i had an lp12 for 17 years. upgraded the bearing to cirkus, upgraded the power supply valhalla to lingo, upgraded the arm from basik to ekos. i even learned to tune the bounce myself. once i heard the cost of the keel, i gave up supporting it. i bought a tw acustic raven one with graham phantom and dyna xx-2 cartridge. what you lose is the ability to play poor sounding recordings. what you gain is a much denser sound with a solid bass foundation. i am thrilled.
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I had an LP12. While I believe there is no substitute for proper tools and experience, the LP12 is not that mysterious to set up. Perhaps the hardest thing were the coil springs in the suspension have to be turned to the correct clock positions to keep the arm board square while allowing for a non-binding suspension movement. You also need the proper slack in the tone arm cable, and cannot plug just any tone arm cable into the arm. A heavy or stiff cable will interfere with the suspension movement. I built a stand to allow for ease of adjustments while learning the tricks, rather than stacking books or chairs back to back.
I have a least best combination for a turntable, a lead filled rack sitting on a hardwood floor. Footfalls would cause the LP12 to jump around and skip. Either of the tables you mentioned would be good, and there are others. Ive had Rega, VPI, Technics SL1200 and ended up liking a Nottingham Spacedeck with Space Arm. Then I picked up a dealer demo Nottingham Space 294 with a Moerch arm.
Take a look at the Pink Fish Media Forum which features many Naim/Linn fans. The usual suspects are the TW Akustik Raven One, the DPS turntable, and the Spacedeck. I own a DPS and like the Spacedeck (at the lower price). Both are excellent tables. The Raven would be difficult to get in you price range though.
Also, having owned a Thorens TD150 (mini-Linn) I don't think that the LP12 is difficult to set up. If this is your only concern, I would try teaching myself.
I too owned an LP12 since 1982 and just like Ducatirider, I kept up with the essential upgrades until the Keel and the new Ekos SE where introduced which caused me to give up due to the cost.
In 2007, I decided to change my turntable and after lots of research and listening, I purchased the VPI Scoutmaster / JMW-9 Sig. / SDS / Periphery Ring / Center Weight / Dynavector DV-20X Low MC / Dynavector P-75 MKII phono pre-amp combo.
So far, I'm very pleased with my decision!
I had an LP-12 and also bought from Linn, a dealer's set up manual. It was about 50 pages or so, had a gray cover, and revealed lots of "secrets" in getting the setup right. I think if you pursue the self-care of the table, you will be successful. I suspect your dealer is just telling you of his worth and how monetarily valuable he is. I thought the setup was tedious, but not impossible. I ultimately got a VPI Superscoutmaster which is better, but also more expensive.
I also am a recent 'long time ex-Linn owner'. I dutifully did all the upgrades for 20 years and like you, the cost of the Keel upgrade gave me pause. A couple of options to consider:
1. If you like the sound of the Linn, take the time and effort to learn the set-up. Up to date Linns do not require the frequent adjustments of earlier incarnations. Also consider the Origin Live motor upgrade and a proper stand. Both make a difference.
2. If you are considering a change; the tables suggested here are worthy of a listen. I would add to the list the Galibier Serac turntable with Artisan arm and Dynavector 17D3 cartridge. This combination is sold at a package price and fits your stated budget.
Thanks for all the feedback, I guess that I would be better off finacially to invest in Linn Table frame or possibly build on in my shop. I have a dealer that doe an excellent job of setting these up. As a fact he has them sent to him across the country for his set up. I know that I can always have him do it, but I feel somewhat captive by that one stop scenerio. If I move or he quits I am where I don't want to be. I do love the sound and like that fact that the table can virtually be rebuilt time and time again. So I can probably learn to do it myself and get through that. But I have the problem ,that if I don't have a concrete floor, dealing with the skipping. I got some ideas here that I can look at. And one last note to mofi, I think I'll buy the McIntosh Turntable! Nanner nanner nanner nanner:)
There is absolutely NO mystery as to how to set up a Linn and it all comes down to either learning how to do it yourself (and learning something about both your table and yourself along the way, as well as saving some time and cash), or being eternally indebted to someone who may or may not really either know or care about what they're doing. Linn created this mystique to give their "dealers" something to do (and some $), as well as creating the doctrine of non-modification and the "if you touch this incorrectly it will be impaired forever" myth. C'mon, it's working on a turntable, not brain surgery...!....And, BTW, a good dealer would let you watch the entire process over his shoulder.
