Audio Technica At-lp5

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Ed Selley, Nov 13, 2015.

  1. Ed Selley

    Ed Selley Well-Known Member

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    First up, a formality. I'm not affiliated with Audio Technica in any way.

    [​IMG]

    This is a bit of a heads up really. I listened to one of these in Berlin in September and got a review sample in recently. Unlike the bulk of affordable turntables, the LP5 is a direct drive design and for $500 you get deck, arm, cart, phono preamp (switchable in and out) and USB connection for vinyl. It isn't the prettiest turntable in the world but the build its good and setup is a doddle.

    Once you've got it up and running, it sounds big, confident and fun. I'm lucky enough to have access to two excellent decks in the house and the LP5 hasn't had me rushing to chuck it back in the box. This is a great piece of kit for the money. Where it really scores though is in the longer term.

    This is the sample that has been with me for a bit;

    [​IMG]

    In the face of it, it looks the same but there's been a few tweaks. The supplied cart has been removed and replaced with a Grado Gold that I had spare. The phono stage has been switched out and an ADL GT40a Phono Stage (also kicking about from a review) used instead. Finally, the supplied rubber mat has been kicked into touch and replaced by a Funk Firm Achromat.

    All of these changes comfortably exceed the base cost of the deck but the LP5 has responded incredibly well to the tweaks. On this forum and others, people are constantly (and correctly) told to stretch their budgets where possible to avoid buying twice and this is a brilliant example of what can be done if you can hit $500. This is a great deck and it has the potential to get even better if you want it to. I've been seriously impressed by the thing and as Audio Technica has been 'out of the game' for a bit, I thought it was worth bringing it to people's awareness.
     
  2. TimmahTao

    TimmahTao Well-Known Member

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    I don't get it?

    Looks like the arm from the AT LP120 attached to a turntable with better aesthetics. What advantages, other than aesthetics, does it have over the LP120, which costs half as much and comes with the same tonearm and cartridge? Looks like it uses the same plinth as well. Sounds like even the internal preamp is the same. Switchable, USB built in. If it's anything like the LP120 design, even when it is disengaged, the signal path goes through it, reducing signal quality.

    At $500, it cost more than a fully upgraded Orbit + and Pluto preamp, more than a Debut Carbon DC, more than an entry level Rega. Why?
     
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  3. mcherry

    mcherry Lady High Chancellor & Moderator Extraordinaire

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    I had a similar question. I have the LP120 and when I eventually upgrade I don't want to have to worry about any terrible built-in preamp.
     
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  4. TimmahTao

    TimmahTao Well-Known Member

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    LP120 VS LP5
    Type
    : 3-speed, fully manual operation VS 2-Speed, fully manual operation
    Motor: DC motor VS DC motor
    Drive Method: Direct drive VS Direct drive
    Speeds: 33-1/3 RPM, 45 RPM, 78 RPM VS 33-1/3 RPM, 45 RPM
    Pitch Variation: +/-10% or +/-20% VS NONE
    Turntable Platter: Die-cast aluminum VS Die-cast aluminium
    Starting Torque: >1.6 kgf-cm VS >1.6 kgf.cm
    Braking System: Electronic brake VS Electronic brake
    Wow and Flutter: <0.2% WRMS (33 RPM) VS < 0.2% WRMS (33 RPM)
    Signal-to-Noise Ratio: >50 dB VS > 50 dB
    Output Level: "PHONO": 2.5 mV nominal at 1 kHz, 5 cm/sec VS - 4 mV nominal at 1 kHz, 5 cm/sec
    Pre-amp "LINE": 150 mV nominal at 1 kHz, 5 cm/sec VS - 150 mV nominal at 1 kHz, 5 cm/sec
    Phono Pre-Amp Gain: 36 dB nominal, RIAA equalized VS 36 dB nominal, RIAA equalized
    USB Function: A/D, D/A - 16 bit 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz USB selectable; VS - 16 bit 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz USB selectable

    So, for twice the price, you get one less speed, the same motor, the same signal quality, the same pre-amp, the same USB converter, a different case, and a platter without a strobe, which saves you 5 watts of electricity? You got ripped off, bro.​
     
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  5. Ed Selley

    Ed Selley Well-Known Member

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    Having reviewed (and been a little unkind to) the LP120 in the past, the interchangeability of parts between the LP120 and the LP5 is limited. I've also used the Rega and the Pro-Ject and while they compete with the LP5 as supplied (although the AT really shows what pitch stability is by comparison), it is the stretch inherent in the design that is worthy of note. Rega themselves are pretty clear that putting a $200 cartridge on an RP1 isn't worth it, whereas here, it has worked surprisingly well. The figures themselves are disingenuous- it isn't like my Avid will do much different in bald numbers and I know which one I'd rather have.

