I need HELP with my LP12 based system

I would love some recommendations from hard-core analog folks. Currently, I have a 23-year-old Linn LP12 with an Ittok arm. My cartridge is a Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood II. The TT has all the mods, including Trampalin. It still has the original AC motor. I was the second owner and it came to me with a Goldmund platter. My phono stage is a PH5 and the line stage is the latest version of the VTL 6.5. Amps are Bel Canto Evo2 running as monoblocks and speakers are B&W N803s. I know the system quite well at this point. With all else being equal, I find that compared to my Modwright/Sony CDP, LP playback suffers from a bit of mid bass sluggishness. The mids and highs are gorgeous. They are liquid with loads of inner detail. While the CDP has tight, tunefull, snappy bass, LP bass is just a bit bloated. It lacks some of the dynamics I think it should have. Also, as in hard rock or even big orchestral music, some of the power bass notes are a little whimpy compared to the same thing on CD.
I suspect the weak link in the chain is my cartridge. It might also be the old arm with the ancient wiring therein. In principle, I'm not opposed to replacing the entire analog setup, but it will be some time before I can do that. Given the above description, where would be the best place to invest $2-$3k? I've been spinning vinyl since the late '60s and feel comfortable with my knowledge of where things can go wrong. My current guess is arm resonance along with less than ideal synergy with the cartridge. Please to dive in with even expensive thoughts on the matter!
I was in exactly your situation about 2 years ago and auditioned many turntables. There are a number of well documented design limitations in the Linn LP12 that will prevent you achieving your goal of deep, tight bass.

I found that turntables with rubber belt drive and suspended sub-chassis all had the same limitations as the Linn to varying degrees. In contrast, those using mass to damp resonance were capable of far better performance.

25 years ago the Linn shifted expectations of analog reproduction but there have been huge strides in technology since then.

I would suggest you check out the Galibier Serac turntable which falls within your budget range. I haven't heard one yet but I bought it's bigger brother, the Gavia, and it's designer is passionate about good analog sound.

The other option I would suggest, which is not approved by the audiphile taste police but works, is a Technics SL1200 table fitted with a modified RB250 arm (Expressimo or Michell Tecnoarm) and the cart of your choice. Being direct drive it delivers great speed stablity and mounted on a sandbox shelf would be well isolated from resonance problems.

The adapter plate for the arm is sold by Origin Live. Sell the standard fit arm on ebay. I tried an old SL-150 and was surprised how much better than the Linn it was when fitted with an Expressimo and mounted on a sandbox. The SL1200 is ridiculously underpriced because it has been in production so long and the tooling cost has been amortized.

A third choice would be to check out the "Building high-end 'tables at Home Despot" thread and join that experiment. I did and it really does work.
Welcome to LP12, a table that does need TLC. I had a similiar situation that was cleared by wall mounting. Seriously. When I wall mounted mine the infamous Linn midbass tightened up. I did a DIY shelf I found at the vinyl asylum. Good Luck.
Some of the characteristics you speak of were(are ) inherant in the recording itself. most digital remasters enhance the bottom end as well as other frequencies. in many cases, newer remastered lps sound closer to their cd counterparts than the original recordings....sometimes a benefit....sometimes not. in any case, trying to make the two formats sound the same through changing gear is often a circlejerk. since you have one of the greatest analogue front ends, you might play with several phono stage comparisons, but the software itself is usually the biggest difference. the linn and the clear audio are just doing what they do....accurately retreiving information.

Nice system. The cartridge may be responsible (I'm not familiar with it) but I suspect the weak link in the chain is the entire analog rig. The LP12 was a category leader 23 years ago. It no longer is, and hasn't been for quite some time.

Unfortunately, $2-3K will not buy a (new) table and arm that compare with the level of your other components, or with your Sony/Modwright in particular. Digital has gotten pretty good in the last few years and your experience proves it. I use an unmodded Denon DVD-3910 and its performance is also quite respectable. My analog rig outplays it in every way, but my analog rig has a retail value that is twelve times higher.

You won't have to go quite that far to better your Sony, but I don't think you'll do it for much less than $6K for a table and arm (using new retail prices for the yardstick).

Of course it wouldn't due much harm to try a different cartridge. If it does the trick, great. If it doesn't, it would readily move to a new rig when funds become available. VdH's are well known for dynamic bass. Shelters have full and weighty bass. Dyna's are known for strong bass. The ZYX Airy 3 has bass that goes low and it's more tuneful than most and excellent on big classical. I'm sure there are others that might satisfy.

My rambling thoughts...
I always love back-handed complements from LP12 bashers. The LP12 is still the deck to which all other tables are compared, and it has certainly stood the test of time. Anyway, I'd start by having your LP12 tuned-up by your local dealer as suboptimal setup can affect performance markedly. The Ittock is still a pretty good arm (assuming proper setup), but the original cable should be replaced with the newer Linn Silver tonearm cable (about $300). The Akiva is spectacular cartridge, easily bettering the somewhat similar Lyra Helikon. It costs all of your $3000, but I'll bet your dealer won't charge much for the tune-up if your buying the cartridge and cable!
Thsalmon - I do not think Dougdeacon's comments were bashing at all. In fact I would agree with them ... and I owned an LP12 for nearly 18 years. Perhaps the people whose systems are all Linn and/or Naim components might feel the LP-12 to be the TT for which all other tables are still compared. To the many rest of us, there are a lot of TT's that we consider reference products.

