Linn or VPI

Hi, My dilema is which new setup to purchase. The Linn with Lingo-Ekos+Linn cartridge or the VPI TNT with a Benz. Dealers have a preference to the product they sell. Both get great reviews but they seem to approach things differently.
Any input is much welcomed. I have Martin Logan's and Levinson amps and preamp.
I've owned both. You can't go wrong with either. I prefer
the TNT. The TNT has the blackest background I've ever experienced with analog. Once set up it stays that way.

Good luck,

I had a full boat Linn front end, went from an Arkiv to a Ruby 2 and then to a Basis 2500, Graham 2.2 and a Ruby 2. I prefer the Ruby in both arms because it tracks much better than the Arkiv, is a little warmer and is much cheaper to retip. Of course your priority may be different.

I wouldn't buy a new Linn today. My Linn dealer lost their LP 12 expert and you must have dealer support for this table. It's been many years since Linn has done anything new with analog and I suspect it may get more difficult to get service in years to come. The EKOS is nearly a fifteen year old design. Of course when you have the support the Linn system stills sounds great.

I went with the Basis/Graham because it sounds better to me and I don't need a local dealer. Set up and cartridge swapping is a snap. The engineering of the arm and table gives me great confidence they will work for many trouble free years.

My new set up has a more exact sense of space and better bass precision. The instruments of a string quartet can be more easily placed, side to side and front to back, than before. There are no drawbacks I can hear.

I suspect the Graham arm is the reason behind the improvement. A Graham 2.2 in a Linn would be interesting to hear. Unless you are very skilled in set up, or have absolute confidence your Linn dealer will be there ten years from now, go with the TNT. But, if you can consider the Basis.
I have little experience with the Linn, but quite a lot with VPI. The TNT has been a great table, and a joy to make small changes over time--very modular. Also, I can say that VPI as a company and Harry Weisfield are a real pleasure to deal with. The products are well engineered, well made, and easily upgradeable. Customer service is excellent--as any small high end company should be. There's really not much more I could ask for. I also own Martin Logans and Levinson.
Thanks for your inputs. Do any of you buy into the premise that the Linn's are more "musical", while the TNT is more "analytical". Also does the TNT require allot of room?
I think the TNT is VERY musical--but I think that has more to do with the cartridge, set-up, and phono stage. I use a tube phono stage with cryo treated NOS tubes. The sound is pretty incredible--just makes you want to listen to music. As for space, YES. The TNT does require a lot of space. I'm using an 18 inch by 30 inch slab of granite to put the unit on. Also, you should be aware that the TNT does require some significant set-up. It's not like most turntables, where you just put them on a shelf/table. While all tables require the critical arm/cartridge alignment, the TNT is almost like a small building project that you do first. It's not that bad. Once you've done one, it's very easy. But the first time you see all the parts for a TNT you'll think you bought a small do it yourself project.
I haven't owned the TNT, but I did have an HW-19 jr. I switched to a Linn with Ittok & Lingo for the reason you suggested. I was thrilled with the VPI until I heard the Linn in my system. The dynamics of the VPI are superior to the Linn, but the Linn gives the music much more "life," thus, more musical. I also have a friend who gave up his TNT for a Linn.
That's my opinion. I think it is something you'll have to hear for yourself and decide what you prefer.
I thought it might be nice to hear from someone on the other side of the fence. I like the way that the Linn handles the mid-bass. Yes, still a small hump and not as literal as the VPI, but more liquid and bouncy. The transition from the upper midrange to the low treble seems to have a bit more bite and sparkle as well. That too suits my tastes. The modern Linns hold set-up very well but are still more needy than the set-and-forget VPIs. Try to spend as much time as possible listening to both. This is clearly a major buying decision. BTW where's TWL he'll weigh in with another excellent alternative.
Here I am. I have owned a Linn and liked it very much. However, I am a factory trained Linn set-up guy, so I didn't have to worry so much about set-up and periodic adjustements. Even though the EKOS is an old design, it is still very competitive with the top arms.

That being said, I think I would go for the TNT, as the Linn is getting a little long in the tooth, and can be bettered in the higher price range tables.

