At NAMM 2019, Audio-Technica introduced a brand new turntable and cartridge duo to the market, highlighting the company’s ongoing commitment to the DJ sector. Joe France, Audio-Technica UK’s DJ specialist, tells PSNEurope why the world of vinyl is still ripe with opportunity…
Back in January, Audio-Technica unveiled its latest offering to the DJ market at NAMM 2019 in the form of the AT-LP140XP turntable and AT-XP3 cartridge. Designed in Tokyo, the fully manual turntable features a high torque direct drive motor, ensuring quick start up, and an anti-resonant, mass-damped, die-cast aluminum platter for stable, on-axis rotation at 33, 45 and 78rpm. Its S-shaped tonearm allows adjustment for height, tracking force and dynamic anti-skate control, while additional features include selectable quartz-controlled pitch lock and pitch change slider (with +/-8%, +/-16%, and +/-24% adjustment ranges), stroboscopic platter with a speed indicator and a retractable plug-type stylus target light. The product is available in black or silver, with DJ-approved features such as a start/stop button, forward/reverse play, selectable pitch change, a stylus target light and more.
The AT-XP3 cartridge, reflecting Audio-Technica's leading innovation as a phono-cartridge designer of over 50 years, comes with a V-Mount dual magnet construction, carbon fibre-reinforced ABS cantilever and nylon wire suspension for precise tracking. Here, Joe France, Audio-Technica UK’s DJ specialist, explains why he believes the future is bright for the DJ sector and why the ongoing rise in vinyl sales in the UK represents a serious opportunity for the market...
At NAMM 2019 you released a new DJ turntable. How important is the DJ market for the brand?
The DJ sector is very important for Audio-Technica, and turntables are still a big part of the DJ world, which is why we see continued development in this product area. Audio-Technica’s previous DJ turntable, the AT-LP1240, is widely recognised as a major player in the sector, and the release of the new AT-LP140XP, plus high fidelity DJ-oriented cartridges, reflects the commitment the company has to DJs and their product needs. For many, there’s still no better feeling than opening a brand new piece of vinyl and playing it out to wow a crowd. As a result, there still remains a real desire and demand from DJs for high-performing, great-sounding turntables and cartridges.
How has this corner of the audio market evolved in recent years?
Vinyl has become much more accessible than it was even a few years ago, with more and more artists releasing on vinyl only and chains like HMV stocking records again; specialist shops are thriving and even supermarkets sell vinyl these days.
There has been some innovation in DJ turntables themselves, although the tried and tested design might not have changed that much, what is noticeable is the improvement in the components used, and a better understanding of how to get the most out of recorded material. As such, I think DJs who play vinyl and buy turntables are much better informed and discerning when it comes to the hardware they rely on.
How much of an appetite is there for traditional DJ turntables in 2019?
Interestingly, alongside DJs who are strictly vinyl-only and always have been, we’re seeing guys who have learned on controllers, but are looking to spice up their skillset by playing vinyl. Evidently, the demand is being driven by both types of DJ, which is really encouraging. Vinyl still offers DJs a unique world of rare, underground music that you can’t always find or purchase as digital files. Some of the record stores we partner with, such as Phonica in London and Rush Hour in Amsterdam, sell limited-edition records from around the world that might not have been played for decades; that’s part of the reason that vinyl sales were up 14.6 per cent in 2018.
What are the biggest opportunities for A-T DJ products in today’s market? Are there any key markets where you're pushing the new product?
In today's market, people are looking to match the sound of high-end hi-fi systems, so if they can achieve that in the DJ booth, they’re happy. Audio-Technica’s origins are in the design and manufacture of hi-fi cartridges, so we have the opportunity to build upon decades of experience and a reputation for delivering high-quality sound to the DJ sector.
Given the market’s increasingly demanding consumers, Audio-Technica’s recent DJ cartridges – the AT-XP3, AT-XP5 and AT-XP7 – are really designed for audiophile DJs. These guys are very selective, and by pairing the cartridges with the likes of the AT-LP140XP, the quality of the turntable is fully realised by ensuring the signal path isn’t compromised. The fact that the XP cartridge models deliver audiophile quality while also being robust enough to withstand back-cueing means they’re ideal for the rigours of the DJ booth.
Tell us about the new turntable. What was the production process and what has feedback from users been like?
The AT-LP140XP launched at the beginning of 2019 and isn’t available for retailers as of yet, but it has been really well received by the trade and those who saw it at the NAMM show this year. Designed in the heart of Tokyo, It was conceived as a pro-level, fully manual turntable that gives DJs all the control they need. I’m really excited by the new products, and the fact that they reflect such a healthy marketplace – it’s a great time for vinyl and the DJs who prefer to use it.