Linn Sondek question


What is it about a Linn Sondek LP12 that requires it to be tuned up?  I was at a Linn specialist recently and was amazed at the amount of Linn Sondeks he had just in waiting for "tune ups" or whatever they needed.  There must have been at least twenty.  So, how often does this have to be done?  Is it the springs, weather conditions etc.  I never see other tables requiring this kind of attention for what seems to be required on a regular basis.  Can it be done by the owner?  Seems like a lot of fiddling.  The setup that was there sounded great.  There is a specialist on youtube that posts many Linns and the sound quality is fantastic, but at what cost?  Like I said, I have never seen that many tables requiring attention in my life.  So what his the thing with these tables?
tzh21y
It's British (or Scottish, actually).  Have you ever owned a car with a Lucas electrical system?  In this case, it's the spring suspension that apparently requires attention at intervals.  A cynical interpretation would be that the "tune-ups" are purely for psychological effect; when the owner gets it back, he will convince himself that he is hearing a huge improvement, whether or not that is the case.  But I'm not saying that's necessarily true.
Apparently, if you push down the spindle and let go, the suspension should bounce a number of times straight up and down, symmetrically. Look at the arm board and ensure it is level all the way around and that it bounces in sync with the platter. I have never had mine adjusted except at purchase from the dealer and it is still 95% in tune 30+ years later. I'm not saying that tuning doesn't help but I think it might be a bit hyped. However, changing arm boards and tonearms may require re-balancing.
I have never had mine adjusted except at purchase from the dealer and it is still 95% in tune 30+ years later.
How do you know?  I've setup a lot of Linn LP12's and I would wager to bet that yours is in need of a tuneup, (probably many years ago).  You would be surprised how much of a difference it will make.

These things age and go out of alignment very gradually over time.  Our ears get used to this gradual change.
You're probably right. It still bounces correctly and sounds good, though.


This is one of the reasons I let mine go.  No offense to noromance but I was taught that you push down on the platter 1/2 way between the spindle and tonearm base to check alignment. But that only indicates the suspension and won’t reveal anywhere on the other parts .  I will say that properly tuned they are a very tough table to beat for musicality.
I own a Linn Sondek and two Ariston's (RD11 and RD11S). I like to have their suspensions set rather tight, with minimal bounce. I feel this tightens up the bass and produces a more focused presentation from the mids up. 
@theo You are, of course, correct. I had spindle on the brain. I run the LP12 on the rare occasion I need a break from the 401!

Just noticed, my voice text picked up "anywhere" which was intended to state "any wear"
probably makes more sense to those care:)

By the way if you need it tuned up, contact Rick at www.audioalternative.com
I have recommended him many times and have had some feedback for the folks that have used him that their table never sounded better.
Rick is a "linnie extraordinaire" when it comes to the LP12.

and noromance, no worries as you can see I have a similar affliction :o
the suspension has to be adjusted...by the time you get it home it's out again
Post removed 
Have a Linn tech guy tune it every 2yrs recommended; 3 - 4 for sure.
They do "drift " with time. 
Tightening the all the screws with a torque driver and "clocking" the platter were new to me last year in 2016 when I had it done. Plays the Tune as it did in 1988. Maybe a new felt mat if your inclined.

mofimadness - Correct

roberjerman - Try a tuneup 

Change all those II WW screws from the first industrialisation time.

Buy if you can NAIM ARO tonearm or their own and balance the

3 springs together with the arm. Thorens prescribed a certain

distnce between the platter and ''base'' which was much more

user friendly. The platter is the only part which is excelent made

and balanced. Check the oil because the bearing (usualy) leak.

Don't buy any ''upgrade'' ; Linn made the most profit from those.

I would recommend Linn to any student. The best value for

a second hand TT. Messing with adjustment is the part of

our hobby. I leaned this from my English theacher.

Nandric, your English theacher tought you wheel. Lol.

Seriously, the LP12 has always had this myth attached to it, primarily I believe by people that never had their table correctly set up in the first place! With a correctly set up table, the set up will last for a long time...sometimes many years.
Placing the table on a good level platform and making sure the table itself is level is crucial, but this applies to all tables.
BTW, saying the bearing leaks is total....BS.. clearly from someone with no experience with an LP12, and once again...poor information is expounded.
One of these days, I am hopeful that all of the misinformation about the table will cease, certainly from people who either have never owned an LP12; or who had one ....but its been twenty plus years since they last owned it!


ok, on we go....

