Linn Sondek LP-12 happy/un-happy owners

I am considering the purchase of a new LP-12 and I here from both sides. Some say they are forever out of adjustment and they are a terrible TT. The dealer says that the adjustment problem is true of the old but has been resolved. Some owners say that they wouln't have anyother TT. What is the consenus of the AudioGoners that have owned a LP-12?
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I'm a happy owner. My previous TT lasted about 15 years. I wanted another table that would last that long again. My LP-12 was bought used, it's an older one, it's built like a tank and it's probably out of "adjustment" but I don't care because it sounds great. It's a pretty basic model, has a Shure v15xmr cart, valhalla p/s. It's very upgradeable if you choose and the only one I've done is a new tone arm cable (thought I had a new TT). One more thing, I also think a Herbie's Mat is a valuable tweak. Just my 1 cent.

I purchased my LP-12/Ittok in 1984 and just hung a ZYX Airy 3 on it and I'm thrilled. Bar none, this table has been the best money I've ever spent on equipment. Having said that however and having listened to many other tables available today that were not available when I bought mine, I would likely buy something else. The out of adjustment remarks are, IMO, urban legends. This also would depend on how often the table is moved and if the moving is done correctly. You do need to actually understand how the suspension works and why the taonearm cable needs to be dressed as it is. That's beyond a lot of audiophiles abilities. I'd look strongly at a Teres in the same price range. SOTA owners are very faithful, so I would think they also would be worthy of consideration. Now, if you were talking about a late model LP-12 equipped the way you like, used, then I would say that it would be hard to beat at that price point.
My vote is for the Linn Sondek a table with excellent timbre, fine detail, and outstanding musicality. I have had an Lp12 since 1983 with little or no trouble. It concerns me when someone finds that they can't keep one in tune though. Sound more like a Linn dealer that is possibly out of tune. In all the years that I have had my table I can only think of one occasion when it fell out of tune in less than one years time, so you shouldn't worry much about that. Do yourself a favor and look at Stereophile: Linn Products LP Playing System, Michael Fremer, November 2003 it is just one good overall review of the Lp12 as a complete turntable system. Many people over the years have talked about this table because in many ways it (has been/is) a reference standard for more than 30 years. Another interesting aspect of Linn and the Lp12 is that Ivor Tiefenbrun (owner/creator) pretty much single handedly proved to audiophiles of the day how great the analog source component could influence the overall musicality of a Hifi system. That in fact no matter how cool your speakers and amps were, the turntable/tonearm could make a greater difference (note that I did not include the cartridge). My point is... is there a better turntable today? Yes, maybe, and how much will it cost you? I find it interesting that until just a few years ago, most everyone compared their table to this one. Theo, most folks I've meet who run this table down (and they are few and far between) have never owned one. There are some real nice turntables out there today... this is still one of the best. Enjoy!
I used to own an LP12 with the Cirkus and Valhalla upgrades, I was never really satisfied with it. I sold my LP12 and bought a Teres 255/ET2/Shelter 901 and have not looked back. I have had the Teres for about 2 years now I'm very happy with it and have not even thought about any upgrades so I guess this is saying something about the Teres 255.

I purchased my LP-12 used in 2002. It is a 1992 Valhalla model with an Akito arm and a Sumiko Blue Point Special cartridge. My dealer set it up for me and it has been working fine ever since. It has not been moved since it took up residence in my home. It plays music without any fuss or drama. I have not felt the urge to upgrade so it must be doing something right.
I have owned an LP12 for a little over 20 years. They don't always go out of tune - my experience is that every 2 years or so it benefits from adjusting the suspension, changing the belt and checking the tonearm cable dressing.

When the Linn was launched the manufacturer cleverly shifted the goalposts by demonstrating the table with what were then quite exotic tonearms (Grace 707, FR64) and moving coil carts.

Until then, the majority of "high end" analog rigs were Japanese direct drives which came fitted with the manufacturer's own tonearm. Most owners fitted mm carts - the V15 MkIII was a popular choice.

The Linn dem'd well and the legend was born. It exploited a lack of knowledge of acoustic isolation.

My own experience is that an old direct drive deck fitted with a decent arm (modified Rega) and isolated on a sandbox shelf sounds better. The Linn sound whilst quite seductive has weaknesses - bass extension and articulation are not that good and there is a boom in the upper bass. The motor is a cheap AC type and speed stability is always an issue.

Set-up is crucial. Fortunately there are many excellent "how to" instruction sets available for free download and if you enjoy tweaking a Linn can be an enjoyable purchase. If you don't want to teach yourself Linn setup then be prepared to fund your Linn dealer's pension plan!

