Linn LP12 vs. VPI Classic 1 and 3

As an owner of an LP12, I am considering an upgrade to a VPI Classic 1 or 3 or 4. I have heard a Classic 1, but not in my system. Have not heard the up scale Classic 3 or 4. So my question is- for those who have heard or own the Linn and have heard the VPI's, do they sound better than the regular Linn Lp12 with Valhalla ( my version),...can they and do they beat the Linn with Lingo, and do they compete with the uber Linn-LP12 Radikal/Keel? If so, which models of the VPI are the winners in these comparisons ( if that is the case at all).
If you value PRAT then stay with LP12 or go with something like a good Rega.
I disagree, I had an LP12 Valhalla for years with an Ittok LVII arm and it was set up correctly and it sounded pretty darn good. Now, I can't speak for VPI's newer Classic line of tables, but I when I went to a VPI HW19 Mk4/SAMA/SDS/ET2, for me there was no looking back.
PRAT and the linn thats all u ever hear. Listen to the PRAT...u would think that no other table can beform this marketing sales gimmick?
The VPI is for sure a better Turntable than the Linn. The Linn is not all that great it is a POS. If you want to do something fun and offend the Scottish and the British take a fine piece of equipment such as an SME V tonearm and mount on a Linn Sondeck, and put on YouTube. The comments are great, this combination seems to offend our friends from across the pond. I guess that makes me bloody wanker and goofy Yankee! I should get back to my beer and put another piece of vinyl on my Sota Cosmos MK IV and place my SME tonearm with my Ortofon A90 on that vinyl and get back to business!
Thesoundhouse - you probably should have stopped after the first sentence.
I had a VPI. It was ok. I'm on my 3rd Linn LP12 properly set up. POS? Hardly, unless you are a d.i.y. and don't know what you're doing. I bought a Rega RP-3 back in May, and it's ok for the price, but just doesn't compare, especially since I got this last Linn for 1250.00 with a Black Ittock LVII arm.
But he's right about being [a] bloody wanker. :-)
Daveyf, just try posting this very same query on a UK forum (pinkfishmedia for example) and watch how many people really care about VPI there. The point is, they are from two different school of sound, hence you cannot compare them directly. You need to know which school you belong to.
Thesoundhouse - thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to add your insights. Really.
If I was to go into battle, I would want a bunch of "Linnies" on my side...they’re a relentless bunch. Death by a 1000 cuts.
Pani, I have to disagree with you. The VPI's and the Linn's are there to recreate the most accurate sound off the record. Simply by listening to the two, I believe one can formulate which is the more accurate and realistic to the "live". After all, isn't that we are all attempting to do with our gear choices?
The fact that in the UK people( according to you) don't really care about VPI, doesn't invalidate their products one bit, at least IMHO. Don't get me wrong, I think the Linn is a great table, however it is getting a little long in the tooth and I believe can be bettered. The question is- can it be bettered by these VPI tables?
Daveyf, I own an LP12 and have thought about changing to another brand of table. In my area it seems that the only dealers that display TT's are doing so with MusicHall, Rega or a few VPI. I did find a dealer with a Classic II and sat down to listen to it for about an hour. They had it set up in a great Moon/Sonus Farber system but had an entry level dynavector mounted. I am sure that with a more expensive cartridge I would have come away with a different impression. But in that listening session I did find the Classic II to have some merit in the extraction of the music from the groove, but it lacked a musical warmth that I gain from my LP12/Kleos combo. I have the Trampolin/Lingo/Cirkus/Ekos on my LP12 and have been waivering on getting away from it, mainly due to a need for change. I posted a thread here about 2 months ago that you may research for the replies I received. As for the "change" I feel I need to make, I have back-burnered it until I can get a chance to hear some other tables. Also the dealer that had the Classic II told me he had hopes of getting his boss to let him mount a Lyra on that table, then I would want to hear it again. I think that VPI has done a great job on that table and it is departure from the "traditional VPI" design, in my opinion, and I haven't ruled it out. Although the Classic III is the direction I would go should I buy. Also I am waiting to see and hear the Rega P10(?) or even the P8 along with other brands. But to answer your query, it is difficult at best to offer advice from a uncertain POV at this time.
At the end of the day the LP12 has many positives and a few negatives for my particular needs. If I keep it I plan to add a Khan and possibly other items. But after a while I realize that my returns start to diminish and I know that I won't go the way of the Radikal or the Keel as the costs are way over priced, in my opinion. I think at that point I will buy something else...but what?
I have a friend who got rid of a tricked out Linn in favour of a VPI Traveller, to me they sounded about the same.
Theo, I am of the same opinion as you. The upgrade path for the Linn is not IMO cost effective at all. I'm not tied to the VPI's, but they do seem to be easy to source and I have heard great things about the Classic 3 and 4. When I heard the Classic 1, it was not set up with a great cartridge and the system it was playing on was nothing special. So, I came away with a inconclusive conclusion.
Schubert, the VPI traveller compared to what version of the LP12? Perhaps the basic Linn would be in the same league as the Traveller, BUT I would have a hard time believing that the more upscale versions of the Linn would sound the same. OTOH, the Linn is so restricted with the arm ability that I could see if one had a LVX Plus or maybe even an Ittok mounted that the Traveller may sound the same, regardless of what version.
I'm using a WTA - that and the Naim Aro are IMO the two best arms for the Linn, this is one of the BIGGEST failings of this design ( no ability to mount a variety of arms) again IMHO. The VPI's do come with an arm that is far superior to these, IMO.
If it's so hard to make up one mind, there is an easy solution.. just buy both. Dollar for dollar, I'll still take the Linn.
Daveyf, I have no idea what version the Linn was, I had a Lp-12 once and all that tweak stuff made me ill, if a component needs all that I have no use for it.All I know is my buddy had about 4k in it and the traveller was at least as good.
Buy both, Polk432!
BTW, anyone compare the Linn Radikal vs. the VPI 3 or 4?
it's been a vey long while since I heard a VPI. Unfortunately it was a poor demo so the VPI was off my list. I wound up with a Linn LP 12, with an Ekos II arm, Arkiv B cartridge and Lingo power supply.

