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What's the truth about the LP12?

Discussion in 'audio' started by Monkey, Oct 14, 2013.

  1. Monkey

    Monkey Active Member

    Hi All,
    Can you tell me whats the real lowdown about this "Fabled" Turntable?
    I guess the Linn owners will say its the nirvana of decks maybe but I want to get opinions if you dont mind sharing with me please. :)
    Back in the 70s early 80s a friend from long ago talked about the LP12 in Hallowed tones as I recall and he bought one with a slab of slate to stand it on although I have no idea what else he had.
    Now as I am building myself a Hi Fi System (Second hand being partially retired now) I had been remembering this deck and looking on Ebay and here and other places and I cant believe the prices these decks are selling for. One that was on Ebay the other day went for about £1,000 and it was made in 1988, how can anything that old be worth that much, I am trying to understand? I have seen by serial numbers being quoted that these are not rare decks but has/was produced in their 1,000s. I understand that they are just a deck equipped with separate componants but why are they going for so much?
    Thank you All in advance I hope. :)

  2. Cav

    Cav pfm Member

    Truth - you can't handle the truth...
  3. Monkey

    Monkey Active Member

    LOL, Ok Try me. :)

  4. Warren Day

    Warren Day pfm Member

    When you think of an Linn LP12, think Porsche 911. Namely a product that has been around for decades and has been consistently evolved.

    The LP12 is made from a handful of parts. All the key parts have been improved over the years, often several times.

    Looking on ebay.co.uk, you can get a 911 GT3 RS for £97,000, and there are cheaper older 911s for £6,000. More than a x10 price range.

    Two key things about Linn and any product they build.

    One, is the design philosophy isn't about sound but rather is focussed on musical accuracy or "removing distortions from the signal path" to quote the current MD.

    Two, they build stuff to last for 20 years, I saw the founder Ivor talk about 17 years ago, he said he had a family and was sick of having to buy a new toaster every 6 months or so and always wanted his products to last. My LP12 is 18 years old, and the 33/45/off switch (which I bought second hand) is 21 years old. A friend has an LP12 he bought in the mid 80s and it still works perfectly. This is one of the reasons why Linn Products hold their second hand value very well indeed.
  5. Warren Day

    Warren Day pfm Member

    Also, IN MY EXPERIENCE, they are amazing.

    I had a Linn Axis for 4 years. Went out and auditioned 6 decks in various dealers, preferred the LP12. Bought one. The dealer brought it round. I learned more about music that first evening of 5 hours than in the previous 4 years of living with the Axis.
  6. Nero

    Nero It's unlikely

    The LP12 is a good deck, but more importantly, its sound is available in a variety of levels starting from Cirkus/Lingo/Ekos/Clyde for example, to full blown SE and variants. With respect, don't buy anything like this off ebay unless you know more than a little - by going to a good dealer, you can get a feeling of how much you need to spend for a given sound, without breaking the bank. They're not all sharks.
    It's not a financial investment - like any good hifi, it's an investment in pleasure, but the old Sondek seems to lose less money than most, so treat it as a bonus, not a means to an end.
    Unfortunately, there are many out there who will take advantage and inflate the price of any old tat - caveat emptor
  7. Ptah

    Ptah pfm Member

    I bought my toaster in 1988 and it's still in daily use, so that disproves that theory. :p Mind you, it's French.

    Seriously though (although the above is true), I agree with Nero above - the key to the LP12 is all about the tuning - a bit like a car engine again. Best done by an experienced dealer though there are some bad ones too. Ebay is a minefield for LP12s I'd imagine.
  8. Warren Day

    Warren Day pfm Member

    How can old decks go for so much?

    The LP12 is both serviceable and modular.

    So an old deck can be serviced, have any worn parts replaced and thus made as good as new again.

    As the design is modular, every part can be upgraded for newer and/or better performing parts. I've now got a better arm, cart, power supply and a few other new bits that made an improvement.

    And 'ditto' to all of Nero's comments.
  9. formbypc

    formbypc pfm Member

    I'll need to dig out the receipt and check the exact date, but I also have an LP12 from the mid 1980s. I've replaced the drive belt once, topped up the bearing oil.... And that's it.

    Yes, they last well.
  10. colasblue

    colasblue pfm Member

    The truth is that if you don't spend £18000 to buy the current "top of the range" one they're actually pretty poor.

    If you do spend £18000 it's just pretty poor VFM.

    I have a yr 2001 "top spec" one with Ekos 2, Lingo 2 and Trioka and its easily seen off by my Orbe/Graham 2.2/kontra B or my Elite Rock/lingo 2 (same one), J7rb250/Kontra B (different one) both of which are worth considerably less in the £note department.

    It's all hype with Linn - don't buy into it!

    All 3 of them are seen off by a moderate PC running a pro soundcard into the original Benchmark Dac1
  11. sq225917

    sq225917 situation engineer

    Spend £400 on a trasher just so you can say you've had one and then move on.

    better is available for less elsewhere.
  12. Warren Day

    Warren Day pfm Member

    Monkey, as you can see, this gets into personal opinion of what particular approach to reproduction one likes. And you are the only one person that matters in terms of opinion.

