What then do we think of the LP12?

 Before we continue with our thoughts, we just wish to say that we highly regard the LP12 as a  transcription source but especially so when it is fitted with our upgrades . 

However,  when purchased new / upgraded with Linn components, it is an expensive route to audio nirvana and thus for many it will remain out of reach.  We exist to bring LP12 ownership to those who feel they cannot justify the expense of an official Linn purchase, or who may already own one and feel they cannot afford Linn's latest upgrade path.

We also feel much of the myth as perpetrated by the trade on LP12 set up e.g. that you'll only get the best from it with dealer set up and costly upgrades is actually counter productive, turning many prospective customers away and on to turntables that are more "plug n play".  This is a great shame as a carefully modified older LP12 can be a very capable device. Admittedly it can be a frustrating device to work on and set up; but with care, patience and our support it can be achieved at home at much lower cost than following the "official" route.

Our components provide a cost effective means of allowing the LP12 to perform at a level unknown until the advent of the Keel sub-chassis. Linn enthusiasts often suggest the resale value of your LP12 will not be as high with 3rd party components fitted, but if you love your modified LP12 why would you wish to sell it when it provides better transcription than with standard steel sub-chassis? However, should one wish to move away from LP12 ownership one could surely remove our components and retrofit the Linn parts.

Additionally, we feel there is much that is misquoted and misunderstood about audio equipment and upgrade components. There is much talk about how a component "sounds" we feel this is too simplistic.  People who know better should actually explain the effect a particular component has on the overall sound of music reproduced by a source component such as the LP12 and not how a power supply or sub-chassis "sounds".

When the LP12 was introduced to the audio world in the early 1970's it was a basic 3 point suspended sub-chassis turntable. Not surprisingly perhaps it was none too dissimilar to the Ariston RD 11 from which it was conceived.  We must also consider that the Ariston RD 11 was itself conceived from the Thorens TD150 and that in turn from the American AR XA turntable.

Linn quickly realised that numerous aspects of its LP12 turntable could and indeed should be improved and they have done commendable job - but at a high price to the customer.

With the exception of the AR XA turntable (designed by Edgar Villchur) and of course the Heybrook TT2, (both employing a rigid cast aluminium "tee form" sub chassis)  the Ariston, Thorens and Linn LP12  turntables were of similar basic design and construction, but each of these employed a flimsy pressed steel sub-chassis, suspended from the top plate by three adjustable conical compression springs and rubber grommets.

Linn did eventually latch on to the fact that the original LP12 sub-chassis was of poor construction, being as it was an extremely flexible stamping, identical to the RD11's (and unfortunately rarely flat) so they strengthened it with the addition of a spot welded brace. The thinking behind bracing was great except for the fact that applying localised intense heat during the spot welding process only  lead to distortion of the chassis!  Linn then finally sought to use epoxy adhesive to affix the additional bracing. Following this was the introduction of the much lauded Cirkus upgrade.  This upgrade specifically added 1.4 mm thickness where the main bearing housing interfaced with the chassis and the Cirkus bearing housing itself included a much more robust mounting flange with an extended portion rising a few mm above the topmost black "peek" liner bushing; the idea being to retain any oil that may migrate through the action of rotation - an excellent idea that actually works very well indeed. The Cirkus did bring improvements but in our opinion it did not go far enough at the time.  

Consider this:- how can a turntable that misses swathes of detailed information be considered "musical"? For example, bass being of the one note flabby variety or subtle input from an orchestra triangle being completely missing from a performance. Yet we often read about this magical musicality of the LP12 and that only dealers can bring out the best from the LP12.  Many enthusiasts are scared off by the high cost of maintenance and seemingly never ending expensive upgrade path: it's no wonder many move on to other marques. 

An LP12 once set up properly will not require a service and re-set for many years. Just change the belt and clean the motor pulley every few years. The actual truth is this, it took third party upgrades to spurn Linn into finally accepting that their steel chassis and mdf/melamine arm-board plus its poor interface really was lacking The Cetech sub-chassis, closely followed by The FunkFirm's Charm sub-chassis was the start of the realisation by many that the LP12 was missing out on much information contained within the groove.

We then entered the fray with our low cost Sole upgrade. This has as slowly evolved over subsequent years into the current mk 8 version, it now visually resembles the Linn Keel upgrade as well as performing better in the crucial midrange than the Keel. This has lead to Linn introducing their cheaper Kore chassis. Of course this is lauded as being an excellent upgrade but the reasons as to why should be obvious, the arm board /chassis interfaces is improved immensely but is inferior in performance an price to our Sole chassis kit.

We have openly stated on various web forums that we'd welcome a "bake off " among all comers  with their various sub-chassis upgrades but funnily enough none have accepted the challenge.  surely you have to wonder why?   We question is it perhaps because some of the "competition" have heard earlier incarnations of the Sole, (we know some have) realise its capabilities and price point and feel it's not a challenge they wish to be exposed too?

Compared a standard Lingo, Cirkus, Ittok LV II b turntable, an LP12 with the Sole chassis installed is far more detailed, natural and dynamic in its presentation. Furthermore, it matters not which type of bearing is used, the Sole with pre Cirkus bearing is just as good as a Sole'd deck with a Cirkus bearing, they both trounce the official Linn Cirkus upgrade on performance to cost including the Linn Kore. 

We use many types of turntables in our development of our upgrade chassis with a view to harnessing the best attributes of each variant, be they belt, direct or idler drive and consequently  suspended, non suspended, light plinth, heavy plinth et al.