Audio-Technica AT-LP3XBT Review

Vinyl records have seen a surprising resurgence in recent years, with sales steadily climbing as new generations discover the warm, analog sound that LPs can deliver. Looking to capitalize on this growing market, Audio-Technica has released the AT-LP3XBT, a fully automatic belt-drive turntable aimed at new vinyl enthusiasts.

With its sleek looks, built-in preamp, and Bluetooth connectivity, this plug-and-play record player is designed for convenience and easy operation straight out of the box.

In this review, we’ll take an in-depth look at the features and performance of the AT-LP3XBT to see if it lives up to its promise as an inviting entry point into vinyl. From evaluating its audio quality and cueing functions to assessing the usefulness of its wireless capabilities, we’ll determine who this affordable turntable is best suited for and where it excels or falls short.

Key Takeaways

  • The AT-LP3XBT is designed for ease of use without compromising on sound quality.
  • Durability and reliable performance are hallmarks of its construction.
  • It offers modern wireless features for a cable-free listening experience.

Design and Build Quality

Straight out of the box, the AT-LP3XBT makes a good first impression with its clean (if a little bland) looks and sleek profile. The turntable features a shiny black chassis, with the MDF plinth topped by a black plastic platter. The build quality feels solid overall, if not necessarily premium.

The chassis itself has some welcome heft to it that helps dampen vibrations during playback compared to cheaper plastic turntables. The housing doesn’t have any sharp edges and is easy to keep clean. The platter and rubber slipmat also seem durable enough for regular use.

The platter of the AT-LP3XBT is made of die-cast aluminum, which I found contributes to a stable rotation and adds to the overall heft of the unit. Speaking of weight, the turntable strikes a balance at around 5.2 kg; it’s neither too light to feel cheap, nor too heavy to maneuver.

As for the tonearm, it’s straight and comes with a lifting mechanism that is gently damped—a detail that signifies thoughtful engineering. The combination of the tonearm and the cartridge handles records with care and precision, which I value highly.

In terms of dimensions, the AT-LP3XBT measures in at a comfortable size that fits well in most spaces. I appreciate the smart allocation of space without feeling cramped or oversized.

What really shows the brand’s meticulous approach to the AT-LP3XBT’s design is the incorporation of both traditional and modern elements. It’s evident that care was taken to maintain a classic turntable experience while embracing contemporary features like Bluetooth connectivity.

Technical Specifications

From mechanical engineering to its stylus and cartridge design, down to its connectivity options, let’s take a look at how the AT-LP3XBT fares when it comes to the technicals.

Turntable Mechanics

The AT-LP3XBT operates with a DC servo motor that ensures stable rotation. The turntable itself is a belt-drive system, which reduces vibration for cleaner sound quality. My analysis of its mechanics reveals:

  • Rotate Speeds: 33-1/3 RPM, 45 RPM
  • Wow and Flutter: < 0.2 % WRMS (33 RPM) at 3 kHz
  • Effective Arm Length: 221.5 mm
  • Overhang: 19 mm
  • Tracking Error Angle: Less than 3 degrees

Cartridge and Stylus Details

The AT-LP3XBT comes pre-installed with an Audio-Technica AT91 moving magnet cartridge and removable ATN3600L conical stylus. This beginner-friendly cart offers adequate performance for casual listening and enjoying a basic record collection.

With its conical tip shape, the stylus prioritizes durability while offering reasonably detailed and dynamic sound. Technical specs include a recommended tracking force of 3.5 grams and output voltage of 4 mV. Channel separation measures in at 15 dB, while frequency response ranges from 20-25,000 Hz.

For new vinyl enthusiasts on a budget, the pre-mounted AT91 cartridge will provide totally capable audio quality fresh out of the box. Audiophiles seeking more resolution may wish to experiment with higher-end options down the line. But overall, the stock cartridge and stylus combo offers a cost-effective plug-and-play solution with the convenience of easy replacement when worn.

With some thoughtful design choices like the adjustable counterweight and removable headshell, Audio-Technica makes it straightforward for users to swap in a more advanced cartridge to take full advantage of the turntable’s subtle upgrade capabilities. So while the basic included cart and stylus perform as advertised for casual listening, the AT-LP3XBT provides some helpful future-proofing as your analog needs grow.

Connectivity and Power

The AT-LP3XBT touts wireless capabilities, enabling it to connect to speakers and devices with Bluetooth® technology. It is not a USB turntable meaning you can’t rip vinyl, but its wireless feature provides modernity and convenience. Here’s what you need to know about its power details:

  • Power Supply Requirements: 100 to 240V, 50/60 Hz, 0.6A Max
  • Power Consumption: 1.5W
  • AC Adapter: Included with the turntable

It also has a built-in switchable phono preamplifier for added versatility in system setup, as not all audio systems or speakers come with a phono input.

Performance and Sound Quality

Key elements like its VM type cartridge, output voltage, and the aluminum cantilever contribute significantly to its overall pleasant sound profile.