The LP12 as a reference went away years ago when the Goldmund, VPIs and Versa Dynamics all quite easily destroyed it. Even against a friend's Sota Star, it was evident my Linn's weaknesses...but I still enjoyed it for many years. There's always a more refined product out there....the key is to be able to accept this rather than continue to be blind to the fact(s).

I so vividly remember in 1984 when I went to a Linn dealer in Los Angeles that was also a Goldmund dealer. I had the LP12 2 years by now. I wanted the opportunity to hear what all the fuss was about concerning the Goldmund (Studio). And the shop owner was very helpful to demo both TTs for me. I do not remember the cartridge but it was the same. Such comparisons we never forget. The Goldmund brought on so much more of the "you are there" factor. I was so mightily impressed as I remember the Linn doing the same to my old B&O TT I had in the 70s. But compared to the Goldmund, the Linn sounded small. I could only dream too own the Goldmund and so I continued to enjoy the Linn for many years .... until I heard the Clearaudio Ref do the same to Linn. Again it was not close. All the Linn's flaws were right there in the spotlight again 15 years later. I upgraded to the Clearaudio. Once you hear the bass rendered so incredibly well by many other TTs, and a wealth of low-level information throughout the frequency range, staying with the Linn is tough. That's progress.

It's interesting that Linn FINALLY has recognized what a disaster their tonearm cable was. If you want a killer tonearm cable, at a heck of a good value, check out the SilverBreeze cable. This cable brought on so much openness and resolution on the top. And I still have it after all these years; it competes very well to the much more expensive Kubala-Sosna and Purist cables that I have auditioned and ultimately purchased. But these are so much more.

Pscialli - Exclusively locking yourself in the "Linn Box" in any upgrades, cables/arms, etc., only limits your options. If you want that bottom octave performance, there are so many great deals on A'gon for TTs that will resolve this weakness for you.

You can even try a Graham 1.5/2.0/2/2 arm which is readily available as so many people upgrade to the Phantom. These were claimed to perform quite well on the Linn. And then if you find a TT that knocks your socks off, move the Graham to that. You can do a lot without spending so much at once. But I would not put any more money in Linn upgrades. If you want a fully decked out Linn, you're a lot better off selling yours and getting a used one with all the "fixes". It would be a lot less investment.

But I concur with Dougdeacon: your LP source severly lags behind the performance of the rest of your system.

Thank you all for the comments. One option is to wait a while and then invest a larger sum in a new front end. The PH5 and VTL are relatively new to me and are letting me hear lots more of what the front end is doing. Thsalmon, the table was tuned up about ten months ago when I got the cartridge. Still, it may be worth replacing the arm wire and getting a fresh tune up to see where it goes. Audiophilia is a terrible illness. How I envy my daughter and her love of her purple Memorex boombox!
The bass problem that you are having is due to a weakness in this turntable's power supply. If you want to keep the linn., add a lingo power supply. This should resolve the problem.
Pscialli don't be tempted to spend any more on your Linn. None of the (expensive) upgrades suggested are good value and they will yield only incremental improvements. Accept that your table is a flawed design that has one redeeming feature - its lucid, dynamic mid range.

No matter what mods you do to a Linn you will still have a cheap motor boouncing around on springs driving the platter by a rubber band. It's impossible to get good speed stability with that technology.

To approach the quality of your digital source you really need a massy unsuspended turntable driven by a mylar belt or a direct drive motor.
I do not believe there will be any absolutes (solutions) provided here - too many possiblities, biases, and experiences from imperfect human beings. However, as you gain considerable time purusing internet sites, you can gleen some useful information (though most is useful primarily for looking into, not absolute fact). FWIW, Clearaudio cartridges are not known for exagerated midbass (lean if anything), though I suppose it might be possible that cartridge/arm resonances might be responsible.

It seems reasonable to expect that more modern TT designs using more exotic materials and designs would be able to surpass the Linn LP12, though some of these look ridiculous (perhaps necessarily so, though). You would think that simpler is better, at least correctly executed, but that is another topic. Though it has not always been the case, my own more recent experience with the LP12 suggests that a bloated mid-upper bass is not unusually present: my own LP12 (Valhalla-Cirkus-Akito II) does not have any more emphasis in this region than my Ayre CX-7 CD player. I am being honest about it too.

On the other hand, I am running a Linn cartridge on a Linn arm, though the cartridge is only a K9. Maybe the cartridge is light in these areas? You see, no absolute answers. Oh, having the turntable (non Trampolin) mounted directly on the top shelf of a heavy MDF based rack did have the sound richer/heavier than I liked. Placing the TT back on a small, light oak platform with adjustable feet (screws), purchased back in the 80's, did even everything back out.

