- Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB specifications
- Question 1: new player or "vintage"?
- Question 2: Automatic or manual control?
- Question 3: direct or belt drive?
- Question 4: Built-in or external sound corrector?
- Unpacking Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB
- First switching-on of Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB
- Using Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB
- Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB sound quality
Today, when vinyl records and techniques for their reproduction have gained a second youth, we decided not to stay away. However, vinyl is just on the border in all senses: on the border of new and old technologies, on the border of technology and art, on the border of art and business.
Therefore, with this review, we begin the “vinyl” cycle. We will write about the players and everything related to them — sound correctors, amplifiers, acoustics, care products for vynil records and much more.
And we start with a review of the vinyl record player Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB. It’s perhaps the most affordable model for beginners on the Ukrainian market. And let’s try to understand how this model fits into the framework of minimally reasonable investments in terms of quality and functionality.
And we will do it this way: we will take every essential parameter of Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB and consider in terms of recommendations for choosing a vinyl player for beginners – is it appropriate or not? The result will lead us to conclusions, whatever they may be.
Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB specifications
|MM (Moving Magnet)
|1.4 – 3.0 g
|Frequency range 20 Hz – 20 kHz
|Stereo channel distribution 20 dB (1 kHz)
|Recommended input resistance 47 kiloohm
|Output voltage 4.2 mV
|Channel balance 1.5 dB
|Built-in sound corrector
|Linear output (1/8 “Mini-Jack)
|359.5 x 97.5 x 373.3 mm
|Price in Ukraine
|UAH 7,199 (Soundmag.ua)
So, to answer the question “Is the Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB suitable for beginners collecting vinyl?”, you must first understand what principles should be followed when choosing the first player. And for this you need to answer a few questions first.
Question 1: new player or “vintage”?
Any beginner collector will hear the opinion of “experienced” that nothing can be better than a vintage player. But keep in mind that while they wish beginners the best, there is nothing more wrong than such advice.
Why? It’s very simple: things get old. Materials get old. The mechanisms age. And players too. Although the mass production of vinyl players flourished in the seemingly recent 70’s and 80’s, these players are 40-50 years old now.
Finding a vintage player of this age in perfect condition for reasonable money is a completely unrealistic task for the beginner. Are you ready to invest tens of thousands of hryvnias in a hobby that may turn out to be “not yours”?
Therefore, the right approach would be to purchase a new player, with a guarantee from the manufacturer. Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB is an inexpensive player from the current line of the manufacturer. So in response to the question “new player or vintage?” it is the perfect option.
Question 2: Automatic or manual control?
Here, every vinyl lover also has their preferences. But, from the point of view of banal logic, the presence of automation is an indisputable advantage. Not everyone can give up some important current task and come up to the player to turn it off at the end of playing the side of the record.
The automatic stop function (with or without auto-return) successfully solves this problem. Lack of autostop will cause the needle to saw the plate until it is stopped. Of course, it really takes 2-3 weeks to really cut the plate through, but even without that, an extra hour or two – why? Therefore, the function of autostop is very desirable.
The Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB is equipped with a fully automatic control system. Just place the record on the base table, use the switch to select the size of the record (7 or 12 inches) and press the Start button. The player will do the rest itself.
At the end of the side, the player will not only stop the rotation of the support table, but also raise the needle in the air, and then return the tonearm to its original position. Easy? Easy. It’s one more advantage of the model.
Question 3: direct or belt drive?
Both options also have their fans and opponents. Both options have a right to exist (and do exist). But there is one important “but”: with direct drive, the base table is actually put directly on the engine. And this, in turn, leads to excessive vibration.
Of course, as in the heyday of vinyl, today the problem of direct drive vibration can be solved. But this solution, like any solution to an additional problem, entails additional costs both in design and in production.
But the task of an amateur beginner is to get an inexpensive player. That is, with a belt drive, in which the design itself provides protection against vibration of the motor. Again, the Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB fully meets this requirement.
Question 4: Built-in or external sound corrector?
The design of the vinyl player does not allow the audio signal to be output directly to the input of the amplifier. If we do not go into technical details, we can say that the signal is too weak to be “heard” by the amplifier. To correct this situation, use the so-called sound correctors – special intermediate devices that amplify the output signal of the player to the desired parameters.
Note : In fact, the sound corrector is not just an “additional amplifier for vinyl”, but we will focus on the sound-correction process in one of the following reviews, which will be devoted to the sound corrector as a separate device.
Now it is important to know that depending on the design of the player, the sound corrector can be built-in. Built-in sound corrector brings the buyer closer to the situation “bought a player and started using”, while the external provides space for imagination and financial costs.
A smart manufacturer of entry-level vinyl players usually makes a built-in sound corrector, which turns off when the user wants to go to the next level. That’s what Audio-Technica company did in case of AT-LP60XUSB. This means that the manufacturer was not wrong with this parameter and the model meets the requirements of new listeners.
Unpacking Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB
The player came to our editorial office in transport packaging on top of the goods, which is a plus for our partner, the Soundmag.ua store. What catches the eye (more precisely, the hand) is the lightness of the player. You expect more “seriousness” from a box of this size.
