In this Lenco L-92WA review, we're looking at a turntable with some nice extra touches to make it a bit more inviting in the digital age. It sits roughly in the middle of Lenco’s current line-up of record-players, and is priced to meet some notable rivals head-on.
At its heart the Lenco L-92WA is a belt-drive turntable of the usual type. Lenco has added a few operational niceties (such as pitch control) and some extended functionality (like the ability to connect to a computer to digitise your records), but at heart this is the sort of record player we’ve had more than 70 years to get used to.
You can’t fail to have noticed the seemingly implacable upturn in the popularity of the vinyl format over the last decade or so, though – and neither have electronics brands. The battle to be the best record player means there's hot competition not just at the audiophile end of things, but also at the affordable end.
So the Lenco finds itself lined up against competition from some of the biggest brands on the planet as well as some you may conceivably never have heard of. And while it clearly has its advantages, the L-92WA stumbles at arguably the most important hurdle: its audio quality.
Lenco L-92WA review: price & release date
The Lenco L-92WA was released at the end of 2021, and in the UK it costs £239 officially. Lenco, like a lot of brands with a huge product portfolio, doesn’t always launch every one of its products into every market – we don't have prices for other countries yet.
Every part of the turntable market is pretty hotly contested these days, and the ‘affordable deck with a stack of functionality’ part is no different. Audio Technica, Pro-Ject and Sony, to name but three high-profile rivals, all have similarly priced, similarly specified record players with which to tempt you.
Lenco L-92WA review: features & what's new
Not much is, strictly speaking, ‘new’ in the world of turntables. The L-92WA does have some gestures towards modernity, though, designed to make the elderly technology as accessible as possible.
So as well as an ‘J’-shaped aluminium tonearm that’s pre-fitted with a decent Audio Technica AT3600 cartridge, and in addition to automatic ‘start/stop’ operation, the L-92WA features analogue-to-digital conversion circuitry and an integrated moving-magnet phono stage.
The former allows the user to make digital copies of vinyl records by using the USB-B output for connection to a computer – plenty of free software is available to facilitate this process. The latter means the Lenco will slot into any system, regardless of whether or not it is equipped to deal with a turntable’s feeble output level – you can plug it straight into an amp, or even directly into a set of active speakers, which includes some of our picks of the best turntable speakers.
Otherwise, it’s pretty much business as usual. The L-92WA will operate at 33.3 and 45rpm, has a plastic dust-cover to keep your vinyl dust-free, and joins your wider system using a standard stereo RCA connection.
Lenco L-92WA review: performance
In some ways, the L-92WA sounds exactly as you’d hope an affordable-yet-extensively-specified turntable might sound. In some ways, it embodies exactly what vinyl-fanciers have always prized about the ancient format.
As far as the unity and ‘timing’ of its presentation go, there’s little to criticise. Even complex music sounds coherent and hangs together as a single entity, and there’s a common tonal thread running from the bottom of the frequency range to the top. That typical warmth and weight is discernible in the lowest frequencies, too, and the Lenco has no problems expressing rhythms with real certainty and positivity.
After that, though, its successes are rather more qualified.
The fundamental problem is that the L-92WA is simply not an interesting or engaging listen. There’s a sort of dead-eyed matter-of-factness to the way it presents music, and a fatal lack of entertainment as a result. It’s uncomfortable when asked to express dynamic variations, getting flustered and coarse when it’s only been asked to get louder. There’s little energy to its sound, so while most of the individual elements – detail retrieval, low-frequency extension, soundstaging, what-have-you – aren’t poor, when taken as a whole the L-92WA is revealed to be that most undesirable of music-makers: boring.
And it’s a shame to say the same is true of the digital copies the Lenco is capable of making. At some point in the analogue-to-digital conversion process that records must undergo in order for their sound to be delivered to a computer, their energy and anima goes astray, and the resulting copies sound rather neutered. It’s a bit like receiving a meal in a restaurant which has all of the ingredients on the plate, in the right quantities and in the right order, but which is stone cold.
The sound via the integrated phono stage is more of the same. If the system into which you wish to introduce the L-92WA doesn’t have a phono stage then you’ll be glad the Lenco does… but if it does, we'll bet that it’s better than the Lenco’s. ‘Better’ in the sense that it has more drive, more attack, greater dynamic reach and a less lethargic approach to music in general.
Lenco L-92WA review: design & usability
Hopefully you’re not expecting any kind of radical design departure from the norm with L-92WA, because if you are you’re going to be disappointed. As is pretty much the law, this record player is a rectangle with a circle on it.
The walnut-effect plinth stands on four hefty, pliant feet that help level the deck and keep it isolated from external vibrations. The aluminium platter on top is spun using a rubber belt, and controls extend beyond ‘start/stop’ to a +/-10% pitch control and a ‘reject’ control. Moving the tonearm over the record starts the platter spinning, and the arm automatically returns to rest when it reaches the end of the record. The integrated stroboscope lights up when the arm is over the record, too – useful, in conjunction with the pitch control, if any of your vinyl is especially light or heavy.
Lenco L-92WA review: Verdict
It’s well within Lenco’s capabilities to deliver an aggressively priced record player that represents very decent value for money – the company’s done so numerous times over the years.
But with the L-92WA it seems to have overlooked the basics in its excitement at adding all its extra features and extended functionality. The on-paper specification looks great, and you might still choose to buy it if it ticks the specific boxes you want at the price you want, but you can get better sound from other options (discussed below), and surely that's what you want most?
Lenco L-92 review: Also consider
Yes, it looks like a superstar DJ Technics wannabe, but the Audio Technica AT-LP120XUSB (say it three times, fast) has it where it counts. It matches the Lenco L-92WA where features and functionality are concerned, but – and this is the important part – it also sounds very agreeable. It’s involving where the Lenco is tepid, and it’s energetic where the Lenco is lethargic. And it's effectively the same price.