Have you ever wondered what model turntable the greats started on? Which turntable did they used to learn their craft? And did they stick with that turntable throughout their career or did they switch to something else once they became successful?
When it comes to the famous Detroit DJs like Kevin Saunderson, Derek May and Juan Atkins, it is easy enough to look up this information. You could probably find it on their Wikipedia pages. If you’re really curious, go check it out now and see what equipment they started with and what equipment they currently use.
Personally, I prefer to speculate. Not with the equipment they started on, of course, but with what they would use today. Let me rephrase that, I prefer to speculate on the type of equipment they would use if they were getting started today and if the digital music revolution had not happened. In other words, if turntable record players were still the only option for DJs.
Given those parameters, I believe they would’ve gone with an Audio Technica turntable. Really, it would be either that or a Technics, but the Technics turntables are too expensive for beginning DJs. That’s why I believe they would go with an Audio Technica.
As for the model, it would either be the AT-LP60 or the LP-120. I like to believe they would save up money and splurge on the 120. It is quite a bit more expensive, but is still priced as an entry-level turntable. For that extra money you just get so much more functionality than you would with the LP60. Let’s look at some of the things this turntable can do that the 60 can’t.
The AT-LP120 is reviewed on this page. You can see it is quite heavy, but it is very sturdy. This is important for DJs, because it gives you a solid base and the turntable doesn’t move while you are scratching. This turntable is also equipped with anti-vibration feet. As the name might suggest, they reduce vibrations which could impact the sound quality. The feet are also adjustable so you can have the turntable stand steady without wobbling.
It has an elliptical diamond stylus which tracks the record grooves better than most, reducing skipping. It also comes with mounting hardware and a stylus guard.
Something that is very important for DJs is that it has forward and reverse play. It also has a popup stylus target light which makes it easier to cue records in low light. Variable pitch control and quartz speed lock are also incredibly important for Djs.
This record player can play both 7 and 12 inch vinyl records and it can play them at speeds of 33 1/3, 45 or 78 RPMs. It has a direct drive, high torque motor, not a belt drive motor. It plays at a consistent speed and is great for spinning. TheLP120 also comes with a switchable internal stereo phono preamplifier, so that you can plug it directly into components with a dedicated phono input.
The tone arm has a hydraulically damped lift control and a lockable rest. This ensures that it can play any record without wobbling or skipping. Also, a DC servomotor ensures a much more accurate rotation speed.
And finally, although we are assuming that we have not entered the digital area and all DJs are using turntables for this little exercise, I do still want to mention that this model comes with a USB port, so you can digitize your vinyl records.
This record player does not have any of the bells and whistles that many home record players feature. In other words, it has no Bluetooth, no built-in speakers and it doesn’t play other formats like cassette tapes or CDs. But when you’re a DJ you don’t want any of that. You want a turntable to do one thing and one thing only. All those other components make it bigger, they make it heavier and they make it more expensive.
I like to believe that this is the turntable the Detroit DJs would’ve used. Part of that may be because it’s the turntable I started with and I still use today. That’s right, I never upgraded to a Technics. I mostly spin digital music these days, with a controller, so I saw no need to upgrade.
I still occasionally use my Audio Technica turntable for nostalgia’s sake, but I rarely use it at gigs. I do miss it, but I can’t deny that the digital age has brought a lot of advantages and I take full advantage of them. I am not one of those people that longs for the old days, although I certainly do miss them at times.