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Audio-Technica AT-PL120

Direct-drive turntable with cartridge

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  • Audio-Technica AT-PL120

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Item #: 057ATPL120
 

Review Summary

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Original price $249.99
 
 
 
 

Our take on the Audio-Technica AT-PL120

by James Ralston

Looking for a turntable that can do justice to your cherished vinyl records? Audio-Technica's AT-PL120 is designed to please professional DJs and LP lovers alike. Its high-torque, direct drive motor provides solid, quartz-controlled playback for albums, 45s...even those old 78s (a rare feature for turntables in this price range!). A built-in, selectable phono preamp means you can connect the AT-PL120 directly to almost any audio system, or even hook it up to your PC's sound card for digitally archiving your vinyl collection (may require adapter, not included). Audio-Technica even includes their rugged, high-quality ATP-2 phono cartridge for great-sounding playback right out of the box.

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DJs will also appreciate the AT-PL120's impressive list of special playback options. Its pitch control feature can be set to two different ranges (±10% or ±20%), for easier beat-match mixing. Reverse play lets you create cool sonic effects. A remote input jack lets you start or stop playback from a compatible mixer or control unit, and the pop-up stylus target light makes it easier to see where you're dropping the needle in low-light settings like a dance club.

Read a hands-on review of the AT-PL120 at CrutchfieldAdvisor.com

Highlights:

  • high-torque direct drive motor
  • built-in phono preamp with bypass switch
  • selectable quartz-controlled speed lock
  • playback at 33-1/3, 45, or 78 rpm (45 rpm adapter included)
  • pitch control with selectable range (±10% or ±20%)
  • forward or reverse play
  • manual operation
  • adjustable tracking force and anti-skating
  • includes ATP-2 phono cartridge (frequency response 15-22,000 Hz)
  • pop-up stylus target light
  • cast aluminum platter with slip mat
  • removable, hinged dust cover
  • remote input jack (1/4", 2-conductor) for use with compatible mixing/control equipment
  • minor assembly required
  • wow & flutter: less than 0.2%
  • 17-11/16"W x 6-5/16"H (16-3/8" with cover raised) x 14-3/8"D
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

Hands-on research from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

Product Research
What's in the box?

Download owner's manual

  • Direct-drive turntable
  • 1 Headshell/cartridge assembly
  • 1 Plastic dust cover
  • 1 Cast aluminum platter
  • 1 Slip mat
  • 2 Dust cover hinges
  • One 45-rpm adapter
  • 1 Counterweight
  • 6' AC power cord
  • Installation and Operation manual
  • Quick Start Guide

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team — they open the box, verify contents, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Features
Inputs and Outputs

Features

Direct Drive: Audio-Technica's AT-PL120 features a high-torque, direct drive motor. The motor allows both forward and reverse play.

33-1/3, 45, and 78 RPM Compatible: The turntable will play at 33-1/3, 45, and 78 rpm speeds. An adapter is included for playing 45 rpm records.

Anti-Skate Control: The anti-skate control applies a small inward force to the tone arm, counteracting the tendency of the tone arm to move outward due to forces created by the stylus in the record groove.

Counterweight: The supplied counterweight balances the tone arm and provides adjustment for proper downward tracking force on the stylus.

Adjustable Tone Arm Assembly Height: The tone arm assembly height adjustment allows for the tone arm to be positioned parallel to the record surface, when using extra-tall cartridge bodies, thick slip mats or thick records (i.e. old 78s).

Pitch Control: If desired, you can select a +/- 10% or +/- 20% pitch adjustment range by pressing the pitch button.

Speed Lock: If the quartz speed lock button is pressed, the internal quartz lock will hold the platter at precise rated speed regardless of the position of the pitch adjust slide control.

Strobe Dots: Strobe dots on the edge of the platter are illuminated by the red light coming from beneath the power dial. If the appropriate row of strobe dots appears to be stationary, the platter is moving at the precise rated speed. If the dots appear to be moving to the right, the platter is moving below rated speed; if they appear to be moving to the left, the platter is moving above rated speed.

Pop-up Stylus Target Light: The pop-up stylus target light makes it easier to see where you're dropping the needle in low-light settings like a dance club.

Setting the Pre-amp Selector Switch For increased flexibility, the AT-PL120 has an internal stereo phono pre-amplifier, which means you can connect the turntable directly to almost any audio system without the use of an adapter.

