Let’s get one thing out of the way immediately.
Both of these turntables are great and you can’t go wrong either way.
That said, I’m sure you’ve noticed the rather sizable price difference between the two.
Is the LP1240 really that much better than the LP120?
The truth is: it’s a bit more complicated than that.
It really comes down to your needs and preferences.
Keep reading for an in-depth comparison of the AT LP120 vs AT LP1240 that will help you figure out if it is worth it to pay the extra money for the 1240, or if you are better off saving a few hundred dollars and getting the 120.
- 1 Audio Technica LP1240 Vs LP120
- 2 AT LP120 Vs AT LP1240: Final Thoughts
Audio Technica LP1240 Vs LP120
Audio Technica has built a reputation for quality audio equipment and their turntables have always been some of the best on the market, in terms of price vs performance. Thay are all amazing values.
And these two are no different. But which one is the better value? You’re about to find out.
We’ll begin by taking a quick look at each record player individually, before going into the differences and similarities between the two. Then we’ll look at the advantages of each and determine the reasons to get one over the other.
- Compact and portable
- Extremely durable and high-grade materials
- Can digitize audio files from vinyl records
- No issues with skipping or wobbling
- Tons of advanced features for DJs
- Can connect to components with no phono input
- Only plays vinyl
- No built-in speakers
- Non-DJs don't need all of the features
The AT-LP120 is the most popular turntable model by Audio Technica. It is a direct drive (beltless) turntable that has both analog and USB outputs.
It has a pitch control slider and allows you to play both 33 and 45 and 78 RPM records. As with most turntables in the upper mid-tier, it has an anti-skate on board, which keeps the needle from sliding while the record is playing.
It is a versatile and well-made model that has some great features and still manages to be simple to use and utilitarian. I am biased toward this model because I own it and I love it. A lot.
- Excellent for DJs
- Incredible sound quality and build quality
- Direct-drive, high-torque, multipole motor is perfect for DJs
- Built-in switchable phono preamp
- Much higher price
- Many features only DJs need
The AT-LP1240 is marketed as a professional DJ turntable. As such, it has some more complex features and gadgets that normal people will probably never need or use.
However, if you are a DJ, you can rely on this model to have the same level of quality and great sound as its little brother, the LP120.
It has 3 selectable speeds: 33, 45, and 78 RPM. It also has a speed control slider. It comes with a multipole motor which means you can manipulate the platter and it will quickly get back to the normal play speed.
The LP1240 has USB output as well as analog. It also has a high torque motor that is capable of playing those heavy 78 shellac records.
Differences Between The AT-LP120 And The AT-LP1240
The LP-1240 is a more expensive model, which is the first glaring difference. You will usually pay over $200 more for a 1240. This price difference seems to be completely unjustified, unless you are a DJ, or an audiophile who can hear the difference in the slightly better components in the more expensive model.
The LP1240 has a better motor. It has higher torque and is built with better parts. Some enthusiasts say it is nearly identical to the legendary SL1200 motor. The LP120 still has a very good motor that will do a great job for you, but the 1240 is a cut above for high-performance DJ sets.
The 1240 has a reverse button that allows you to change the direction of the platter instantly. The 120 does not have this feature.
Start And Stop Strength
The 1240 has adjustable start and stop strength dials so that you can fine-tune the strength of the torque during the starting and stopping of the platter.
The 1240 is just a bit better overall, as far as the quality of the parts used and the features. The tricky part is to determine if the extra couple hundred bucks (or more) is worth having a unit that is a little bit better.
For me, the answer is no. Of course, I am not a DJ and I listen to my records for my enjoyment. For DJs, the extra money is likely worth it.
Both of these turntables are made by Audio Technica and have the same general layout and form factor. They are both direct drive turntables with no belts to rot or get stretched out over time.
Both units allow you to play 3 different speeds of records: 33, 45, and 78 RPM. They both have variable pitch control and lockable rest for the tonearm.
Both of these units are fully manually operated, not automatic. Of course, that does not mean you turn a crank and the platter spins, but it does mean that the arm will not move without your help to lift it and take it off the record. When your record is over, the arm will not automatically go back to its resting place.
Both of these units are excellent. They are well made and well designed. They are both modeled after the famous Technics SL-1200. Read our comparison of the Audio Technica LP120 vs Technics SL-1200 for more on that model.
Either one of these record players is a great choice if you need a turntable. As mentioned, I own an LP120 myself.
Advantages Of The AT-LP120
The 120 is simpler, a little lighter, and a bit easier to use. Quality-wise, I cannot make the argument that the 120 sounds better or has better parts, but I can say that the higher quality you get with the 1240 is so nuanced and hard to hear that most people will not even notice it.
The LP120 is aesthetically nicer to look at, in my eyes. I like the simple layout and lack of buttons on the face of the unit. Of curse, this is purely subjective.
It usually costs 200 bucks or so less. Depending on where you buy it and what’s going on in the market, the difference in price may be even larger.
Advantages Of The AT-LP1240
More features are the first and most obvious thing that is better on the 1240. It has a reverse button which the other one does not have, as well as adjustable start and stop strength.
The motor is better on the 1240: stronger, and just a better build in general. The 1240 allows you to manipulate the platter during play, while still being able to jump to the previous play speed very quickly.
Why To Get The AT-LP120
The AT-LP120 is one of the best mid-tier direct-drive turntables on the market at this price point. If you have a record collection and want to listen to it hassle-free on a great-sounding and easy-to-use turntable, the 120 is a great fit for you.
As long as you don’t need to play 3-hour DJ sets and have 2 turntables going at the same time, the LP120 is going to be great for you. You can read our full review of the LP120 here.
Why To Get The AT-LP1240
The At-LP1240 is for DJs, or audiophiles that have a bigger budget. Don’t misunderstand me. The 1240 is a better turntable overall, hands down. If you can afford it, it is a better choice than the 120.
However, as a person who listens to a lot of records on my LP120, I can say that the slight improvement in sound and quality is not with an extra 200 bucks to me.
Keep in mind if I had way more money and did not have to watch my budget, I would be listening to my records on the 1240 right now.
AT LP120 Vs AT LP1240: Final Thoughts
The Audio Technica LP120 and the AT LP1240 are both incredible turntables. In my opinion, the 120 is the better value, but that is because many of the additional features on the 1240 are meant for DJs. And I am not one.
If you are a DJ, or if the slight increase in sound quality is important to you, then the additional cost of the LP1240 is money well spent. For me, the extra $200+ is not worth the additional features and slight boost in quality.
You’ll have to determine whether it is worth it for you. Either way, you are definitely getting your money’s worth with either of these two record players. Whichever one you choose, you will not regret your purchase!