In absolute terms – and “absolute” in this instance means “audio” – the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB is a little off the pace. It can be bettered, in terms of outright audio fidelity, by Rega’s very similarly priced Planar 1. However, it should be noted that the Rega is “just” a record player, and a belt-driven record player at that.
There are none of the accoutrements that the LP120XUSB is kitted out with, no phono stage, no USB output – and, most probably, Rega will tell you this is the reason its deck is superior. There’s certainly something to be said for concentrating the budget on the motor, tonearm and cartridge, as Rega has done.
You could spend quite a bit less than £245 on a Pro-Ject Primary E – around £100 less, in fact, which would allow you to buy a Rega Fono Mini A2D and bring the Pro-Ject’s spec up towards that of the Audio-Technica. But it wouldn’t buy you the Audio-Technica’s smooth and substantial build quality, or its resistance to vibration, or its ability to play at 78rpm as well as 33.3 and 45. It would buy you a little more positivity in the bass, though.
Think of the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB as something of a gateway product. If you want to get into vinyl, or you want to get into DJing, this model will get you under way, right until you’re ready to spend bigger money doing it properly.