Linn LP12......That good??

I have an Ariston RD80 (very good) and a Thorens TD 160, also very good.
How good are the Linn Lp12 tt's??
I am always looking for the best most impressive sound.
I will have to sell the Ariston/Thorens if i buy the Linn because i will not need 3 turntables!
The Ariston almost looks like the Linn by the way.
So how great are the Linn's and what is the best combination to buy?
Yes. It's that good. I have had my Linn LP12 with Ekos tonearm, Arkiv cartridge, and Lingo power supply for 10 years now. I wouldn't think of trading in for anything different. I recently traded up to the ARC Reference Phono preamp. I continue to be amazed at just good this combination is.

Others may feel differently. But, it's hard to beat the Linn
what you own is arguably as good as the lp 12. the vintage thorens models have recently become quite popular, the td 160, 166, 147 as well well as others from the 1980's are just now getting the respect they always deserved. your ariston is also a gem. if these designs where made today, they would be thousands of dollars. many spend 2 to 3 thousand dollars on new tables that are at best average, and do not come close to the performance of what you own. i have a thorens jubilee and an oracle paris, and both keep me a believer and a collector of vinyl.
I have owned the Thorens 125 for 30+ years, its a great tt but the LP12 sounds much better. and the Lingo is even better. Also I have had several Thorens TT's of that vintage die on me. There is no Thorens parts or support . The Linn's have never broken down and parts and accesories are still available as the LP 12 is a current production model.
Check out for his opinion on linn :)
as weiserb says, the lingo upgrade is HUGE - I auditioned 2 LP12s side by side, one with lingo and one without, and the lingo sounded like it added at least half an octave of bass. if you decide to go for the LP12, GET THE LINGO!
do not take offense, but the 125 is a far cry from the mid-80s models.
Your question doesn't provide enough information to give you a really well thought out response but here's my take anyway. I've owned my current LP-12 since '84 and have done most of the upgrades offered along the way myself. In spite of it's detractors it is a really good deck and once tweaked stays that way unlesss you move it around incorrectly a lot. The only failure I've had was the Valahlla which I repaired myself for something like $10. A lot of the performance is dependent upon the tonearm used with it and proper setup. They are very inexpensive on the used market for their preformance. I love mine and wouldn't sell it even if I were buying a better table.

I know several people that owned the Ariston tables. Their comments when they come over for a music get together is that they wouldn't have jumped into digital if their old tables sounded as good as my Linn. They look similar and may be just great. I don't know. I've also owned Thorens tables dating back to '71 and my favorite was the 125. IMO, they are no match for the Linn but can understand an argument that they are equals. Again, as I stated above your happiness will be determined by the arm, etc.

I don't put a lot of stock in the compliments I receive from friends who drop kicked analog 25-30 years ago. There are just too many variables in the mix to toss what they owned under the bus. I'd guess I could work on one of your tables with a newer arm, properly mounted "okay" cartridge and they would be surprised with these tables as well.

I have no compelling reason to upgrade my table. I'd probably feel differently after new amps and speakers were inserted.

The used sweet spot is a braced plinth, Valhalla, Cirkus bearing and Ittok LVII Linn. If you can peddle yours and buy the Linn without much more outlay (+/- $400) then I'd suggest going for it.
No, not that good.

I recently heard a souped-up Linn (with all top-of-the-line associated Linn components) and came away not awed by the whole setup. The Linn is very popular because of its cult status, but when you really listen to it, it's all hype. Thin sounding like CDs, I would get something better (for about the same money).

Remember if you bought everything from LP12 ,Lngo,circus upgrade etc etc the whole rig would to out at $10K.Buy a used LP12 ans get a GOOOD TURNTABLE TECH!!!I have a 1983 LP12 with Grace arm and a Grado \$200 Gold cart I'd sell for $700.It works fine.Get mine or somebody elses and pick and choose which upgrades are worth it and which aren't.I used tork for a dealer who added Linn after I left so I could get the upgrades for cheap.But I have a $5K VPI and if anything am thinking of scaling back to a smaller VPI deck.It's not that I don't like sprung tables (it's an old wives myth that you have to re-adjust your Lin n every month-there as satbe in tune up and staying that way as the others youmentimed.For me the VP choice was based on their arms which allow qiuick tube/cartidge swaps.
George, if it sounded thin there was a problem with the setup and/or the associated components. I own Linn, VPI, Oracle and
Nottingham and use them all. The VPI TNT is the best of the bunch but the Linn is a wonderful table. IT DOES NOT sound thin.

