Audio-Technica AT-LP60BT Review

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The Audio-Technica AT-LP60BT turntable is addressed primarily to novice users, as well as to music lovers for whom vinyl is not the basis of their music collection. The device is easy to install and maintain, and is supplied almost completely ready for use. The AT-LP60BT tonearm is equipped with a non-removable Audio-Technica MM-type cartridge with a replaceable stylus that is easy to replace when needed. In order to start or stop playback, it is enough to press the corresponding button on the front panel of the player – the automation will automatically lower the head needle to the beginning of the record or return the tonearm to the holder. Of course, the arm can also be operated manually, using a button and a convenient damped microlift.

The Audio-Technica AT-LP60BT combines analog audio and the latest in wireless audio technology. The device has a chassis made of dense plastic with good anti-resonance characteristics and an aluminum platter driven by a belt. The AT-LP60BT uses an electronically controlled DC motor that can be switched between speeds (33 or 45 rpm) with a simple push of a button. The AT-LP60BT has a sleek design with rounded corners and a black or silver exterior finish.

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The rear panel has a mini-jack output socket, the signal to which can be fed either directly from the pickup (Phono mode), or from the built-in phono stage (Line mode). In the second case, the AT-LP60BT can be connected to the line input of any integrated amplifier or AV receiver, as well as to a soundbar or active speaker. Another option for transmitting music signals from the AT-LP60BT is the built-in Bluetooth transmitter. To activate it and pair it with a wireless device, there is a separate button on the front panel, as well as an LED showing the connection status.

The turntable is equipped with a dust cover, adapter for 45 rpm discs and a mini-jack / 2 x RCA connecting cable, and its workmanship is very high for models in this price category.

AT-LP60-BT, like its clone with the AT-LP60-USB USB interface, is one of the most affordable turntables on the market. It is fully automatic and does not require any special knowledge and skills in handling, which is its indisputable advantage. We will also write down the origin – the device was developed by the Japanese Audio-Technica, whose experience in the production of vinyl pickups (and this is the most delicate part for mechanical reproduction) is counted for decades.

We will return to the cartridge used in the “sixties”, but for now we need to assemble the device itself. It comes out of the box in the form of separate parts. This is actually a “table” with damping legs fixed from below, a drive motor in the rear left part of the body and a simple straight arm already tuned for a specific head (unfortunately, it does not have a lock, so be very careful).

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Next, we put the supplied aluminum disk on the axle of the support bearing, combine the technological slot with the engine pulley and carefully tighten the rubber belt using fastening straps (or tweezers). All that remains is to put on the disc the mat made of dense felt with the company logo, and insert the spring-loaded hinges of the transparent polycarbonate dust cover into the special grooves on the case.

For compatibility with any type of audio equipment, the AT-LP60-BT provides three connection methods. The most correct in terms of real analog sound is obtained with a cable connection. If your amplifier has a Phono input, then you should try it by setting the slide switch on the back of the turntable to the appropriate position. If there is no special “vinyl” input, then we transfer the output jack to Line mode, thus turning on the internal amplifier-corrector, and use any free input in the amplifier. Next, we will find out which of the options is preferable.

The third communication method is good for those cases when the sound needs to be output to wireless headphones, Bluetooth acoustics or an AV receiver with a “blue-tooth” interface. With this in general, everything is simple. Turn the receiver into pairing mode, and on the AT-LP60-BT, hold down the Bluetooth button for four seconds until it flashes red. I got a connection to my wireless headphones on the first try.

The player can register eight Bluetooth receivers in memory, and subsequently establish communication with them automatically, without repeating the described procedure. Adding a new combination over this number is possible, but they will erase the settings of the previously paired ones. As an additional advantage, I note that you can use both analog output and wireless connection at the same time, although there is a nuance. Activation of the Bluetooth module in the player creates insignificant interference to the analog path, which can be amplified when the receiving device is brought to the turntable. Hence the tip: turn off Bluetooth (with a two-second press of a button) and move any gadgets away if you want pure analog playback through a serious audio system.

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Well, now to the question of how clean it will be. It is critical for your turntable to be supported securely and perfectly level. You cannot place the device on the same surface as the acoustics – the pickup will pick up even the smallest vibrations. By the way, the so-called “rumble level” (caused by internal reasons – imbalance of rotating parts and operation of mechanisms) in the AT-LP60-BT turned out to be less than expected despite the lightweight design of the table. It seems that the developers carefully matched the engine and the rigidity of the mounting elements, and the elasticity of the supports, in order to prevent the penetration of structural vibrations into the needle to the maximum. But in addition to mechanical influences, you can also encounter electrical interference. If the speakers hear a low 50 Hz tone,

