First Impressions: Audio-Technica AT-LPW50PB Review
As far as gauging the AT-LPW50PB’s sound quality, that is just going to have to wait until all the CES 2020 dust has settled, but this is an affordable turntable warrants a further look considering Audio Technica's recent track record in this area
- Review Price: £379
- 33-1/3, 45 RPM
- Belt drive
When it comes to building record players and all their associated paraphernalia, Japanese specialist Audio-Technica can call on over 50 year’s-worth of experience.
But while the turntable fundamentals haven’t changed much in all that time, customers’ requirements and expectations have moved on more than somewhat.
So Audio-Technica’s latest turntable, the AT-LPW50PB, is designed to enhance the company’s long-standing engineering reputation while offering a little convenience and interior decor sympathy at the same time.
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Audio-Technica AT-LPW50PB build & features – Connections give it flexibility for hooking up other sources
Admittedly there’s not a lot Audio-Technica can do about the overall look of a record player, and sure enough the AT-LPW50PB is the predictable ‘rectangle with a circle on it’ under a clear Perspex dust cover.
But the plinth, at 42cm wide, is relatively compact – and the 30mm-thick low-resonance MDF is finished in a smooth and flawless piano-black gloss, which makes the deck look it might conceivably have cost quite a lot more than the £379 asking price.
This is a manual belt-drive design with a speed-change control at the bottom left of the top of the plinth. Regardless of whether it’s playing at 33.3 or 45rpm, the Audio-Technica’s sensor-monitored drive motor is designed to deliver precise rotational stability and consistency. The belt turns a pro-standard anti-resonance aluminium platter.
The straight-cut tonearm is made from carbon fibre, finished in a quite pleasing matte black, and features a special edition of one of Audio-Technica’s most celebrated cartridges. The AT-VM95E is a dual moving magnet design, and a very capable evolution of the storied AT-95E – and, for this deck, it too is finished in black.
No one is suggesting the AT-LPW50PB will just disappear into your interior decor, but Audio-Technica has given it every chance of not sticking out like a sore thumb.
At the back of the deck there are a pair of stereo RCA outputs, an input for mains power (the Audio Technica does all its AC/DC stuff well away from the turntable chassis) and a switch for turning the integrated phono stage on or off. Having the necessary preamplification on board like this gives the 50PW far more flexibility when it comes to integrating into a wider audio system.
Audio-Technica AT-LPW50PB – First impressions
It goes without saying that a heaving Convention Centre show floor is hardly the perfect environment for having a critical listen to a record player – and, to be fair to Audio-Technica, it hasn’t even attempted to make that possible.
So as far as gauging the AT-LPW50PB’s sound quality, that is just going to have to wait until all the CES 2020 dust has settled. But I will be having a listen to this product as a priority – partly because Audio-Technica has such an impressive stroke rate where things like this are concerned, partly because the more choice consumers have when it comes to buying ‘affordable’ turntables the better, and partly because I quite like the way it looks. So, as they used to say, stay tuned…