The Linn with all its upgrades (especially the Lingo) remains one of the most musical sounding tables available. Its perceived top notch performance is no hype.
Linn Sondek Lp12 is that good.
And when you consider the seemingly endless upgrade path it is not a bad way to go. I have had a Linn Lp12 deck since '83 and have upgraded along the way like Lugnut. Do I think about changing decks? Not really. I listen to a lot of other tables and then I come back home to the Linn. You would have to pry it from my cold dead hands. Are there better decks? Sure! But for me the Walker Audio Proscenium Gold Signature is out of reach and would show up the Linn but at three to ten times the price depending on upgrades… I guess it's all where you want to go with it. There are a lot of great tables out today; in 1983 the Linn was arguably one of the best with the most promising future so I spent my money and wisely. Cheers!
illenema1: The guy (Arthur Salvatore) is full of hot air and VERY dubious opinions, at least as judged by my ears. Anyone who takes what this guy says as credible without verifying it with personal experience is a fool. Sorry to be so blunt, but it is simply true.

Now on to the broader point. As people have said, you really can't talk about an LP12 without specifying *what* LP12 you are talking about, e.g., what power supply (Lingo, Valhalla, Basik), what bearing (cirkus/non-cirkus), and of course what arm. The other thing to keep in mind is that these are not "plug and play" devices. How they sound varies radically depending on whether or not they are set up properly.

My own theory about the number of LP12 detractors is that many of them have only heard older tables, and often ones that have been poorly set up at that. If you plan to buy a used table on ebay, set it up yourself in your home , and then just start to spin records without giving the matter any more attention, you are probably much better off buying a Rega. Unless you are a talented analog geek with a lot of LP 12 experience - take a bow Pat (Lugnut) - it is going to be sonically miles away from what it can and should sound like. Most of us need a Linn dealer or Linn tech to make these things sing, especially if it is older and has been sitting in someone’s closet for the past ten years.

Narrod, thanks for your comments. A man who owns and uses 4 different tables has opinions that need to be heard!
Best Linn combo?...Lp12, Ekos, Circus, Lingo, Akiva.
Thanks guys for the information, i want to buy the Linn once with any of the important upgrades already installed.
How are the bearings in the Linns, is that something to be carefull of?
The Linn Bearng has been one of its strong points.
X1884, The bearings are good. You want the "Circus" bearing upgrade. It has very tight tolerance and cuts the surface noise in half over the old style bearing. I had an opportunity to A/B an exact table, tonearm, cartridge comp with the bearing against my deck without, it was a no brainer. I pulled the cash out and got back less noise and more detail. It was not subtle. Ahhhhh!
I sold and set-up Linns (circa 1975) and I have owned the Ariston RD11, Oracles (several), Rega, Thorens, Maplenoles (several), SOTAs (several) and, finally, the VPI TNT. I have compared the Linn (a recent version) with a SOTA and my VPI TNT. I preferred it to the SOTA but it was not even close to the TNT. The Linn was also substantially better than my Ariston and my Rega 3. However, I do agree with Arthur Salvatore's assessment of the Linn - it is still worth buying, if you can get it for less than half list price - but there are many more modern designs that are clearly superior for the same or less money.
Cleopatra52: Do you recall what arm and cartridge were on the LP12 you heard? When you say recent version, I assume it was Lingo (version II) with a Cirkus bearing. But the difference between an Ittok and an Ekos, or even between an Ekos I and an Ekos II (especially one with an Akiva mounted) is very dramatic.