Listening Experience

When I listened to various genres of music on the AT-LP3XBT, there was a good balance between clarity and warmth. The integrated VM-type stereo cartridge ensures a high-quality audio output, which is vital for engaging listening sessions. Music tracks, from classical symphonies to modern pop, are rendered with a distinct depth that is expected from vinyl recordings.

The cantilever designed from aluminum pipe optimizes the tracking accuracy which enriches the sonic experience. I paid close attention to the tracking force (needle pressure), which was dialed in easily, ensuring that the elliptical stylus rested on vinyl records in a way that extracted fine detail without causing undue wear.

Comparative Analysis

Comparing the AT-LP3XBT with other turntables in its class, I found that it stands out for its fully automatic mechanism, offering an ease of use that is not available in many other models. Most speakers in my setup handled the turntable’s output voltage of 4.0 mV at 1 kHz, 5 cm/sec aptly, translating to lesser reliance on a preamp to boost signal quality.

Determining the load impedance compatibility was straightforward since this turntable pairs well with a standard phono input, showing its flexible integration into a variety of sound systems. The nuances of the audio output did not lose their luster when I tried different records, which points to the trust in the consistency of this turntable.

I made a note of the elliptical stylus joining the cantilever, as it allows for subtle details in the music to surface, making the acoustic experience more robust as compared to some competitors. This is a turntable that respects the art of vinyl playback and meets the expectations of audiophiles who are in pursuit of a hassle-free yet quality-oriented turntable option.

Accessories and Customization

The Audio-Technica AT-LP3XBT has upgrade potential, even though it is not an amazing upgrade base like, say, the Rega Planar 1. The turntable primarily arrives ready to play with just a few components needing assembly, but it holds a promise for future enhancements if I so choose. Below, I’ve outlined some key areas for accessorizing and customization:

  • Cartridge and Stylus: The AT-LP3XBT comes with an AT-VM95C cartridge, which is a reliable performer. However, I find it reassuring that it supports an easy stylus upgrade if I want to experiment with different sounds or replace a worn-out needle.
  • Headshell: The turntable features a replaceable headshell, meaning I have the flexibility to switch out the headshell for other Audio-Technica models or third-party headshells tailored to my preferences.

Key Components for Customization:

  • Counterweight: Critical for proper tracking and preventing vinyl wear, the counterweight on the AT-LP3XBT is adjustable, ensuring I can set the right tracking force for a new cartridge or stylus.
  • Mat: Upgrading the slip mat can alter the turntable’s damping properties, and though the AT-LP3XBT comes with a standard mat, I can easily switch it out for something more personalized or with different acoustic properties.

Here’s a quick look at compatibility and ease of upgrade:

ComponentCustomizableEasy to Swap

Summing up, the AT-LP3XBT is accommodating when it comes to accessories and customization options.

Wireless Connectivity Features

In examining the wireless capabilities of the Audio-Technica AT-LP3XBT, I recognize it as a versatile piece of equipment for streaming audio. The chief highlight of this turntable is its Bluetooth® technology, which allows for seamless connection to various devices including wireless headphones, speakers, and more.

Here’s a breakdown of its wireless features:

  • Bluetooth Connectivity: Quickly pair with wireless listening devices.
  • Wireless Range: Effortless streaming within a range of up to 10 meters (1.5m), maintaining a robust connection.
  • Multiple Device Memory: Store settings for pairing with multiple devices, making it easy to switch between your preferred speakers or headphones.

I find the convenience of a wireless setup means that your living space can stay clutter-free, devoid of unnecessary cables. Additionally, maintaining the integrity of your audio experience, the LP3XBT supports the Qualcomm® aptX™ audio codec, a feature I appreciate for ensuring high-fidelity performance is not compromised despite the lack of wires.

Furthermore, pairing it with speakers placed strategically around your room can create an immersive listening environment. My experience with the AT-LP3XBT convinces me that its wireless technology not only meets the current standards for convenience and performance but does so while upholding the classic vinyl experience.

Final Verdict

With its user-friendly design, built-in Bluetooth connectivity, and gentle learning curve for beginners, the Audio-Technica AT-LP3XBT is a strong choice as an entry-level analog player. It neatly balances simplicity and quality for the price, offering a smooth and inviting vinyl experience right out of the box.

While audiophiles may desire more high-end components and customization abilities, the AT-LP3XBT nails the basics with its reliable operation, solid build, easy adjustments, and adequate audio performance. The upgrade potential via cartridge and stylus replacements is also a major plus.

Considering its quality materials and reputable brand name, the AT-LP3XBT compares well against competitors in the sub $300 price tier. It’s a particularly versatile option for anyone looking to wirelessly stream vinyl to speakers as well as listen directly through an integrated amp.

So if you’re curious about stepping into the vinyl landscape for the first time, the AT-LP3XBT’s blend of simplicity, quality, and flexibility makes it a recommended choice to spin your first records.