    The LP12 is one great deck. There are several out there. Roksan, SME, VPI, Orbe to name a few off the top of my head. Several of which come in a range of specifications.

    I'm sure you've heard of phrases such as: you get what you paid for, diminishing returns.

    Hype may work in the short term, it doesn't last for 4 decades.

    In terms of generally putting together a hifi good advice I've received is (whether involving an LP12, a turntable or not):
    * get stuff that works well together, ie has a similar design philosophy
    * go and compare with the real thing, listen to some live acoustic music then go to a hifi shop.

    Too often I've seen forum discussions that go along the lines of this is better than that, but better in what way? Ultimately everything should be fed through your own ears and your own way of evaluating music. As I said, there are several good turntables out there, if you have a vinyl collection, go and listen to them.
  13. Scott in DC

    Scott in DC pfm Member

    The LP12 is a fine turntable, period! I'm sure that if I auditioned many of the TT offerings out there I might find some that I like better. What else is new? Like any product, automobiles or whatever there is a large amount of personal preference involved.

    Linn has gone to great lengths to market their LP12 and build their customer base. Linn wants their customers to feel their LP12 is something special. Again, what else is new? Is a Corvette the best car? Is a Mercedes the best? It depends on who you ask. I don't blame Linn for doing the best at marketing their product and cultivating their customer base. Naim does it, Wilson Audio does it, Krell does it. Again, what else is new?

    It just boils down to you selecting what best suits you and taking the product hype (from any company about any product) with a grain of salt.

  14. Mullardman

    Mullardman Moderately extreme...

    I've recently sold an LP12/Cirkus/Lingo wot I bought new in 1993.

    Glad to see the back of it.

    More hype than substance.

    You want the truth?

    I read it was an Ariston deck. IIUC, Ivor's Dad had an engineering firm making bits for Ariston and Ivor 'developed' the LP12 from it.

    I find the Linn approach to most things to be based on bullshit.

    I have a good friend who has stuck with the Linn.

    His Linn is like 'Trigger's Brush' (Only Fools and Horses)

    It's had two new power supplies, a new plinth, new sub-chassis,new arm board, new top plate, etc.

    In addition, he has employed a new phono stage and a re-wired (Linn) arm.

    I think the platter and lid are original........

    For a turntable which was so perfect to start with, such 'developments' are truly remarkable. :)

  15. flatpopely

    flatpopely Prog Rock/Moderator

    Some strong terms in there Mull.

    You are accusing Ivor T of being a thief!
  16. James

    James Lord of the Erg\o/s

    Linn ownership was a rite of passage for those aspiring to the lofty heights of hifidom of the 70s and 80s. There was precious little that would touch it for performance then. Maybe the Pink Triangle and Xerxes gave it a run for the money, but it had a formidable reputation.

    Today, as others have pointed out, there are many alternatives of equal or better quality. That said, a well fettled LP12 with the right bearing, subchassis and support system is a truly musical device. Just don't buy new, and stick to models with chassis numbers above 70,000 (circa 1986+).
  17. thebiglebowski

    thebiglebowski pfm Member

    I've had three LP12's and in the basic form they are very musical but were designed/tuned to work with Linn electronics and sound their best. They certainly can't be called reference or transcription tables and I think lose all their character when fettled/upgraded too much.

    As already said buy a cheap one, listen and then sell it on to buy a Rega table.
  18. paskinn

    paskinn pfm Member

    My recollection is that this matter ended-up in court,,,and Linn won.
    NB: I owned an Ariston, fine deck. Never quite got round to a Linn but nothing is that successful over such a long period unless it has seriously good points (think Porsche, again).
  19. Cool_jeeves

    Cool_jeeves pfm Member

    I recently sold of my 33 year old LP12 for 1300 dollars. I have fitted my 50 year old Garrard 301 within an all-in cost of 1000 dollars and it sounds far superior because within this budget i could afford a much better cartridge.

    I have a Lenco L75 for which my target is around a 1000 dollars also. It will include an Ortofon RMG 309, a suitable cartridge yet to be bought, a sandstone plinth and polishing.

    - I dont have to switch to the Garrard for playing 45s
    - i dont have to re-balance the suspension every time i change a tonearm.
    - i dont have to re-visit the suspension every six months or nine months
    - i can leave the power on while doing various changes, whereas with the LP12 one has to switch it off.
    - I can mount the 301 / L75 on heavy racks instead of a light stool.
    - I can change interconnects without worrying about suspension compliance
    - I can develop some new skills relevant to the world instead of the unique but absolutely useless skill of mastering the art of setting an LP12's suspension.

    Whatever an LP12 accomplishes, other vintage TTs can do within a much smaller budget.
  20. MVV

    MVV pfm Member

    If you like what it sounds like it is great and that became the problem for me. It has a distinctive sound. What attracted me in the beginning in the end began to grate. It's a bit like chocolate cake.

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