Paul Jones says Audio Technica’s AT-LP5 offers exceptional quality without compromising the budget.
You’ve probably read somewhere about the resurgence in vinyl record sales. JB are recording considerable growth in the format and Facebook feeds are regularly filled with friends uncovering vinyl rarities at garage sales or op shops. For many of course, it has always remained important, but it wasn’t that long ago that people were lobbing their ‘worthless’ record collections into the skip.
While this nascent revival has been aligned with inner city pogonotrophy enthusiasts by the media, the allure of vinyl is extensive and thus the demand for turntables has increased.
Audio Technica are no strangers to this area, having entered the business in 1962 as specialist stereo cartridge manufacturers. So where does the AT-LP5 sit? Smack bang in the middle of the entry level rubbish that will destroy your vinyl and the premium price pieces you can expect to find displayed in a home featured in a Kevin McCloud documentary.
The first thing you’ll notice is the exceptional build quality; the pieces are highly machined, from the RPM control and the die-cast aluminum platter, to the retro-looking J-shaped tone arm – all presented in a seductive black finish. It’s a sturdy bit of kit.
Unlike many turntables, the full-sized LP5 is direct-drive rather than belt-driven, offering greater accuracy and quieter operation. It features a built-in phono pre-amp that will get you off and running if you decide not to invest in an amp straight away. The bayonet connection cartridge has been designed specifically for the LP5, although it is possible to swap it out.
Like most contemporary turntables, a USB-B connection is installed to enable the transfer of vinyl to your computer. However, unless you have a rare collection unavailable in any other format, the actual task involved in the transfer process is quite convoluted and frustrating.
Set up is an absolute breeze and within five minutes you’ll be flipping Television’s Marquee Moon onto the 5mm thick rubber mat, dropping into the most comfortable couch in the house in a shroud of nostalgia. For music enthusiasts, there really is no better way to spend an afternoon.
But how does it sound? You won’t be disappointed. The output is thick and warm, belying its price point. We tried everything from the aforementioned Television, to West Side Story, the Happy Mondays and Lil Louis’s French Kiss and got consistent results right across the board.
The LP5 is an exceptional turntable. It exudes quality yet it won’t force you to lie to your partner over the cost. If you’re looking for a reliable deck to kick off your analogue adventure, you’ve just found it.