sunset vista
record on turntable

The AT-LP60: A Budget Player to Love or Hate?

Audio-Technica’s LP-60 is a basic turntable often waylaid by audiophiles as a cheap piece of plastic junk. To me, the turntable was my introduction to the world of records (and a very burned wallet.) Nearly five years into owning one, what have I found to be beneficial or detrimental about it?
record on turntable
Is this table worth the trouble?

Bear in mind that the LP-60 has since been replaced by a slightly updated LP-60X lineup with a $50 price increase at minimum. There is no major difference between these units beyond appearance from what I have been able to tell. Everything said here applies to the LP-60X, so both will be referred to as the LP60 here.

The A Side

The LP60 is very much a plug-and-play device. All one needs to do is plug the unit into power, an audio output of some sort, set the platter and connect the belt. From then on, it will handle playing records with the push of a button. It will also automatically return the tonearm to the rest upon finishing. One can set the size and speed to 7”, 12”, 33 or 45RPM with some button presses or switch toggles. This makes operation simple and effortless, allowing me to leave a record of most sizes or speeds on in the background without having to worry about some annoying clicks at the end of the record’s groove. 10” records can be played as well, but one will have to manually cue them up.

In theory this makes the LP60 a relatively foolproof device. In practice, this means you see the things show up on eBay or elsewhere in a “broken” state when the original user never connected the belt to the motor or similar. This is how I ended up with a total of 5 of these things going through my hands. I’ll have more on that later.

In terms of audio quality I have no complaints. My sample size is limited, but the included cartridge and needle get the job done. The form factor of the turntable is just above that of a 12” LP itself, making it quite useful in cramped living spaces such as my college dorm rooms.

Turntable between two small speakers
The LP60 has found a place in 4 different living spaces over the years without fail.

The internal designs of this player are quite simple, making diagnosing and repairing possible issues relatively simple as long as one has a decent Philips screwdriver available. Parts are also still available for purchase directly from the manufacturer, which allowed me to save a few turntables from the scrap heap.

Why Five?

Earlier I had mentioned that five of these players had gone through my hands. One of these is my personal player, the other four were purchased in various conditions, repaired and either resold, or given as gifts.

For a period of time I was able to snag these in “broken” condition for all of $20 or so off of eBay, do some mild repair work, and have a fully functional turntable. This usually meant replacing a busted dust cover, belt, motor or center spindle. Each part is cheap, readily available online or from the manufacturer and relatively easy to install. The only tool one will need is a screwdriver in most cases.

internals of lp60 player
Simple access, simple repairs, simply pleasing.

The only extreme cases would require a soldering iron, even then the components in question are easily removed and replaced. Props to this being an easily repaired machine, if you can find out what to do that is.

The B Side

There is, as of writing, no viable service manual for this device. You can find some scattered forum posts with information about how to tune things, but nowhere (at least that I have been able to find) has all of this compiled into an easily used guide.

Audio-Technica does not provide a service manual publicly, but will sell parts to the public without instructions for installation. Parts aren’t super useful if you can’t figure out how to install them.

In one instance, my personal unit ended up dropping its tonearm way too fast out of the blue. I had to scour aged forum posts discussing this issue and throw together my own fix placing mechanical silicon grease used in RC race vehicles to slow the drop. Audio-Technica had no resources to help with this.

My other gripes stem from the lack of easy controls for speed, return position and other mechanical tuning items of this sort. They are all handled by tiny potentiometers housed inside the motor or odd plastic screws, which you cannot see while turning. This makes the tiny adjustments required here a game of trial and error, and can be especially annoying if your table is off somehow out of the box.

Mine was running too fast from the factory, and required me to manually tune its speed over a span of an hour or so to get things adjusted, tested and confirmed numerous times over. It’s not fun flipping the thing over like a pancake every 30 seconds or so to replace the platter, belt, test, and then repeat ad nauseam.

It is at least lightweight, but the majority of the construction is ABS plastic. This does lend a somewhat cheap feeling to a $100 item. The $150 minimum asking price for the LP60X seems absurd to me as no major changes were made to it between the original and “X” lineup. I can’t recommend buying it at that price.

For the audiophiles out there, this thing is also hard-limited to just one particular cartridge and type of needle. This severely limits options to experiment in that space, limiting the general lifespan of interest the table may have with some. I am wanting to explore that realm and will be looking to purchase a table with a swappable cartridge in the future.

The Runout

My personal LP60 has served me well over the last five years, however it has left me wanting as time has gone on. While it is a mostly economical and viable starter table that is quite easy to use, its lack of service manual, easy tuning for mechanical components, needlessly raised MSRP and the possibility to be off from the factory itself make me hesitant to recommend anyone purchase one of these brand new in 2023.

It would best compare to an Ender 3 3D printer in that it is cheap, effective, and does what you need, but it will require upkeep and work unlike the more expensive models available on the market. For anyone willing to put this in, you can save a bit of cash by hounding for used units.

As for me, I will be keeping my unit around as a backup even when I upgrade. One can never have too many turntables, right?



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