Audio Technica AT-LPW50PB Review

by Bruno Brozovic

Audio Technica AT-LPW50PB impressed me with its carbon composite tonearm and lightweight aluminum platter, delivering quiet, resonance-free performance. The built-in phono preamp made setup a breeze, perfect for beginners. The wide and powerful soundstage handled dynamic music beautifully. However, the anti-skating mechanism and tonearm bearings could be better.

Intro

Audio-Technica from Japan is well-known for making affordable turntables. They excel in this area because it’s easy to make something great with expensive parts, but doing it on a budget is a real skill. Their latest model, the AT-LPW50PB, is priced at $449, which is at the higher end of their range. It’s impressive because it comes with everything you need, including a built-in phono preamp.

Audio-Technica AT-LPW50PB Review

Audio-Technica AT-LPW50PB Review

While other brands might just be getting started at this price point, Audio-Technica has packed a lot into the LPW50PB. For many people, $500 is still a significant amount of money, but turntables in this price range are among the best sellers worldwide.

Audio Technica AT-LPW50PB Unboxing

When I first unboxed the Audio-Technica LPW50PB, I was impressed. The frame is a 30mm thick MDF wood panel with a perfect black gloss finish. The tonearm came pre-assembled, and all the components were ready quickly. The turntable stands on four adjustable rubber feet, which promise to dampen vibrations effectively and allow me to balance the level easily.

The Design

The engine hangs under a round metal mounting plate. The pulley operates in the center, made of precisely turned brass, not plastic. The platter bearing is standard with a conical coupling to the platter, and brass is used here as well.

The platter is a lightweight cast aluminum construction with a fixed radius for the flat belt and rib-like bracing towards the center to prevent platter resonance. The flat belt is already stretched and can be grabbed with a red ribbon from the top through the side hole. You put the platter on the platter bearing and carefully pull the belt over the pulley – done.

Audio Technica AT-LPW50PB

The thick and precisely manufactured rubber mat is an important part of the turntable, not just in terms of cushioning, but also as a weight supplement. It’s hardly worth using any other turntable mat, especially if it’s lighter and/or thinner.

Audio-Technica AT-LPW50PB Fully Manual Belt-Drive Turntable
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Audio-Technica AT-LPW50PB Fully Manual Belt-Drive Turntable
  • Fully manual, belt-drive operation with two speeds: 33-1/3 and 45 RPM
  • Motor features a speed-sensor system to maintain accurate platter rotation speed
  • Adjustable dynamic anti-skate control
  • Professional anti-resonance, die-cast aluminum platter with rubber mat
  • AT-HS4 universal ½"-mount headshell and AT-VM95E Dual Moving Magnet phono cartridge (black) with 0.3 x 0.7 mil...

The turntable is activated with a simple and elegant rotary switch. The stop position is in the middle of the two relevant speeds 33 1/3 and 45. The platter spins up quickly at both speeds and takes about half a turn. That’s fast for a belt drive, but that’s due to the rather small plate mass.

At first, I heard a faint noise between the belt and the pulley or between the belt and the plate. After an hour of running in, nothing could be heard, not even after longer stopping times. The drive system simply requires a short break-in period, which is not unusual.

Phono Preamp and Tonearm

The connections on the back of the Audio-Technica LPW50PB are self-explanatory. The RCA outputs (cinch) can be connected directly to the line input of an amplifier by setting the slide switch to the “Line” position. The phono preamplifier integrated into the record player is then in operation and amplifies the audio signal from the cartridge to a nominal voltage of 200 mV.

Audio Technica AT-LPW50PB Back Side View

Gold-plated cinch sockets allow free choice of the connection cable. In the center of the connector panel sits a slide switch for activating/bypassing the internal phono stage.

If the switch is left in the “Phono” position, the output voltage is 4.0 mV. This allows a separate MM phono preamplifier or a hi-fi amplifier with a phono input to be connected. The Audio-Technica LPW50PB is, to a certain extent, suitable both for “plug-and-play” and for the higher discipline of “phono operation”.

