£330, eu.audio-technica.com Audio-Technica’s turntable may be the cheapest of the three featured on these pages, but it’s also the best all-rounder.
There’s electronic speed control and a USB-B output to connect it to a computer, and you also get popular recording package Audacity supplied on disc. Uniquely of the three turntables, the RCA phono output at the rear is switchable between line-level and phone-level, which means if your amp doesn’t have a phono channel you can connect it to a line-level input without needing to buy a separate, outboard phono stage. And unlike the Rega and Pro-Ject turntables, which both have straight tonearms, this one features a J-shaped tonearm with a detachable headshell. Tonearm shape (straight or curved?) is one of those long-running ‘Mac or PC?’-type arguments that we won’t go into here, but the detachable headshell will make changing cartridges a heck of a lot easier. It’s also a direct drive machine, which means quicker start-up and no faffing around with belts.
It’s not just in the features department that it wins versatility points. Terrapin might not have sounded quite as spacious as on the Rega, and the bass may not be
quite as tight as the Pro-Ject, but the sound that comes out is richer and more resonant than the other two contenders and really fills the room. If you listen to a wide range of music genres, you may find that this one performs better across the board, even if it fails to truly excel in any one particular area.
Weighing in at 10.7kg compared to the Rega and Pro-Ject’s 5kg and 5.5kg, it’s built like a tank and practically impervious to vibration – a definite bonus if you’re prone to dancing around the living room!
A versatile beast that packs plenty of punch 9/10