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LP12 makes front cover of Stereophile

Discussion in 'audio' started by Tony L, May 16, 2022.

  1. tiggers

    tiggers pfm Member

    Im not sure the whole Ariston/Castle thing really matters as it's more than just the engineering idea that makes a product successful and iconic. Ariston failed to translate the idea into a long term product, Linn did that by not just good engineering, but good marketing, constant development and making most upgrades retrofittable. It's very like the way Apple take an idea already created by someone else, but make it work properly and are therefore successful.
    windhoek and Miss Ariel like this.
  2. Miss Ariel

    Miss Ariel pfm Member

    Get what your saying about the Gyrodec tiggers and its very engineered looks.It belongs in that SME - Brinkman - Avid - Rega look where function follows form.
    Yeah the Gyrodec is pretty timeless though and to my eyes the best looker in the form follows function group.
    Personally I think the weights spinning in the platter would be a bit busy to look at but that's my observation and everything is subjective with sound and gear and look.

    I do think the LP12 especially in fluted Afromosia or Rosewood has a understated beauty and style.

    There all great decks and I find it fascinating companies approach to building their turntables trying to max the performance with new materials - bearings - power supplies etc.
  3. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    One needs to view the LP12 in its era too, it is a piece of early 1970s design that is still attractive and timeless today.

    PS Looking closer I fully agree with those bemoaning the loss of the black bottom section to the plinth. That’s as essential to the aesthetic as the flutes IMO. If I ever built another LP12 I’d hunt down a really nice afro or walnut plinth from the late ‘80s-early-90s. That’s the best/right look IMO.
    dave, sonddek, Iain Docherty and 2 others like this.
  4. tenpercenter

    tenpercenter Don't ya rile 'em.....

    The point of the Castle Engineering reference (and also the AR XA reference) is that the engineering philosophy/ design for the LP12 was not Linn’s. They have certainly developed it very much to their tastes over the years and this has to be commended - both from an engineering perspective and a lucrative marketing one. This is in contrast to Rega’s engineering philosophy towards turntable design, which is pretty much unique.
    Charlie_1 and Mr Pig like this.
  5. tiggers

    tiggers pfm Member

    And my point was 'so what?' The LP12 is a fine turntable and whether Linn or someone else designed it matters not.
  6. Martyn Miles

    Martyn Miles pfm Member

    The turntable looks very nice, but that arm...
    badger748 likes this.
  7. tenpercenter

    tenpercenter Don't ya rile 'em.....

    Indeed. “So what” can be applied to most things on a hifi forum - the discussion had veered towards turntable design, hence the post. The LP12 has become an iconic deck and good luck to it……
    Musicman19 and tiggers like this.
  8. Phil Bishop

    Phil Bishop pfm Member

    Prefer "Hats" ;)
  9. Alun Rains

    Alun Rains Jus Juan Cornetto

    Pleased to hear that you finally have the Soprano built.
    So how is it ? Are you super impressed ?
  10. sonddek

    sonddek Trade: SUPATRAC

    Some people seem to like it, others would prefer to listen with a blindfold. I care about the listening part mostly! ;D
  11. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Trade: ^'- -'^

    I was talking to Iain about this today. He's definitely going to try flutes, he's asked me for the dimensions so he can get a cutting tool made, but I was suggesting 'retro' plinths. Fluted afro and walnut plinths with the black skirt. Might be an interesting option for someone who wants to refresh their deck while keeping the vintage look. I'm sure he could cut a lid prop slot if required too.
  12. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Trade: ^'- -'^

    This story of the birth of the LP12 and how evil Ivor stole the design from Hamish Robertson is often alluded to. That's the story I believed myself for many years but something about it just didn’t seem to fit. If Robertson had really designed the turntable and Castle were merely building it for him, how the heck did Ivor manage to win the court case? Ivor patented the single point bearing but the rest of the deck was identical to the RD11.

    A few years ago I found and read the transcript of the court ruling, it's online somewhere. Reading that, and looking at the development of Ariston and Linn turntables going forward, the truth was obvious. Yes, Robertson had approached Castle with the idea of developing a turntable but they were better engineers than he was. Maybe building a turntable was his idea, maybe Ivor really liked the idea but I reckon the final product was at least as much Linn/Castle design as his so they had as much right to sell it as he did. That's why Ivor won the case. I suspect it was Linn/Castle who were responsible for most of the defining features of the deck.

    Why do I think that? Because both Linn and Ariston continued to manufacture the turntable and we can see what they did. Linn developed the LP12 for decades and everything they did made sense and improved the performance, integrity, reliability or usability of the deck. They identified structural weaknesses and improved them and they never introduced a change which had no benefit or made the deck poorer.

    Ariston continued to develop and sell turntables based on the design too but every single one was worse than the one before it. Many of the changes were completely pointless, added to the production cost or did nothing for the sound. Others made the deck more complicated, harder to set up, sound worse or be less reliable. Late Ariston turntables are a dog's dinner. A few examples of things introduced on later versions of the deck. They painted the top plate and the top of the platter, which you can’t even see when the mat is on. They changed the size of the sub-chassis and sub-platter slightly. They made the plinth a complicated muti-part assembly. They altered the orientation of the sub-chassis which unbalanced it and required an additional spring to pull it sideways.

    It's really obvious which of the two camps knew what they were doing. I’m happy to criticize things which Linn do that I don’t like but they are clearly good mechanical engineers. I'm convinced it was Castle/Linn who were the brains behind the design. Robertson was a sore looser who knew he would struggle to compete. Note that Linn did not try to stop him from selling the deck. He had the same opportunity as Ivor/Linn did, they started from the same place, and it was no one’s fault but his own that he didn’t build on it.

