Is a Linn Sondek LP12/Lingo/Ekos with a Cirkus update, the last turntable I’ll ever buy?

Opinions, experiences, cartridges and preamps used?
429f63ec 7c97 48b3 acd4 6924e51e5d41coachpoconnor
Could be.  just make sure you are ready to deal with tuning it every time the wind changes direction.
I don’t know why people keep saying that the Linn easily goes out of adjustment. Once properly set up, the setup should last for years. However, the Linn is VERY sensitive to footfalls and if you have springy floors, it will skip if you look at it the wrong way.  I had to put in a wall shelf, which worked wonderfully.  That said, if you’re not overly curious about anything else, the Linn can certainly last for many years, as all components are replaceable and upgradeable. I would not suggest buying a Linn unless you know a good setup person, as setup is tricky. OTOH, Basis turntables were designed to be set up properly by anyone with reasonably decent turntable skills. Something to think about. I replaced my Linn with a Basis, which I prefer, but I certainly could have lived with the Linn.  It's a classic.  
As usual when it comes to Linn turntables, we have a lot of folks who have either a) never owned one...but still are happy to put in their 2cents or b) owned one, but it was about thirty + years ago, and they never got it to work right, so they sold it back in the day and have been naysaying ever since.
Truth is, like chayro stated, the Linn does NOT go out of adjustment, once it is set up correctly.
Plenty of opinions you will get grasshopper.
My Linn owner friend knows of a table for sale that he is familiar with. He also knows of a “Linn whisperer” in town. My townhouse is on a slab... foot falls not a problem.
I also have a Harmon Kardon C65 turntable that has the nickname “Poor mans Linn Sondek” it is a suspension table.
Great table but the arm is awfully light.
If your happy with it YES!!
Impossible question.  If I wanted to be sarcastic, I might suggest that it is the last turntable you will ever buy, but it might be a prelude to the upgrade-itis that afflicts some Linnies, courtesy of Linn.  Which can be as expensive as buying an entirely new and different turntable. But like someone said, I am not qualified because I never owned a Linn.  The brand does have its dedicated fans.  And it sounds like you really want someone to support a decision you want to make anyway.  So, knock yourself out.
Footfalls are almost always a problem with LP12’s, even on concrete slab, unless you put it on a wall shelf, which would be my suggestion. The Audiotech shelf worked well. I’ve had an LP12 setup in at least a dozen apartments/condos/houses on all kinds of flooring, and on several Linn-approved shelving, and always had footfall issues. The Sound Organization table was the worst. For the doubting thomas’s, I had the LP12 for 22 years, always setup by LP12 guru’s.
I don't know about already totally having my mind made up. This was sort of a surprise, having this table come available. I was really in the process of improving my digital side of my system. This is really somewhat of a broadside. At 2400.00, if this is great deal and it will substantially upgrade my analog side... I'm for it. My system consists of
Marantz TT-15 with a Hana SL, Musical Surroundings Nova Phonomena, MicroZOTL mz2, Pass XA-25 and Zu Omen Speakers.