ATP-2 Cartridge Included: The AT-PL120 comes supplied with a high-quality Audio-Technica ATP-2 cartridge. The stylus should be replaced with a genuine Audio-Technica ATP-N2 stylus.

Inputs and Outputs

Back Panel:

  • Audio Output: left and right male RCA audio connectors on a 3' cable hardwired to the unit

  • Remote Start/Stop: remote input jack that lets you start or stop playback from a compatible mixer or control unit

  • Pitch Output: single female RCA jack that allows you to connect compatible equipment that supports the pitch data function. This signal can be used to synchronize the turntable pitch with certain mixers, CD players and other external devices.

 
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Audio-Technica AT-PL120 Reviews

Average Customer Review:

16 people say:

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4 out of 5

Great Sounding Turntable

Written By Bruce, NJ on Monday, August 17, 2009
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Overall I like this turntable. It sounds great and is easy to setup per the instructions. I think it does have some minor downfalls but they are minor. This is not Pro quality or an Audiophile quality turntable at all... Do not expect that for the price. This is a home quality turntable. The sound from this turntable is nice. The bass and highs are well detailed for the price range and the isolation feet work well in a room with a 12" sub set for music a few feet away. I am using the phono setting on the outputs instead of the line out as my Preamp has a phono input. That may make a difference in the sound quality of the unit. The down side of this unit is that the cables are hard wired in. I like to use my own cables and tend to frown upon "built-in" cables also the on/off switch is a bit strange to me. Other than that I think it is a good buy for someone who wants to listen to their old records and just have them sound good.
1 out of 1 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Direct Drive Love

Written By Maddawg, Medford, Or. on Saturday, February 21, 2009
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
It was finally time to replace my Old Direct Drives that died 2 decades ago. And I'm not sure how I lasted so long. My ol platters never sounded so good. The Audio-Technica AT-PL120 was obvoiusly a good choice. Now I read all the reviews and found this to be good looking, rugged and as easy to set up as it is to use. The Master Recordings that I was collecting at the onset of CD's have one again found themselves being played and all I can say is WOW! Now I'm no DJ, but I have a nice collection that is no longer collecting just dust. Take my word for it, "BUY IT, YOU'LL LIKE IT!"
2 out of 2 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Excellent Quality Turntable

Written By JAMES, Brookline, NH on Friday, February 20, 2009
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I have been very impressed with this turntable. I've had the AT for about three weeks now and I've been thrilled with the turntable's performance thus far. The 120 has made me realize just how much better vinyl sounds than CD. In fact vinyl is just about all I've been listening to since I purchased my turntable! The unit is very well constructed and compares quite favorably to the Technics 1200. Fit and finish is excellent. Even when bumping my audio cabinet, which sits on a sloped, unsteady floor, the audio-technica does not skip. Is the Technics better? For my use as a home audio turntable, I think I would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the two, especially with a good quality cartridge on the audio-technica (the cartridge it come with is a great one by the way). I had a Technics for many years so I feel comfortable saying this audio-technica is so good most people should not spend the additional money on the Technics unless you're a professional DJ or feel that you need to have a Technics branded turntable. Keep the difference and invest in a couple of high quality cartridges and some nice vinyl! I'm very picky about my equipment and this has been my hobby for the past thirty two years. This turntable is one of those hidden gems you find ever once in a great while that make you smile when you realize just how nice a component can be with out having to spend big bucks. Very Highly Recommended!!!
6 out of 6 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Nice, but could be better

Written By Gibbys, Suburban Chicago, IL on Monday, February 02, 2009
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
First of all, kudos to Crutchfield for great customer service! This is a great turntable for the price. There are a couple quirks, the most obvious one being the short cable to connect it to your amp or computer, but that's fixable with a patch cable.

More troublesome is the pre-amp built-in to this thing. I was ripping LPs to MP3s with Audacity and noticed a weird waveform. Hard to explain, but suffice it to say there was some major clipping going on at low volume levels.

After checking on a couple of audiophile and Audacity boards, I tried an external pre-amp and discovered that the built-in pre-amp was to blame. Once I switched to the external pre-amp, I got a much fuller sound and was very impressed. I hadn't listened to my LPs in at least 20 years. Wow!

