The past few years have seen a huge resurgence of vinyl. So much so, in fact, that last year the sale of records was the highest it’s been in 25 years. Though the vinyl revival can be attributed to a number of factors, we can easily see how in an increasingly digital world, having something so tangible simply makes it feel more special. When an album really means something to you, saving it on Spotify doesn’t quite have the same effect as holding it in your hands. Furthermore, the act of buying a record feels more like you’re directly supporting the band or artist who created it. Sure, CDs are still around, and there are more avenues you can use to listen to one than you can a record, but somehow they still feel pretty removed from the full experience of an album. Records allow you to see the details of the album artwork. And the fact that you have to work a bit harder to listen to it means you’ll probably appreciate it more too.
While high-quality record players were still being produced, even before the big revival of recent years, the fact that so many more people are embracing vinyl now means we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to turntables. Newer models are being released with higher quality specifications and components that make it way easier to pick up a really stellar one at an affordable price. Leading the charge is Audio-Technica, who have been in the game since the early 60s. Their range of turntables is extensive, and covers everything from high-quality entry-level models, through to professional level DJ equipment. Audio-Technica’s latest model is the AT-LP3.
Like the rest of Audio-Technica’s turntable line-up, the AT-LP3 sports a very minimalist and sleek look. Distinguishable from the others thanks to its rounded bottom edge, the new model is also slightly wider and taller than the others. It’s a beautifully-designed product that would sit nicely in any space. Weighing in at around a very solid 5kg, the record player feels as premium as it looks. It also comes with an easily removable dust cover, which you can choose to take on or off, though it looks attractive either way.
The full automatic turntable doesn’t have too many buttons or dials, which makes it super easy to use, especially if you don’t really know what you’re doing. The start and stop buttons are pretty self-explanatory, as are the speed and size switches. The AT-LP3 can play at either 33 or 45 RPM with either 12″ or 7″ vinyl. These will cover the majority of records, and you’ll be stuck to find many that aren’t made in those sizes or at those speeds.
Connections & Features
Conveniently enough, the AT-LP3 features a built-in phono preamp. What this means is you won’t have to buy any separate gear to connect the turntable to speakers. You can simply hook it straight up to your powered speakers via the RCA output cables and it’s ready to go.
The AT-LP3 features a belt-drive, which many audiophiles suggest is superior to the alternative – direct-drive. Basically, the difference between the two is that the former has an elastic belt attached to the motor, that sits between it and the platter (what the record itself sits on). With the latter option, the platter attaches directly to the motor. The belt-drive is then generally preferred as it mitigates any sound interference from the motor itself, offering a cleaner sound. The turntable’s die-cast aluminium platter and 4mm elastomer damping mat also help to alleviate any internal sounds.
The turntable also features a pre-mounted AT91R Dual Moving Magnet phono cartridge. The cartridge is essentially what turns that thin piece of vinyl spinning around in front of you into music. While the moving magnet that the turntable comes with delivers exceptional, high-fidelity sound, Audio-Technica has allowed room for movement and personal preference here. You have the option of installing a different moving magnet cartridge or a moving coil one. If you don’t especially know your way around these, you’re best sticking with the cartridge it comes with. However, it is good that the option of being able to adjust this is available.
Though we can’t speak for hardcore audiophiles, we can give a pretty informed opinion being appreciators of good quality sound. Having spun a few records on the Audio-Technica AT-LP3 in our office, we can safely say our opinion on the sound quality it produces is a positive one. Sound is balanced and full, and we didn’t really hear any interference from the physical spinning or mechanisms.
Whether it’s any indication of how good the sound quality from the AT-LP3 is, consciously preparing a record to play and listening to what we put on really was a much nicer experience than hearing the same songs played through our phones and computers.
The Wrap-Up – Audio-Technica AT-LP3 Review
Audio-Technica’s AT-LP3 is a great choice to consider if you find yourself interested in starting a record collection. It produces high-fidelity, high-quality sound and is easy enough for beginners to use, while still featuring enough manual functionality to make audiophiles happy too. The turntable is available in both black and white, each being a very sleek and attractive choice.
The Audio Technica AT-LP3 is currently exclusive to JB Hi-Fi.
Images taken with Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II.
In partnership with Audio-Technica.