August 28, 2019
Pros: Easy to install, bass drive, mid-range focus
Verdict: More suited to casual than audiophile listening, and based on the Technics SL-1200 design, the AT-LP140XP benefits from a heavy chassis, strong bass performance and DJ-friendly direct-drive mechanism.
A more mature version of Audio-Technica’s AT-LP120USB, the AT-LP140XP features Technics-like DJ components such as the platter strobe/light, forward/reverse operation, variable pitch control and a retractable light.
The 140’s platter is damped underneath with a dense, felt-like material to lessen ringing, and the plinth is both deeper and 2kg heavier than the AT-LP120’s. However, the S-shaped tonearm with an SME headshell connector is the same.
Around the back, the 140 does not include the 120’s built-in phono amplifier or USB connectivity. Instead, there are standard phono sockets for an external model, ground knob, plus an IEC power socket. You can upgrade the supplied mains cable and Audio-Technica’s own phono cables to enhance sound quality.
The new AT-XP3 cartridge is a DJ-specific design with a conical stylus tip, attached to the Audio-Technica AT-HS6BK headshell. Based on a V-Mount dual magnet construction, carbon fibre-reinforced ABS cantilever and nylon wire suspension, the cartridge is supposed to be installed with 3g of tracking force. However, at that setting, the cartridge/turntable combo offers brutal bass and clinical mid-range. While you can experiment to find your ideal weight, backing off to 2g produces a more elegant mid-range and better balanced bass.
A cover is included, but it’s worth removing it during play to avoid any additional vibration, and loosely cover the turntable when not in use.
Playing a mixture of King Crimson and jazz vocals from Chris Conner, the deck was initially tested against Lenco’s L-3808 (£200) – a top performing sub-budget model, also based loosely on the SL-1200 design. The 140 out-performed the Lenco by infusing the soundstage with a greater sense of space, enhancing details, heightening the emotional delivery of the vocals, and giving the drums more character.
Tested again with a superior Ortofon 2M Red (£95), the music sounded almost elegant in comparison to the original Audio-Technica DJ cartridge, and featured a new-found sense of tonal realism, especially in the rhythm guitar and the drum strikes.
In this configuration, with a 2M Red attached, the 140 is similar in approach and price to the Fluance RT83 (£350): another lifestyle-oriented design with audiophile pretensions. Where the Fluance offered a complex and relatively refined mid-range and organic bass, the 140 hit back with a vital mid-range, and punchier bass. While both faired equally well, with the extra 2M Red attached to the 140, the RT83 is a lot cheaper.
Finally, the 140 was compared to the Rega RP1, which provided lower noise, and a richer, tonally superior performance. Priced at £248, the Rega proved beyond doubt that the 140 is also more of a lifestyle model than an audiophile one.
Nevertheless, the AT-LP140XP is an admirable turntable with a responsive direct drive motor, top quality bass and lively mid-range performance.