I won’t say backgrounds were perfectly dark, but dark enough that attacks were sharp, and decays lingered only where they were supposed to. Especially on the flip side of the Reich album, “Quartet,” where there are just a vibraphone and piano bounding back and forth. These are two instruments that really rely on sharp, differentiated reproduction with solid heft and dynamics. The LP7 did a good job at keeping notes and chords separate, especially in the intricate opening section where the struck strings and slammed metal vibrated in tandem, playing off each other, slipping back and forth. It’s a tricky piece of music for how simple it seems on the surface, and although I think the LP7 definitely struggled again with some distortion issues related to tracking later in the side, I was impressed overall.
Finally, I finished with Tim Hecker’s album Haunt Me, Haunt Me, Do It Again, recently reissued on vinyl. The opening sounds of “Music for Tundra” are glitchy and drone-like, interspersed with nearly melodic crunching. The LP7 did the piece justice, managing to balance the strange and disjointed timing of the glitched-out soundscape with the echoing grind that keeps the songs from disintegrating into aimless sound.
Everything on Haunt Me feels broken in a purposeful way. It’s intricate and difficult, and the LP7 never felt like it wasn’t serving the music. Each new stuttering section was taut and controlled despite sounding completely haywire. Bass isn’t a focus in Haunt Me, but the lower end was still tamed and rounded out, leveling the otherwise chaotic miasma churning above it. There was a really nice dynamism in the way tracks echoed, faded, and spread out into each other, pulsing new ideas. I felt really pleased with how the LP7 kept me entirely engaged, start to finish, side after side.
The LP7 checked off all the major boxes for me when it comes to an entry-level ’table. It was easy to set up, it’s definitely attractive, and its performance exceeded my expectations. I particularly enjoyed the timing and rhythm the LP7 brought to every record I threw at it, and I only noticed any inner-groove-distortion issues on the trickiest of albums. The built-in phono preamp Audio-Technica includes is fine, although it’s the first thing I’d think about upgrading, followed by a new cartridge and some decent cables. While the LP7 is on the upper end of entry-level—and there’s a lot of competition in that range these days—it’s a really good place to start. It has a solid feature set and the consistent performance I expect for the price. If you’re in the market for a belt-driven turntable, I’d give the Audio-Technica AT-LP7 serious thought.
Specs & Pricing
Type: Belt-driven turntable
Wow and flutter: <0.08% WRMS (33rpm) at 3kHz
Signal-to-noise ratio: >60dB
Downforce range: 0–2.5g
Effective tonearm length: 247mm
Dimensions: 17.72" x 6.18" x 13.86"
Weight: 18.30 lbs. (without dust cover)
AUDIO-TECHNICA U.S., INC.
1221 Commerce Drive
Stow, OH 44224