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The Audio Technica AT-LP120XBT-USB VS Rega Planar 1 Plus

The Audio Technica AT-LP120XBT-USB VS Rega Planar 1 Plus

The Audio Technica AT-LP120XBT-USB VS Rega Planar 1 Plus

Both the Audio Technica AT-LP120xBT-USB and the Rega Planar P1 Plus turntables are designed to play records - but approach this in (very) different ways. In this article, we'll go through how each record player works, the technologies behind them and which is best for playing your vinyl records.

What is a Manual Turntable?

Both the Audio Technica and Rega turntables are fully manual. This means you physically place the stylus onto the vinyl record, via the arm lifter. You'll then also need to manually remove it via the lifter when the record is finished playing. This is actually a good thing. It means there are (way) less things connected to the tonearm and cartridge assembly. And that means better performance, as the arm and cartridge are free to do their job of tracking the record groove unhindered.

A Phono what now?

Audio Technica is fitted with built-in switchable line/phono stage so you can connect directly to either a traditional phono preamp or an aux type line input on an amplifier. The Rega Planar 1 Plus has MM Phono out only so must be connected to a line in on amplifier. You'll even be able to connect direct to aux inputs on active or wireless speakers with either turntable. The AT-LP120xBT-USB Bluetooth Turntable, as the "BT" in the elongated product title code tells us, is also able to send the signal via Bluetooth and has USB output to enable direct connection to a computer with USB connectivity.

So what's the difference between Audio Technica and Rega?

The main difference is that the Audio Technica AT-LP120xBT-USB is Direct Drive and the Rega Planar P1 Plus is Belt Drive. These are the two most common forms of rotating propulsion in all turntables and there are different opinions on the benefits and attributes of both. A Direct Drive turntable generally has the motor ( in this instance DC Servo) directly beneath the centre of the platter, bearing and spindle and propels instantly and directly, ostensibly with quicker start-up and arguably greater and more consistent speed accuracy and torque.

A Belt Drive turntable generally has the motor isolated and separated from the main bearing and platter assembly and utilises a pulley system that connects the platter via a belt. In theory, this separation helps reduce resonance, vibration and noise. This then increases transparency and openness (a very good thing!).

Belt Drive vs Direct Drive?

When it comes to belt drive vs drive drive, both have pros and cons. People often have their own preferences for both technologies based on their usage and requirements.

What features does the AT-LP120xBT-USB have?

As for features, the Audio Technica AT-LP120xBT-USB has the ability to play 33, 45 and 78 RPM records. It has a traditional, half-inch mount, removable universal headshell with a VM 95E cartridge. This enables future cartridge upgrades (BIG BONUS!), a stroboscopic platter with speed indicator and sliding pitch control for speed adjustment - also a huge plus!

What features does the Planar 1 Plus have?

The Rega Planar 1 Plus is a simpler device. It connects directly to the phono preamp of an equipped amplifier or can be switched via the inbuilt phono stage to either phono or a line input. That's what the Plus stands for. It features the one-piece Rega RB 110 tonearm with half-inch mount to enable future upgrades to a better cartridge (Once again, big bonus here!). The P1 Plus also has a low mass plinth and a phenolic resin platter.

So the verdict?

Both these turntables are excellent value for money and will reward you with wonderful and better than expected performance at this price point level. Both give you the option to upgrade to a better cartridge as you re-explore your vinyl collection. Overall, you can't really go wrong with either. Jump onto YouTube or come in-store to have a look.

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