Turntables $250 -$300: Shoot-out & Reviews. AT-LP120 + Pro-Ject Primary + TEAC TN-300

Dearest Friends 😀 !
Great to see all of you again!!! I have bought with my own monies and assembled this triumvirate of three affordable turntables which are under consideration of anybody intending to spend about US$250-$300 on a turntable 🙂
They are the:
1. AudioTechnica AT-LP120,
2. Pro-Ject Primary,
3. TEAC TN-300.
There is actually a fourth one, the U-Turn Orbit prefitted with a Grado Black cartridge, bought directly online from U-Turn, but is not included in this test because of its inavailability in other countries (and its high cost incurred if one were to ship it in, plus voltage considerations) for most friends living outside of North America.

At the end of these three turntables’ testing and auditions, explorations, and *living with them for three months* since March 2017, I have no choice but to guide all of you friends who are looking at spending US$300 on a turntable, to look at the versatile, solidly-built, and legendary SL1200Mk3/Mk3D/Mk5 easily available from Japan. Many of my friends all over the world had bought from hifido.co.jp and rakuten. Hifido especially gets my mention because of their excellent service, supreme packaging and timely delivery (which should cost about US$60-80 depending on your locality). A simple step-down transformer to 100V has served me and my friends very well, and all our decks have been giving, day-in day-out, sterling performance (steady speed control of course, courtesy of the advanced and trusty quartz-lock direct drive mechanism) and with more to come always… as brilliant cartridge upgrades shine through along our journey!!!

I do have a Mk5 bought and hand-carried back from hifido in Dec 2015, which you can see on my past video :-D!!!
Any decision to get one, you can email in English language to hifido01@hifido.co.jp , they reply in English and payment is via secure bank credit card page. Other avenues are rakuten.co.jp, and of course from DiskUnion Shibuya branch, if you are there and are ready to get it packed for hand-carry (house the platter separately in a safe and secure box and foam in your checked-in luggage to reduce the weight of the carry-on SL1200 deck, i have done it three times).
Get one good deck, a SL1200Mk3/Mk3D and be done, for many many years ahead: ENJOY brilliant sonics with *affordable cartridges like Grado Black, Goldring Elektra, Grado Green, Nagaoka MP-110, and couple them with the Schiit Mani.*
*And simply enjoy the rest of your great vinyl’ing journey!!!*
Best Regards,
~ ian 😀

Comments

Chee Siong Teo says:

Hi. I love your videos. Especially the ones of you shopping in Japan. I have taken up your recommendations on the stores to visit in my previous trip. A quick question: Can we just plug and play a Technics 1200 from Japan in Singapore? Are the power/electrical systems compatible? Or do we need a transformer? As you can see, I am already tempted by your turntable recommendation. 🙂

Ryan Clarin says:

Thank you Ian for a wonderful video! Are you planning on doing a more in depth review of the uturn orbit? I’d be curious on your thoughts at minimum, I’ve owned one since January as my first TT but will be upgrading very soon!

Samuel Fogelgren says:

Ive started so save money for a SL-1200 model you recommended in this vid. 😀 Ian check out this guys custom painted and restored turntables. Dj Henray Customs

Bill's Box Of Sound says:

Wow. Excellent video and a great way to show that better turntables really are an investment in your listening pleasure and the preservation of your record collection. I even learned a couple of things myself. Great job!

slavikcc says:

Awesome review, Ian! I thought I’d add some thoughts to the turntables you reviewed:

-The Teac TN-300 is built by the Ya Horng Electronics Co. in Taiwan, who also built turntables for Akai (the BT-500), Denon (DP-300), and Fluance RT-80/RT-81. There are initial problems with speed accuracy, which explains the high wow/flutter that you’re hearing. According to a couple audio salespeople I spoke with in Canada, the TN-300 has been preceded by the TN-400 as the former is no longer being used by Teac and will simply sell them until they’re all gone.

-The Audio Technica LP-120 is built at Hanpin in Taiwan, who also made the Pioneer PLX-500, Crosley C-200, a couple Reloop models, etc. It’s under the Hanpin OEM model DJ-45. And yes, the build-in phono pre-amp cannot be fully bypassed even when switched off so people who wants to get better sound quality will have to physically disable it and then use a proper phono pre-amp. Oh, and don’t get me started with Audio Technica’s LP60 (the same as the Denon DP-29F/Pioneer PL-990/Sony PS-LX300)… they’re totally rife with major problems.