If you want to set and forget a Rega would be a better prospect. Many Linn owners have upgraded to Nottingham Analogue Spacedecks or Roxan Xerxes which offer the same kind of presentation with less drawbacks.

In conclusion, don't think about buyin a LP12 without hearing one and whilst the table has many advocates there are, in reality, better designs out there.
i bought an LP12 with valhalla and ittok initially and was quite pleased for a while. for me (and my ten thumbs), set-up issues plagued that particular table. i heard a basic teres setup and promptly sold the linn as the sound quality bested the linn by an embarassingly large margin. i then had a teres 245 with moerch dp-6 and allaerts mc-1b. unfortunately, my teres had problems of it's own (recurrent motor controller faults, cracked base that had to be replaced, etc. etc.). i now use a modified lenco L-75 with moerch dp-6 arm and denon DL-160 cartridge and have achieved what is easily the best sound (and reliability) to date.
flyingred's concluding remark pretty well sums it up. whatever table/arm/cart combination you eventually decide upon, enjoy the music!
I have not used a turntable in years, but I once had an LP12 for 2 or 3 years. I never liked it, I never enjoyed using it and I was happy when I sold it.

Perhaps it was never set up correctly in the first place, but the very tweakiness of its set up and suspension never made me feel very comfortable.

I found it sensitive to vibration and footfalls, and positively dowdy in its appearance and operation.

Linn's insistence on using what appears to be an ordinary, perhaps even cheap, felt mat on the platter was always symbolic to me of this quirky, voodoo product.

Like flyingred, I had some excellent experiences with direct drive turntables including a Kenwood KD-500 with an SME III arm and Grado Signature cartridges.

I also had a Yamaha PX-2 (praised in another recent thread) that was great sounding with several different cartridges including a Dynavector Ruby, Grado signatures and a Monster Alpha Genesis 1000 moving coil, back in my audiophile youth heyday.

If everything Linn says about turntable design is true, than these turntables should not sound good. Yet both of these tables kept me up listening well into the night, something that never happened with my LP12.

To be fair to Linn, I once heard an LP12 with the outboard power supply, with Linn arm and Linn cartridge, through Naim electronics and driving the original Linn Kan, sound very good and very musical.

But in general, these products never lived up to the cult like devotion and hype that they have somehow inspired in some people.

For my next turntable, I think a Michell Gyrodec SE would be a far sexier and I suspect very good sounding turntable, with any decent arm and a Denon 103 moving coil for some old fashioned analogue magic.

Whatever you decide -- good luck.

Plug and play is good for you. That's a bigger cult.
Not too long ago I auditoned a souped-up LP12 against an equally maxed-out Basis 2001 Signature.

The verdict: Basis 2001 - which was more refined and quieter. The Linn, on the other hand, sounded thin - more like CDs. (I've heard the older LP12s are warmer, albeit, not very balanced.)

But people still buy them! Go figure.

I didn't mention it earlier, but I'm currently using a tweaked Lenco L75 too, in a hardwood plinth, swapping between Expressimo RB250, FR64s and Mayware Formula 4. I designed and built the plinth with a removable armboard so swapping arms is a two minute task, whenever I fancy a change.

The Lenco will never win a beauty contest but it's producing the best analog sound I've ever achieved from my system. There's a simplicity and predictability about set-up that I'm really enjoying after years of hit and miss trial and error with the LP12.
Patrick aka Lugnut

Apologies if my post was indirectly, unintentionally damning of some of your tastes and preferences, but no need to be defensive. I was just trying to answer Theo's question honestly from my experience with an LP12.

And I am by no means a plug and play guy. I tinkered endlessly with my direct drive machines -- tonearm cables, record clamps, platter pads, changing the viscosity of the dampling fluid in the SME III, tweaking vertical azimuth - you name it.

But my LP12 just never did much for me, and my suspicion and curiosity increased against the background of cult like devotion and brainwashing stories I heard from Linn salespeople while - I mean whilst - living in London.

Again, I think the whole Naim/UK/Linn thing has a very musical, enjoyable style when set up correctly.

But to me it was never quite up to the hype or price tag, at least for new equipment.

If you love your system, that's great and I wish you continued happiness from it.
re "hit and miss trial and error"

psychological research suggests that variable rewards are much more compelling than a steady predictable payoff

apparently, this explains why gambling is such a vicious addiction and why people stay in abusive relationships hanging on the edge of their seat for a morsel of affection

perhaps this also explains why people tinker with unreliable vintage cars and LP 12s


I will also confess that, as an AUDIOphile, I love the gear as well as the music.

So fit, finish, ergonomics, rarity, build quality, materials and the silkiness of operation all contribute (or detract) from my pleasure in owning any particular component

Here, too, with no disrepect to Lugnut or any other Linn fans, the LP 12 was never a favourite.