    As for the configuration, no Linn didn't invent it but so what? Do we criticize Ford because they didn't invent the motor chariot with a four-wheel, rear drive, front steering layout? No. They didn't invent the configuration, someone else did, but they made it work better by applying better engineering and production techniques. Likewise Linn built a better deck than AR or Thorens using the same basic layout. I'm not saying they don't work, I've got a TD160 here that sounds great, but it is not built to the same quality as the LP12 and there are some really stupid design features inside it. The AR never was a patch on the Linn and only got worse.

    Linn have been successful with the LP12 because they deserve to be. They got the initial design right and have not put a foot wrong with it in fifty years! And that is not easy.
  13. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    That is your answer in a single sentence. The single point bearing was the only thing in the whole turntable that was in any way unique or original thinking (i.e. patentable). The rest was just a much nicer made and less cost-cut TD-150.

    PS FWIW I think the single-point bearing patent was seriously pushing it too as it seems very similar technology had been developed and widely used by Sony way back in 1966 on the TTS-3000 (Analogue Classics). The TD-125 may have got in ahead of Linn too, though I’m not sure exactly when they changed to a single point (early 125s have a captive ball like a TD-124). Whilst I’m no patent attorney by any stretch I’m pretty sure Sony could have challenged.
    torstoi, Mike1965 and tpetsch like this.
  14. Mike1965

    Mike1965 pfm Member

    Hard to disagree with the facts you present, a machine shop is nothing without something to make though.
    It is a pity Hamish and Ivor couldn't have had some kind of beneficial arrangement instead of going to court.
  15. badger748

    badger748 Like en eel. But in reverse.

    Completely agree with you.
    IMHO (and using my own cash) I’d never buy that hideous looking monstrosity, no matter how good it sounded.
  16. Allaboutmusic

    Allaboutmusic pfm Member

    I actually prefer the look of the P6 to the P8 or P10, I think I prefer the more traditional form factor and it looks much larger in the flesh which gives it a bit more presence I think. I do think the LP12 particularly with some of the more unusual finishes is a really attractive TT. Aside from looks though, my understanding in terms of value the P8 is hard to beat.
    Mr Pig likes this.
  17. Martyn Miles

    Martyn Miles pfm Member

    ‘Mr. Pig’ said the AR never was a patch on the Linn and only got worse.
    My XA has much better isolation than my recently serviced LP12.
    I think that aspect is important.
  18. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Trade: ^'- -'^

    No it doesn't.

    Tony said that "the single point bearing was the only thing in the whole turntable that was in any way unique or original thinking", and arguably that is correct, but it misses the point. What Linn did was understand what was going on and engineer the thing properly.

    The suspension of the AR is tuned to filter out noise at footfall frequency, the Linn is tuned to audible frequencies, so the AR looks like it's much better but it's not better where it counts. The suspension and platter are also problematic because they are so lightweight. You don't get the same 'fly-wheel' effect and the suspension is very easily unbalanced. It's actually quite rare to see an AR platter running true while playing a record! Setting it up is a nightmare as the weight of the record, cartridge and position of the arm all alter the level of the platter.

    AR also used a lower quality motor and poorer pulley. The Linn pulley has a much larger contact area on the motor spindle and is smaller diameter so is more likely to be running true and they got rid of the flanges, which are a potential source of vibration. The Linn pulley also introduces fine tuning of the speed, which neither the AR or Ariston have.

    Another thing Linn did was to understand that the suspension can oscillate horizontally as well as vertically and try to do something about it. They moved the point where the arm cable fixed to the plinth halfway across the deck and used the cable as a panhard rod to steady the suspension. AR and Ariston never addressed this. You had arm cables exiting the plinth close to the arm base, either unattached which let them pull on the suspension or fixed which was detrimental to it. AR usually used thin wires to connect the base of the arm to the outside world, which seems like a good idea as it offers very little hindrance to the suspension movement, but at no point did they copy what Linn had done.

    The bearing isn't as good, the sub-platter isn't as good, it's just not as well engineered. In some ways it's forgivable as it was cheaper but to me it really didn't justify it's position in the marketplace once there was proper competition. Sure, it had that flowing suspension sound but so did the Systemdek and it was cheaper and sounded better. It's a deck I just wouldn't bother with today, I think even the Rega P1 sounds better and a well sorted Linn kills it.
    Miss Ariel likes this.
  19. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I have a feeling you are confusing the XA with the 1980s AR Legend or worse the budget EB101. The XA was a mid-60s deck and is better engineered than you give it credit for, e.g. (aside from some very early ones) it had a cast subchassis where Linn started with a resonant piece of pressed steel. I don’t know about the respective platter weights, but the AR wasn’t a lightweight. It was a very nicely engineered turntable and was obviously the original thinking for everything that came next. Ed Villchur designed the LP12.
  20. sonddek

    sonddek Trade: SUPATRAC

    A very interesting discussion.

    Two points:
    1) Linn's patent helped them to see off Robertson, but as Tony said, they did not attempt to stop Sony or others using a similar bearing, which effort should have failed as there are probably countless prior examples of such a bearing, even in kitchenware. It wasn't for Sony to "challenge" Linn, but for Linn to attempt to assert its patent, a suicide case I would guess.

    2) the arm cable tether:
    With the release of Urika Linn seems to have abandoned the legendary art of arm cable tethering, 'upgrading' back to the AR/Ariston configuration which supposedly enables the stockpiling of motor energy in subchassis rotation and deflection, with a commensurate increase in signal-driven wow/flutter.
    It's not clear to me that 'flow', 'swing', 'musicality' isn't signal-driven wow, something that a significant proportion of the market may actually like.

    That's why I'm not 100% sure that, as has been mooted, Linn has only ever made the right engineering decisions about the LP12. I think there's a certain amount of folklore and marketing.
    torstoi and Dowser like this.

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