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Audio-Technica AT120E Review

post #1 of 2
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Equipment used:
The amplifier I'm using is a very competent transistor amp in Class AB. The preamp I'm using loads the cart at 47.2k on the right and 46.8k on left channel.
Modified AT-LP-120 USB turntable. The cartridge will be tracking at about 1.5 / 2 (see below) grams with about the same anti-skating. The turntable's internal preamp and USB crap are bypassed so as to not burden the cart with an abnormal capacitive load. VTA, and azimuth are carefully adjusted.
Speakers are two small-ish (less than a foot tall) bookshelf monitors.


Sound:

First and foremost this cart can really bring a system to life. That is without sounding like the 12-16khz region is boosted out the wazoo. Bass notes are never sloppy or muddy or overly punchy and sound quite crisp. 5/5 on that aspect. I can say the same about the midbass and up into the mids as well. The treble, however, is quite disappointing. It's very laid back and and is gritty and is generally the polar opposite of what the AT440MLa delivers. I think it's safe to say that the cartridge is mistracking. At 1.8 grams downforce (maximum recommended) and re-adjusting the VTA this is dramatically reduced. Highs become just as audible as everything else, yet still a bit sibilant on some albums (I'm looking at you, Colombia.). At 2 grams sibilance and mistracking are not an issue. At this point, the cartridge body is nearly touching the record and is 0.2 grams more than the maximum recommended but I highly doubt any harm is done. That said, it is still on my turntable and I'm still very much enjoying music with it.

Tracking, surface noise and setup:

As I said, this CPU cartridge is having some problems with stability tracking at recommended voltages weighting. When the weight is.. err.. uh.. overvolweighted by a bit and VTA is than re-adjusted, things really come together. The treble gets just as smooth yet crisp as everything else. It's not a particularly hard cart to align either, due to the sort of chunky shape. I've found that setting the azimuth while carefully looking at the cantilever gives me slightly different results (when recording a track from a pristine mono album in audacity) than when setting it while looking at the cartridge body. However, for $60 I can't complain too much about that. Other than what I just mentioned, build quality is very good. Exactly what I would expect from A/T. It doesn't preform any miracles on worn down vinyl in the way the 440MLa does, but in general keeping surface noise under control is something this cart does sufficiently well.

Example with this cart: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mO83YnEG_mY&fmt=45
Edited by \(ao? a? c>Sa? )/ cutie pie - 7/23/11 at 3:42am
    
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Phenom II X6 1055T Gigabye GA-MA-785GMT UD2H GeForce 9600GT Crucial Ballistix DDR3 
Hard DriveOptical DriveMonitorPower
WD Caviar Blue 640gb Cheap combo drive Gateway EV-700 Corsair 400-watt 
CaseMouse
unknown model, mATX IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0 
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CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Phenom II X6 1055T Gigabye GA-MA-785GMT UD2H GeForce 9600GT Crucial Ballistix DDR3 
Hard DriveOptical DriveMonitorPower
WD Caviar Blue 640gb Cheap combo drive Gateway EV-700 Corsair 400-watt 
CaseMouse
unknown model, mATX IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0 
  hide details  
Reply
post #2 of 2
My brain hurts, but glad there's another AT fan here.
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