I of course have no problem with people who have actually heard a full spec LP12 and compared it fairly to another table, and then concluded that they like the other table better (for example, a VPI TNT). But the specifics about the arms and cartridges involved are critical for the comparison to be very meaningful.
Cleopatra52, Nice to hear your well-rounded TT experience and balanced assessment of how the Linn Sondek holds up today. You have a perspective that many of us don’t, including myself. I have enjoyed my Lp12 since 1983 but couldn't draw those direct comparisons.
I'm glad I saw this post.
I can either upgrade my pre lingo/cirkus lp12 with lingo/cirkus or start looking for another TT, which will prob be a VPI Scoutmaster/sds. I like the general sound of the LP12, so I'm a little torn. Also, I can't upgrade the Ittok and afford the lingo/cirkus, so the Ittok will stay. Your insights would be welcomed.
Yes - It is that good.
I sold Linn in the mid 70's and also Ariston.
Do you want to know why Ariston looks like Linn???
It basically is a Linn.
Ariston parts are largely "cosmetically" rejected Linn parts.
We looked at several Ariston platters - looks just like Linn - but the "balancing weights" needed to be re-machined.
You don't see that on a linn.
The wooden plinth on the Aristons - if you look closely - is not flawless like the Linn is.

The Linn philosophy is bizarre, but it works.
If you tighten everything "white nuckle tight" like Linn says - it WILL sound better than if you dont.
Also - if the suspension is not set up PERFECTLY - it could even sound bad.
It's an extremely difficult turntable to set up - it can be close to an all day effort if done correctly.

Maybe the Linn's have a better bearing - or the "prime picks", so you might be better off with the Linn.
I'm not sure if the Linn upgrades work on the Ariston, 30 years is too long ago to remember.

I now have a Basis Turntable. I'm not sure which is better.

In 1980 I had a LP-12, Syrinx arm and Fidelity Research cartridge.
That was by far the best source I ever had.
Now I have the Basis 1400, RB-900 and Benz LO-4 cartridge and I feel it is no where near as good.

In my mind I somehow think that the Syrinx / FR combo is what I am missing, but maybe the LP-12 played a big part in that.

Everyone I know who owned a Linn loved it. You would probably be the same. Just remember all those bizarre set-up rituals REALLY DO make a very big difference, even if they do not maks sense


You don't want to upgrade from the Ittok unless you are spending a lot of money. It's a killer arm.


I still have my old FR cartridge from the day. What wonderful products FR made!
the cost effectiveness of the upgrade itself. Genesis audio here in So Cal quoted $2418.00 for the Lingo/Cirkus upgrade installed. For that and a grand I have a new (not nescessarily better) VPI Scoutmaster w/upgraded arm. I've had no opp's of auditioning either the upgraded Linn or the VPI. I'm just sucking up as much info as possible before buying blindly.
If you have not read Salvatore's comments on the Linn here, I stongly urge you to do so. I came to the same conclusion about the Linn long before I discovered his site. Nevertheless, this does not mean you should not keep your Linn. It is a musical table and, if you like its characteristic sound, you may not be happy switching to the Scoutmaster (or any other tt for that matter). If you are interested in continuing this discussion, please email me.
Holmejr, I concur with Lugnut about the Ittok arm. Had one on my deck since '83 and I'm running an Akiva on it now. Sounds excellent.

Again, the Circus upgrade is a big one cutting your surface noise in half and improving detail resolution.

An option, the Lingo shows up used on A'gon from time to time without the table. Cheers!
If you find some use in Salvatore's site, fine. But really I don’t see him as someone to be taken seriously - he is just some guy with a blog, a crusty temperament, and no small amount of a persecution complex.

He fits a very recognizable type in audio. The audio professional who has passionate opinions based on highly personal taste (in some cases opinions that are also informed greatly by personal, competitive grudges developed over years in the business) who then sets himself up as some kind of High Priest of Audio Truth. If you have been around even a short while you have run into many of these people, and low and behold, you can find equal passion in equally experienced people representing nearly diametrically opposed views.

