Audio-Technica AT-LP120 vs Pioneer PL-990

Audio-Technica AT-LP120 vs Pioneer PL-990: Battle Between Budget Models

Audio-Technica AT-LP120 vs Pioneer PL-990

If you cannot find a cheap but reliable turntable, then the test of the pair Audio-Technica AT-LP120 vs Pioneer PL-990 can help you with your difficult choice. While being rather affordable products, these two turntables embrace opposite customer categories. The Pioneer is a fully automatic device for novice users, while the Audio-Technica is a fully manual device targeted at those audiophiles who have a good understanding of the turntable working principle.

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Features & performance

Having already tested these two devices, I must say that the AT-LP120 boasts a switchable built-in pre-amplifier “PHONO-LINE”, which significantly boost the quality of sound reproduction. The PL-990, in its turn, lacks built-in pre-amplifiers, but it has a built-in equalizer, as its manufacturers believe that it is always better to use stationary pre-amplifier.

If we also compare their cartridges, you will see that the Audio-Technica uses a dual magnet, while the Pioneer features a moving magnet. Moreover, the Audio-Technica offers more options in terms of the playback speed than the Pioneer does (33.3, 45, 78 RPM versus 33.3, 45 RPM).

Design & build quality

Despite their budget price, they are constructed using high-quality materials. They are both sold in black with a transparent dust cover. Both devices also use an aluminum diecast platter and 45 RPM adapter. Additionally, the pair Pioneer PL-990 vs Audio-Technica AT-LP120 uses a replaceable stylus with a diamond-shaped tip. While both devices have an RCA output, only the Audio-Technica has a USB port.

However, the Audio-Technica has very bulky design compared to the Pioneer (6 x 17.8 x 13.9 inches against 3.9 x 16.5 x 13.5 inches) and is 4 times heavier (23.5 pounds against just 5.8 pounds).

Audio-Technica AT-LP120 pros & cons

Pros

  • The device is boosted by an easy-going setup system.
  • The model goes with reliable RCA output cables and USB cable to ensure high level of connectivity.
  • This turntable goes with an adjustable tonearm, which increases the functionality of the device.

Cons

  • The turntable lacks an auto-return button.
  • Sometimes, the motor produces some noise and vibration during its work.

Pioneer PL-990 pros & cons

Pros

  • The model features a highly sensitive low-mass straight tonearm, which ensures perfect track recording.
  • The model boasts an easy-going setup that can be performed by even novice users.

Cons

  • This turntable does not let users change the cartridge when needed.
  • Being very lightweight, the model does not feel very sturdy.

Audio-Technica AT-LP120

Audio-Technica AT-LP120 review

Mar 27, 2019

The Japanese company Audio-Technica has more than 50 years of experience in the development of the audio devices and has established itself as a leading manufacturer of the widest range of equipment....

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Common

Product

Audio-Technica AT-LP120
Pioneer PL-990

Model

AT-LP120
PL-990

Brand

Audio-Technica
Pioneer

Rating

4.4 of 5
3.9 of 5

Reviews

2790
492

Cartridge

Type

dual magnet
moving magnet (MM)

Appropriate needle pressure, g

1,5
2,5

Supplied headshell weight, g

2,5
3,5

Stylus

Replaceable

Type

diamond
diamond

Model

ATN95E
PZP1004

Motor

Drive method

direct
belt

Platter type

aluminum diecast
aluminum diecast

Speed, RPM

33.3, 45, 78
33.3, 45

Torque

>1.6 kgf-cm
>4.5 kgf-cm

Wow & flutter (WRMS), %

0.2
0.25

Sound

Frequency response, Hz

20 - 20000
20 - 20000

Signal to noise ratio, dB

50
50

Gain

36

Output level

Pre-amp "PHONO": 2.5 mV nominal at 1 kHz, 5 cm/sec. Pre-amp "LINE": 150 mV nominal at 1 kHz, 5 cm/sec

Controls

Operation type

full manual
full automatic

Pitch control

Pitch variation, %

+/-10 or +/-20

Braking system

electronic
electronic

Connections

USB

1
0

RCA

1
1

Other

has not
has not

Features

Dust cover

45 RPM adapter

Other

has not
has not

Power

Motor type

DC
DC

Power consumption, W

11
2

User manual

Manual

Dimensions

Size, cm/inches

15.2 x 45.2 x 35.3/ 6 x 17.8 x 13.9
10 x 42 x 34.2/3.9 x 16.5 x 13.5

Weight, kg/pounds

10.6/23.5
2.6/5.8

Turntables HelpToChoose comparison rating

  • better
  • worse
  • 13.8
  • 8.9
  • 13.8Audio-Technica AT-LP120
  • 8.9Pioneer PL-990

Audio-Technica AT-LP120 is better turntable in this comparison. Check Audio-Technica AT-LP120 price