Samples from USB Turntables: Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB 2010-10-25 02:40:24 Turntable Details[blockquote]Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USBStreet Price: $200 (US)ATP-2 Moving Magnet CartridgeDirect DriveManualWow and Flutter: <0.2%S/N: >50dBPlatter: AluminumTracking force: 3.5gMore in turntable guide[/blockquote]Note: Like the Stanton T.92 before it, the AT-LP120-USB was a freebie from the manufacturer. Please call me out on any signs of shilliness.Photos The Sample ClipsFor background on the clips, see the "Preparation" thread.All samples are FLAC and under 30 seconds.[blockquote]MusicCD LP Peg, Steely Dan, AjaCD LP On the Run, Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the MoonCD LP A Little Bit of Riddim, Michael Franti and Spearhead, All Rebel RockersCD LP Dum Diddly, The Black Eyed Peas, Monkey BusinessCD LP Rhiannon, Fleetwood Mac, Self-titled Album (Dusty, scratched and skipping album)Test TracksLP Motor running, no record, tonearm at restLP Ultimate Analogue Test LP, Side ALP Ultimate Analogue Test LP, Side BLP Hi-Fi News (HFN002) Test LP, Side ALP Hi-Fi News (HFN002) Test LP, Side BLP Silent Groove, Ultimate Analogue Test LP, Side B, Track 6Stanton T.92 USB vs. AT-LP120-USB vs. AT-LP2D-USB (Normalized Samples)T.92 LP120 LP2D Peg, Steely DanT.92 LP120 LP2D Dum Diddly, Black Eyed Peas[/blockquote]MusingsAudio-Technica's USB version of their AT-PL120 did much better on the trackability tests LPs than Stanton's T.92- likely thanks the elliptical stylus tip on its ATP-2 cartridge. However, I couldn't hear the difference between the AT and the Stanton once I normalized the samples.This tells me three things:The elliptical stylus tip didn't result in the noticeable improvement I was expecting over the spherical stylus tip on the Stanton T.92.The point where you can't hear the difference between CD and vinyl is further up the line of turntables.The extra $100 - $200 between a plastic $100 USB turntable and these DJ turntables didn't buy much in terms of sound quality (well, maybe the proper speed). I can't hear the difference between the $100 AT-LP2D-USB and the $300 Stanton T.92 in a blind test.Maybe I just don't have the best ears for this. Can anyone else clearly hear the difference between any of these samples (above)?Overall, it seems like a good value at just under $200. It's a solid at 23.5 pounds, though the plinth is encased in plastic. It has many adjustments, including tonearm height (though I may never use it).What I really liked is the LP120 just worked out of the box, unlike the Stanton. They offered a recommended tracking force- 3.5 grams. On its first play, I did the three trackability tests on HFN002. I couldn't hear any mistracking.It started mistracking at +16dB. The +18 track was unplayable.Talk of the PL120 inevitably draws the comparisons to the SL-1200. I collected a few such conversations. The most significant comparison to me is the difference in price.An MK5 is going for over $1,000 these days. I don't doubt that the SL-1200 is better in most of the ways described in those threads. But is it really $800 better than the PL120?A final observation: Normalization is an absolute requirement when using the LP120's A/D converter. Steely Dan peaks at -10.8dB. We talked about this at length already but I think the AT-LP120-USB could be the poster-child of why a pre-ADC adjustable gain would be so useful.