Ultimately, you have to trust your own ears, and the ears of people who earn your trust by sharing your tastes - and by acting like reasonable, rational beings. If you have done legitimate comparisons of other tables with an LP 12 and found other tables you like better, fine. I am happy for you. But you do your views little credit by in any way linking them to those of Salvadore. Salvadore’s comments on the LP 12 are dripping with what appear to be best described as his personal issues. He is so wildly unfair in his statements about the LP 12, one concludes he is either simply ignorant or passionate beyond rationality on the subject. For instance, he dismisses the dramatic improvements in the LP 12 with sarcastic reference to “upgrades” upon which no one should waste money. He refers to the LP 12 as essentially nothing more than a successful marketing scam. I could go on. I honestly can’t make any sense of where the man is coming from other than it be from some sort deep set of personal issues (bad competitive experiences as a dealer, I don’t know what). Or, to be as charitable as I can be, perhaps it all stems from passionate personal beliefs about what “the right” sort of turntable design should be. (Of course, abstract design opinions and sonic experience with a real product – i.e. the modern, full spec LP 12, are very different things.)

Again, if you have some use for the man, fine. But you greatly weaken the seriousness of your opinion about the LP 12 when you reference this sort of guy to buttress it.
Here's a catch.......Currently using a Grado Red and have a Shure V 15 III, just bought a nice pre amp last week with a phono stage capable of any cartridge.
So how about i step up to a MC cartridge, well i more bang for the buck doing that rather then replacing decks?
The pre is a Krell KSP-7B......still need a better amp then my Bryston 4B though.
I don't know why this TT still gets flooded with politically-intense discussions. I too owned the LP-12 for 18 years. I had not one problem with it nor the Ittok during that time. Now that says a lot about a product.

A year or so after I got my Linn LP-12, I went to another Linn dealer who was also a Goldmund dealer. They had both TT's set up and the salesman was very friendly to give me the time to hear the two back to back. The Goldmund Studio was simply in another league in terms of musicality. It was absolutely wonderful. But still, the Linn played the music mighty fine and I was still a happy camper with the Linn for many many years.

Many years later when I brought home a Clearaudio Ref TT, it took no time at all to immediately hear the low-end extension come out of LPs like I had not heard in my home before. And there was a definite difference in tonality in the context of piano and vocals with the Clearaudio clearly bringing on more definition and clarity. It reminded me so much of the Goldmund comparison. I do not know if this is the table or arm differences or both, but still the Linn did quite well compared to the much more expensive Clearaudio. Still, the Linn's shortcomings were quickly heard again.

I did not hear the Lingo but come on guys, be serious, was the Linn's Valhalla motor circuit the entire reason for the Linn's mediocre bass performance? I doubt this very much.

Continuing on with the issue of credibility, I think the biggest fault that many Linn fanatics have is constantly blaming those who prefer other TT's over the Linn because the Linn they heard was incorrectly set up. Give me a break - this excuse gets old. The Linn documentation to do this is excellent and with patience it is very straight forward to correctly set the springs, the arm cable dressing, the arm board level, etc. My Linn dealer went through this process very thoroughly with me and I kept it in tip-top form throughout. And surely the Linn/Goldmund dealer did too. But my ears made it very clear that the Linn was a good turntable/ was simply not great.

Obviously, my comment about Salvatore has struck a nerve. I am certain that his critism of the Linn has made many people quite upset. But I do not have a blog, I have never been called "crusty" (at least not to my face) and I certainly do not have a persecution complex. However, I have had a lot of experience with many turntables over the past 30 years and I essentially agree with Salvatore's position on the Linn. I have also had many friends over the years who have used Linns and some that still do. I am sure that, even those that have moved on to better tables, would never lament their years with the Linn; however, I am equally certain none would want to go back to the Linn having experienced superior sound from more modern designs. On the subject of marketing: Linn wrote the book on marketing in the high end audio and, like all very successful marketing schemes, there is a considerable amount of hype and exageration (even untruths) in statements made.