I would also recommend a look at the Teres Audio website. They have tables that will compete with anything, at very reasonable prices. I use the Teres 245, and would put it in a shootout with a TNT any day of the week.
I'm curious why you have limited yourself to Linn and VPI? There are many excellent turntable choices these days. The big drawback to the Linn has always been the set-up issue. I personally would not want to rely on someone else to keep my table in tune. Linn is the only one I'm familar with that has this problem. In this digital age anyone wishing to spin records would be well advised to learn how to do their own set-up and tweeking. My first "real" table and arm was a Linn. Since then I've owned Sota, VPI, Well Tempered Classic, and for many years now have been very pleased with my Well Tempered Reference. While the Linn is an excellent table I believe it has long been surpassed by many other brands. If you want to stick with VPI you might give serious thought to the Aries, which has a much smaller footprint and is easier to set-up.
If i had to choose between these two tables, there is no doubt in my mind as to which direction i would head in. Personally, i would go for the VPI and never think twice about a Linn. Linn's are EXTREMELY tweaky and need someone that is willing to fidget with the table quite a bit, have very poor isolation from external vibrations, have a tendency to suffer from acoustic feedback when other tables stroll right down the same path unhindered, etc... I am basing this on my past experience with older Linn's from many moons ago, so take that into account.

As others have mentioned, there are several other alternatives to the tables that you are looking at. This is not to say that the VPI is a bad table, only that i think that you might be able to find alternatives that may be more appealing in the long run. I know that Albert likes the Basis / Graham combo and Twl has already commented on the Teres, which seems to be a nice design also. Personally, i am a fan of Sota tables for very specific reasons.

I would take a look at ALL of your options very carefully. With the amount of info and resources that we have nowadays with the internet, one is no longer at the mercy of local dealers trying to "pimp" their products, possibly at your long term expense. Sean
I'm in total agreement with Ncarv. I own a LP12/lingo/arro/troika, no circus bearing, no trampoline. I've listened extensivly to Basis and VPI tables with various arms including Grahams and JW Memorials. And on some particulars they can and do better than the LP12. However none are as overall lively and musical. I've listened to these and other tables over the last 10 years and I still haven't heard one better enough for me to replace my LP12, although a loaded VPI can sound pretty damm wonderful. The LP12 being a little touchy? yeah. Do all it's upgrades make it better? No. The Arro tone arm (IMO) was the best upgrade ever. The timbre justs really hits the mark and it is so so much cleaner than Ittok I had and the Ekos I tried. And it will sound dramatically different on different stands, shelves, furniture, whatever. If it's on something to heavy, you'll hear the cat walking on the other side of the house. Too soft or pliable and you'll lose your top end.
But with all this said, it still has it's magic. I suggest you take the some samples of the music you will tend to listen to most on vinyl and give a listen on each. I tend to think if you lean more toward classical or real light stuff, you'll like the VPI better. But for rock, blues and old soul, you'll go for the magic.
I have a full blown lp12 at home and I just got a Aries Scout for my office at work. What can I say? Vinyl is the way to go!
Have fun,
VPI scout is the best I have heard for the money. Not to say it will be better than your origenal set up.Just to say I have tried. The Rega,Basis,Clearaudio. The Vpi was the better of them
Thanks for the info. I'm very impressed by the level of input +info that you'all have so kindly provided.The reason I limited myself to Linn+VPI is that I have friends who own both+both attest that theirs sounds better. I live in a rural area+don't have the ability to audition allot of gear. So far the only thing I disagree with is that the Linn is sensitive to vibration...I've jumped up+down next to his Linn in his listening room I even tapped the Linn while it's playing +no skipping etc. And he's had the Linn just a few feet away from his spkrs at full volume +no problems. It seems that the Linn is a simplier "older" style while the TNT is "newer" technology +looks real cool!
Some of the other tables mentioned I'm concerned that they will be in business yrs from now or would we own another boat anchor?

You have a point on who'll be here to back up the table years from now. That's why I suggested you go with a table as bullet proof as you can get. If Linn really was committed to analog why is it they haven't introduced any new products in many years?

I had my LP12 for about 12 years. My expert could set the table up where it wasn't sensitive to vibration, the same result you found with your test. You should be able to bounce the spindle, lightly of course, with your finger while playing a record without skipping. The arm/cartridge should only move vertically, not side to side. I found that this really told me if the unit was set up correctly. The Linn is more sensitive to vibration but if set up right it isn't really an issue.

While you've heard lots of opinions, good ones, remember this. Until you live with a front end for a long time and optimize it to suit your needs, you really don't know. You have to listen to many records for months to know for sure. The reason is there are just to many variables to make a decision quickly. Consider how many adjustments one can make to an arm/cartridge. Small changes in VTA or tracking force can make a huge difference.

I can tell you this. The Graham is a better arm than the EKOS. The Basis/Graham long term sounds at least as good as the Linn/EKOS, I think better, has solid engineering, is built to last and can be worked on by the owner alone. I suspect the VPI has the same advantages but I cannot comment on it's sound as I haven't heard it. Think twice about a Linn.

