Since my review of Audio-Technica’s AT-LP5X turntable, I’ve had a couple of readers ask me to detail the internal differences between it and the older LP5 model and to show some pictures of the innards. I had the deck apart to explore its modding potential for future articles, so it seemed as good a time as any to do a full teardown.
The plinth is a two-part moulded plastic construction. The 4 feet screw into metal inserts beneath on an M6 thread. With the feet and the screws out of the way, we can lift the base away to reveal the electronics beneath.
Note the large steel plate inside the base itself. The plate adds considerable mass to the turntable, positioned around the bearing’s centre of gravity, but also grounds the motor via a coiled spring to help mitigate the effects of EMI and RF that may otherwise impact on the sensitive cartridge above and the internal phono stage nearby.
Now for the electronics which have been lightened over the old model. Notably absent are the linear transformer and associated power supply electronics, and the motor board has been slimmed down if not in size then certainly in component terms.
It’s weaker than before, with less torque and less substantial power regulation. There are other minor changes too, including the dimensions of its mounting standoffs.
The phono stage, now with MM and MC compatibility, is separated from the USB analogue to digital conversion board.
The latter also routes the power around the deck.
The arm itself surprised me in its quality of construction. I didn’t find any perceptible play in the bearings. The wires are hair-thin as one would expect and routed through a grounding braid soldered to the phono stage.
Great attention has been paid to grounding within this turntable, and the lack of any hum or noise is evidence that the fastidiousness here has paid off.
The arm bolts to the plinth via 3 screws, the removal of which (and the desoldering of the wires) allowing the arm to be lifted out as a complete unit. Anti-skate is applied by a spring, pushing the arm’s pivot to provide the necessary force to counteract the centripetal force acting on the stylus. The result is a consistent application of anti-skating force across the record.
Plinth damping mostly comes in the form of a rubber sheet mounted in the area of the top plinth between the tonearm and main bearing. Rubber washers also cover the plastic screw lugs. Audio-Technica’s claims of “high-mass chassis inserts” includes the steel plate in the base, but also a heavy steel plate to which the motor is mounted.
The motor is mounted to this plate via M3 screws, separated from it by rubber washers. The plate is also mounted to the plinth with damping washers. Once installed the structure is virtually free from ringing, only a dull metallic ‘clink’ audible when you tap the plate. It’s certainly no feat of turntable engineering, but it’s very well executed nonetheless especially at the asking price. You could certainly do a lot worse.
The only other board carries the speed knob and LED as its most notable external feature. Where the electronics in the older model were more modular, here they seem more tightly integrated though are still modular to an extent.
One could certainly use the components from the LP5X in DIY designs. If the arm were replaced, for example, and the phono stage removed to provide a neat cable outlet at the back, the phono stage can be powered up and used independently with some simple tracing to find the right wires. Incidentally, the turntable will run just fine without this module connected.
And there you have it. A simple yet effective turntable design of perfectly acceptable quality and very well executed given the asking price. A little more damping would have been nice perhaps, especially around the base plate and coiled spring which appears to be the cause of the plinth resonance I noted in my review. But all in all the LP5X is assembled as well as similarly priced vintage decks (accounting for inflation) so no cause for complaint.
Really wish for better photos of the board.
The problem with AT-LP120 is, that it has a low-pass filter at the end, and regardless of phono or preamp, high frequencies were muffled out. So now I’m wondering if this one has it too.
Great job as ever. Thanks Ashley.