Turntable of the Year $750-$1500
Our sibling magazine Australian Hi-Fi recently splashed this turntable on its cover with the headline “Best Value Turntable Ever!” — with not so much as a qualifying question mark, so impressed were they with its performance and price. Indeed audiotechnica has been nailing a rising range of turntables — the AT-LP5 won an award two years ago at $799, and we’re fans of the $469 entry-level AT-LP3 as well.
Meanwhile this AT-LP7 sells at $1399. It’s a two-speed (33⅓ and 45rpm) belt-driven deck that comes fitted with a J-shaped tonearm that has a removable AT-HS10 headshell. Naturally the headshell itself is in turn fitted with an audio-technica cartridge… in this instance one from the company’s 500-Series line, the VM520EB moving-magnet phono cartridge, which has a 0.3×0.7 bonded elliptical stylus and audio-technica’s ‘dual magnet’ geometry, where the two magnets are positioned in such a way as to mirror the angles of the groove walls. The stylus is easily removable, enabling easy, cost-effective stylus replacements when necessary (and/or easy upgrades).
Again here a phono preamplifier is built in, so you can plug the output directly into the line input of any integrated amplifier — or switch it out of circuit if you’d prefer to use your own separate phono preamplifier.
The single-piece platter is 20mm thick, made from polyoxymethylene, a non-resonant polymer. There’s no slip-mat — it’s intended that you place your LPs directly onto the platter surface… though you could easily add an after-market one.
And performance? The AT-LP7 both measured well and sounded exceptional at its price. Once up to speed (using servo control), the platter maintains speed very accurately; motor and bearing noise is so low that it’s inaudible; and immunity to external vibration is also very good. It delivered a rich sound, full but never overpowering in the bass, with precision and timing that lent itself wonderfully to piano tone, and resolution that seemed far beyond its price level. So, best value turntable ever? Well yes, it might be so. More info: www.audio-technica.com.au
JUDGES’ COMMENT “A turntable that performs far above its price, whether playing through its own built-in phono stage or an external one. It makes your vinyl sing.”