this conversion was noticeably quieter than the download. The conversion was also less prominent, almost like a recording of a song that had not been mastered yet. It wasn't as full or loud as the download, but it was clear and accurate. Minus the volume issues, it was still one of the most accurate conversions compared to the rest of the products in our lineup.
Finally, we compared the conversion of the slightly warped 45 rpm LP of "Let It Be" to the download. Most USB turntables had some issues with this record. The biggest issue with our conversion was distortion when the band fully kicks in toward the middle of the song. The warping of the record was an issue for some other turntable converters in our lineup, but it didn't seem to faze the LP120. Overall, all the conversions were highly accurate with few audio discrepancies. This is one of the main reasons why this converter turntable faired well in our comparison.
The major advantage to using Audacity for your conversions is all of the audio tools at your disposal. Once you have recorded your LPs into the software, you can use the tools to clean up and enhance the sound quality. Audacity features tools to reduce noise, remove clicks and pops, and normalize the audio so it has more consistent volume throughout.
The Audio-Technica LP120 has multiple features that ensure the best-sounding playback for you turntable. The tone arm has a counter weight to help keep the right amount of pressure on your record. This keeps the needle and the record from being worn out too quickly. It also features an anti-skating mechanism that keeps the needle from skipping around the record. There is also pitch adjustment and a pitch lock that disables the slider once turned on. All of these features allow you to dial in your record player to get the best playback possible.
The LP120 does have RCA outputs to plug external speakers to your turntable, but it doesn't have built-in speakers or a headphone jack for private listening. Some converters act as all-in-one units with built-in speakers which make it convenient to use your turntable for actually listening to records without extra equipment.
Audacity comes with this turntable. Unlike EZ Converter – a program that comes with the Ion Air LP – Audacity does not walk you through the conversion process. You will have to set the input and output correctly before you start to record. Once those are set the process is fairly straightforward – you press Record, hit Play on the record and the conversion begins.
Audacity does not have an automatic track detection feature like other programs do. This feature recognizes silences between songs and will automatically split them into individual tracks. This makes the conversion process less hands on. With Audacity, you will need to go through the waveform and manually divide and export individual songs. When you export a song, you can add metadata such as song title, band name and album. Then when you archive your music it will all be organized.
This turntable is covered by a one-year warranty. It also comes with a user manual to help you properly set up the counter weight and the rest of the turntable's components upon arrival. If you have any issues with your turntable you can contact Audio-Technica via phone and email.
The Audio-Technica LP120 converts LPs to high-quality digital formats. It converts LPs accurately and with few discrepancies. The turntable does not have built-in speakers, but it does feature many playback features to get the most accurate sound from your records. This is one of the best vinyl converter turntables available.