This past summer I thought my LP 12 really was only sounding fair. I had it tuned up by my Linn guru, and it once again had a sparkle.

I am intrigued by the Classic 2 table, though, but haven't heard it. I would welcome the chance to compare the two as all in all, the Classic 2 appears to be a good value as such things go. The idea of mating it with perhaps a Soundsmith cartridge is even more interesting.

My one question for VPI users is do they still hum with moving iron cartridges? I once heard a set up with a Grado cartridge which although highly musical, by the time the arm got near the inner grooves, the hum easily broke through the music to an objectionable level.
Pani, I have to disagree with you. The VPI's and the Linn's are there to recreate the most accurate sound off the record. Simply by listening to the two, I believe one can formulate which is the more accurate and realistic to the "live". After all, isn't that we are all attempting to do with our gear choices?
The fact that in the UK people( according to you) don't really care about VPI, doesn't invalidate their products one bit, at least IMHO. Don't get me wrong, I think the Linn is a great table, however it is getting a little long in the tooth and I believe can be bettered. The question is- can it be bettered by these VPI tables?

Daveyf, you are right and that is the ideal case. However, since you are asking for opinions on forums, I just wanted to point out that different forums favour different products. And that happens because there are different schools of thought on the subject of music reproduction. Everyone's reference is after all live instruments and voices but because absolute reference cannot be reached each of them choose a different sets of compromises. Hence what the UK guys think is the best compromise is typically different from the US school or say that of the Japanese school. If you can hear the products side by side then you dont need to think too much about these schools but if forums play significantly in your quest then you may want to talk to different forums at the same time to get a wider perspective IMO.
Pani, I agree with what you say. I ask the question on this forum to see what the
consensus of opinion on this forum will be. OTOH, I can assure you that I NEVER
buy any audio gear unless I have heard it in my own system and room first,
regardless of the hype or publicity it receives on forum's or elsewhere. I have
been an a'phile for abut 40 years; one of the very first things I learned was
how important listening in your own room is when buying audio gear. I also
concur that music, and the perception of same, is definitely in the ear of the
I would take a properly set up Linn over almost any other table.... but the key word here is properly set up. I can't do it, and the guy who used to do it for me has passed away. I've moved on to a Well Temepered Simplex which I am really enjoying especially because the easy setup make it possible for me to try out a bunch of cartridges. No alignment hassles ever. Awesome.
RE:" hum with VPI Classic" ---- Yes mine does and that's the reason that I'm getting an Aries 3 this month. There is a huge thread here which will provide a ton of information on hum problems with the VPI Classic.