daveyif, first of all I owned LP 12 in the time when ''it'' was

regarded as ''the best ever''. You may be right with your guess

about  ''twenty plus years ago'' but I am right regarding leaking

bearing . Then you should know that my English theacher is

Lew(m)  who owns 5 best TT's ever. I am collecting carts he is

collecting TT's and mess with their plinths. If one like to make

plinths one needs more TT's I would say. As a novice you should

have more respect for the older members independant from the

time when they owned LP 12 (grin).

nandric, you have not heard a well set up Klimax level LP12. Twenty plus years ago, is a lifetime when it comes to this table. Suffice it to say, your expanding of total ’BS’ still continues....leaking bearing...please do elaborate. ( I guess it might well leak, if that is you turned the table upside down to look at the underside...without draining the bearing first, YIKES).
AFAIAC you have no experience with an LP12. Plain and simple.
I’m an novice, ok, I guess that again depends on who ( hmmm, could I have used the word 'whom'...go back to your English teacher and ask them, LMAO!)  your English teacher is and how he teaches the meaning of the word...novice, LOL.
"leaking bearing"..Not quite sure how this is possible? The bearing is a machined ,metal tube- one piece. Unless it was removed, wacked with a hammer and then reinstalled I do not see how it could possibly "leak"  ????
Over hyped with history,much better tables in its price range that dont need whatever they are  selling,IMO
Missioncoonery, says he who has never owned an LP12...or most likely ever heard one either.

Varyat, so much misinformation now on the forums about the table, it’s just pathetic! As we both know, a leaking bearing is not possible.


daveyf, ''nandric , you have not heard a well set up Klimax level LP

12. Twenty + years ago, etc''. Ergo the LP 12 from 20 years ago

is not an LP 12? Those are however still ''going strong'' with

the same platter which is the ''heart'' of their construction. Those

are recommended to the students because of their price. There are

many owners who still use the first version. A good designed TT

(should) not need so many ''improvements'' with ridiculous prices.

Thorens made many versions but never upgrades. Those, more

in particular 160, are also still going strong. In some sense LP 12

is ''upgraded '' 160. The novice in this thread should check how

bearings are made (grin). With some brown substance around

the plate at the bottom of the bearing tube.

Nandric, an LP12 from yesteryear is still a fine table. However, it is not in the same league as a current LP12, in either the Akurate version or the Klimax version. You would know this if you had a chance to hear the current models.Instead, you prefer to post drivel and inaccurate information.
Please don’t call me a novice anymore, you really are making a fool out of yourself.
Look at what Varyat posted above and contemplate (ask your English teacher what this word means, before you reply to these posts,Lol), unless you believe he is a ‘novice’ as well!  Now, ‘if’ you over filled the bearing in the first place...and were sloppy in the set up, then I could see how a little could spill out...that’s not leaking, that’s a spillage from overfill! 
BTW, when you are talking of students...what garbage are you referring to now.
I’m done with responding to you, I have better things to do with my time.
I am the Linn dealer for Maine.

Some of this is common sense - If the suspension is too tight that is bad.  If the suspension is too loose that is bad.  There is a sweet spot - when it is right you get optimal feedback resistance and minimal induced sounds.  Most any turntables with adjustments will benefit from being adjusted properly - again there is "too hot, too cold and just right."

Most people agree tracking too light or too heavy is bad too - same thing with the arm - try to get it into its optimal configuration.  

The LP12 has been refined for over 40 years - they just keep making it better - a little every year.  The LP12 is a simple concept well executed.

A basic LP12 with a good (very good) cartridge will get you 97.5% of what you are looking for.  There are small incremental improvements as you upgrade.  Obviously the rest of your system needs to be good enough to hear the improvements.

The LP12 is the only turntable we sell - our customers love it.  What's not to love?

PS - when I started in this business you could buy and AR turntable with a Shure M91 for under $90.00 dollars...  But that was a lot of money back then!
davidclarke, I happen to think that 40 years of continued refinement, adds up to one heck of a lot of refinement! 
Not sure I completely agree with you that there are small incremental improvements as you upgrade... IME, there are some pretty BIG improvements to be had...The Radikal power supply/motor is a major step up, as is the Cirkus bearing! 

Cirkus bearing major step up? Was something wrong with the

old bearing?

Yes, major step up....I can tell you this, neither bearing ever leaked!! The new Cirkus bearing has far better tolerances and therefore sounds better! Neither of which you would have a clue about. Once again, i'm done with you.

A lot of information and misinformation on the LP12, but that isn’t unusual. I’m Thomas O’Keefe, better known among Linnies as ThomasOK, an LP12 technician of some regard and the person who discovered the torque system of fine-tuning an LP12 over a decade ago.

