Audio Technica AT-LP7 Fully Manual Belt-Drive Turntable
Introducing the all-new AT-LP7, Audio Technica's latest exploration into high fidelity audio.
Audio-Technica began in 1962 as a designer and manufacturer of high-end phonograph cartridges, bringing to the audio world the innovative Dual Moving Magnet stereo cartridge with its outstanding channel separation, extended frequency response and superb tracking.
The AT-LP7 builds on this heritage. Recognising the critical role a cartridge plays in reproducing high-fidelity audio from vinyl, we designed this fully manual, belt-drive turntable around our VM cartridge line, incorporating the finest materials and structures in support of the cartridge’s performance. The AT-LP7 comes with a VM520EB Dual Moving Magnet Cartridge with a 10 g AT-HS10 headshell and 0.3 x 0.7 mil elliptical bonded stylus. That stylus can be replaced with any of the other six styli available in the VM line, giving users an easy means of upgrading the stylus without buying a whole new cartridge.
The headshell attaches to a J-shaped tone arm that takes its inspiration from the classic A-T models of the 1960s and ’70s. The tone arm features a metallic gimbal suspension system and precision bearings to mitigate tracking errors, and includes an adjustable counterweight and anti-skate control. The height of the tone arm can be adjusted from 0 mm to 6 mm to accommodate a wide variety of cartridges.
The turntable chassis is constructed of 40 mm-thick MDF (medium density fiberboard), an excellent anti-vibration damping material that limits low-frequency acoustical feedback. The anti-resonance platter is made of 20 mm-thick polyoxymethylene and is driven by a sensor-monitored motor that ensures a continuously accurate platter rotation speed of 33-1/3 or 45 RPM. The AT-LP7 also includes a built-in switchable phono/line preamp for connection to components with or without a dedicated phono input, and a selector switch to designate operation with a moving magnet or moving coil cartridge.
The single-piece platter of the AT-LP7 is 20mm thick and weighs in at a substantial 2.07kg and is made from a non-resonant polymer known as polyoxymethylene. The platter is not fitted with a slip-mat—it’s intended that you place your LPs directly onto the platter surface. The DC drive motor that is not only elastomerically isolated from the turntable plinth, but its drive pulley is also elastomerically isolated from the motor. The DC power for the motor is provided by an external 12V/2000mA plug pack that, rather surprisingly, is actually made by Audio-Technica itself.
Audio Technica have solved the common belt drive system problem of inconsistent playback speed, by including a highly-accurate speed sensor.The company's signature J-shaped tonearm features a gimbal suspension and precision bearings that minimises playback errors.
Audio-Technica AT-LP7 has a built-in phono pre-amplifier whose use means you can connect directly to any integrated amplifier, using any spare line-level input on that amplifier. The output of the inbuilt phono preamplifier is via two gold-plated RCA sockets at the rear of the turntable plinth. Alongside these sockets is a Line/Phono switch (for turning the phono preamplifier on and off) and a MM/MC switch which is set according to whether you’ve installed a high-output cartridge (Moving Magnet) or a low-output device (Moving Coil).
First and foremost, the LP7 is impressively quiet. The LP7’s other outstanding trait is its tracking performance. Perhaps it is the J-shaped tonearm and gimbal suspension, but the LP7 eliminates minor distortion on the inner-most tracks of records. The LP7’s superb tracking and lively, distortion-free retrieval of detail were consistent regardless of the record.
The AT-LP7 comes with Audio Technica's Dual Magnet VM 520EB cartridge/stylus. In the record production process a cutter head carves out the record grooves. The modulations in the groove are “analog” mechanical equivalents of the original audio signals. To “read” these modulations, Audio-Technica developed the patented Dual Magnet design which duplicates the structure of the cutter head. Instead of using a single, large magnet, the two magnets are arranged in the shape of a V. The two magnets are positioned precisely to match positions of the left and right channels in the stereo groove walls. Consequently, the VM design provides outstanding channel separation, extended frequency response and superb tracking. All models feature high-purity 6N-OFC (99.9999% pure oxygen free copper) wiring for maximum sonic purity and extraordinary resolution of fine musical detail.
Proof of the VM520EB’s ability to deliver superb bass sound is exemplified by its superb delivery of double-bass, along with drums and percussion. The upper frequencies are pronounced but, all the while, still maintaining a smooth and enjoyable presentation. The Audio-Technica VM520EB also handles the complexity of the rhythms with aplomb. As for piano sound, the Audio-Technica VM520EB is so accurate and true-to-life that you know you’re listening to a real piano.
Audio-Technica’s publicity says of the AT-LP7 that it’s “the best turntable we’ve ever built”. It’s very likely one of the best turntables any manufacturer has ever built that sells at the price Audio-Technica is currently asking for the AT-LP7. Rock-solid build quality and impressive attention to detail make the LP7 a great turntable for a music lover. It provides a taste of the high end and a firm foundation from which to reach considerably higher than its price tag indicates.
- Fully manual, belt-drive operation with two speeds: 33-1/3 and 45 RPM
- Motor features a speed-sensor system to maintain accurate platter rotation speed
- VM520EB Dual Moving Magnet Cartridge provides outstanding channel separation and extended frequency response, and allows for easy replacement with any VM stylus
- J-shaped tone arm features a metallic gimbal suspension system and precision bearings for excellent tracking
- Built-in switchable phono pre-amplifier with selectable modes for moving magnet or moving coil cartridges
- 20 mm-thick, anti-resonance, polyoxymethylene platter
- 40 mm-thick MDF (medium density fiberboard) chassis
- Lightweight AT-HS10 headshell
- Includes dual RCA (male) to dual RCA (male) stereo cable, 45 RPM adapter, and dust cover
Type: 2-speed, fully manual operation
Motor: DC motor
Drive Method Direct Drive: Belt drive
Speeds: 33-1/3 RPM, 45 RPM
Turntable Platter: Polyoxymethylene
Wow and Flutter: <0.2% WRMS (33 RPM) at 3 kHz
Output Level: Pre-amp “PHONO”: 3.5 mV nominal at 1 kHz, 5 cm/sec
Pre-amp “LINE (MM)”: 220 mV nominal at 1 kHz, 5 cm/sec
Phono Pre-Amp Gain: MM: 36 dB nominal, RIAA equalised
MC: 56 dB nominal, RIAA equalised
Power Requirements: 120V AC, 60 Hz
Power Consumption: 2W
Dimensions: 435mm W x 353mm D x 128mm H
Accessories: VMN20EB Dual Moving Magnet stereo cartridge with replaceable stylus; AT-HS10 lightweight headshell; power cord; dual RCA (male) to dual RCA (male) stereo cable; 45 RPM adapter; dust cover
Replacement Cartridge: VMN20EB