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Linn LP12s – Fire away!

Discussion in 'audio' started by NickofWimbledon, Aug 24, 2022.

  1. Alun Rains

    Alun Rains Jus Juan Cornetto

    Yes I agree, the Mose/Hercules is a great combination at a fair price. I had one for circa 10 years before changing it to an External Zeus which includes speed monitoring and fine tuning on each revolution in the same way as a Lingo 4 does. By connecting it up to a laptop it can be fine-tuned even further and includes a few extras such as stylus wear counter which records the hours that the platter spins for.
    nobeone and Mr Pig like this.
  2. sonddek

    sonddek Trade: SUPATRAC

    I can confirm first hand with my own eyes that nobeone is spreading heresy as he claims, not hearsay as you suggest ;-)

    That's not musical, it's musicalityfulshipnesshood™. Not everybody can tap their feet in time, and not everyone is capable of understanding why it's important to buy all the on-brand upgrades to what was always the only turntable capable of maximising musicalityfulnesshoodshipiness™.
    nobeone likes this.
  3. TheDecameron

    TheDecameron Unicorns fart glitter.

    That’s the bit I don’t get, that folk sort of ‘didn’t know then’. We’re not talking advances in microprocessor design but very basic mechanical engineering principles which Linn indeed touted as their particular métier. In particular that all important mechanical link between the stylus and the main bearing where nothing should be vibrating but the cantilever of the cartridge as the tip traced the groove.

    The only reason I can imagine the karousel, keel, better motor control etc weren’t delivered 30 years ago is that a voyage of discovery by the design team would have meant a voyage of expenditure that the director of finance wouldn’t have signed up to.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2022
  4. sonddek

    sonddek Trade: SUPATRAC

    Did Ariston even have a director of finance?
  5. nobeone

    nobeone Total Member

    I wasn't aware of the Zeus, thanks for the introduction. I know folk have tuned the old basic PSU circuit for phase angle to get the least vibration out of the AC motor and adding that ability makes a lot of sense. As does the speed control so you don't need to fanny about as much tilting the motor which is a faff what with taking the outer platter on and off to check the speed. Presumably you need to get it close-ish on the tilt or the belt will ride wrong?
    Alun Rains likes this.
  6. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Trade: ^'- -'^

    I think this statement is true but it helps to understand where exactly the blame lies.

    It's not the speakers, especially Saras and Isobariks. Kans are hard to get working properly but are very good with complex music. Saras are difficult for totally different reasons but are ridiculously musical and forgiving once working. Naim amps, yeah a bit. They had a bit of a glaze to them and got shouty when pushed but they are not tripped up by complex music.

    When looking at the LP12 you need to break it down as the deck itself is coloured but very forgiving. Its warmth is rarely an unpleasant addition. Early incarnations can sound rather soggy and lose the plot, especially at the bottom end, but it's very easily fixed with a few updates. Sub-chassis is the fist thing I'd hit as it's a biggie. The old bearing is fine with a good sub-chassis but generally the deck is good at any type of music. Just needs a little stiffening up.

    By far the biggest issue, and one that few people identify, is the Linn arms. Yes, once you update the rest of the deck they are better but they are not neutral devices. Swap in just about anything else, an Aro or a Rega, and suddenly you can play all your records. Sure, they sound impressive with the right recordings but it isn't worth it. Personally I wouldn't go as far south as an Aro but a good Rega is a nice sweet spot that gives you nice fluidity and musicality while retaining just enough of the Linn fireworks to not be boring on Rock.

    So this was a genuine problem but it's easily fixed and it's worth keeping the LP12 while doing it. Much better to retain the sweet yet involving Linn in the game rather than get a dull Giro or clinical Pink or Roxsan.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2022
    Colin131, AnilS and nobeone like this.
  7. Charlie_1

    Charlie_1 pfm Member

    Not heard the Herc but agree ref Valhalla. And my Lingo deck does seem to help more with digital recordings as you say. Although there are so many variables it's hard to be certain what's doing what. Same black liner bearing though.
    Mr Pig likes this.
  8. NickofWimbledon

    NickofWimbledon pfm Member

    Some tech in electronics and materials was unavailable or expensive in the early 70s -try anything digital - but there is some truth to this.

