Hello, Giktimes! It's no secret that the peak of vinyl's popularity fell on the middle of the 20th century, the record remained for a long time one of the main music carriers, and you probably remember these beautiful album-covers that hide black plates in a transparent package. Many were able to get acquainted with the creativity of Depeche Mode, Beatles and Pink Floyd thanks to vinyl, and the gentle crackle in the speakers was comparable to a breath of fresh air on the ocean. Thanks to the efforts of the producers of acoustics, we can touch the history now, even though we are now in a modern way.
From phonograph to X-ray film
A device called a phonograph was created in France as far back as the 19th century, when it was a bulky design that consisted of a glass cushion (where the sound wave was recorded), covered with soot or paper, and a horn with a needle at the end.
A few dozen years later, the device was completed by Thomas Edison. His phonograph played a sound from tin or wooden platens, which were covered with foil or a piece of paper (previously soaked in wax). We can say that it was this device that became the main ancestor of vinyl record players of the XX century. Even then, Berliner, who created the recorder and gramophone, took up the job and also started using a flat disc of zinc as the recording medium.
Subsequent years, the inventors were in search of the ideal material for the plate, since the solutions existing at that time were either expensive in production, or were short-lived and too sensitive to external influences. Thus, the plates passed from vulcanized rubber to magnetic tape, polyvinylchloride and even X-ray films, which they managed to use in the USSR to make a treasured disk.
In the future, the principle of reproducing records remained unchanged: The needle reads the sound pattern, which is placed on the tracks of the plate. Closer to the middle of the XX century, players became as they are known (alas, do not remember) the current generation. With the advent of stereo plates in 1958, the vertical was responsible for the left channel, and horizontal roughness – for the right channel. And even now, in modern vinyl players, from the point of view of mechanics, everything is the same: sound-picking needles, rotating disc.
For Japanese Audio-Technica, vinyl recorders in many respects became fateful – their first "needles" (AT-1 and AT-3) the manufacturer introduced back in 1962 (by the way, the same year is considered the year of the founding of the whole Audio-Technica, since its history it began with the production of pickups). In the future, the company entered the world market with the AT-5 model and even became the first producer of pickups made of ultra-pure monocrystalline copper, making a significant discovery in the world of audio equipment. Audiophiles probably remember the same Mister Disc or Sound Burger from the 80's.
In the 2000s Audio-Technica continued its business on a new level. So there was a professional "turntable" LP120USBC, and then LP1240, which is equipped with a DJ-module. The fact that buying a vinyl turntable in the 21st century is only needed by connoisseurs of antiques or mother audiophiles is a delusion: many people buy such devices as an unusual way to listen to their favorite music, others want to see a vinyl player as an element of the interior. Of course, there are a lot of people who want to "charge" an AC / DC record on Friday night and start off a meager man's tear.
Today's guest is the turntable vinyl Audio-Technica AT-LP3, designed primarily for beginners . The company introduced it this year on CES 2017: the player is quite simple in terms of design, but it has a direct, statically balanced tonearm with a hydraulic microlift.
The manufacturer positions it as a device, With which you can begin to get acquainted with analog audio and vinyl in general, and only after a while to pay attention to more expensive models – or upgrade this unit, a little later tell how to do it. The quality of the assembly significantly exceeds other models from its price segment (up to 20 thousand rubles), yet the quality of Audio-Technica makes itself felt.
The model is distinguished by pure sound due to reduced amount of unwanted vibrations – Cast) is equipped with a 4-millimeter damping rubber mat. There is also built-in phono stage. It seems that it's time to get acquainted with this player more closely.
| Player type
|| Automatic, belt drive
| The supporting disk
|| Cast aluminum
| The speed of the rotation of the disk
|| 33 or 45 revolutions per minute
| Signal to noise ratio
|| 60 dB
| The level of the output signal (linear output)
|| 129-313 mV
| The detonation coefficient
|| <0.25% (3 kHz)
| Amplification of the phono stage
|| 36 dB
| The length of the tonearm
|| 8.7 inches
| The type of the head
| Dimensions (W x H x D)
|| 434 x 128 x 350 mm
|| 5.2 kg
In the case of a vinyl player, this item is definitely not to be missed, because it is very important here, What pickup goes in the kit. In AT-LP3, this AT91R with an ultralight aluminum alloy needle is quite an adequate solution that will suit most device buyers. If you want something extravagant, you can replace it with a cartridge more abruptly (we'll do it later).
