- Compelling industrial design
- Solid construction
- A true collector’s item
- Hard to find (production run limited to 3,000 units)
- Doesn’t include a phono preamplifier
- No post for 45 rpm adapter storage
Audio-Technica makes great turntables for less than half the cost of this one, but the limited-edition AT-LP2022’s see-through acrylic plinth and platter make for a unique vinyl experience.
Price When Reviewed
Best Prices Today: Audio-Technica AT-LP2022
Japanese audio manufacturer Audio-Technica is celebrating its 60th anniversary with the AT-LP2022 turntable, a visually stunning unit that’s sure to end up in the collections of design museums around the world. This see-through device is also one of the best turntables the company has ever built.
When Hideo Matsushita started the company in Tokyo, he was focused on building a better phono cartridge. The company established itself as a designer of turntables. As the vinyl market receded in the 1980s, Audio-Technica diversified into pro audio gear and has enjoyed success with a wide variety of microphones and headphones that are popular in recording studios around the world.
This review is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best turntables.
Even as most other major audio companies abandoned entry-level turntables, Audio-Technica stuck with it and continued to manufacture excellent units at affordable prices. It also created something of an industry standard with its AT-VM85E moving magnet cartridge, which customers will find attached to the majority of less-than-$500 turntables on the market today.
All that makes this an anniversary worth celebrating for vinyl fans. Audio-Technica kept the flame burning during the vinyl downturn, and its commitment to the format played no small part in the revival we’re experiencing now.
The AT-LP2022 is a spectacular piece of art that also happens to play records. It’s by far the most expensive turntable in the Audio-Technica lineup, and it’s a strictly limited-edition product. Is it worth the premium?
How the see-through AT-LP2022 is made
The Audio-Technica AT-LP2022 is a fully manual turntable. That means you’ll need to drop the needle at the beginning of the side and pick it up as the platter keeps spinning once the side finishes. There’s no auto-stop, so users must stay fully engaged with the process and not wander off like they can with streaming with Sonos speakers.
The second thing to understand is that there’s no phono preamplifier built into the turntable. You’ll need to provide your own external preamp or use a receiver with one built in. Audio-Technica usually offers a bypassable preamp in its turntables, so it’s a bit of a surprise that the AT-LP2022 doesn’t have one.
The 30mm-thick (about 1.18 inches) clear acrylic chassis and the 16mm-thick (about 0.63 inches) acrylic platter are the stars here. Users can see all the electronics inside the plinth and the entire unit seems to float on top of the turntable’s adjustable feet.
The visual effect echoes the look of the legendary Dan Armstrong Lucite guitar that Ampeg manufactured between 1969-1971 and was most famously played by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. The clear effect is somehow timeless and futuristic at the same time.
The AT-LP2022 measures 5.3 x 17 × 13 inches (HxWxD), so it’s thicker than usual for a turntable in this price range. Because acrylic material is heavy, the unit is a beast at 18 pounds.
While the AT-LP2022 comes with the standard clear dust cover, the turntable looks best without the lid, even though the hinged unit doesn’t detract from the overall effect. Anyone who’s seen art museum displays of industrial design will recognize that this model will be a part of future displays of 21st-century design.
Unboxing the Audio-Technica AT-LP2022
Every acrylic surface is covered with protective plastic film, so there’s a considerable amount of peeling to be done before you’ll get the full effect of the design. As anyone who’s shopped for mid-century acrylic furniture can testify, once you’ve peeled off that film, the turntable is vulnerable to scratches. If a buyer might ever move house in the future, it’s best to take photos of where everything fit in the original box and to keep it on hand if you need to protect that finish later.
The AT-LP2022 comes with a stereo RCA cable, a 45-rpm adapter, and counterweight in addition to the dust cover. The headshell comes with a pre-mounted black AT-VM95E moving magnet cartridge with an 0.3 x 0.7-mil elliptical stylus.
Although the review unit I tested didn’t come with one, most units ship with a special-edition clear AT-VMN95SH cartridge with a Shibata stylus. I can’t testify what that unit does for the sound reproduction, but the cartridge seems essential to completing the look of the AT-LP2022 if you can access one.
The setup is standard: Drop the platter onto the plinth, loop the custom belt around the platter and the pulley, balance the counterweight, set the anti-skate control, and you’re ready to go.
The AT-LP2022 has a straight carbon-fiber tonearm with vertical tracking angle adjustment. Its silver finish matches all the other metal parts on the surface of the turntable and contrasts with the black of the belt and the electronics underneath the plinth.
The unit has a power button on the back and a knob on the front left-hand side of the plinth that moves between off, 33, and 45 rpm electronic speed change.
Using the Audio-Technica AT-LP2022
Everything about the AT-LP2022 feels solid. The tonearm balances easily, and the lever drops the stylus gently onto your vinyl. The AT-VM95E is an outstanding cartridge, one of the best values in home audio.
Your audio experience will be tied to the quality of your phono preamp. Users can also invest in a more expensive Audio-Technica stylus or cartridge if they’re looking to upgrade. I used the AT-LP2022 with a Pro-Ject Phono Box DS2 USB, and it sounded great out of the box.
What you’re paying for with this turntable is its limited-edition status and the experience of using a unit with such a unique design. There’s something hypnotic about the prismatic way light plays off the spinning platter, and it’s a blast to stick your head close to the unit and see the mechanical parts at work while playing back a record. Anyone who walks into your listening space is likely to be just as mesmerized by the beauty of this piece.
Should you buy the Audio-Technica AT-LP2022
If you’re solely interested in playback quality, you might prefer the Audio-Technica AT-LPW50BT-RW we reviewed in 2022, which retails for $499. That sharp-looking unit has an MDF plinth with a nice rosewood veneer, and it includes a phono preamp and Bluetooth streaming capabilities.
What you’re buying with the AT-LP2022 is exclusivity (only 3,000 units were manufactured) and aesthetics. This turntable is one of the most beautiful pieces of audio gear I’ve seen in person, and the AT-LP2022 wouldn’t look out of place in a $250,000 high-end system full of precision-machined, handmade components.
When you see a photo of the Audio-Technica AT-LP2022, it likely either strikes a chord in your heart or you shrug your shoulders, think “that’s nice,” and move on. The photos don’t really convey how beautiful this turntable looks in person. If you have got the budget and can’t get the idea of the AT-LP2022 out of your head, it’s worth tracking one of these down and making the investment.
Correction, May 11, 2023: An earlier version of this article mid-identified the SL-1200 direct-drive turntable as an Audio-Technica product. That turntable is manufactured by Technics.