Ok Newmanoc, We get your take on Salvatore's somewhat eccentric ruminations. Frankly it's easy to criticize others for their opinions/experience and quite another thing to risk putting your own thoughts out for the same for mentioned scrutiny. This is meant only in a friendly nature and I have little interest in confrontation for it's sake alone but, where are you at on the thread topic "Linn LP12......That good??"? I found Cleopatra52's post to offer an opinion based in sound experience and the fact that this A'gon member mentioned Salvatore's site as a point of reference I see as no huge crime. In fact, I find a number of points on which Arthur Salvatore hits the nail on the head. Anyway, I believe it would add to your credibility and help X1884 and the rest of us to offer your options/experience to this thread.
"I did not hear the Lingo but come on guys, be serious, was the Linn's Valhalla motor circuit the entire reason for the Linn's mediocre bass performance?"

Actually, yes. The lingo adds what seems like another octave to the bass over a Valhalla, and that is just the beginning of the improvement. I've owned both and know the difference first hand. It seems crazy that a power supply alone could do this for a table, but it does for the LP 12.

As to your comparison of the LP 12 to other tables, keep in mind the version of the LP 12 you were using -valhalla, cirkus, ittok - can be had for around $1500 on the used market. There is nothing I have heard in this price range that sounds remotely as good. The same is true once you add the $1000 a Lingo costs on the used market - it is still far and away the best I have heard for the money.

Where I think people choke on the LP 12 is the idea of buying one new. I suspect this is a very fair criticism. (But incidentally, not the question raised by the original poster.) I haven't heard enough tables in the 10K range to say for sure, but I would be surprised if you couldn't do better than a Linn for this money. (But I should say I have heard Clearaudio tables and greatly prefered my much cheaper used Lingo'd LP 12.)

But I do not own stock in Linn, nor have I married the equipment. And by no means have I done all the A/B's I would like to with other tables. I am always on the look out for things I like better for the money. I would anticipate that if I don't end up replacing my LP 12,at the very least in a few years I'll be like Narrod - the happy owner of more than one high end table.

As to set up, it IS a big issue. Perhaps not for you, who have taken the time to learn what you are doing, but this in no way describes the average guy picking up a table on ebay. And if not set up properly, these things a less than half of what they can be.
There are many rigid suspension TT out there that have a blacker background than the Linn but I find many of them also are not as lively in the reproduction of acoustic music. They seem to suck some of the life out of the music yet give a sharp relief or contrast if you will, of what is left. A great audiophile trick but I'm looking and listening for the sound of live music.

Excellent comments Newmanoc, I would echo your assessment of the Lingo and the used price of a Linn as a value in the current market. The last bit you offered is a serious caveat to those unknowing or not interested in set up, yet it wouldn't stop me from buying one used today if I hadn't paid retail for one so many years ago. IMHO I feel set up makes all the difference. Cheers!
I was not implying you were crusty, paranoid (or a blogger). Indeed, your comments in this thread have struck me as measured and reasonable, which made it striking when you linked them to Salvadore, whose opinions are none of these things. And I do not speak about his LP 12 opinions alone. If he said nothing at all about the LP 12, or even if he said he liked it, I would still think he is a crank and a bit of a quack. He states views on many other audio matters in an absolute, arrogant manner that grate when you know he is dead wrong as measured by your tastes and those of many of your friends. But more than my finding him irritating, I think it is important for me to push back anytime someone sites him in one of these threads as authoritative, lest less experienced posters become confused that he speaks with any sort of legitimacy on audio beyond his own highly personal opinion. People must make up their own mind based on their own ears, and I believe trusting Salvadore for many is a recipe for sonic disaster and wasting money. He is so far off the mark on many quite expensive recommendations (again, at least based on my ears and those of many others I know).
Ho-hum, this is getting tiresome.
Newmanoc - I'm very happy that you are happy with your Linn. Really!
I am also very happy with my TNT.
Shall we leave it at that.
I don't back off on my general assessment of Salvadore, though do regret calling him a "bit of a quack." That was not kind or mannerly of me. And yes, I can find some things he says that I agree with.
I agree - it is getting tiresome. Let's leave it and go listen to some music.
Newmanoc. Rather sad to see you slate Mr. Salvatore the way you do. Having corresponded briefly with him in the past I found him to be well spoken, polite and gentlemanly. Audio is richer having characters like him around and I found his website very insightful, well thought out and for the most part very accurate. Including his comments about the LP12.