Obviously there is no "consensus." But to add to the fray, if you have not already done so, you should read one man's opinion of the LP-12 at:

I am a VPI owner myself, and don't have an opinion one way or the other regarding the Linn.
I have been a happy owner of mine for almost 20 years. It was updated about 5 years ago to current status. It has always been great! The only issue is that it needs to be totally isolated from all floor vibrations. My experience suggests that the only way around this is to have a wall mounted bracket. You won't be disappointed.
Re: the link. This blogger has no shortage of opinions and self certainty, but I wouldn't buy a brand of klenex based on what he says, much less audio equipment. For me his bluster is annoying, but more to the point, in my experience I have found several of his opinions to be WAY out of step with my my ears, and with what I look for in audio. His views are in absolutely no way authoritative. I am frankly mistified why some people take him seriously, but to each his own.

Now, as to the LP 12. I own one and love it. I might some day replace it with a Nottingham, but in its most modern incarnation it is a wonderful table. There is a group of vociferous LP-12 detractors out there, many of whom haven't even heard a full spec LP-12 (with Lingo 2 powersupply, and matched with an Ekos tonearm and an Akiva cartridge), only the (MUCH) older models. Don't let them scare you off if you like the way it sounds.
Happy Linn owner here. Fully decked out (Ekos2/Lingo/Lyra cartridge etc), but the most important tweak was a killer isolation table. I use the Mana with a Neuance platform.

Huge difference in all aspects of the music when on the right platform. When the tt was on a plain heavy wood shelf, it vibrated and sounded thin.

Also, arm/cartridge compliance is very important on a Linn. I had a nice Grado cartridge that didn't work worth a damn - put it on a Rega and it was a good match.

I'm in the "I've replaced everything but my LP-12" camp. It killed the Nottingham Spacedeck in a side by side in my house. Flattened it.


Theo, Nothing like a little I love it or I hate it banter to clear the waters all up. As for the "cult of Linn" ... Only initial purchasers had to go through a blood ritual of sorts (as is true with most product purchased at retail prices for the first time) but, I was of the impression that you would probably be finding a pre-owned table. Just to set the record straight, I wasn't tricked mystically into buying a Linn and it then wouldn't have taken me 20 years to figure out that something else, and than something else, and... sounded better. Actually the dealer went out of their way to give me excellent A/B (like/same) comparisons and I was very much seduced musically. But in the "real world" if you get a Linn with the "circus" bearing upgrade and the "lingo" power supply, I think you could hold up very well to what is available in turntable recommendations in so far. Again, there are a lot of great tables out there. Good luck
Well I wish to thank one in all for sharing your opinions and experiences with the LP 12. I have a Rega P25 with about all the tweaks I can get on one and love it. But I really feel the need to go to the next step. I loke the fact that the LP12 has many upgrades available (tweak-a-holic here) and I really like a little wood trim on a TT. Don't know why but I am somewhat nostalgic. I keep my McIntosh gear even though there is better stuff out there I love the look. So looks are a consideration in the purchase of the next TT I buy. You fellow AG'ers have provided me a wide spectrum of considerations and I thank you all. As a final note (no pun) I wish to express my appreciation for this forum, I have always found some good advise here.
Opinons will vary, I never owned one, but I listened to minimum 12-15 Lp12 at various Linn Dealers in their demo rooms when I was looking for a "serious" record player. All I can say, I'm glad that this train of "hype" started without me. Compared to small Basis, Well Tempered and some others it always was slow and showed extreme limitations ( even the full loaded ones ) in the high and low frequency area. Even a Linn Dealer smiled when I asked him, what do the people say, when they hear a Platine Verdier in comparison, he also sells. His answer was simple:" ... they believe in something and I can make good money with it...."...
Sorry for not writing an enthusiastic comment, but in my opinion, that was one reason digital became so successful ...
Of course no apology necessary - I can't agrue with a man's ears. I'm glad you found a table that pleases you. May I ask where you were able to audition 12-15 LP-12's and compare them within the same stores to a variety of other high end tables? I assume you are not in the U.S. - U.K perhaps? Where ever you are, I want to visit.
When I was looking for a good turntable in Europe, I had a few visits at various LINN main dealers, they offered comparisons with various LP12 ( with/ without Lingo, Valhalla etc.etc. ) Some had Naim ARO Arms, some with LINN/Naim Electronics ( pre/power/speakers ) and other dealers had that and selled other turntables and different electronics. One gave me a demo with LP12's with FM Acoustics electronics ( the Phono, Pre and Amp and he was a Platine Verdier dealer, too ). Anyway, this is some years ago, I made my decision for a different brand ( not the Basis Debut, that was much later ).
I am a happy turntable owner. Please note that while I have a Linn LP12 moniker, I am not a fanatic. I enjoy music whatever brand. The whole secret is component matching and set up. I once heard a $50,000 system and thought the cheap stuff at Best Buy sounded better. Your ears and tastes also count. I have a Linn LP12 with ARO, Pinnk Linnk and Transfiguration Temper W. I also own a TNT with SDS, Graham and Spectral MCR cartridge. I enjoy them both immensely. Also have had Lingo Ekos pairings, Well tempererd Garrard 401, other VPI tables, etc. These two I have I settled on. The Linn has tremedous bass, is musical and wonderful to listen too. The VPI I have has the original series 1 platter with 5 bearing and motor, so it is warmer which I prefer over the newer VPI's with the clear Acrylic platters. I really enjoy my Linn and gives me hours of music pleasure. Set up. arm synergy and cartridge synergy are all very important. If you get it right, the LP12 is an awesome turntable. Once adjusted properly, I dont need to touch it for years (I have my own jig and adjust myself). The mags rave about scoutmaster, HRX, Nottingham, etc. I have heard these at dealers and found it incredibly difficult to judge them. They dont have my cartridges, they dont have my electronics, cables, etc. But with the setups, I didnt hear the magic I had read about.
My advice, if you want an excellent turntable, the Linn is great consideration. Dont get with anything less than an Ittok arm. Their lower arms, in my opinion, are terrible. If you buy one used, they are very reasonable and if you sell at a reasonable price, you can sell it very easily if you dont like it. It is really tough to audition tables these days with the lower end cartridges on tables.
I once heard a $50,000 system and thought the cheap stuff at Best Buy sounded better. - Linnlp 12