    Imagine if they had really known how to make a 2022 Klimax LP12 in the 1970s…

    In any event, the main issue here is surely cost. Early Lp12s were not trying to be what we now think of as a high-end turntable. A 2022 Klimax LP12 costs vastly more, even inflation-adjusted, and performs differently, so it is not a surprise that so many parts have been changed in the last 50 years.
    Alun Rains likes this.
  9. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Trade: ^'- -'^

    This is only partly true. What would be more accurate would be to say it was unavailable to Linn!

    Most of the upgrades to the LP12 have simply involved physically stiffening the deck up. The engineering to build a current spec LP12 has existed for a long time, with the exception of some of the electronics, Linn just didn't have the capability. Not many people in the UK did, or rather couldn't access it cheaply enough, but it could have been built. There is nothing special about the Karousel bearing, other people have been making stuff like that for decades.

    It's worth pointing out that Technics launched the 1200 in 1972. It was massively more complex and better built than the LP12 and at that time no one in the UK could've made it. Not cheaply enough anyway. Linn didn't build a tonearm until the late eighties, is that right, and still can't make them as cheaply as the far East.

    Ironically, the LP12 and similar decks sound the way they do because they are simple but it's a mistake to think they represent the pinnacle of technology or ever have. It's just all the UK Hi-Fi industry could make.
    Alun Rains likes this.
  10. NickofWimbledon

    NickofWimbledon pfm Member

    As I said and you (I think) confirm, digital electronics were wholly unavailable. I am also not sure that the actual alloy in a Karousel was commercially available to anyone (poss exception military aerospace) - perhaps a metallurgist can comment?

    In addition, looking at just about anything made by (say) SME does suggest that your comments on the technical limitations of UK hifi companies may be less than generous.

    If you were trying to make a turntable for what an LP12 cost 50 years ago, how much would you spend on developing and/or using cutting edge electronics anyway?
    Alun Rains likes this.
  11. Alun Rains

    Alun Rains Jus Juan Cornetto

    Yes the tilt angle needs to be about right for the belt to ride correctly in the first place. The Zeus allows fine tuning of the phase angle via onboard software. The speed control adjusts the speed on every revolution to compensate for belt wear, stylus drag etc. Comes in both internal and external options. Personally, I like it and it offers excellent vfm.
    nobeone likes this.
  12. John

    John Rack’em Up!

    One of the early upgrades that was quite affordable but required a full rebuild of the turntable was the Nirvana kit. It addressed the suspension and the motor’s interaction with the top plate.

    Nirvana mechanical components. This consisted of 1 new spring kit (3 springs and 6 grommets), 3 large locknuts, 6 small locknuts, 5 black chassis bolts, 2 motor mounting screws, domes, and nuts allowing it to be positioned with better accuracy. 1 motor thrust bearing kit (endcap, spring, ball bearing). 1 new drive belt. The springs changed from zinc coloured to black.
    Mr Pig and NickofWimbledon like this.
  13. Paul R

    Paul R pfm Member

    See under 'motor'. I wasn't aware the suspension was ever damped though.

    I think the purpose of the suspension on a belt drive has always been primarily to isolate the platter/arm from the motor. I'm not sure that need has changed.
    NickofWimbledon, tpetsch and John like this.
  14. Chops54

    Chops54 pfm Member

    Rubber grommets?
  15. tpetsch

    tpetsch pfm Member

    Linns answer to us at the shop was always along the lines of -The suspension helps to isolate the platter from outside vibrations. The Nirvana upgrade kit, introduced in 1981, was designed to improve the suspension and motor mounting of the LP12. Nirvana was before my time but I'm sure if it was better it was more about the motor mounting isolation improvements upon the confines of the sprung system they had to work with, I do recall later on though when Linn slipped in the new reverse wound springs on us with no prior announcement, those were a revelation LOL....

    You can mark me down as the one guy that has found ALL aftermarket 321, 324, 729 boards and HI-Cap regulators that I have tried to be less in tune that the originals supplied by Naim and designed by JV, some were just off Prat wise while others were outright terrible the way they would distort and dislocate the Tune IMO no matter how much burn in I offered them, and I have tried several, I'm will not name names of all the ones I have tried so don't ask. Better measurements don't always equate to more or even equal overall Tunefulness. And always remember, only make one change to your system at a time, if you do several of these so called "improvements" at once -which I've read many here seem to do- you can go down a deep rabbit hole which may be difficult to reemerge from..

