(Audio-Technica updated the AT-LP60 and AT-LP120 in February 2019. The new model names are AT-LP60X and AT-LP120X. The links above are to the updated versions on Amazon. The updated versions are essentially the same as the old ones, with smaller tweaks and improvements.)
The LP60 and the LP120 differ in many ways. But when it comes to popularity, it is hard to place one over the other. They are both huge successes with lots of fans and have been so for many years. It is very hard to think of a turntable that overcomes these two in popularity.
Other similarities between the two are that they both have built-in phono preamps which makes it straight forward to connect them to any receiver or active speakers. And your records will be totally safe because none of these turntables have reputation for destroying records. As some inexpensive record players, in general, have been accused of.
When it comes to understanding the differences between the LP60 and LP120, it is often difficult to get the total picture by reading specifications and reviews. So, as a turntable geek and LP120 owner myself, I have put together this list of 17 differences between the LP60 and the LP120 that I think it is worth being aware of. Here they are.
1. Wow Factor
Wow factor can be described as a quality or feature of something that makes people feel great excitement or admiration.
And this is an area where the LP120 easily scores 5 out of 5 stars. Being a replica of the legendary DJ turntable Technics 1200, it is as cool as it gets with its iconic design and DJ functionality.
I used to have my LP120 standing beside my much simpler looking Rega Planar 2 at home. And every time my sister’s kids were visiting, the LP120 got absolutely all the love. They very quickly become big fans of spinning records with the LP120. Or pretending being DJs. While the Rega standing beside it got left totally alone.
While being a nicely deigned affordable turntable, the LP60 just can’t catch up with the wow factor of its bigger brother. And frankly, not many turntables can.
2. Ease of Use
The LP60 is a fully automatic turntable. With a push of a button, the turntable automatically moves the tonearm and places the needle where the first song begins. And when the last song ends the turntable automatically return the tonearm. Which makes the LP60 very easy to use.
The LP120, on the other hand, is a fully manually operated turntable. Here you will need to manually move the tonearm and position the needle above the song you want to play and then manually lower the tonearm. When the last song ends the needed will continue spinning in the inner grooves until you manually lift and return the tonearm.
So when it comes to ease of use the LP60 walks away with the win.
Some people might prefer the charm of doing it all manually. While others prefer the automatic functionality’s ease of use. I guess it is down to personal preference.
Weighing in at 23.5 lbs. (10.7 kg), the LP120 is a heavy beast of a turntable. It feels like it is built of solid metal. In addition, it has these rubber feet that sucks to any surface making it a real challenge to pick up and move. This is, however, quite preferable as stability is key for a turntable as it gives good working conditions for the needle to read the tiny record grooves without skipping.
The LP60 weigh only a fraction of its bigger brother at 6.6 lbs. (2.98 kg). So its weight itself won’t contribute as much to securing stability. Placed on a stable foundation, this should however not be a big deal.
If you like to move your turntable around and carry it with you, you will have an easier job doing so with the LP60 compared to the LP120.
Prices vary a bit with time and place. But in general, the AT-LP120 is usually between two and three times more expensive than the AT-LP60. Just click the links if you want to check current pricing at Amazon (updated versions).
While being quite different in price, both are considered two of the best turntables deals you can get in the affordable turntable category.
5. DJ Functionality
If you want to do some scratching or practice to become a DJ, the LP120 is the one to choose. With DJ features like pitch control and a high-torque direct-drive motor the LP120 will work perfectly for both scratching and music listening.
The LP60, on the other hand, will not be suitable for scratching as it is belt drive and scratching will make the belt wear out quickly and break.
So, for the extra money you will have to spend on the LP120, you will get a turntable that provides for multiple uses. Not only music listening.
The LP60 can ply 33 RPM and 45 RPM records while the LP120 can also play 78 RPM.
Just remember to buy a ticker stylus that is suitable for 78 RPM of you are going to spin 78RPM records. As they have thicker grooves.
Most records made post 1960 will however be either 33 or 45 so for regular vinyl collectors the 78 RPM function will rarely or never be used.
7. Drive / Motor
The LP120 features a high-torque direct-drive motor. While the LP60 features a belt-drive motor.
A direct-drive motor is placed right under the turntable platter and connects to the platter directly. While a belt-drive motor connects to the platter through a rubber belt.
Direct-drive is mostly used for turntables with DJ functionality as scratching requires a high-torque motor and the lack of a rubber belt makes it more reliable.
For turntables designed for music listening only, belt-drive is usually preferred. Belt-drive turntables are known to have less noise than direct-drive turntables. And are therefore preferred by Stereophiles and others with a passion for high quality sound. But in real life, the noise difference will be quite small and usually nothing to worry about.
