Audio-Technica AT-LP2Da

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Audio-Technica AT-LP2Da

Audio-Technica has a stellar reputation as a manufacturer of pro-audio gear, and it’s a major player in the Japanese consumer-electronics market. The company doesn’t have much of a presence in the U.S. consumer market, but the AT-LP2Da (a package consisting of the Audio-Technica AT-PL50 turntable and Cakewalk’s Pyro software) is widely available here.

The AT-PL50 has an integrated RIAA preamp, so you can plug it straight into the line-input on your PC’s soundcard or onboard audio system. You can switch it off if you’d prefer to utilize your audio receiver’s phono preamp (an increasingly rare feature on even midrange receivers) or if you have Creative’s X-Fi Elite Pro (which comes with a break-out box equipped with an RIAA preamp).

The AT-PL50 is fabricated mostly of plastic, with the exception of its belt-driven aluminum platter and brass pulley. It features a straight tonearm with an inexpensive magnetic cartridge (replacements run about $12), nonadjustable plastic feet, and a hinged, smoke-colored dust cover.

Although this table offers very little in the way of quality features, it’s push-button automatic and doesn’t require much baby-sitting while you’re recording. We were pleased with the sound of our recordings of Johnny Cash’s 1963 LP Ring of Fire and Peter Gabriel’s sublime 1983 album Peter Gabriel Plays Live, but when it came to using the bundled software to remove the inevitable pops and clicks from those recordings, we found Pyro to be a very a blunt instrument.

Saturday Night Fever

Fully automatic, aluminum platter, handy dust cover, inexpensive street price.

Staying Alive

Can’t adjust tonearm
counterweight, no skate control,
limited to one type of cartridge.

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