-The Pro-Ject Primary is basically the Elemental on a full-sized conventional plinth and it has the same limitations as the latter. For those who own one can upgrade to a better stylus at least, though the anti-skating mechanism is a spring built right inside the tonearm base.

andromedaneoprog says:

Brilliant and exhaustive review as usual, Ian! Thank you very much for your work on this, i really appreciate it. Hope you can make a review of the Sony PS-HX500 in a near future. I will wait for your review of the new Rega Planar 1 and 2 turntables. Greetings!!!

Jayaram G says:

Superb video, thank you very much Ian. Stellar job! Surprised to find the primary wins inspite of quite a few shortcomings & most plane jane fit & finish 😛

spinalcrackerbox says:

Another extremely helpful, brutally honest & independent review from you. I was so disappointed though – the table I expected to lose won and the capable looking TEAC collapsing at the start! On top of that, I am concerned that AT is cheapening the legacy of the SL-1200. This brings me to what I love about you, Ian, despite you being a hi-end aficionado, you do not turn up your nose at the Technics and its DD. What a great ending to this test. ~ Josh (P.S. will send you an email shortly re. Tokyo)

hbaboris says:

Thanks my friend for the review !!!! as always, great !!! The Project sounds significantly better than AT…less is more in this case !

jayrhs says:

Hi Ian! Great video. I was wondering where you purchased your step-down transformer. I’ve been looking into getting a technics 1200 from Japan and would like a good transformer to go along with it.

Skywalker. says:

I’m literally shocked by this “real world” video! Awesome presentation and comparison!! Kudos!!!

Lisardo Gil says:

Excellent video..good thing I watched it because I thought about purchasing the audio technica..I just wish the technics were easier (and cheaper) to find.

Richard Larson says:

Really hope you do the AT-LP5, soon!

Bob Laws says:

Hi Ian, I’m a newcomer to your channel and you have reminded me of how recorded music should be listened to and enjoyed, especially when you put thought and effort in choosing the component parts that make up your hi-fi system.

Still, I would like to ask one question, have you ever compared the sound differences between belt drive turntables and a direct drive ones. I ask this because some years ago I bought a DD turntable and it was the worst hi-fi mistake I have ever made.

That’s why I am surprised that nowadays a lot of knowledgable people are saying DD tables like the Audio Technica and Techniques turntables are very good, even though the fundamentals of the DDs have not changed over the past 30 or so years, i.e. the pulsing electronic motor under the platter.

You have put a lot of passion and thought into your channel and for that I thank you because I found your work thoroughly enjoyable and, above all, honest. I hope that you will re-start your channel again in the near future.

Cheers.

Bob

Josaphat Pineda says:

That’s the only reason of not just DJ’s but even i admire more of the Technics.

Crystal Clear Mix says:

Great so professional comparison , I’m learning from you so much. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I can’t wait to see MC carts reviews and I have noticed you also use Technics 1210 G and GAE, I hope one day you will review them as well 🙂 Also what software do you use to measure speed stability of TT at 14:45 ?? Regards

Miljen Maletin says:

Great review, as always. I, as a vinyl lover, really love to watch your videos. Informative, entertaining and sincere. Way to go Ian!

Woodstock LeBird says:

Another masterpiece, very well reasoned and produced. I SO wanted to like one of them. For the present my Thorens and Rega decks are perfectly safe.

tzobor says:

Hello and thank you for opening my eyes on HiFiDo! I have an Mk3D on the way, I can’t wait. I like your videos, keep up the good work!

Agamemnon2 says:

Your thoroughness does you credit. I was pointed towards this video on the Audiokarma forum where I was pondering whether to buy a new or used turntable to complete my hifi system, and you have certainly helped me make up my mind in this regard.

Envers Phone says:

Good forensic analysis of the turntables , the good the bad and the ugly, superb looking forward to more

Tristan Teobaldi says:

Curious to know how the U-Turn Orbit fares compared to these.

Ryobi Evans says:

I guess qc plays a role in todays tt’s more than ever.
My tn-350 is playing with no speed deviation at all. 33.3 and 45 dead on.
Then again, i did toss the wallwart that came with it , as it does not provide good rectification at all.
Might be something to look into, or maybe im just damn lucky?
Who knows.. atleast im damn happy with my teac, and a 150mlx for the time being.

yupimbackk says:

Lan, You sir make my day everyday. So glad that there are people like you in this world Friend.

Delorean217 says:

Great video! Should I just buy a used near mint Technics SL-Q3 for 170 dollars? Or should I get a Audio Technica LP120? Thank you for reading. :–)

silicone6827129 says:

Ian, you are one hack of a fella. Excellent review with no frills and very informative. Unlike some reviews, yours is direct and easy to understand even to a rookie. Excellent work.

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