Setting Up the AT-LP120-USB Turntable – Part 2

In Part 1, we told you how to install the headshell and counterweight, and how to balance the tone arm. Now it’s time to set the stylus tracking force. Setting the force properly will keep the stylus from skipping out of the record groove at especially dynamic musical passages (too little force) and prevent excessive wear to stylus and records (too much force).

The recommended force varies from cartridge to cartridge, so first you need to determine which cartridge you’re dealing with. The AT-LP120-USB currently comes with an AT95E cartridge (identifiable by its green stylus). Prior to September 2011, the turntable was equipped with the now discontinued ATP-2XN (white stylus). If you are working with the AT95E, we recommend setting the force to 2 grams; if you have the ATP-2XN, set the force to 3.5 grams. (If you ever install an alternate cartridge, you’ll need to adjust the tracking force according to the manufacturer’s recommended setting.)

As you’ll recall from the previous post, the stylus force gauge is located on the front of the counterweight. Without adjusting the counterweight, rotate the force gauge so the number 0 lines up with the centerline marked on the rear of the tone arm. Then set the tracking force by rotating the entire counterweight (the force gauge should turn along with the weight) counterclockwise until reaching the desired value.

audio-technica at-lp120-usb turntable

Also, to compensate for the natural “skating” force that pulls the tone arm toward the center of the record, set the anti-skate knob to match the value of the tracking force. However, if you anticipate doing a fair amount of back-cueing, scratching or reverse-direction operation, you may want to use less or no anti-skate control.

If you use a taller cartridge, thicker slip mat or play thick records (such as 180 g pressings or old 78s), you may also need to adjust the tone arm height in order to keep the tone arm parallel. To do so, loosen the height-lock switch and rotate the black height-adjust dial – the lock and dial are both located at the base of the tone arm. Once the height is adjusted correctly, secure it by flipping the switch back into locked position.


Finally, adjust the PHONO/LINE selector switch on the back of the turntable to set the proper output. If the turntable is connected to a receiver or other device with a dedicated phono input, move the switch to PHONO. If the turntable is connected to a sound card, powered speakers or AUX-type inputs, set the selector to LINE, which will activate the turntable’s internal pre-amp. If you are using the USB output to connect the turntable to a computer, the selector switch can be set to either PHONO or LINE as the switch doesn’t affect USB output in any way.

You are now ready to use and enjoy your AT-LP120-USB. Just remember, if you change out the cartridge, you will need to rebalance the tone arm and reset the tracking force. Happy listening!

View the video version of these instructions on the Audio-Technica YouTube channel.




  1. Can you tell me when these turntables will be in stock again? Everywhere store I check are out of stock. I ordered one from Amazon, but it says it will not ship for another 1 – 3 months? Why the delay?

  2. Which cartridge/stylus does the turntable come with from the factory?

    • Since 2011, this turntable comes equipped wit an Audio-Technica AT95E cartridge and stylus. It is a fine cart/stylus combo by itself, but it can be easily upgraded with a higher quality stylus (many firms sell them try “LPGear”, for example).

    • 78RPM records use (nominally) a .3mil stylus, because 78’s have wider grooves than modern vinyl recordings. In the long run, if you buy a second Audio-Technica headshell, and an inexpensive cartridge for which you can get a 78 stylus, (the AT 3600 is such a cartridge, and the stylus is available from several onlline sellers) you can mount it in the spare headshell, and have it at the ready whenever you want to use it, by merely swapping out headshells (very easy with AT’s bayonet -type mount). Remember to balance and adjust for tracking force for the 78 cart/stylus combination.

  3. I have a new turntable and am attempting to set it up. I’ve read many instructions and looked at videos but can’t find any solution to address the problem I’m having: while bringing the tone arm to float properly, it pulls to the side, back into the cradle. So while I can get it to balance up/down, I don’t know what to do to get it to stop the dramatic pull to the right.

  4. can I use product at-lp120-usb in Russia(220v) if I by it in USA(120v) without convertor or transformer? Thanks Joseph

  5. For his birthday I got my friend a AT-LP120-USBHC from He’s very happy with it; it has the supplied cartridge and stylus. I have a few 78 RPM albums which I need to rip. Do I need to get a new cartridge, or a new stylus, or both? What is recommended? I guess I’m looking for a 3.5mm spherical stylus.

  6. Cannot get pre amp to kick in. Connecting to powered speakers but cannot get any sound

  7. what would the recommended tone arm height be for playing 180 gram records?

  8. I have set up the tone arm correctly for correct tracking force, etc. But, every time I reuse my turntable, I don’t get stereo sound. Only sound from one speaker and have to re balance the tone arm to get stereo sound again. Anybody know why this happening? I am using the AT-LP120 USB turntable with the included AT95E cartridge.

  9. Antiskating problem.
    When I tried tl
    Calibrate the antiskating I see that it doesn’t work. I put values in 1 and 7 and the stylus go to the center of the plate. I did it testing with a cs surface to test the antiskating. What can I do??

  10. I am in Sweden and my lp 120 wont turn on. I switched it to 230 volts. But won’t turn on . Please help

  11. How high should I sent the arm? They didn’t really explain this in the video well

  12. Is there a number I can call to speak with someone at the service department?

  13. I just arrived in Italy, unpacked and plugged in my turntable to check it out. The light went on briefly then went out. Now nothing, no lights, no power, no movement. I need help.

  14. I recently bought ab AT-LP129-USB and tested the anti-skating using the band without grooves on the old Shure An Audio Obstacle Course. I made sure the turntable is level, set the stylus force and anti-skating per the instructions, and lowered th stylus to the band with the record turning. The tone arm moved very quickly toward the spindle. No anti-skating setting made it behave differently.

    Is that normal?


    • Hey, this is considered “normal” by AT representatives. They keep providing same reply “AT-LP120-USB does not have the same anti-skate adjustments that you would find on a high end (and high cost) audiophile turntable”. I do not agree with this as old technics had this working fine, some other manufacturers offers products with normal working anti-skate feature for comparable price. However, after contacting with Audio Solutions they are not getting back after official statement they send to everyone who inquires about anti-skating.

  15. Hello, I am new to turntable business and would like to purchase this! What other things do I need? And please use small words! Thank you

  16. I would like to upgrade to the ortofon headshell LH6000 -weight 13.5g and the cartridge Ortofon 2M Blue -weight 7.2g and tracking gorce 1.8g. Is that OK if I change the normal counterweight to AT-CW1 because the normal counterweight is not heavy enough to counter the new headshell and cartridge. Also is the sound will be better with clamp AT 618? Thanks a lot.

  17. For the Audio-Technica AT-LP120BK-USB can the line out cable be replaced with another of higher quality? Or is that even necessary?

  18. Good post. I learn something new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon on a daily basis.

    It’s always helpful to read through content from other authors and use
    a little something from their web sites.

  19. Hi there! This blog post couldn’t be written any better!
    Looking through this article reminds me of my previous
    roommate! He constantly kept talking about this. I am going to send this post to him.
    Fairly certain he’s going to have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

  20. I need to know a PIVOT to SPINDLE distance for ATLP-120USB – mm, and your aligment protractor is Stevenson, Baerwald or Lofgren type ???

  21. Thank you for any help! I’ve got the turntable connected to my iMac, see the input level healthy, but I can’t get any sound . I have an interface and powered speakers, and everything else sounds great, can’t figure it out, very much apprecaite guidance.

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