PS - Everyone here is correct - for the money, there are many tables that will blow away a Linn. This coming from a (former) 10-year Linn owner.
I liked my LP12 Lingo a lot but gave it up after a misadventure with the wrong arm (Graham: too heavy) and the setup problems that resulted. Sort of wish I had kept my first LP12 Valhalla/SME IIIs/Shure V15 because it was great for what it cost, but goodness knows you just have to ;o) upgrade a Linn...
I got a Scheu Premier Mark II with a Scheu Cantus arm and an AT33PTG. I'm just getting the setup (VTA, VTF, overhang, loading etc.) dialed in but I can tell I'm going to love the new one as much as or more than the old. Setup is a snap!
I sold the Graham and my best cart, a Koetsu Rosewood Sig, to pay for this and other changes. I hope one day to get as good an arm and cart as the ones I sold, to fit on the Scheu, but right now, I'm very happy.
If you haven't given up hope on your LP12 you might want to consider contacting a Naim Audio dealer and discuss with them the great mod's that they offer for the Lp12. I switched from the Lingo and Ekos to Naim's Armegeddon power supply and Aro tonearm and found the improvements amazing. Combine that with a quality low-mass moving coil cartridge and enjoy.
I had an LP12 and liked the pleasant colored sound, but went with the VPI Scoutmaster and it is far more neutral, faster, more dynamic, far more interesting, and makes the Linn sounded very dated. I know there are a lot of Linnies who will disagree, but set up correctly, the Scoutmaster, Nordost wired JMW9 leave me not wanting any other table. The vinyl sounds so different from recording to recording, the Linn just always left its soundprint on everything. With the VPI, all seems right. The bass is so powerful, full of dynamic contrasts, each pluck of a bass guitar is detailed, the Linn leaves a blurr. The mids and highs are also equally detailed and realistic. If you want music, the VPI is the ticket. The Scout is OK, but the Scoutmaster is great. Jallen
For ease of set-up and ability to keep its settings, I would recommend a SME model 10. It sells for about $3,500 used and is an excellent value. You can upgrade the arm to a SME IV or V later and get truly great sound. Very reliable. There are many reviews on the net. I am biased as I have owned one for about four years and love it.
I just bought an LP12 w Basik LV X arm & Nagaoka Cart. MP 11. I can't build anything and put the unit together and had it playing by the 2nd adjustment. It's about a 1985 model and I put Lemon oil several times on the plinth, cleaned up the aluminum and stainless steel and it gets newer looking each day. It sounds fantastic only having the Valhalla power supply and new suspension. I'm wondering which MM or MC cart. would make it perform better? It's hooked to a CaryV12R amp w brand new( 19 hours so far) tubes and a Cary SLP98P preamp. I put the black oil in it and leveled it as good as I could.
So I can probably learn to do it myself and get through that.Yes, you can!
But I have the problem ,that if I don't have a concrete floor, dealing with the skipping.Nonsense, unless all you know is Linn or many other suspended tables. My house has 60 year old, bouncy, sprung wood floors, but I can dance next to my TT and it doesn't skip - ever.
The myths perpetrated by Linn and their dealers, including the belief that no one but them can set up a table, is proven wrong every day by regulars on forums like this one.
I've had an LP12 for 20 years. I use it with a Graham 2.2 tonearm and an Ortofon Jubilee cartridge. I love the sound I get and attribute it to 2 factors: First I have a rock solid playing surface for the turntable which eliminates what I hear is a problem with this model but not for me. And this Ortofon cartridge is very sensitive: I have to adjust the anti-tracking (You need a good demo record to do this with a ubgrooved test band) and the ability to measure and adjust the tracking force accurately.