    And, for the record, the amount I've spent on the sample is $0 so I'm fairly sure I haven't been ripped off 'bro.'
     
  6. TimmahTao

    TimmahTao Well-Known Member

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    A basic U-Turn orbit has a W/F of 0.125% (vs 0.2%) and a Signal to Noise Ratio of -79dBA (vs a pathetic -50dBA) and costs 2/5ths as much.
     
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  7. TimmahTao

    TimmahTao Well-Known Member

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    You got a good deal at that price!
     
  8. TimmahTao

    TimmahTao Well-Known Member

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    Except that you spent $800 more to make it into a deck you still don't like as much as your other turntables? If I had $1300 (plus tax and shipping) to spend on my deck, cart, and pre-amp, I'm pretty sure there are some options that might offer better bang for my buck than a tarted up LP120. But hey, at least the $1300 "LP5 hasn't had [you] rushing to chuck it back in the box!"
     
  9. Ed Selley

    Ed Selley Well-Known Member

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    Um, no. I've used some equipment in the house and phoned up to borrow an Achromat. Cost still $0. As before, I've used everything you've mentioned bar the U-Turn (it isn't sold in the UK) and until we get to the Rega RP3, there honestly isn't a deck, I'd choose over this one- I decision I've reached by sitting down and listening to them without prejudice in my own home as part of a reviewing process.
     
  10. mcherry

    mcherry Lady High Chancellor & Moderator Extraordinaire

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    Thanks for the review, btw. I do like hearing about TTs for which sound can be improved by changes here and there.
     
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  11. Corycm

    Corycm Well-Known Member

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    It's an interesting choice, for sure. Not sure I agree with everything AT has done there, but certainly glad to see they're not conceding the market yet.

    The built-in preamp troubles me a little. You've expressed some familiarity with the 120, so I'm sure you're aware of the built-in preamp issues that haunt that model (even when switched off). Any indication that they've addressed/resolved/re-engineered that?
     
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  12. Ed Selley

    Ed Selley Well-Known Member

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    I'm not going to pretend I'm completely up to speed with the 120 issues but the LP5 running into a Naim Supernait 2, Cambridge Audio 851A and Naim NAC-N272 with and without the internal preamp is very quiet. The press release is at pains to stress that there is a revised internal ground on this design which might make the difference.
     
  13. Corycm

    Corycm Well-Known Member

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    The complaint on the 120 was that even when swapped to an external preamp, it still passed through the internal, and colored the sound. Or muddied, depending how you look at it. But I take it you aren't noticing the "veiled" sound people complained about with the 120? They're different beasts, it is likely they've remedied it or use a completely different internal preamp. Just curious.
     
  14. Ed Selley

    Ed Selley Well-Known Member

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    The same release is adamant that the phono stage switches out when not in use. Again, the sound here isn't muffled or coloured.
     
  15. TimmahTao

    TimmahTao Well-Known Member

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    This is an interesting point. Their press release makes it sound like it's updated, but I would be interested in seeing how much.

    @Ed Selley, since you have stressed that you have $0 dollars invested in the turntable, can you pop off the bottom plate and get is some good pictures of the pre-amp board to compare to the LP120/LP1240? @NoCo_Dave could probably spot any differences, and the board isn't buried under anything but the bottom plate.
     
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  16. Ed Selley

    Ed Selley Well-Known Member

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    If I can without damaging something that doesn't belong to me, I'll see what I can do.
     
  17. TimmahTao

    TimmahTao Well-Known Member

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    It should be really simple. With the platter off and the arm secured and supported, turn the table over. There will be a number of philips head screws on the bottom. The ones that need to be removed to take off the bottom are labeled with handy arrows. The bottom with feet should come off in one piece, exposing the motor, control boards, and pre-amp.
    Should be similar to this:
     
  18. NoCo_Dave

    NoCo_Dave Well-Known Member

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    The wording is important, the LP120 turns the phono pre amp off but it remains in the signal path passively.

    Audio Technica is not unfamiliar with making decent gear, I don't know why they didn't take the opportunity to make this 'table truly mid-fi by removing the phono amp all together, maybe making it an external option like U-Turn, Pro-Ject, Rega, etc. do.

    They could position it as the next step from a LP120. It's looks more audiophile-y than the LP120 does, which reminds me of a DJ or the 1970s in appearance.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015
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  19. TimmahTao

    TimmahTao Well-Known Member

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    I mean, are press releases considered accurate sources of information now?

    Hopefully, @Ed Selley is brave enough to pop it open so we can see if has a significantly different internal design to match the altered aesthetics.
     
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  20. Tdogzthmn

    Tdogzthmn Member

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    Interested in this table as a potential replacement to my Rega RP1. Any ideas on a release date for the US market?
     

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