Coach, I could only respond by saying what turntables I own and like.  I have a bias against suspended, belt-driven turntables in general.  So there you go.  Am I "right" to shy away from such constructions?  I can only say my bias is a product of nearly 50 years as a vinylista, but time spent is no guarantee of ultimate wisdom.  And on the other hand, I have heard a few very expensive belt-drives, most notably the Dohmann Helix which costs upwards of $25,000 and has a built-in Minus K suspension, that are truly superb to my ears.  On a lower level of cost, I do like the Kuzma Reference as well.  I personally own a much tweaked Lenco idler-drive and four direct-drive turntables, including a Denon DP80, Kenwood L07D, Technics SP10 Mk3, and a Victor TT101, all in massive plinths sitting on vibration absorbing materials that don't "bounce", all up and running in two completely different audio systems. 
@gordon   " footfalls are almost always a problem with LP 12's, even on a concrete slab"...i don't know what kind of footfalls you are talking about, but they must be made by a GIANT for that to be the case, LOL.
A long time ago, a Linn turntable was considered to be the top of the heap.  Now, in the midst of a major vinyl revival, they are lucky to sell even 500 tables a year.  They make much more selling "updates" to their older tables which maybe weren't so good after all.
Certainly not if you hear some of the other options available in this price range.
@gordon  You want us to believe that a 150 lb man walking on a concrete slab floor is going to cause problems with the LP12?? Is this concrete slab suspended by wire over a large open space, because if it is not and this is the typical concrete slab on a ground floor, I am calling 'BS'.
@fstein   Do tell us what you think is better for the price that this LP12 is being offered at...or even for twice that price.
It could be very well your last table. And you could live with it happily for many years. I owned one in the 80’s and 90’s and loved it. Just don’t be like the rest of us and go listen to other better tables and your good.
If money is not an issue, buy it and let your Linn guy set it up in your house for you.  This will probably cost you a couple hundred for the setup, and you might need some new springs, grommets  and a belt, which are not overly expensive, BTW.  It seems to me you want go get the Linn thing out of your system to see why it has remained so relatively popular over the years.  If that's the case, go for it.  When well set up, it has a really nice sound that many people love. I was curious about the same thing and I owned and loved it for several years.  
Linns can sound great if set up properly.  I would look into setup and getting that set up jig if you are serious.  
Yes, it will be the last you ever buy — if you never listen to any of the better tables you could buy.
@bimasta   So, let's hear your suggestions...and their price points.
I'm interested in the tables that I could get for $2400.00 that would sound better. That is why I started this thread is suggestions... bring them on!
I appreciate your suggestions

Would a Clearaudio Concept with a Satisfy Arm? It's $2400.00
In order to know what's "better", one has to have owned and used an LP12 in one's own system.  That narrows the field of valid opinions.  Also, if you permit the idea of "used" and/or vintage turntables, that also changes the game.
The table I'm considering is a used LP12 with Lingo/Ekos mk1 with a Cirkus update. I know that a new Linn LP12 can cost between $4500.00 and $25,000.00.
@lewm  Your post is totally correct, unfortunately whenever the Linn table is mentioned on threads, there are always those who even though they never owned a Linn, or last owned it decades ago, still manage to naysay. Says a lot about these folks, imho.
@coachpoconnor The Linn you are describing for that money would be an excellent table assuming that you can get it set up correctly and the Lingo is still in good working condition. I think that you would be getting a table that would sound at least as good as any other table at that price point, and as funds and budget allows, you would be able to upgrade to a much higher level, without having to sell your table and lose any of the original investment. Don’t think you can say that about the other options at that price level.
Thanks daveyf
I spent some time talking to Thomas O'Keefe, from Overture Audio, who is a master LP12 set-up person. He made it clear how crucial set-up is. It was a very informative conversation. Again thanks for your comments.
Any comments about using a Hana SL and a Musical Surroundings Nova Phonomena with the LP-12?

I recently bought a similar used trade in table from my local Linn dealer and am very happy with it. Mine has the Ittok LVII, Lingo, Trampolin, Cirkus with the Hana ML cartridge. They gave it a tune up and set it up before I took it home. It was a great experience and I have peace of mind that it is running optimally and should continue to do so for many years. I am running it with a Linn Uphorik phono stage I picked up used as well. 
@coachpconnor   You spoke to one of the better 'fettler's in the US in Thomas O'Keefe. He would certainly be one of the 'go to' guys to go to for LP12 set up expertise.

As to your question about the Hana SL..and the MS Nova Phonomena, i don't have much experience with the MS, so no comments on that, with the Hana SL, while I have heard that on a couple of occasions, I think it is ok, but I would also want to hear the Linn Krystal on your Ekos arm.
I think the Linn would better the Clearaudio if set up correctly, like with any turntable, setup is key.
Depends, I think, on which model of Clearaudio.
The Ekos also makes a big difference.  I first bought my Linn with a Rega arm, I think the 600, but when I upgraded to a used Ekos, the sound improved to a great degree.  I think $2400 is a good deal if the table is in good shape.  I can't say if anything will be better for $2400 because I haven't heard anything else at that level.  But to be totally honest, if I were buying something new, I might be tempted to go for a new Technics.  Looks good, no belts, speed issues.  And supposedly sound very good.  But I haven't heard them either.  
I purchased a new LP12 within the last year or so and I am very happy with my purchase. I had listened to many options over several years before deciding to go the LP12 route and I am glad I did. As can be scene by the various opinions provided, the LP12 is divisive for some reason. At times the tone of posts almost seem angry.

