Audio Technica has released a deck that is unmistakably an homage to Technics’ legendary SL-1200 turntable, which was announced to be discontinued not long ago. A direct-drive 16-pole, three-phase motor runs at 33-1/3, 45, or 78 RPM in the new AT-LP1240-USB. There’s a detachable headshell and an S-shaped tone arm with adjustable tracking force and anti-skate. The arm features lockable height adjustment to dial in the vertical tracking angle, according to Technics, but the new deck also has a built-in switchable phono preamp with USB output for archiving vinyl records to digital audio files that can be played back on portable MP3 players, as well.
Although the AT-LP1240-USB has a similar appearance and feel to the Technics in use, it isn’t as solidly built. Yes, you get the same cast aluminium platter with strobe markings and slip pad as the SL, as well as an illuminated speed indicator, adjustable pitch, start/stop button, and removable stylus target light. The top plate, however, does not appear to be as well manufactured, and the tonearm, while finely finished, appears to have more play in the bearing housing than the SL-1200. A Chinese OEM built the deck according to Audio Technica’s standards. It appears to have a lot of similarities to Hanpin’s DJ-5500 design. Other DJ decks, such as Reloop’s RP-6000 and Stanton’s STR8-150, closely follow this model.
With a half-decent cartridge, such a Goldring 2500 moving magnet, it sounds fairly good, with a fine tight bass, an open, detailed midband, and a crisp treble – but it’s not quite up to the Technics’ exceptional standards. However, for £500, it still appears to be excellent value, and it should benefit from some minor tuning, such as a better platter pad, record weight, and Litz headshell wires. Visit www.audiotechnicashop.com for more information.