The cartridge is often considered the “heart and soul” of the turntable as it is the device that transforms the physical grooves in the record to an electrical music signal. It has a significant impact on the sonic performance of a turntable.
The LP60 comes with an integral Audio-Technica AT3600L cartridge that is fixed. So it is not possible to replace or upgrade the cartridge on the LP60. It is, however, possible to replace the stylus/neede if it gets worn out or damaged. Which is neat.
On the LP120 both the stylus/needle and the cartridge can be replaced. So on the LP120 it is possible to upgrade the cartridge. Which is a very popular thing to do and a neat option to have. The LP120 comes standard with an AT95E cartridge, which is considered to be a very good cartridge in its price range. And better than the AT3600L cartridge that comes standard on the LP60.
So the LP120 comes with a better cartridge than the LP60 out of the box. And on the LP120, it can be upgraded to an even better one for those that are interested in that.
I am actually working on a series of articles where I document the upgrades I do on my LP120. Which is a topic of huge interest. You can read the first article where I choose my cartridge upgrade for the LP120 by clicking here.
9. Build Quality and Feel
I remember very clearly how amazed I was when I unboxed my LP-120 and started to assemble the different parts. The perceived build quality was almost unreal for a $300 turntable.
I have said this many times. As an electronics engineer that used to design consumer electronics for a living, I don’t understand how Audio-Technica can build and sell this piece of kit for around $300. It feels so much more expensive.
So this is another area where the LP120 just blow the competition (and the LP60) away.
The LP60 will definitely meet your expectations when it comes to build quality for its price. But the LP120 will likely amaze you.
10. Unboxing and Installation
The assembly of the LP120 includes quite a few more steps than the assembly of the LP60.
All you need to do on the LP60 is basically to place the turntable platter and attach the rubber belt that connects the motor and the platter. Then connect the cables and you are ready to go.
On the LP120, on the other hand, the assembling contains multiple steps. You will have to assemble the tonearm and head shell, assemble the turntable platter and slip mat, set the tone arm balance and tracking force, set the anti-skate and set the tonearm height.
So there is a few more parts to assemble and a few more steps involved in setting up the LP120 compared to the LP60. If you are tech savvy this will be no problem. But for super non-techies, it might be wise to ask someone for help. Or choose the LP60.
11. Reverse Play
The LP120 has a reverse play feature while the LP60 has not. So if reverse play is important to you, choose the LP120.
With a higher quality cartridge as standard, and a more stable tonearm and chassis overall, the LP120 will provide a better sounding musical experience than the LP60. Which is to expect from a turntable that also costs about three times more.
If you are going to connect the turntable to an affordable set of powered speaker, this will not make a huge difference. Connected to a high-quality Hi-Fi stereo, on the other hand, the LP120 will sound better than the LP60.
And with the LP120’s option to upgrade the cartridge to a better one, the difference in sonic performance can be increased even more.
So if you are picky about the sound quality, the LP120 is the better choice. If not, the LP60 will probably be everything you need.
13. Bluetooth Connectivity
While the standard version of the AT-LP60 does not come with Bluetooth connectivity, there is a version that does. The AT-LP60BT.
With bluetooth connectivity, the turntable can be connected to wireless speakers or headphones without a signal cable. Which might be a neat feature.
The LP120, on the other hand, does not come in a version that features Bluetooth connectivity. At least not at the time this article is written.
14. USB Functionality
If you want to digitize your records the LP120 comes with a USB port that makes it possible to connect the turntable to a computer via USB and digitize records with a dedicated software program.
This is a feature that does not come as standard on the LP60. But there is a USB version of the LP60 whitas well. The AT-LP60USB.
The LP120 comes in black and silver while the LP60 comes in a larger selection of colors. Including white, navy and red. You will have more colors to choose from if you go for the LP60 in other words.
If you like to modify and upgrade your turntable over time, there will be a lot more options with the LP120 than with the LP60. The LP120 is a very popular “project turntable” and there are a variety of possible upgrades and modifications to consider. As well as many forums where upgrades and mods are lively discussed.
Popular LP120 mods and upgrades include cartridge upgrade, preamp removal (YouTube link), mat upgrades of different kinds and upgraded counter weights.
With the LP60 you won’t have the same selection of mods and upgrades to choose from as the cartridge and tonearm are fixed and not changeable/adjustable.
The LP120 is a bit bigger than the LP60.
The LP120 measures:
– 450.0 mm (17.72″) W
– 352.0 mm (13.86″) D
– 157.0 mm (6.1″) H
While the LP60 measures:
– 360.0 mm (14.17″) W
– 356.0 mm (14.02″) D
– 97.5 mm (3.84″) H
I hope this article has helped you better understand the differences between the LP60 and the LP120. And that it has made it easier for you to decide on the right one for your needs and budget.