Reviews // Hi-Fi

Audio-Technika AT-LP5 Review • A turntable for vinyl lovers

Audio-Technika AT-LP5

The Audio-Technika AT-LP5 is in many ways a unique device. For the first time the AT-LP5 model was presented in 2016 and despite the fact that it has been available on the Russian market for several years, the player has not lost its originality. Until 2016, the Japanese manufacturer Audio-Technica had several turntables in the lineup, which in their design and construction borrowed a lot from the older professional models for DJs.

Audio-Technica AT-LP5, in my opinion, can be safely called a full-fledged Hi-Fi class player. It’s not just the design, although visually the player immediately stands out in the lineup due to its strict and conservative appearance.

Design and functionality

The Audio-Technica AT-LP5 platter is made of aluminum and is driven by a direct drive – this is the key point that sets this unit apart from the competition. The most common is the belt drive.
Audio-Technica AT-LP5 disc
By the way, the world’s first direct drive turntable was developed by Panasonic engineers, the model was released in 1969 and was named SP-10. The engine provided uniform rotation at 33.33 rpm and 45 rpm. Until that time, all turntables were equipped with roller or belt drives.
There was also an Audio-Technica AT95x cartridge
The build level of the player can be envied by more expensive models. Exact fit of parts, verified counterweight and balanced disc that fits perfectly flat on the spindle and rotates as accurately as possible in the horizontal plane. All of these factors directly affect the sound quality of the Audio-Technica AT-LP5. As befits serious turntables, the AT-LP5 is devoid of automation: the stylus is lowered using a mechanical microlift, and at the end of the record, the tonearm must be returned to its place on its own.
A quartz stabilizer is responsible for the accuracy of the disc rotation, we just have to set the required speed of 33.3 or 45 rpm.
The AT-LP5 turntable is equipped with an Audio-Technica type MM pickup AT95EX – this is a modification of the budget AT95 head, equipped with a pair of magnets and an elliptical sharpened stylus. Thanks to these improvements, the pickup provides better readout accuracy. An aluminum J-shaped stylus of our own production is used as a tonearm.
Connecting Audio-Technica AT-LP5
You can connect the AT-LP5 to any stereo or home theater system. The player has a switchable phono stage on board, which is rather primitive, but it will be enough for an entry-level stereo system. If you want to improve the sound quality, in the future I recommend adding an external phono stage to the system. The player supports the newfangled function of digitizing records, if you wish, you can convert your vinyl record library into electronic format yourself. The package contains a disc with the necessary software and a USB cable for connecting the player to a computer.
 All commutation connectors are located on the rear panel, there is also a power button for the device. It is located next to the network connector, it is not an easy task to find it on the rear panel, from the point of view of ease of use, such a solution is an obvious miscalculation of the designers.
Speed ​​switch Audio-Technica AT-LP5
The protective plexiglass cover is mounted without a rigid attachment, this is done so that during playback you can completely remove it and, thus, reduce the resonances of the cabinet.

Sound

To assess my musical ability, I connected the turntable to two systems of completely different levels. In the first case, I used an inexpensive Yamaha music center with standard acoustics, and in the second, a serious, but small stereo system based on a Luxman tube amplifier.
Audio-Technica AT-LP5 phono cartridge
In the entry-level system, the player performed quite predictably. The warm “vinyl” music picture was revealed through the prism of a budget music center. The nature of the sound turns out to be peculiar, the listener will have the opportunity to feel all the charm of an analog source, but such a system is far from full-fledged listening to vinyl.
Audio-Technica AT-LP5 tonearm pad
In the case of the Luxman, I used a standard turntable phono stage paired with an Audio-Technica AT95X base head. Despite the budget class of the pickup, I heard a good level of tonal balance. Regardless of musical genres, the player delivered a confident and reliable mid-range. There is sometimes some harshness at the high frequencies, especially on records released today. The bass level is moderate, there is volume, but sometimes it lacks the attack speed. These sound features are typical of budget pickups, but given the clever design of the turntable, you can install a higher grade cartridge and significantly improve the sound quality.

Easy assembly

Play is delivered practically assembled. The installation and basic setup process will take about 15-20 minutes for an unprepared person. Before using the turntable, you will need to replace the disc, rubber mat, adjust the tonearm, and set the anti-skating downforce. The turntable table is equipped with adjustable feet, with their help it is necessary to ensure the horizontal and stable position of the turntable. In my opinion, the legs are quite soft, for a direct drive this is acceptable, but still I recommend installing the player on the most rigid surface.
Audio-Technica AT-LP5
The entire assembly and configuration process is described in detail in the Russian-language instructions. Remember that a turntable is, in many ways, a mechanical system. Pay maximum attention to geometry (everything should be level) and tonearm tuning, as a result, you will get a high-quality and warm vinyl sound.

Conclusion

The design and construction of the Audio-Technika AT-LP5 turntable is above common fashion trends, this is a turntable for people who really enjoy listening to music on vinyl media. Behind the apparent simplicity of the outside lies a smart and functional design that delivers the highest sound levels among entry-level turntables!