I’ll start out answering the OP questions. Any turntable needs to be setup periodically for the most musical performance and the torque system I developed applies equally to every turntable to a greater or lesser extent depending on how many fasteners there are. I have used it to set up all kinds of turntables including VPI, Thorens, Rega, Well-Tempered, SOTA, Teres, Origin Live, Clearaudio, ProJect - the list goes on and on. Admittedly some only have the fasteners of the cartridge to the headshell to adjust but many have tonearm bolts, armboard screws, bearing housing screws, etc.

The standard Linn LP12, however, has 29 screws and bolts that benefit musically from precision torque adjustment. The values vary significantly from one set of screws to the next and have to be determined by ear. In addition, the LP12 needs to have its suspension adjusted properly for pistonic bounce (as mentioned) and so the arm cable doesn’t interfere with the suspension if you want the best performance. There are also other things that change the musical performance such as alignment of the belt, mat and platter (clocking the platter as mentioned by nkonor who may be one of my customers). Now once the LP12 has been PROPERLY setup and tuned it should remain stable for a good amount of time. I recommend my customers bring theirs back in every three to five years or whenever they are in doubt about the life of the stylus, whichever comes sooner. It really should be unnecessary to bring it in any more often than that. One reason is that things can drift a bit, after all the plinth is solid hardwood which can change due to the environment it is in (sunshine, humidity, etc.), although a well setup unit will remain as stable as most any turntable.

Another reason for a checkup after a few years is that even after 40+ years we are still discovering ways to make the LP12, and turntables in general, more musical. In the beginning nobody was aware that the mat sounded better one way up than the other (as indeed it does on Regas and any other turntable using a felt mat) or that the belt had an inside and outside (it is now known that it also has a top and bottom). 13 years ago nobody knew that you could hear a musical difference if the torque of a fastener was off by a couple hundredths of a Nm, nor that the inner platter had an optimal position in relation to the inner platter. Recently a couple of associates of mine, Paolo Nobile in Rome, Italy and Fredrik Lejonklou of Uppsala, Sweden and I discovered a way to improve the musical performance of Linn dynamically balanced arms.

However, there are a few other reasons why Linn specialists like myself are often kept rather busy. First is the simple fact that Linn have manufactured and sold well over 100,000 LP12s in its 44 year history and I would suspect that 98+ % are still viable although some will need minor repair. This automatically brings a fair number in to any good LP12 specialist for checkup and stylus/cartridge replacement. Combine this with the resurgence of vinyl over the last decade plus a lot of baby boomers now having grown children and you have a regular stream of people digging their LP12 out of the attic or basement and bringing it in to have it gone over. Also Linn has created a fair number of top level and mid level upgrades for the LP12 over the last decade and a half and these do make quite a substantial musical improvement. So you have quite a few people bringing their tables in for one or more upgrades. Indeed in the middle of writing this I was asked to talk to a customer who wanted to discuss the most sensible next upgrade for his Valhalla LP12.

Linn now has three subchassis offering increasing levels of musical performance and all better than the standard subchassis of 10 years ago. They have three different motor/controller combinations the least of which is at least Valhalla performance level, they have three arms, and they have three different cartridges. This gives many different possible permutations and performance levels before you even look at all the other possibilities in cartridges and arms out there. Contrary to what one poster has said the upgrades Linn has come out with, from as simple as an improved $30 felt mat through to the quite amazing $4250 Radikal motor/controller, have all made substantial musical upgrades that many, many owners feel are well worth the money invested. A fully loaded LP12 is musically something to behold and still musically superior to anything else I have heard. Indeed my own $26.000+ LP12 fronted a system that was given Best Sound of Show at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest last year even though running through a pair of speakers costing only $1766! Of course, since the source is the most important piece in a system, and since IMHO this was the best source at the show, this rating makes perfect sense.