Audio Technica AT-LPW50PB Review – Tonearm

The most striking feature of the three-point bearing tonearm is the carbon composite tonearm tube. The material is light, low-resonance, and looks good. The anti-skating device and tone arm lift are conventional and work well. The headshell with SME connector is cranked, meaning it is angled.

Audio Technica AT-LPW50PB Test

The carbon fiber tonearm is cleanly finished and sonically helpful. However, the bearings could be better.

According to the manufacturer, the anti-skating feature is supposed to have a dynamic effect, but I doubt this claim. The dynamic component of skating power depends on the groove’s modulation. The louder and more dynamic the music, the greater the skating power. Therefore, a dynamic anti-skating mechanism would need to counteract a dynamically changing force, requiring a sensor to adjust in real time. While such solutions once existed, they were complicated, time-consuming, and expensive.

Audio Technica AT-LPW50PB Sound Test

In the listening room, the Audio-Technica AT-LPW50PB record player shows many bright sides and a few downsides, which isn’t unusual in its price range. The player owes its strengths to the good standard pickup and the carbon arm tube, which creates quiet, resonance-free working conditions.

I put on the current Woodkid album “S16”: The Audio-Technica AT-LPW50PB presents lush string arrangements impressively in a wide, powerful space, reflecting the producer’s intent, recorded in the rich sound of London’s Abbey Road Studios. The high dynamics of the album, including acoustic orchestra and electronic sounds, don’t stress the player, repeating this confident performance with other records.

With the built-in phono preamp, it’s more of a plug-and-play affair, which is convenient and appropriate in this price range.

Audio Technica AT-LPW50PB Video Review

Audio Technica AT-LPW50PB Specifications

  • Type: Belt-drive manual turntable
  • Motor: DC servo with Active Speed Stabilization
  • Drive Method: Belt drive
  • Speeds: 33-1/3 RPM, 45 RPM
  • Turntable Platter: Die-cast aluminum
  • Wow and Flutter: < 0.15% WRMS (33 RPM) at 3 kHz
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: >60dB
  • Output Level Pre-amp “PHONO”: 4.0 mV nominal at 1 kHz, 5 cm/sec
  • Pre-amp “LINE”: 200 mV nominal at 1 kHz, 5 cm/sec
  • Phono Pre-Amp Gain: 35 dB nominal, RIAA equalized
  • Tonearm type: Static balanced straight carbon tonearm
  • Effective arm length: 223.6 mm
  • Overhang: 18.6 mm
  • Tracking error angle: <2 degrees
  • Applicable cartridge weight: 12-17 g
  • Stylus pressure adjustment range: 0-3 g
  • Replacement Stylus: AT-VMN95E BK
  • Power Supply Requirements: 100-240 V, 50/60 Hz, 0.5 A Max.
  • Dimensions With dustcover: 420.0 mm (16.54″) W x 356.0 mm (14.02″) D x 126.0 mm (4.96″) H
  • Without dustcover and hinges: 420.0 mm (16.54″) W x 356.0 mm (14.02″) D x 114.0 mm (4.49″) H
  • Weight: 5.56 kg (12.26 lbs.) without dust cover
  • Accessories Included: Dust cover, Platter, Turntable mat, Drive belt, Counterweight, AT-HS4 headshell, AT-VM95E stereo cartridge (black), 45-RPM adapter, RCA audio cable (approx. 1.0 m (3.3′)), AC adapter (approx. 1.5 m (4.9′)), Dust cover hinges

You can view & download the manual here->Audio Technica AT-LPW50PB Manual

Final Verdict

The Audio Technica AT-LPW50PB is quite an amazing device. Impeccably finished, very beautiful to look at, and with a music reproduction that amazes me. Price-performance? No discussion, the relationship is sensational! At Audio-Technica, all turntables are crafted with a consistent design philosophy and share a unified build quality. I wondered what the company would be able to do once they started making expensive turntables.

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3.8/5 - (71 votes) - Click on stars to leave a review

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