In addition, the adapter comes with a plate supporting 45 turns in Minute, a rubber mat 4 mm thick for leveling vibrations, a set of cables, including for connection to the audio system, and, of course, a dustproof transparent cover. The latter in many vinyl players is not enough, because getting dust on the disc is a undesirable phenomenon. Appearance and Opportunity
At first glance, AT-LP3 has a lot in common with old good vinyl players from the last century, but if you look closely, the differences are immediately visible. It looks strictly and minimally, in large part because of the lack of many levers and switches, like retro models. Despite this, there are enough controls: on the left, for example, there is a switch that electronically changes the speed of rotation of the disk from 33 to 45 revolutions per minute and vice versa.
On the right is a special toggle switch, it allows you to specify the diameter of the installed plate (from 7 inches to 12 inches), this is necessary for the correct operation of the automation. At any time, you can stop or resume listening with the Start and Stop buttons located just below, so even an inexperienced user can cope with the player without problems (the mechanism will itself bring the cartridge to where it should, and lower it to the lead-in). Also, the tonearm itself returns to its original position at the end of the reproduction of the plate. Another switch is used to change the operating mode of the device depending on the use of a reel or magnetic cartridge, which is not usually found in players with a built-in phono stage.
In the middle, in fact, the heart of our "turntable" is located. As we have already said, a damping rubber pad should be immediately put on the casting wheel, as this will sound much brighter and juicier, and distortions are minimized. The direct statically balanced tonearm is equipped with a hydro-damping hoist, its design uses radial and supporting ball bearings, thereby smoothly moving the pickup.
The AT91R pickup is fixed to a standard half-inch shell. In the design of the magnetic cartridge there is a tubular cantilever made of an ultralight aluminum alloy. It changes quite easily, in the arsenal of Audio-Technica there are many models that are cheaper and more expensive, which provide the listener with a full carte blanche in terms of upgrade. The last point I would like to pay attention in particular, since it eliminates the need to buy an expensive vinyl player. You can draw an analogy with a computer: to increase performance, you do not have to change the whole system block, just add RAM or, for example, replace the graphics card with a more powerful model.
AT-LP3 There is a built-in phono stage, which if desired can be turned off and use the input of the amplifying device. It is possible to connect the player to the line input of the amplifier or AV receiver if desired.
Sound and Impressions
When you do a review of a vinyl player, it's hard to take it and start to describe the sound, it's not like with headphones or portable audio players. In general, what should be the reference sound of vinyl? Someone needs that characteristic "crunching" from the middle of the last century, others give clean sound and "mirror-clean" upper frequencies. Let's just say – a complete cartridge AT91R produces a very rich and lively sound. Frequencies are not cut, from listening to the majority of records there were only positive impressions, somewhere in the middle they even wanted to melt the fireplace and pour a glass of something of an adult.
Speaking about the sound quality, a lot depends on the used pickup. We decided not to be satisfied only with the complete set and for the purity of the experiment we listened to the device, replacing the standard cartridge with three third-party ones one by one (also from Audio Technica), with different costs, so to speak, made an upgrade on the spot.
The VM510CB, VM530 EN and VM750SH cartridges were used as test subjects. Needless to say that the sound turned out to be completely different: if from 510, for example, it is brighter, then the 530 model adds to this the saturation.
But the most interesting impressions were from listening to the player in a pair with the pickup VM750SH. There was an impression that you are listening to the device not for 20 thousand rubles, but at least several times more expensive. It is not surprising, because the last cartridge is more expensive than the entire player.
We must admit, from the point of view of sound (and design), vinyl record players Are obtained from Audio Technica of the same level as its headphones, which for sure lie now with many at home or in the office. Still, it's not some noname-producer, and he can develop acoustics. In many respects this distinguishes AT-LP3 from other players in the price segment we are considering.
So what is this a tribute to the old days or a new trend?
Modern vinyl players have both adherents and uncompromising opponents, the latter claiming that real sound is possible only with mechanical reproduction, and the artist on the cover should be viewed with a kerosene lamp. Is it really? If such unique personalities are, then, probably, all individually. But even if such people are allowed to listen to the Bon Jovi record on Friday night, they are unlikely to resist. Many of the hits of the last century were not preserved in the best form, and the vinyl sounded almost exactly as it was 50-60 years ago.
Probably, you still have to grow up to buy vinyl, but the model AT-LP3 from Audio-Technica is the one with which you can start your own way, because similar solutions on the market are worth, if not by order, more expensive.
P.S. There is a legend that the famous game "Field of Miracles" (more precisely, its American analogue) came to the creator's head precisely while listening to the record. So, gentlemen, twist the drum vinyl!