If you are thinking about a new LP12, no doubt it will be great. If you find a well maitained used unit up to say the Cirkus level, it will also be very, very good.

This is not to say that other turntables might not also be good, or possibly better, but it is doubtful that you will find a better sounding turntable $ for $.

If you find a cherry condition LP12 Cirkus unit with a Itok LVII tonearm and mount a Shelter 901 or better yet, a Shelter 90X, and put comparably deluxe electronics and speakers with the turntable/arm/cartridge you will hear sound that will make you very happy, IMO.

Go for the LP12, a good arm, and a great cartridge and then you can focus on the rest of your system.
In the response to my post, I heard a megabuck system that was so bad, I couldnt stand it. It was comprised of all respected equipment, but the pieces were not compatible. It was truly terrible. The reason I said that, was to reinforce my statement that matching is very very important. Systems have to be matched to get the best combo for your ears. That to me is why it is so difficult to audition and buy analog gear these days. No one ever has a setup similar to the one you have at home (at least my experience). The Linn LP12 is truly a great and musical turntable, one that has, in several forms, given me great pleasure since the mid 80's. While I have owned and sold a multiple mish mosh of high end tables including various Linn configurations, I ALWAYS kept at least 1 Linn LP12. I consider it that good. In the future, I am considering a Basis high end table if I get some bucks, but it will replace the VPI, not the Linn.
Anyways, try to find someone that has a table and use your own ears. The goal is not the table, its to enjoy the music for whatever reason is important to you. Enjoy.
as some say. Kind of like VTA. You can go overboard or you can just enjoy. The charm, look, upgradeability, and THE SOUND make the LP12 unique. I've had mine for a while and consider it the loci of my system.
Hi, You can count me in in as a happy Linn owner. I have an LP12(Anniversary edition) with an Akito arm and Troika cart. Valhalla power supply. As some of the otherposters have pointed out,unless you buy the full out big buck table, you can upgrade the Linn in stages. Right now I doubt if I'd trade it for anything else.
That said all is not perfect with the Linn.The thing is when and if you encounter a problem with the turntable they will fix it and in a relativly timely fashion.
Good quality and service never go out of style.

I would suggest for Thorens TD124MKII or Garrad 301. It is problem free if you can find a good set in 2nd market and it way much more musical. I have compared with 2 LP12 from my friends setup with ittok and various arm but cant beat my TD124MKII with SME3012 and Denon DL103R combi.

Count me as very happy. I have a old LP12/Ittok, upgraded over a valhalla with an Origin Live DC motor. For fun, compared it head to head with Lyra Argo on VPI scout and scout master. LP12 just sounded better. It was undeniable. Everyone in attendance agreed, even the Linn haters.
Well, mine is only a 1978, which aint pretty. But it has gone through all the steps. Every five years it asks a tuning. I have heard better but I cannot spend so much. My new tone arm is wonder scary sublime.