The device is equipped with a proprietary MM-head ATN3600L. The part of the cartridge that contains the electrical windings is firmly attached to the tonearm. And the mechanical part, or simply the “needle”, is made in the form of a removable element and closed with a plastic nozzle. The protection is removed by a slight gentle shift along the axis of the tonearm, the needle itself – by a perpendicular downward movement. For all its simplicity, such a head is not at all primitive. The cantilever (leash that transmits the movements of the needle) is made of ABS plastic, reinforced with carbon fiber and carries two microscopic magnets at the attachment point (it is elastic, with a certain flexibility). So the engineers made a fairly efficient, but very light pickup, practically free from internal resonance. The needle itself is classic – diamond, with a conical sharpening with a radius of 600 microns. Since the entire needle-cantilever-tonearm assembly is designed for a downforce of only 2.5 – 3.5 grams, it will handle the record with sufficient care. More advanced audiophile heads with a tricky elliptical needle profile usually put much more pressure on the walls of the sound groove. This, however, does not mean that one can be less careful. Tapered needles are more responsive to dust particles on the disc and also leave a permanent mark on the vinyl when they jump. Another tip: when buying a turntable, immediately order a replacement needle (it costs only 1,700 rubles). The resource of such products is limited, and it is extremely undesirable to use a worn-out cartridge precisely for reasons of the safety of the records. More advanced audiophile heads with a tricky elliptical needle profile usually put much more pressure on the walls of the sound groove. This, however, does not mean that one can be less careful. Tapered needles react more strongly to dust particles on the disc and, when jumping, also leave a permanent mark on the vinyl. Another tip: when buying a turntable, immediately order a replacement needle (it costs only 1,700 rubles). The resource of such products is limited, and it is extremely undesirable to use a worn-out cartridge precisely for reasons of the safety of the records. More advanced audiophile heads with a tricky elliptical needle profile usually put much more pressure on the walls of the sound groove. This, however, does not mean that one can be less careful. Tapered needles are more responsive to dust particles on the disc and also leave a permanent mark on the vinyl when they jump. Another tip: when buying a turntable, immediately order a replacement needle (it costs only 1,700 rubles). The resource of such products is limited, and it is extremely undesirable to use a worn-out cartridge precisely for reasons of the safety of the records. Tapered needles are more responsive to dust particles on the disc and also leave a permanent mark on the vinyl when they jump. Another tip: when buying a turntable, immediately order a replacement needle (it costs only 1,700 rubles). The resource of such products is limited, and it is extremely undesirable to use a worn-out cartridge precisely for reasons of the safety of the records. Tapered needles are more responsive to dust particles on the disc and also leave a permanent mark on the vinyl when they jump. Another tip: when buying a turntable, immediately order a replacement needle (it costs only 1,700 rubles). The resource of such products is limited, and it is extremely undesirable to use a worn-out cartridge precisely for reasons of the safety of the records.

Before listening, make sure the needle has been removed, the disc size switch is set to the correct position (12 “for large LP discs or 7” for minions) and the correct rotation speed. After that, all that remains is to press the Start button and, if you need to move to another track, use the microlift button to safely move the pickup to the desired point above the disc.

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In my testing, it has been confirmed that the best sound is obtained when connected to the phono input. So the reproduced range is wider (especially towards low frequencies), and the noise in the path is less noticeable. The sound has a smooth, transparent character with a soft “analog” interpretation of the treble and rich timbres in the middle register. In such a connection, the quality of the selected cable has a noticeable effect, which can be used to improve the sound (the shorter the connection and the purer the copper in the wire, the better the sound opens and the scene is clearly outlined). This is especially noticeable when listening to high-quality fresh press or audiophile “heavy” discs.

When working through an internal amplifier-corrector, the sound also retains its “analogy”, but it seems that this unit is noticeably simplified in comparison with those that are used in Hi-Fi components. The sound is brighter (probably, there are deviations from the standard RIAA curve), slightly rougher in bass, poorer in subtle nuances and release. In both cases, I noted a slightly distorted transmission of the most powerful voiced components in the recording – this, alas, is the specificity of needles with conical sharpening. But this defect is compensated by the fact that practically no tonal distortions are noticeable in the low and middle bands.

And finally, Bluetooth. It is clear that the word “analog” with such a connection should be thrown out of my head (“warm crackles”, which inspired some testers so much, have nothing to do with it – it’s just sound dirt and nothing more). But through the wireless interface, believe me, the records also sound not bland. Even through very demanding Bluetooth headphones, which show any traces of digital compression in lossy formats as if in spirit, which is why, sometimes, the interest in listening to audio files on a smartphone fades away from the very first minute. And headphones interact with vinyl in a different way – the inevitable distortions of an imperfect analog path, even after passing through the “digital”, somehow miraculously do not distract from the images and rhythm. However, just this effect is not surprising.

Check it out for yourself, the benefit is not associated with high costs – even the AT-LP60-BT gives the sound that “sucks in”. And it won’t be hard for you to imagine what a powerful musical immersion vinyl can give on more serious technique.

Tech Week