Note I have not suggested in any way that the LP12 is the ultimate TT (I have not directly compared to the best of the others I have heard), though I will say that I do believe it is a very good way to really enjoy listening to LPs.
I'm sorry that it sounds harsh, but I'm with Flyingred. His reasons are my reasons.

You have a Simon Yorke table on order. That's a fairly good move IMO. Why not preach what you practice?
I say horsehockey to all that told you to get rid of the Linn. I was in a similar situation as you not too long ago, was told to ditch the Linn, but instead I upgraded the Valhalla to a Lingo and the Adikt cartridge to a Lyra Argo. Yes, I let my ears guide me...not participants on an audio forum who had not heard the deck in question. Solved the problems. Is this setup a rival for the Walker? Heck, no but it also is signficantly less expensive. Will it rival an SME 20/2? It comes pretty darn close. And, yes, I have heard both in the same environment driven by the same gear.

FYI: you've got the phono preamp that I strive to own one day! However, I have discovered in demoing phono preamps, that my LFD Mistral kicks the tail of most under $1500. And, cost me sufficiently less.

For those who are making recommendations here, make sure you know the dog before you kick it. If I were you, I would take the Linn to the next steps with a NEW Lingo and NEW Argo Lyra.

Good luck in your quest.
What's the current installed cost of the Lingo. I found a couple of reviews of it and see that is pretty well respected.I'm forever intrigued that even after a 30 year run, the LP12 is still in the discussion at all.
Regarding the PH5. I found the purchase price to be a little deceiving. I wasn't at all happy with the sound of the stock tubes, even after break-in. I upgraded to some Mullard NOS tubes and things have improved dramatically.
for anyone who is a music lover/collector in vinyl, and aquires more than just drips and drabs of audiophile releases, a 'suspended chasis' turntable is a 'must have'. the linn, along with select models of thorens, have proven their 'worthiness' for decades.....we can check back on the high mass acrylic stuff in 30 years.
The best you can do, it to go away from that coloured, completely overhyped LP12. There are two ways, listening or believing. Sorry, no offense. I know, I could it write more gently, but then I need 200 lines.
Following Mcrheist's post I went to my nearest Linn dealer to hear the current spec LP12 yesterday. They are a long-standing Linn dealer in London who are still very active in analog. They claim to dismantle, measure, inspect and rebuild every new turntable they receive from the factory and, if you believe forum posts, it's said that Linn send their trainees to this dealer for training in set-up. The dealer was very confident about being able to get the best possible performance from the LP12.

The table was fitted with Akiva/Ekos with Lingo and Linto PSU and phono stage, through Magik pre/power and Akurate speakers. Initially I heard the system with the Magik cd player. It sounded slightly solid-state "hard" but had good deep bass extension and it didn't have that characteristic in which negative feedback makes vocalists sound short of breath.

Switching to the LP12, I initially noticed good tonality, detail and resolution. However, as the tracks built in complexity and ampllitude it was harder to hear individual instruments in the mix - the lead part dominated with micro-dynamics being lost. Also, compared to cd, there was significantly less bass energy and extension. All audio involves compromise of some sort, but the LP12 asks too much in my view.

I'm surprised that Mcrheist rates the LP12 on similar terms to the SME 20/2 - I would say that it is on a par with the SME 10 which is dry, organised, with deep extension although not the greatest at conveying a sense of performance.

So I stand by my original statement, the LP12 is outdated, over-rated and over-priced. If your priority is to create an illusion of live performance in your home then the LP12 won't get you there.

Finally, after 2 hours of listening to ss amplification I'd had enough. It was so good to come home to my DRDs.

Today I've been playing with the DV 507 Mk II and XX-2 but that's for another thread!
I was a die hard Linnie until recently, when I decided to try a basic VPI Scout just to see my Linn stomp it into the ground. Well, my LP12/Ittok/Lingo/Cirkus is gone, and the Scout is here. Better in every way, including all the foot tapping tests you want to use. Don't take my word for it, just try it. I sold my Linn for $1000 more than I paid for my Scout, and used it toward a Lyra Skala. FWIW, I am using a Vendetta SCP-2B phono stage into tubed gear. I initially felt like I was leaving a fraternity when selling the Linn, but I am enjoying the lack of audiophile nervosa which accompanies Linn ownership immensely, and I am always feeling I am getting the best out of my setup.
I can tell you about 5 years ago I went FINAL turntable shopping. Listened to SOTA, VPI, and last, becuase I never thought I would buy it , Linn. The LP 12 didn't do anything for me , but when I put my test LP ( Miles and Monk at Newport) on an LP12 with Valhalla , I was sold- 90% of the midbass cloudiness was gone , and the mids just lifted from the background like 3D magic, in a way I hadn't heard on the other tables. I 've since modded the circuit and adjusted the phase of the motor supply ( using a stethescope to adjust for low noise), changed to outboard RCA jacks, but could have lived happily ever after with the valhalla.