SMACKDOWN

Australian T3 - - CONTENTS -

Bluetooth turnta­bles are just the ticket for tech-minded vinyl lovers, and this month two pop­u­lar mod­els slug it out in our head-to-head

Au­dio Tech­nica AT-LP60BT $299, au­dio-tech­nica. DE­SIGN

The LP60’s com­pact, mod­ern look will suit smaller spa­ces. How­ever, the belt-driven turntable is let down by a lack­lus­tre plastic chas­sis, spindly tone arm and cheap white but­ton con­trols.

FEA­TURES

The turntable fea­tures auto-start and auto-re­turn, plus a but­ton to move the nee­dle. Two ad­di­tional switches tog­gle be­tween 33- and 45rpm speeds and 7- and 10-inch records. Bluetooth con­nec­tiv­ity is han­dled via a deck-mounted LED but­ton.

US­ABIL­ITY

Out-of-the-box setup is a cinch. Phono and line out­puts are avail­able if you pre­fer a phys­i­cal con­nec­tion, or hit the Bluetooth but­ton to pair a wire­less de­vice. It’s not the most re­fined, but once con­nected you’re ready to cue your first record.

PER­FOR­MANCE

The anti-res­o­nance alu­minium plat­ter is a firm plat­form for your wax, and the Dual Mov­ing Mag­net phono car­tridge, while cheap and cheer­ful, is rea­son­ably bal­anced and tracks well. The LP60 does the job well for a small-scale vinyl so­lu­tion.

VER­DICT

WE’RE IM­PRESSED They might be old school, but auto con­trols def­i­nitely make play­back eas­ier. WE’D IM­PROVE Bluetooth con­nec­tiv­ity isn’t su­per re­fined; we’d gladly pay more to see less hideous plastic.

Pro-Ject Es­sen­tial III BT $629, project-au­dio.com DE­SIGN

There’s a taste­ful, vin­tage air to the Es­sen­tial III, cour­tesy of the high-gloss red base, black plat­ter, ex­posed mo­tor and chunky ton­earm. Mod­ern trap­pings like the Bluetooth out­put unit are tucked out of view be­neath the base.

FEA­TURES

The high-grade Orto­fon OM10 car­tridge is the star of the show, work­ing in har­mony with the alu­minium ton­earm (which sits on slick sap­phire bear­ings) and belt-driven MDF plat­ter to ex­tract the best sound from ev­ery groove.

US­ABIL­ITY

Fit­ting the drive belt, ver­ti­cal track­ing force and the turntable’s anti-skat­ing weight takes con­cen­tra­tion, but pays div­i­dends. Ca­bles and Bluetooth are quicker, but there’s no auto-play, so you’ll need to mas­ter drop­ping the nee­dle man­u­ally.

PER­FOR­MANCE

A vi­bra­tion-re­duc­ing mo­tor con­trol and shock­proof feet help keep the car­tridge track­ing smoothly. Whether you’re lis­ten­ing to Brahms or Bowie, wire­lessly or through a sep­a­rate sys­tem, the Es­sen­tial III has bags of au­dio punch and clarity.

VER­DICT

WE’RE IM­PRESSED Bluetooth con­nec­tiv­ity is the ic­ing on a stylish, killer-sound­ing cake. WE’D IM­PROVE In­stalling the drive belt is mildly tor­tu­ous – we wish Pro-Ject had added a groove around the plat­ter.

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