The long and short of it is the LP12 does take a bit more care than other options due to the suspension and need for dealer involvement to some degree. However, the LP12 has a vibe that I find very appealing both sonically and aesthetically. Friends that are digital and streaming die hards actually want to come over and listen to music from the LP12. If you find you really want to make the jump I would recommend you do so. Some considerations on the table you are looking at

1. Make sure the plinth has the internal corner braces. Because an LP12 is so upgradeable it can have a variety of parts from different eras.

2. Learning the S/N can give you a base line of when the original table was made.

3. Consider upgrading the baring to the new Karousel. The Cirkus is what I have now but will be changed to the Karousel within a few weeks. This will also get you a new inner platter, springs, gromments and all the other parts needed for installation.

4. If possible, in home setup is a good idea. Also work with your dealer or the person who will upgrade it. If possible hang out while the tune up or upgrades are installed to learn about how it all works.

5. Watch some informative vides on YouTube. There are many about setup.

6. Consider a cartridge update. You can use a Linn or something you like. Since budget may be an option consider the Linn Adkit MM. Also the Hanna you had mentioned was recommended by my dealer but we ended up going with a Linn Krystal.

7. Consider a Trampolin for the base. Not expensive and worth getting.

Getting the LP12 is a foundation. Once you have it set up the way you like it in a few years you might want to update the tonearm or power supply. Also know Linn runs promotions every year or so. I am getting the Karousel gratis for buying an Ekos/se. 

The LP12 can be a journey but with a bit of effort it can be the last TT you buy because it can grow with you and does not need be replaced when the next new thing comes along. I understand it is not for everyone but for me it was a great addition to my audio system.

thanks for the information, I will look into the upgrades. I don’t have possession of the table yet. My friend is selling his friends audio equipment for his widow. He doesn’t want to rush her. I’m in no hurry.

go listen to one ?
make a weekend out of it and.....

then you will know!

My objection to Linn (and $2400 IS a good price) is that it is an invitation to "audiophilia nervosa": constant upgrades available and hence "is mine good enuff?". I think of it as a kit. When you go to the supermarket you do not need 200 types of cereal.
@fstein  Perhaps think about upgradeability as a way to minimize audio nervosa..because one does NOT have to constantly trade or sell the table that is not upgradeable. You can stick with the same platform ( the LP12) and not have to fret about what it is that you are getting next! Easy,lol.
the perpetuation of the myth that LP12s are fussy to set-up is tiring and patently false. If you can change a bike tire or fix a leaky faucet you can work on and perfectly maintain your own LP12. By design, all upgrades are very easy to install in the field by anyone with an IQ barely above that a burger flipper or trash collector. If you’ve owned more than a few record players of moderate sophistication you’ll find the LP12 is among the very easiest to work on with world-class support from Linn.
Saburo-In the last few days I’ve watched several videos on the LP 12. It didn’t look that hard to me.

@saburo  Setting up an LP12 is probably no more difficult than a number of other high end tables. The issue is that, at least IME, a basic set up isn't really going to get you 100% of what the table can accomplish. Best to leave the set up to someone who has experience with this...and luckily there are still a number of very good 'fettler's' around.
OP, you spoke to one of the better 'fettler's' around in Thomas OK...did you not believe that his ability would add to the final result of how the table performs?

If I had only one turntable to buy and live with for the rest of my life it would be a new Technics. They are more speed stable than most 'high end' audio turntables and also really low colorations due to vibration. IMO/IME their biggest weaknesses are the rubber platter pad (easily replaced) and the arm (although compared to many high end audio arms the Technics arm is no slouch).
Ralph, you make an interesting point. If you could only have one turntable and had to live with it or the rest of your life, then buying one table that has nowhere to go as to upgradeability could be perceived as advantageous!
OTOH, if you wanted a platform on which to build as time goes by and to stay current with the best in analog ability, then the LP12 is far preferable to any Technics. IMHO.
I have a ridiculously simple old Linn Basik/Akito table with an Ortofon footfall issues (wood suspended floor...if I jump up and down next to it it's not happy...still), it sounds amazing, cost 500 bucks (used), and I've tried to replace it with something hipper and have thus far failed to do so. I should try harder I suppose as I could die any minute...
This question is impossible to answer because Linn invent each
year an ''imroved version'' . Who among us is clairvoyant?
wolf-garcia perhaps? 
If you could only have one turntable and had to live with it or the rest of your life, then buying one table that has nowhere to go as to upgradeability could be perceived as advantageous!
OTOH, if you wanted a platform on which to build as time goes by and to stay current with the best in analog ability, then the LP12 is far preferable to any Technics. IMHO.