I don't think the pre-amp is a reason not to buy this, and the truth is, buying a nice external pre-amp isn't a bad idea.
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4 out of 5

Bargain Turntable

Written By Ted, Memphis, TN on Friday, January 02, 2009
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Having the need to replace my original turntable, the Audio Technica proved to be a good choice. No, it is not a bullitproof DJ machine, but I did not need that. What it is is an excellent choice for someone who wants to continue to enjoy their vinyl. Set up is relatively simple. The manual leaves out some info that is contained on the Quick Start sheet. The RCA cable is a tad short, but since I use a rack mounted system, it did not pose a problem. For the price and the quality of play back, I have no reservations recommending this unit to anyone other than a pro. You can spend more money, but you don't need too.
2 out of 2 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Audio-Technica AT-PL120

Written By dewite, alabama on Friday, September 26, 2008
 
I ordered this unit from Crutchfield on the 22nd of Sept. and received it on the 24th! So far it seems to be outstanding in every way. Built like a tank.
Was fairly easy to set up and sounds great. Owner's manuel is a bit skimpy but no real problem.
2 out of 2 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Audio-Technica AT-PL120

Written By Howard, Detroit, Michigan on Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Not being a true audiophile...I found this unit very essential to my audio system...My desire was to find a solid turntable with some above average features to record some albums for posterity...The Audio-Technica AT-PL120
more than fulfilled that desire as an excellent turntable with exceptional sound quality, great tracking features and a great appearance for an exceptional price.
1 out of 1 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Not quite ready for 78s

Written By Alan, Houston, TX on Saturday, May 03, 2008
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
We purchased this turntable mostly to create digital archives of very old 78rpm records. Crutchfield did a great job packaging it for shipment, which seems rare these days. It was easy to assemble, even for somebody who knows nothing about turntables.
CONS: Although it can turn at 78rpm, it cannot play 78rpm records with the included cartridge (they will actually damage it). I had to purchase a cartridge made for playing 78rpm records. The audio connector is a rather short male RCA connector. I would have prefered a female socket instead so I could choose my own patch cable.
CONCLUSION: Now I can play any record and it does a great job in my opinion. This is clearly a quality component.
5 out of 6 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Solid, Heavy, Versatile

Written By Mark, Essex County, NJ on Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
After 2 weeks of moderate use .... this is one of the few decent and affordable turntables that will play records at 78 rpm. Set-up is quick and straightforward, even though it's been years since I fired up a turntable. PROS: Solid construction, very heavy - no needle skipping, multiple adjustments (tracking, height, pitch, fwd/rev, etc), looks more expensive than it is. CONS: Large profile & footprint; sound is good, but not as rich as I expected, maybe a better stylus or cartridge would help. (Based on a real-time parallel comparison of Physical Graffitti on CD and vinyl, the CD sounded fuller, but I'll compare others in the future) OVERALL: Very happy with this turntable and its 3 speeds, good sound quality. Anxious to hear the rest of my vinyl collection.
4 out of 5 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Audio-Technica AT-PL120

Written By Short One, Waterloo SC on Thursday, February 07, 2008
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
This is a very solidly built piece of equipment and will probably outlast me. It is not simple to assemble and set up so is not good for non-technical but the directions are better written than most I've encountered in many years.

Specifics on the cartridge that ships with unit should have been included since it has to be adjusted to those specifications. Option to direct-connect to computer adds to value. Features and adjustments are for those who value their vinyl and the quality sound it produces.

Be aware: this unit is larger than average, quite heavy with really good suction feet. It was very well packed by both manufacturer and Crutchfield.
4 out of 4 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Audio-Technica AT-PL120

Written By Bruce, Albuquerque, NM on Monday, June 18, 2007
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I am very satisfied with my purchase of the ATPL-120 turntable. I opened the boxes and within a very short time even I was able to listen to my vinyl records! I normally feel the need to call for support on these type of items but it was not necessary as the directions are very precise.

I am especially happy about the price; a small investment that gives a lot of satisfaction.

4 out of 4 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

If you can't afford the one you want, love the one you got.

Written By Navigator, Marietta, GA on Saturday, March 17, 2007
 
Yes folks, you're buying a great playing turntable, and not one of those overpriced professional night club turntables. First the mechanicals work well for the price, but the cartridge is for nightclub use (including scratching). You really need to invest in a high quality cartridge for maximum enjoyment ($40-100 discount), of course you choose based on your financial situation. A felt mat will eliminate any audible noises, period. I chose an Audio Technica AT311EP, tracks from 1 to 1 1/2 grams, rather than the turntable has (3-5 grams).
14 out of 15 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Out of the Box easy and worth every penny!

Written By ED, Jacksonville, FL on Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
This turntable is welcome company in our home. It was worth every penny including shipping especially when compared to the (1) box store selection of 3 speed turntables.