Get the TNT
Elkyman: As i stated in my post, my comments are based on older Linn's. I do not know if they have made any changes to these as i have not seen / used one of these in a LONG time. My friend Carl used to be a dealer for them back in the mid 80's. There is a Linn store in downtown Chicago though, so maybe i should stop by to see what they have to offer now.

Other than that, i have a review from High Fidelity magazine from "way back when". They did a comparison product review between the Linn LP12, another "high end" TT and a respectable yet inexpensive Japanese model ( Kyocera ). Out of the three, the Linn had by far the worst isolation. They specifically stated that the Linn was hard to get set-up, that it suffered problems from heavy footfalls, mistracking, acoustic feedback, etc... when the other tables did not. If you can mount the Linn on some type of specialized isolation device, keep it perfectly level and balanced, minimize external floor-borne or air-borne vibrations, etc... you might not run into such situations.

While the installation that your friend has was obviously done quite well, not everyone is capable of setting up or having such an installation. In those cases, i can pretty much guarantee that there are other tables that will perform better with less hassle. After all, a "good" product should be designed well enough to overcome most of the common mistakes / less than optimum installations that most people would consider "normal". If one were to take the extra steps to really make such an installation "sing", that would fall under the category of "tweaking". Obviously, your friend has done quite a bit of that.

Since others have stated that owning a Linn and getting it to perform optimally and keep working at that level would require a "factory trained expert", that alone should scare you away from owning one. It should also tell you that i'm not alone in my beliefs or comments.

To each their own. As i've said before, buy and use what you like. Nobody else has to use it, listen to it or enjoy it. As such, do what will make YOU happy as that is all that counts in the long run. I've seen WAY too many systems built on "brand name recognition" that absolutely sucked. Sean
Oracle Delphi V would be my only pick. Do some research on this ''s easy to set up, infinitely tweakable, and very easy to swap arms if you're so inclined. It's also drop dead gorgeous.
I've had both. It's not even close: the VPI crushes the LP12. Look at the new TNT HR-X.
The blunt problem is that Ivor Tiefenbrunn, owner of Linn, is utterly uninterested in the table and they have not kept pace with the astonishing improvements that have taken place in the past years.
I liked my old LP-12 so much that I got another one for my living room system. Now I have two. I don't know how the tables are "tweaky;" I've never tweaked or touched mine at all. I'm probably just naive, but what am I supposed to be watching for and tweaking from time to time? One of my Linns has the Akito arm, the other has the Ekos.
Just a different word: if you're thinking of spending $ in the TNT range, consider the SME 20, either with an SME V arm or with a Graham (I prefer the former combination). It has all the virtues and more of the TNT (rock solid stability, wonderful tracking, amazing bass clarity) in a footprint substantially smaller than the Aries. The Linn?--dated more than a decade ago.
Linn is wasted money. It never works properly, when you open the window, it will sound different ,it is coloured and totally overrated. Maybe it was not bad in the 80's but today, forget it.
I listened to maybe 10 different ones, all adjusted from socalled 'specialized' Dealers. 6 were crap, 2 just ok, and the next 2 listenable ( fully loaded ones ).
Typical average product, which was 'managed' with reviewer's '' help ''.
Based on the various options, it is a Dealer's Dream, the customer will return always for a 'upgrade'.
It is your money, listen to it, when you are able to listen, you hear it at once.
Just my opinion.
No, what do you REALLY think?
Have TNT will travel. Previously had Oracles that aside from a lack of bass compared to TNT was a marvelous table that needed tweaking. Aside from leveling occassionally due to feet losing air the TNT is low maintainence and sounds incredible while very quiet due to its high build and parts quality & engineering development. The TNT simply isolates better than any other table I was able to audition and afford.

The Linn store is no longer in Chicago, it turned into a place called Avant Garde and then went out of business.
I do know one of the original employees from the Linn store if you want to email him, let me know, he is still in Chicago.
Hey thanks guys I do appreciate the information+education.I'm going to post a wanted to buy a TNT +see what is available.
Phil, i went to the auction that the bank held once they had assumed Avant Garde Audio. I knew that they had Linn products, but did not know that they were located where the old Linn store was. I did think that it was kind of "weird" that Linn would set up a store where there was already a dealer or two selling their products though.

Now that Linn is gone out of Chicago, i guess that left room for Naim to move in : ) Sean
If you're willing to consider other turntables, you might consider a Rega P25 or P9. I haven't had any experience with either, but Rega does share some things in common with Linn. A Rega is easy to setup, and I've heard of many LP12 owners who've converted, and never looked back. Rega also appears to be sticking with analog. Of course, there are people who will tell you that Rega is junk...but isn't that the truth of any brand?

I'm also in the Chicago area and would love to be able to contact this fellow you mentioned! My e-mail is posted somewhere here under my username.

C. Dunn