Best Tonearm Upgrades for Linn LP12


I've just purchased a used Linn Sondek LP12, which I selected because of the high starting quality for the table and all the upgrade possibilities. I have the Valhalla Power Supply and a Basik Plus tonearm. Currently, I'm using an old Grado G-1+ cartridge and I will upgrade to a Dynavector 10x4 or 20X-H soon.

My questions are: Which tonearms will make the greatest improvement for the least money? And which tonearms are great matches with the turntable?
pbowne
If you don't want to change the armboard, then stick with the Linn tonearm upgrades. They will just drop right into your current armboard hole. A good used Ittok would be a nice one for around $400-$450.
agree with Twl. the Ittok is a great tonearm, with the ekos so pricy for what the difference is (little in my opinion) between the two.
a friend has a Audioquest PT6 on one LP12, which works well for him, and the ekos on another. kurt
The Linn LP12 will presumably work satisfactorily with any good tonearm, although I personally did not find that to be the case during the (short) period of time I owned a LP-12. (I sold my LP-12 and replaced it with a VPI HW-19 Mk4.)

If you want to consider non-Linn tonearms, then you should definitely include the Rega RB-900 (or RB-1000 if you are fortunate enough to find one on the used market). The top-of-the-line Rega tonearms are among the best in high-end, and offer excellent performance and value. The RB-900 sells new for $1000, but can be found used for around $650. The new $1600 RB-1000 (which I recently acquired) is stunning well-made, and I think is fully competitive with a lot of tonearms in the $2500-3000 bracket.

Several reviewers for different audio mags have commented that Rega might not have developed the RB-900 due to cost if they were doing so today. The design for the RB-900 was done a number of years ago, so the development costs are now fully amortized. The casting for the tonearm itself was very expensive, and requires very skilled workers to do the finishing. The single-piece tonearm/headshell make for a very rigid platform, and the ball bearings used in the pivot are first-rate. The RB-1000 takes all of this to an even higher level, and at present Rega has only two craftsmen who are sufficiently trained and skilled to do the final finishing (hence, limited availability and relatively high price).

The only "downside" to these two Rega arms (for some people) is the lack of VTA. The tonearms do come with stainless steel spacers which raise the base of the arm, and I have found this to be quite satisfactory. I do not obsess about changing the VTA for every LP I own. With the spacers under the base, I have found the VTA is optimal for about 85% of the LP's I own (it could be tweaked a bit for the 200-gram LP's).
I too had a Basik Plus arm.Changed it out with my current Well Tempered Arm. If you can find one grab it....HUUUUUGE difference. Mine has been modded with VDH wiring, dual weighting and new arm wand. However,prior to the mods the diff between the Plus and the WTA was enormous. The WTA is very hard to beat. I have AB'ed it against a friends Ittok on LP12, beat the pants off the Ittok in both our opinions.
Which Well Tempered Arm did you use? Classic? Reference?
Started life out as a classic prior to all the mods.
The best sonic upgrade I ever made to my lp12 was the naim arro arm. That includes the prior ittok replacing the basik, the troika cartridge, and the lingo.
We just bought a linn lp12 majik, cirkus upgrade, hercules mose power supply and a rega rb2000 tonearm, which by the way, still waiting for a appropiate board arm which works with rega tonearm.
rega rb2000 is the best tonearm which offers rega. Our system is a ultra high end resolution system: martin logan clxes modified with mundorff caps, cardas binding posts as transparent cable inside, transparent reference xl mm2 loudspeakers cables, transparent mm power cords and filter, vtl mb185 series III amps with kt77 gold lyon, mullard vintage signal tubes, vtl 5.5II preamp with mulllards tubes, sony hap-z1 es server, transparent reference mm2 gen5 balanced interconnects. Turntable used to be vpi classic 3 with 3d arm, soundsmith straingauge 200 cartridge. The thing is we love linn turntable there is something that seems more musical than most.
we have 2 tonearms : rega rb2000 and sme 309 or maybe linn ekos se. The thing is, we trust very much on rega arm and stunning perfomance, vpi is good but not as good tracker and akward antiskate mechanism. But have someone compare rega with sme 309 ?.


 
 

According to my experience with the Linn the best value proposition is the Ittok. But the best tonearms are Naim Aro and Sumiko 800

(''the arm'').

**Which tonearms will make the greatest improvement for the least money? And which tonearms are great matches with the turntable?**

The Alphason HR100S and the Zeta were bolt in replacements for the Ittock.  If you can find one of these, it should be < $1K.  The HR100 is S shaped and featured a one piece titanium armtube with integrated headshell.  Nice arm, highly detailed, but you might need a bit of damping (internal, wrap, or fluid) with some carts. Mass is 11/12g.

The Zeta is a heavier arm - straight aluminum one piece with big bold bass, and sweet top.  Mass is 16g.  With an LP12 it's critical to have the suspension adjusted correctly. Knowing how to do this could determine your satisfaction level with the table.  Both arms have height adjustment at the base with 2 allen wrenches and have high quality conventional  bearings.

Dynavector 10X4 ??   Be wary - This is ancient and not worth the effort. Apparently Dynavector farmed out production and many were released with the channels labeled out of phase. It's not worth retip money anyhow. The 20X H should be much better.  You might want to consider a vintage MM, many of which are better IMO than almost any HOMC.

Good luck with the table.

Without a doubt, the best tone arm for the LP12 is the Naim ARO.  It is legendary!  A match made in heaven!  Your Dynavector's will work well with it too!

Enjoy your new table in good health!


Best wishes.
the OP was from 2003, so hopefully their LP12 is sorted by now. would be a shame if not.

i have an Aro on my LP12 and it's great. however, folks have had good results with the Roksan Nima -- another unipivot design, but less costly. (the scuttlebutt is that Roksan modeled the Nima (anagram for Naim) after the Aro when Naim discontinued it.)

the Aro's a beautiful piece of engineering -- museum worthy, in my ever so humble opinion -- so well worth picking one up if you can find one. it just looks so slick on the LP12.
The obvious arm is the Ekos SE. However, I think there are few other contenders that might be worth a listen...1) Audio Origami PU7,2) AMG 9
3) Audio Origami UniArm 4) Vertere SG-1  5) Roksan Nima and of course the discontinued Naim Aro. 
I believe most any light weight 9" arm should work ok, as long as it does not interfere with the old girl's suspenders.
The Akito is clearly the best Linn  arm ever made…this might not actually be true, but since I own one I felt I had to chime in.
I use the Rega 1000. I have a VTA adjuster which can be adjusted during play. Works very well. Sorry as I have had brain surgery and can't remember details. Found it on the net and is a small company.
I have an 88'vintage LP12. Started with an Akito, upgraded to Ittok (Huge!), then to Ekos ( agree that it was not that big a difference ; but still worthy if you have the dollars, but would not want to go back to 
Ittok.
Have extensively listened to Aero and it is a worthy Tonearm.
Trick is with any of the arms; Get a Linn dealer to set it up and Tune It. Then you will get the best out of whatever you choose. Correct tuning of LP12 gets them to "play the tune."