The arrival of the digital age was supposed to offer us simplicity and perfection. Perfection in sound, that is. Except it didn’t. And it soon became apparent that the sound wasn’t quite right. It had lost its natural vitality and become rather sterile, a bit ‘digital’ sounding. It was convenient, but something was missing.
There was a void between the best that the digital age could offer and the old analog age. The individual nuances of musicians had gone, replaced by the perfection of digital presentation. The Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB-BK tries to bring the two together.
Some might argue that to have a USB connection on a turntable is rather sacrilegious. Isn’t the purpose of the turntable to restore vinyl? To rid ourselves of the sterile and lifeless MP3 despite its convenience. Indeed it is, but let us present another scenario.
What if you have some old albums, possibly not available anymore? Prized possessions? Of course. What would happen if one day they were damaged or rendered unplayable? Could they be replaced? Unlikely and certainly not at a reasonable cost. Gone forever.
The Audio-Technica AT-LP60USB-BANK provides you with a lifeline. You can download all those albums to a digital device. Yes, you lose the vinyl sound. Yes, it becomes digital. But at least you still have them.
There could be a scenario where you might not have them at all. Trust us. We have been there. Not, some would argue, a perfect solution, but which would you prefer? A digital copy you can still listen to or nothing.
So, let’s find out all about it in our in-depth Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB-BK Review, but before that, who are Audio-Technica?
Founded in Japan in 1962, they manufacture not only turntables but also headphones and microphones. In our opinion, they tend to fly under the radar a little. They produce some very high-quality products, often as good as much higher-priced items. But because they are cost-effective, they are often thought of as having a lower performance level.
Quality at an affordable price…
This is certainly what they are all about across their product range. They position themselves in the market in an important role. That is to fill the gap for quality products but at a price that everyone can afford. If you haven’t got a big budget but want something decent, Audio-Technica is a good place to start looking.
A company with a good reputation, so let’s have a look at the Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB-BK turntable…
This is an updated version of its predecessor, the LP60XUSB-BK. There are some performance-enhancing changes in design that we shall deal with later.
The purpose of this turntable’s design is to provide an easy way to preserve your vinyl recordings. It provides the connections and access to the software to achieve that. And it does it at a cost-effective price.
It is a basic turntable but is fully automatic and offers two speeds. There are some nice features, and the improvements to the design have made this a desirable turntable at its price point.
Let’s take a closer look…
This is a basic and almost minimalist turntable in its design. The body is made of a decent quality plastic, and it measures 19 by 17 by 7 inches. The plastic body means it is lightweight, weighing less than six pounds. It has four large circular feet that soak up any vibrations.
This is a fully automatic turntable. Some people prefer that. It means you can put your album on and leave it to start, and return to its resting position automatically.
Automatic or Manual?
Automatic operation goes some way to protecting your vinyl as you are not placing the stylus by hand. They also tend to be a little more expensive due to the extra components required. The extra cost does not bring you better sound quality. It is purely for convenience. Also, the extra components under the tonearm can affect how well it tracks the record.
Manuals function as the name implies – You do all the work. There are some advantages in that tracking is usually better because there are fewer tonearm components. Most of the high-end turntables tend to be Manual. The downside is you have to be comfortable placing the stylus. And you have to be around when the track finishes to lift the tonearm back to rest.
Whatever suits you is what is best.
This turntable on the AT-LP60XUSB-BKhas a fairly common design with an anti-resonant die-cast aluminum platter. The platter has a felt mat. There is a removable hinged dust cover.
So what are the upgrades over its predecessor we mentioned?
This updated version has a tonearm base and headshell that have been re-designed. This helps to improve tracking and reduce resonance.
To reduce any unwanted noise further, the AC adapter is now outside of the chassis of the turntable. This means it takes the conversion of AC/DC away from the chassis. Thus it has a reduced impact on the signal chain and no unwanted noise.
The AT-LP60XUSB-BK uses a dual-magnet cartridge designed by Audio Technica. The design of the cartridge means it requires no extra tracking pressure adjustment for the stylus. It has a replaceable diamond stylus, part number ATN3600L.
This is a servo-controlled belt-drive turntable with two speeds of 33 ⅓ and 45 rpm. Audio enthusiasts still debate the relevant merits of either the belt-drive system or the direct drive.
What’s the difference?
To be brief, the main difference is how the platter is driven by the motor. The belt-driven uses a belt that is often placed where you can see it on the side of the turntable. With a direct drive, the platter is positioned on top of the motor.
Some prefer the direct drive system as it is usually more reliable. It starts up quicker and often has more consistent playback speeds and better torque. The downside is that because the platter sits on the motor, the slightest bit of noise or vibration goes straight to the platter. It is fair to say that modern DJ-ing would never have occurred without a direct drive turntable.
Some say belt-driven turntables produce better sound. The belt reduces the vibrations, and this gives a cleaner sound.
It is an argument that will go on. At the end of the day, it is what is best for you. The belt-drive system on the Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB-BK is efficient and reliable. And if belt-drive is what you prefer, it will not let you down.
These couldn’t really be much simpler. On top of the turntable is the disc size control. The tonearm has a manual cue if you choose to use it. On the front panel, there is a speed selector for 33 ⅓ or 45 rpm and the start and stop buttons. There is also a control for raising and lowering the stylus. You have the choice of using it as fully automatic or as a manual turntable.
On the rear a switchable phono preamp. This allows you the choice of phono or line-level output. Also, the USB connector socket.
Transferring to Digital
Whilst transferring your precious vinyl collection might not improve their sound, it will preserve them. This is one very good reason for the existence of this turntable. It will do it for you.
You simply connect to a computer via the USB port on the rear. The software is free for both Mac and Windows users. You can use the audacity software or any other software that you choose to complete the operation.
What is Included?
In the package, you get an RCA output cable that is detachable. This is a 3.5 male to dual-male RCA connection. Also, the 45 rpm adapter.
There is no doubt this turntable represents great value at its price point. But that is what Audio-Technica is all about. And you mustn’t forget this comes with a cartridge and stylus.
Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB-BK Review – Pros and Cons
- Made from good materials with a die-cast aluminum platter.
- Fully-automatic with two speeds.
- Belt driven servo-controlled motor.
- Re-designed tonearm base and headshell reduce resonance.
- Easy to use.
- USB connection takes you straight to your computer for downloading.
- Preserves your precious vinyl.
- An attractive price point makes it a great value.
- Comes with a cartridge and stylus.
- Some may prefer a direct drive system.
- Some will want more tracking control over the stylus head.
Looking for Something Else?
Finding the right turntable has never been easier. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Turntables Under $100, the Best Turntables Under $200, the Best Turntables Under $300, the Best Turntables Under $400, and the Best Turntables Under $500 you can buy in 2021.
Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB-BK Review – Final Thoughts
The rebirth of vinyl created quite a stir. It was a long time coming. But considering most thought the digital age had destroyed it, it was worth the wait. So then, to have a turntable that plays your vinyl and then converts it to digital seems rather a contradiction in terms.
But the purpose of this turntable is to preserve your vinyl, not replace it. And of course, let’s not forget, it is a turntable, so you can still play your vinyl as and when you want to.
This turntable represents great value. It is well-made and does an excellent job. It’s USB links make it possible to preserve your vinyl. This will secure them in case of accidental damage. It isn’t the most sophisticated of turntables you will find. But if you want a turntable to save your vinyl to digital or you are looking for your first turntable, this is a great option.
Good build and great value, the Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB-BK does the job and does it well.
Until next time, may the music make you merry.