This unit went from the front porch to spining records within 30 minutes while tracking at about 3 grams... The turntable deserves a needle upgrade however the supplied ATP2 is better than good for any dusty collection!

The best feature is it that this unit plays 78 RPM, a virtue that is hard to find on quality NEW equipment.

12 out of 12 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Bargain for the money

Written By Joe, Lafayette, LA on Saturday, April 16, 2005
 
No, this turntable is not in the same league as the Technics 1200 series, and it is unfair to compare the two. I am not a DJ, so I honestly cannot say how it would hold up in that type of enviroment. I can tell you that I have owned the AT-PL 120 for four monts now and I have really enjoyed its overall performance. I purchased it mainly because the article in Crutchfield. It has excellent sound quality. My dusty album collection has never sounded better! I was listening to Led Zeppelin 4 a few weeks back and my brother in law thought that I was using my CD player. He could not believe that a turntable could sound that good. The set up for it is quite painless and it was ready to play in about 20 minutes. I believe that the quality is very good and you do get alot of "bang" for the buck! A build in phono pre amp and the ability to play 78's in a turntable that is not too terribly expensive is also very nice. It comes with a Audio-Technica ATP-2 cartridge which alone I know costs about $80. I have read a few articles about this cartridge and they have said that it out performs other cartridges that cost three to four times more. The only complaint that I have is the RCA cable is hardwired in yet, you can unplug the power cord. Seems kinda dyslexic to me but hey, I'm sure the engineers had their reasoning. Overall, for home use, I feel that this turntable is well worth it and as long as you don't expect "Technics" quality.
42 out of 44 people found this helpful
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3 out of 5

It Ain't No Technics 1200...

Written By Armando, Chandler, AZ on Sunday, March 20, 2005
 
A friend let me borrow this turntable for awhile since he also has an extra 'table (Technics 1200)...I,too,also used to own a Technics 1200 M3D. This Audio Technica by no means is a replacement or can ever have the feel and performance of a 1200 (and, yes, there are a few good reasons why the Technics 1200's command such a price---different review altogether,though).Period. On the AT-PL120 the controls just don't feel as solid. Soundwise, you can get much better output performance from a Technics...The Audio Technica is neither an audiophile grade turntable nor a DJ record-scratching professional deck!Since this particular Audio Technica model is still new to the market and does not have the legendary history of the 1200, it's difficult to say what it's reliability record is. At best, it is simply suitable for casual in-home listening for vinyl enthusiasts who just care about the music and are not going to focus too intently on the AT-PL120's sonic characteristics.It is a "mid-fi" 'table.Nothing more, nothing less. However, I did have someone ask me if not only could this be a knock off Technics, but if Technics itself is the manufacturer behind this Audio Technica...I would hope not. It's like going to a swap meet to by a Rolux instead of a Rolex !
23 out of 34 people found this helpful
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3 out of 5

Interesting Choices (apostrophes were deleted?)

Written By Brian M, Nashville, TN on Sunday, March 13, 2005
 
Ill start with the benefits: This unit has a great sounding built-in pre-amp, which is exactly what turntables have really needed for so long. Adjustments are easy to make, and accuracy of the pitch defaults is right on. The sound is what Id expect from a turntable at this price range, and probably even more expensive.
So, heres my gripes: Audio-Technica made some rather strange choices in the design of this turntable.
- The pop-up target light isnt located in its most effective location. Its still a bit difficult to see the surface of the record without another light shining into the front of the cartridge.
- The pop-up lid (for home users) doesnt lock in, which I dont think is an issue, just odd.
- There is noticeable tracking error in the tone arm toward the outer edge of 12" records. This doesnt seem to affect the audio quality, though.
- Now, heres what baffles me! The RCA cable is HARDWIRED to the turntable, is of standard quality, and is SHORT!! I had to travel a few miles to buy some decent F-to-F RCA couplers and an additional RCA cable to reach the mere six feet to my receiver. So, if A-T makes this choice, then WHY did they use a universal power cord that is NOT hard-wired? Forget this unit if you even THINK you might damage the RCA cable.
- The tracking force guage is very loose, and even if you move the unit from one room to another (not to mention from gig to gig), it will rotate and eliminate all accuracy in your tracking force measurements. Also, the tracking weight doesnt lock down, either.
- User is forced to use the slipmat because there is nothing but the aluminum platter underneath.
If you can live with this...
326 out of 450 people found this helpful
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