    You want to truly improve your Chrome Bumper/Olive Naim system? ...Properly maintain it and set it up properly, then improve your front end, simple, as nothing down the line can improve upon any shortcomings of your sources component, or said another way, if your source component isn't playing/reproducing the Tune then neither can the rest of your system no matter how much Tuneful potential it has. Personally, If I had to spend $10,000 on a new system I'd spend $7000 on the turntable/phonostage and $3000 on everything else.
  16. Colin131

    Colin131 pfm Member

    What KEf model was it? I assume it was a Ui Q type driver. The hardness on the female vocals might have been partly due to the fact that the KEF uni Q driver gives the tweeter some horn loading. This can introduce some peakiness. It can give a hard sound in some of the upper midrange. They improved it for the latest models though I believe.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2022
    Del monaco likes this.
  17. Colin131

    Colin131 pfm Member

    That PG1 album is from 1977 and is an analogue recording. I’ve got it too, a First pressing. It’s always sounded great on a pre cirkus LP12 to me, but I didn’t like it with cirkus or Lingo. I’ve not tried the Karousel though.

    Where the pre cirkus LP12 really excels, particularly with an older Linn Supex Mc like an Asaka/karma/troika is with post 1982/83 digital recordings. There are so many examples from the mid to late 80s that don’t sound great- some records sound really bright and thin, and with digital edge. The pre cirkus deck’s sweeter top end and fuller bass really helps with those records to reduce digital edge.

    I haven’t heard it but I’d be surprised if the latest upgrades like the Karousel or kore etc are as good for those kind of records as a pre cirkus deck. I might however be wrong. I will try those upgrades one day soon so I’ll report back when I do.

    The pre cirkus LP12 is a bit limited for being of most use for these kind of 80s records with digital edge. I agree it certainly isn’t as good for more modern records and probably for older 60s tube transfers too.

    Most of my records are from the 1980s, that’s why the pre cirkus LP12 suits me best.
  18. Del monaco

    Del monaco Del Monaco

    Kef Reference 107/2
    Colin131 likes this.
  19. Colin131

    Colin131 pfm Member

    That older KEF 107/2 wasn’t a uni Q model, so the issue with female
    vocals you define was not due to what I suggested.

    The original 107 had a soft dome tweeter and they changed to a metal dome for the 107/2. It’s not always the case but quite often metal domes can have a slightly peaky sound and some HF resonances - particularly older types. Maybe not the best bet with Naim amps. It might have caused the reach for the aspirin feeling on female vocals and issues with more complex music. A high bias Class AB or class A MOSFET amp or a tube amp might have been a better choice for those speakers than Naim class B amps.

    I doubt the issue with female vocals was down to the LP12 or tonearm choice. Any LP12 is usually delicate, refined and certainly not peaky with female
    Vocals, and LP12s are usually pretty good with all types of music from my experience. A direct drive deck is better with dance/techno etc if you want more bass punch and dynamics, and say an idler deck better complex classical (better dynamics) but a good one like a very tricked out Garrard 301 will cost a lot more than an used Lp12. The LP12 still does a decent all around job with a range of different music types IMO.

    The selectivity for a particular LP12 spec is more to do with vinyl from different eras in my experience. The thin and bright sounding 1980s LP12 I have in my collection do best with a pre cirkus deck. I’m sure a modern LP12 is better for more modern records than my pre cirkus deck.

    I assume the LP12 you had was a pre cirkus model? What cartridge did you use? If it was an mk1 OC9 or K9
    that might not have helped either!

    I have to say I’m not a fan of most metal domes tweeters, although B&Ws are quite decent and not too peaky. Maybe a bit bright though.

    Heard some very expensive Focal speakers recently with metal domes and thought they were awful. They were so peaky in the treble! but to be fair I’ve been spoilt by the full length Magnepan ribbon, which is more extended, more delicate and massively faster than any dome tweeter but isn’t peaky at all (on the later 3 series models). They are huge though!
    Mr Pig likes this.
  20. Del monaco

    Del monaco Del Monaco


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