RE:"Linn vs VPI Classic one" --- I had an LP12/Cirkus/LingoII/EkosII, and the Classic is a better table in a music sense for my taste and in my system. My table was setup by the Linn guru at Audio Directions.

I owned a Linn LP12 with Ekos 1, Lingo 1, Cirkus and Tramp 2. The table sounded okay and was a lot of fun and taught me the importance of set up.

Linn lost me as a customer as future upgrades became extremely costly and I had a difficult time justifying Linn’s pricing model. I also did not like the lack of adjustability for their tone arms. With the Ekos, VTA was difficult to set and there was no provision for azimuth adjustment.

If you like to mess around with table set up and you have some technical skill and patience, I would recommend a use LP12 with a recapped Valhalla, Cirkus bearing and Ittok LVII. For less $1500 you will have a great performing table that will not depreciate in value. Read the numerous Linn forums regarding set up and play around with the table’s setup. There will be periods of frustration and periods of reward, but in the end, you will know if this table is for you or not.

I am a VPI user now and love the sound of their table plus the affordable of VPI’s upgrades. If money is not a deciding factor, I would recommend the Classic 3, but for $1500 the used LP12 as described above provides great value if you are willing to put in some time and effort.
I had LP-12 with Ittok arm. I used several third party upgrades of power board, arm board and sub-chassis. Read all of the setup advice and worked diligently for proper setup. To my ears there was no huge difference between my digital sources and my vinyl. Thought seriously about trying the Lingo but decided to go for a major change and bought a Classic 2. In my system there is no comparison. My analog now clearly superior to the same digital sources and I find myself anxious to listen to my vinyl collection. Classic 2 with Soundsmith Counter Intuitive allows me simple adjustment of VTA, VTF azimuth. Also find basic setup easier with VPI jig.
I owned a Linn LP-12 for 35 years and always said it was the ONE component I would never sell. It always sounded good to my ears but, when the Classic came out, I had to admit the time had come to make a change. With the return to a metal platter, the machining available on the Classic and the solidity of the entire platform and tonearm, I think it was a definite step up. Not day and night, as in the hyperbole sometimes heard in reviews, but better. The bearing is better as is the mass and associated speed accuracy of the platter.

The VPI arm also works better with its sibling than the Linn with several tonearms I have tried over the years. A bit like how the OS-10 operating system works better with Mac computers than does Windows with machines manufactured by other companies.

If you make the switch I think you will be happy you did. (BTW... I totally disagree with the poster who said the Linn was a POS. Not even close to the truth.)
Wynnosu, I agree with you. The poster who said the Linn is a POS either a) has never heard a Linn, or b) Has never heard a correctly set up Linn.
Did you have a chance to hear the Classic 1 vs. the Classic 2,3 or 4?
BTW, you have a great looking system.
Thanks for the compliment, Davey.

No, I didn't hear the other Classics. My dealer said the 2 was not that much of an improvement, just a little more convenience with VTA. Supposedly the 3 was a fair amount better with the better arm and chassis upgrades. But I can't comment from personal experience.
Most "philes have heard a well-set up Linn, problem is they don't stay that way for long.
It is not well-setup if it doesn't stay that way for long. A lie repeated enough times becomes the truth.
WAS the truth on mine !
I just put together my 3rd LP12. Other than mounting the motor correctly, it's really not that hard to set up. I too am against the high costs of upgrades. Not dollarwise as far as what you'll accomplish vs. how much you spend.
Agree with Headsnappin. A well set Linn, should and does stay well set up for a very long time. That has been my experience. Many myths have been propagated about Linn's in the past, quickly falling out of a good setup is one of them.
Schubert, who set up your LP12?
I have listened to many LP 12 and find their sound and build quality lacking at
best. I have repaired too many LP 12s for clients to mention. I have set up way
too many LP 12 turntables and cannot imagine anyone getting away charging
the price they do for a inferior product like the LP 12, I cannot justify carrying
the product and seen better built tables at a quarter of the price. The Ariston
knockoffs were better built!
What do you mean the Ariston knock-offs? Ariston developed the turntable and brought it to Linn, a machine shop, to quote parts prices. Linn copied the design and also hired an engineer out of Ariston.

The design of the LP12 is Ariston, not Linn. This is known by many people, more in UK than USA. Ivor was merely the son, who liked audio, of a machine shop owner.

All bad luck for Ariston. But nobody can say they know that Ariston would have marketed it like Ivor did.