You may want to upgrade first to an Ittok LV II and go to a MC Cart like a Dynavector 10x5 high out put. I had the Basik LV X w/ the K18II before I switched, and it made a nice improvement. I may try a Lingo power supply at a later date. The Sondek LP 12's are nice turn tables. Also the Sumiko Blue point Special will have a sound less bright or softer than the Dynavector. Good luck.
the linn is a nice TT. the issue I had when faced with the sames question was...do I want to depend on someone else to do my upgrades and setups? I went to an AVID/SME turntable. Very happy. BTW the new DIVA II is out and is 2K without arm. I believe you could use your Akito. You can also look at a rega p5 with the upgraded PSU. There you are kinda loccked into rega cardridges (not a bad thing) or need to deal with VTA.
I think that you have a really fine turntable and arm there, but the cartridge is the weak point. Just upgrading that will get you to a much better place. A moderate compliance MC, such as the Dynavector 20X will mate well with the arm, however if you prefer to stay with moving magnet (moving iron)there are some nice choices from Soundsmith, Ortofon and Goldring. I think that you will be very surprised.
Had the exact same set up (with a Klyde cartridge) and like you was faced with the same dilemma. The thing with any Sondek is that you have to spend really serious money to get it up to current standards, only to realize that there still is a long way to go. As an example, the Hercules is a worthwhile upgrade (way better than the Nirvana IMO) but it is not in the same league as the Lingo, which itself is now way behind the latest Linn offerings. The same applies for any of their tonearms or suspensions. I appreciate the flexibility but you end up spending thousands on what is essentially a 40 year old design on steroids. Not to mention the notorious setting up/tuning out problems and the occasional suspect reliability problems. Bottom line: go for a newer design and marvel at the trouble free good sound it can offer. The Avid II is a great table (and you can still use your Akito) - a lightly used VPI is always a solid choice - while a Clearaudio or a Pro-ject are also solid bets.
I have had an LP12 for a few years now and looked at replacing it about 9 months ago. I could not find a dealer in my area (colorado) that had any TT's to demonstrate. I found a few but all were a serious step backward. If you like the Lp12 there a number of upgrades to had for the table. A word of caution, and this will be met with contraversy so I stae it is MY Opinion. Stay with Linn Upgrades. One you can consider as mentioned a new arm, or even the Lingo Power Supply can do wonders for your LP12. Another $300 upgrade is the Trampoline, it will lower the noise floor. The Cirkus bearing is a good upgrade as well.
I think the LP12 may end up being my last table. I will still look at others but for the investment I have come to appreciate it's value and rebuildability. Again many will disagree but that is the conclusion I have drawn.
I have a Linn LP12 with a lingo, circa 1990. It has a Rega RB300 and Lyra Dorian cartridge. I heard it against similar rigs with Trampoline and Cirkus. Mine had much more feeling. I think Linn upgrades sound better with their crappy solid state electronics. With tube gear I like the old LP12, plus lingo. Just my opinion.
I have a totally unmodified Linn, looked into upgrading it but decided it would be too expensive. I am also a VPI dealer so am familiar with their current tables. IF I was going to change tables I would go for a used Scout. But I would change the cartridge before I did anything else. Get a Denon 110 high output moving coil, about $95 on ebay. Competitive with the Dynavector at about 1/4 or 1/5 the cost. [20 years ago they cost the same]. I have seen others like Chashmal who like the unmodified Linn better, have no experience with the newer ones myself.
Thank you all for comimg to my rescue.
I found out today my linn was made in 1985, and as far as I can tell, it has not had any work done on it ina very long time, I am going this way, New arm board, New suspention, new oil, new belt, and am contimplating the Hurculies power supply,the K 18 cartridge is only about a year old, it was new and had never been used when I got it.
God help me I have broken down the lp 12 now and have ordered the parts, except for the Hurc.
Any other sugg ar every welcome.
I added a lingo at a cost of around $ 600.00 and think it was a great improvement.
Get a new, thinner mat. I forgot to say that I am ordering one. Martin Colloms, who has used the LP 12 for 20 years recently changed and said it was the best improvement for the price he has ever made. My Linn is also from the 80s and I am also changing the belt and oil. I am ordering the mat from a shop in Scotland I found on ebay as I couldn't find the mat on sites here.
New. Upgrade is a costly route that will generally not produce the same change.
Lingo = yes
Cirkus/trampoline = no
Belt change = yes
New mat = yes
Since you are going down the upgrade road, you should also seriously consider an upgrade in the power supply. If the lingo seems expensive, Origin Live make their own separate (external) power supply that also fits the Sondek. It comes in three different guises to suit different pockets; have not heard it myself but got some sterling feedback from other Linn users. If that does not fit the bill, do try the Herc upgrade. Trust me, sound wise, it is worth the outlay over the Nirvana.
I went thru this same decision tree around March of 06, and like you asked the Agon community for input. Like you I rec'd some solid feedback that in summary said try something different or stay put.........and also like you I chose to stay put. I did however take my dealers advice regarding the upgrade hierarchy from most to less impact on sound. Some of the upgrades were simply more affordable than others at a given time point however. I began with the Valhalla/Ittok LV II about 10 years ago and did the following: Cirkus/Trampolin, Lingo, Ekos/Trampolin II. My cartridges were Audio Technica OC-9, to Benz Glider, to Shelter 90X. This current set up has been around for a couple of years now and I do not have the urge to move in another direction. There is nothing left for me to do now but a Keel/SE and I would do it but I have to kids in college. I am glad that you are selecting to see what your table can "really do" before you switch.