Inside the box we find first of all the player itself, almost completely assembled. Only the base table, on which the records are placed during listening, and the felt rug, which is placed under these records, are packed separately.
The pick-up head and the tonearm are one, so it is impossible to talk about any major upgrade in the future. Of course, you can replace the needle if necessary, especially since this manufacturer has its own and well standardized, but that’s all.
On the other hand, this simplicity of design eliminates the need for beginners to adjust the stylus force and anti-skating, as the player is calibrated directly at the factory.
A little derogation: what is stylus force and anti-skating?
In short, the stylus force is responsible for the force with which the needle presses on the vinyl record from top to bottom. If the pressure is too high, the plate will quickly become unusable. This is usually the case with suitcase players, so we definitely do not recommend considering them as the first player (and in general as a player).
On the other hand, if the pressure is insufficient, the needle will simply bounce on the plate, jumping from track to track. But no one wants to listen to chaotic excerpts instead of songs.
Anti-skating is essentially the same as stylus force, but in the horizontal direction. Excessive pressure on the right or left side of the groove, firstly, shifts the sound balance in the corresponding channel, and secondly, of course, at an accelerated rate wears out one side of the groove.
First switching-on of Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB
As already mentioned, the player gets to the user almost completely assembled. All you need to do is install a base table on the central shaft and throw a belt on the electric motor sheave, which will be used to transmit rotation.
A special felt rug with the company logo is placed on top of the base table. All you have to do is connect the power and connect the audio cable to the player on one side and to the amplifier, receiver or sound corrector on the other.
Before testing the reproducibility, we measured the stylus force of the tonearm with special scales. Three attempts showed the same result: 3.54 g. The stylus force declared in technical characteristics is 1,4 – 3,0 g, so it is a little above norm. Not too bad, but I would like more accuracy from the manufacturer.
After that, it would be strange not to measure the speed of the plate. The standards in the case of vinyl are 33⅓ and 45 rpm. There is still a standard of 78 rpm, but this parameter does not apply to modern vinyl, known since the 40s of last century, and to the early records made of shellac. Non-standard needles are also required to play it, so you shouldn’t expect support from such an outdated and rare format from an entry-level player.
But back to the measurement results. For a speed of 33⅓, the player at factory settings showed a value of 33.77 rpm, which is slightly higher than the standard 33.33. For a speed of 45 rpm, the player gave 45.41 – also a little faster than necessary.
However, in the case of the Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB this is not a problem: on the bottom surface of the player there are two holes with the appropriate markings – “33” and “45” – through which one can adjust the speed of a small screwdriver to the desired. This feature is standard for players of this level, you can thank the manufacturer for this feature.
Using Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB
As the player is fully automatic, not much is required of the listener. Most often, the size of modern vinyl is the same 12 inches indicated near the switch on the top panel. If your plate occupies the entire surface of the base table, as in the photo, this is it. If it does not – feel free to switch to 7 inches.
The exception are the old Soviet plates with children’s tales. For example, “Bremen Musicians” were produced in 10-inch format, so in this case the tonearm will have to be raised to the record by hand. But don’t be afraid of that. A separate microlift button will gently lower the needle onto the plate in the right place.
On the left side of the front panel you can see a single button to switch speeds. It is often necessary to put it in position 33, but there are exceptions in the form of both full-length singles and even entire albums of artists who tend to audiophile sound. An example is Stephen Wilson’s album “To the Bones”, released on 2 LPs with a playback speed of 45 rpm.
So, all you have to do is press Start and watch the tonearm rise into the air, move to the beginning of the record and gently lower the needle on it. That’s it, music sounds. At the end of the side, the player will do the reverse manipulation: lift and gently return the tonearm to the “slot”, and the rotation of the plate will stop.
Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB sound quality
To understand how well this player sounds, we arranged a “blind” test in the editorial office. Several times in random order, the player was connected to a Sony amplifier with a frequency range from 7 Hz to 70 kHz and the appropriate acoustics, using the built-in sound corrector of the amplifier, built-in sound corrector of the player, then high-end external sound corrector.
Surprisingly, people who did not know exactly how the player was connected at one time or another, unmistakably pointed to the appropriate sound quality. The worst was the version with a sound corrector of the amplifier, the best – the one with a built-in sound corrector Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB, excellent – using an external RIAA sound corrector.
And the “good” result here shows that it is really good. Describing sounds in letters is a rather thankless task, so let’s leave aside epithets that mean nothing, such as “juicy”, “volume”, etc. In the end, much depends not only on the player itself, but also on other techniques in availability.
It is important to understand – the built-in sound corrector sounds very decent, and this eliminates the need to spend extra money at the beginning of the “vinyl” path.
According to the editors, the function of digitizing vinyl in compressed formats, such as MP3, looks a bit foreign. However, it is, and the player comes with the appropriate cable. Spoiler: This is a standard USB printer cable. If you have an extra one, you may not need to unpack the new one.
To encrypt the record, simply connect the player with the above cable to a computer with any modern operating system – macOS, Windows and even Linux – and install the free program Audacity. Its spartan interface in this case is more of a plus because any ordinary user will understand the digitization process.
You decide what to do with the received files. After all, not all music releases are even in the richest Apple Music catalog, so having this feature can come in handy.