Turntable of the Year $750-$1500

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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.”

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