Easy fix, upgrade will help turntable last

  • Article by: DON LINDICH , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 25, 2011 - 3:27 PM

Answers to your multimedia questions.

Last week, I extolled the virtues of the Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB, an excellent budget USB turntable.

In the column, I said, "My only concern is that the supplied cartridge tracks at 3 grams, which is more than the typical tracking force of 1.25 to 2 grams for most cartridges. This extra force will wear your records sooner."

I have since discovered that the recommended tracking force is 3 grams to accommodate DJ scratching. Many audio fans are using a tracking force of 2 grams, and it works just fine. So if you do get an AT-LP120-USB, follow the directions for setup but adjust the tracking force and anti-skate to 2 grams. Your records will last longer.

Second, I discussed upgrading the cartridge for better sound. Audio-Technica has a better stylus, the $65 ATP-N3, which is designed for hi-fi use. Mounting cartridges can be fussy. Most readers would probably get better results simply by changing the stylus, because no cartridge alignment is involved. Just pull off the old stylus, plug in the new one and your upgrade is finished.

Finally, if you want your AT-LP120-USB delivered already improved, LP Gear has a great deal. It takes an AT-LP120-USB, upgrades the platter mat and installs an Audio-Technica AT95SE hi-fi cartridge. The upgraded unit sells for $290. If you want the most from your AT-LP120-USB and don't mind the extra $90, this is the way to go. The modifications are good ones and, most important, experts will be installing them.

See it at www.lpgear.com by searching for "AT-LP120-USB" and clicking on the link for "HiFi Turntable Improved by LP Gear."

Libraries carry e-books

Q I'm looking for an e-reader that will allow me to download e-books from the public library. With Kindle, you must buy books through Amazon. With the iPad, you must buy books through iTunes. (At least, that is my understanding.) Is there an app or device that will let me "borrow" e-books from the library? I am looking for bestsellers.

A Many library systems have electronic books available for borrowing, with a limited number of copies of each title available. For example, they may have only two electronic copies of a bestseller in the system. This is done to avoid cannibalizing the book's sales, which the publishers depend on to stay in business.

After you download the e-book from the library, it stays on your e-reader or computer for a limited amount of time (say, one or two weeks), then deletes itself. After it expires and deletes from your reader, the e-book is then available for the next person in the queue to download and read for the set time frame.

Check your library system's website to learn more about borrowing e-books and to find a list of compatible devices and software programs.

Submit questions and read past columns at www.soundadviceblog.com.

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