You say of Salvatore 'he is just some guy with a blog, a crusty temperament, and no small amount of a persecution complex.', 'dripping with what appear to be best described as his personal issues', 'simply ignorant or passionate beyond rationality', 'sort deep set of personal issues'

I went to the trouble of looking at the list of equipment you posted; out of 11 items you posted, 9 have the Linn brand name. My word! Rather bizarre you would accuse Mr. Salvatore with having 'personal issues' when it is quite clear to see who is having them.
I went to the trouble of looking at the list of equipment you posted; out of 11 items you posted, 9 have the Linn brand name. My word! Rather bizarre you would accuse Mr. Salvatore with having 'personal issues' when it is quite clear to see who is having them. - Pauly

Thought you'd never notice.

Busted. ;)
the guy's got an ariston and a classic thorens. i don't think he's missing much. the odds of coming across these tables in cherry condition are just gonna get harder and harder.
I wanted to add one more thing. The very nice gentleman who sold me one of my LP12's upgraded to the VPI TNT etc and He personally felt it was better than the LP12.At a purchase price of $ 8,000.00 or so. But He was noticably sad to see the LP12 table leave (I paid $ 1,200.00). Remember the only opinion that matters is yours!
There's way more agreement here than disagreement. I believe also that a used Linn is the best bang for the buck turntable on the market. Mr. Salvatore is a non-issue to me. I'd drop kick the moving magnets and get one of a number of moving coils X1884. Many are very affordable and will be enough of a catapult in performance to make you happy for a very long time. Sorry if I offend any mm supporters but this is just my opinion. Technically a Denon DL 103 is not an ideal match for an Ittok but I understand many people use them and are very happy. A Sumiko Blackbird or ZYX RS20 or 30 would be choices for not breaking the bank. A ZYX Yatra is really special at street prices offered by Sorasound. This is my advice. FWIW. YMMV. Good luck!
HI X1884.
Hello Dcc, We can hear you just fine. FYI, the 'caps lock' key is located at your left, just above the 'shift' key. Just tap on it once. Then type away. Cheers!
Sorry folks! Thats the result of being tripped out at 1 am still listening but half sleepy. Just to add, I come from a diy background and do appreciate the technical aspects and quality of design/materials used in constructing a good TT. IMHO, the expensive newer linn is using expensive power supplies to "improve" a mediocre toy motor and lightweight platter. The very fact that the newer linns do not have the old bloated bass and colorations implies the defects of the original design - which surprise me why no agoners commented on the "commercially driven recommendation" partnering of linns with "fast" amps like the naims. Again another "solution" to an inherent shortcoming. I got an old garrard 301 and transferred over in the linn arm - despite a bit rough, blew the linn away in attack and authority. Do have fun looking at idler drives. cheers
Thanks for all the responses guys, looks like i touched on an interesting topic!

Right now i have sold the Ariston and am using the TD 160 (slight mods) with a Shure v15 III........and i find it hard to believe that for around $1200 i will get a worthy performance gain......Is it possible the Linn is over rated?

I like the Shure over the Grado red, although the grado is a little quieter but less dynamic.

I wish i could put my turntable up against a Linn just to see the difference.
Nobody has mentioned price.With the $3K cart the Linn system is $10K so it ain't cheap.Again I mentioned that I have a Linn as a second deck which I keep saying I am going to sell but don't.Just not sure of I want to invest in upgrades when other decks like VPI,Blue Note,and otehrs exist.But one urban myth is you have to adjustthem every second play.Even though more susceptible to losing there setting because of being sprung once perolerly set up they do hold the setting for a while.Maybe not like a SME10 but there is a tade off for how you set up the suspension hard onmes will give hard maybe faster paced sound sprung ones have there virtures as well.