I guess I don't get this at all. Here's why: might have to google 'Technics Triplanar' and click on images to see what I'm talking about:

The point is there is a lot you can do to improve the Technics (like add a Triplanar arm to it), but IMO it starts off at a better point than the Linn...

@atmasphere , I agree. I wouldn’t think twice before choosing the Technics before the Linn. Any Technics, the G, the GR etc.

As @lewm said, ’If I wanted to be sarcastic, I might suggest that it is the last turntable you will ever buy, but it might be a prelude to the upgrade-itis that afflicts some Linnies, courtesy of Linn.’

Linn have made a speciality of promoting upgrade-itis. For crying out loud the LP12 has had more ’improvements’ than virtually all the other turntables ever made.

Even now in 2020 they continue to pull the same old scam. All this talk of Linn whisperers, set up jigs, regular dealer involvement etc still gives me the chills. Doesn’t look as if much has changed.

As @chayro said, ’When well set up, it has a really nice sound that many people love.’

This I think is the problem. An LP12 when set-up well, no easy feat, does attain a near mastertape like sound quality, but it mainly depends upon the perfect bounce of its 3 point suspension.

This can be a very uncertain business due to the thick arm cable and the positioning of the motor/belt to steady the sub-chassis whilst in rotation. Of course it will work satisfactorily when just adequately setup but you will not hear what it can truly be capable of.

Furthermore, it was always considered to be at its best when sited upon a table where the vertical bounce could be most effective. Wall shelves can introduce exactly the kind of lateral instability it can handle least well.

It really is vital to get that suspension working as smoothly and freely as possible in a perfectly vertical motion. Once achieved, a whole layer of hash seems to be removed, and the elusive charm of the LP12 comes through.

Not bad for a design based on the Ariston RD11, which itself was based on the Thorens td150 which again was based on the grandaddy of them, the original AR turntable from 1962.

Here’s a rare clip featuring its designer, the legendary Edgar Villchur.
@atmasphere I guess it depends on whether you believe that the bearing ( or lack thereof) /motor/suspension ( or lack thereof), and overall build quality/SQ is where you want to end up with in regards to the Technics. If so, then sure it is a finished product in that sense. OTOH, once you have bought into the Technics platform, there is no real upgrade path offered ( sure you can change out the arm, but what about the other aspects as time goes by?)
IMHO, it is not a better starting point than a LP12 Majik, and certainly not better than an LP12 Klimax. Obviously YMMV.
@cd318 What you state about the set up of a Linn is also true of any high end turntable, they need to be set up correctly to give off their best. So, and i have said this many times before, if one is looking for a 'plug and play' type of turntable, then the Linn LP12 probably is not for you. The Technics definitely would be far better as a 'plug and play' solution. OTOH, if you want to get much closer to the sound of the master tape ( as you referenced) then IME the LP12 Klimax is far better at getting you there than any Technics I have heard ( and I have heard most of them, including the new 10R and 1000R). 
@daveyf  I've service thousands of turntables over the last 45 years.

The new Technics is nothing like the old SL1200 although it looks the part in every way. I took one apart with an eye to see about building a different plinth for it, and was surprised to see that it was a new design from the ground up (and so decided a new plinth wasn't needed)! So I'm not sure its fair at all to say that there is no upgrade/update path- Technics seems to have belied that comment to some degree. It employs 6 different damping systems in its construction (including a damped platter). Its bearing is nice and quiet to begin with, but there are after-market parts that can be fitted to it as well.

It is certainly more speed stable than most belt drives (and to verify this, use a Sutherland Timeline and see how well whatever 'table under test is able to keep the lazer dot from moving...). We used to make a turntable called the model 208 (since it looks for all the world like an Empire 208) and I would have no problem expecting that to run circles around any Linn, but I'll also be the first to tell you that the Technics is a better machine- its plinth is both dead and rigid, essential to prevent colorations, and its one of the most speed-stable machines available. None of that 'cogging' nonsense either.