I think this answers the original questions and hopefully dispels some of the misinformation on setup stability. But there are still a couple of bearing questions. First, on leaking. Saying “the bearing (usually) leak” is totally incorrect. On the other hand saying they never leak is not totally true either. In my almost 40 years of working on LP12s I have seen a few LP12s with a bearing housing that had a slight leak. By a few I mean literally fewer than 5 out of I don’t know how many LP12s I have worked on but the number is easily in four figures. This has always in early pre-Cirkus bearing housings and was caused but an incomplete seal where the bearing housing grips the thrust plate around its circumference. This could be easily remedied without replacing the bearing housing by thoroughly cleaning the bottom of the bearing housing and applying some silicone sealant. This brings us to the Cirkus bearing. What was wrong with the original bearing? Nothing – I have seen 40 year old bearings that still have only a small polish mark at the point of contact and no pit or appreciable wear. This is the rule and not the exception. These bearings still spin with minimal friction and noise. However, Linn practices a policy of constant improvement making small or large changes as they find better materials (the Titanium/Aluminum/Stainless steel Ekos SE, for example) and better ways to make them. The bearing housing went through at least seven changes, some more noticeable than others, and the Cirkus was the biggest improvement combining several updates over earlier bearing housings for musically improved performance: inner liners made of ventilated PEEK, a material they found superior to the previously used PTFE, improved positioning of the liners, addition of a small reservoir for oil at the top of the housing and, probably most importantly, a heavier and stronger housing allowing for an even more solid attachment to the stronger subchassis introduced at the same time (the early 1990s). The Cirkus bearing housing and inner platter/spindle, along with one of the stronger subchassis, forms the foundation of the LP12 turntable so it is the upgrade to do first on any pre-Cirkus LP12 as everything else builds on it. It does definitely make a substantial musical improvement to the LP12 in clarity, bass extension and tonality, bass evenness, and rhythmic quality of all music.

I hope this answers the questions and gives a better idea of what the LP12 is all about.


thomasok,

Great post to go along with your great Tune up. Enjoying my LP12 playing “Donald Fagen - The Nightfly” / MFSL UD1S 2-003.

These MFSL are great. I see other ‘One Step’ process recordings being offered on the market. Guys if the Music is to your liking, check them out.

Best
“Donald Fagen - The Nightfly” / MFSL UD1S 2-003.

These MFSL are great. I see other ‘One Step’ process recordings being offered on the market. Guys if the Music is to your liking, check them out.
+1...I've had mine for several days now and it is indeed amazing.  All (3) of the UD1S releases have been SPECTACULAR.
ThomasOk, thank you for chiming in.
It is interesting how on so many of these threads, that people post their experience of the table, and yet they have either a) not heard it in decades or b) never owned the LP12, or c) maybe compared a poorly set up older LP12 with something that is their current favorite.
So much misinformation!
I guess it is now Nandric’s turn to come back and give us more pearls of his wisdom, LOL.
Personally, I believe in this table and feel that it still offers top-flite performance, if set up correctly and if updated to the current specs.
nkonor, please elaborate a little more on your findings of the latest MoFi One Step Donald Fagen LP. Since it is originally a digital recording, i wonder how it compares to the two other MoFi One Step releases in regards to the SQ.
daveyf,

Turned 66yrs today. I like your cat. Wife and I take care of 10 feral cats: One dark longhair tiger.Could almost look like brothers.

Is "Nightfly" as good as "Abraxas" or "BIll Evans"?  Not IMHO.

Too much digital edginess,hardness and glare throughout. Is it a good recording- Yes. I do wish they had used the tapes from my MCA audiophile pressing of "Goucho"

The cymbals and horns, some of the upper midrange are bright and edgy. Most of the vocals are pretty smooth, maybe one of its saving graces. Drums and bass are spectacular.Most piano is good. Still some glare in the upper registers. 

All three recordings released are Quiet Vinyl. Separation of instruments, notes and voices is excellent. Width and Depth are very good.This recording will never wear out. It will never be a FAV. 

Should you own it ? -  Yes; It is part of a limited series like the UHQRs. Some collector in the future will have to have it. Probably only get what you paid for it; but you'll get your money back. It will never be a "Dark Side"

I already placed my order for two (2) copies of the next one; " Bridge Over Troubled Water "

Best to you
Good to hear from some Linn specialists who actually build and sell the LP12- def brings some more credibility to the old gal :) The deck is a classic and sounds like no other - if you like what it does , it will be your last TT . 
Davey- if you are a fan of Fagan/ Dan then this issue is a must ! Don't wait , they will sell out quickly. I bought 2 of Santana and gifted one to my dealer who built my decks; he was visibly shaken when I handed him a sealed box! Getting these in the UK adds a lot of cost. In retrospect , I should have bought a few more- they are expensive but will definitely put a big smile on your face!
ATB,
Mark
@nkonor...where did you pre-oreder the next UD1S?  I wasn’t even aware that MOFI had even announced the next pressing? I usually have early inside info, but apparently not this time...

I found the new UD1S to be really close to the first (2) releases.  Much more so than I was expecting.  Yes, it does lose the analog recording warmth factor, but is crystal clean and ultra dynamic.  I think I have every known vinyl copy of this album and this release smokes them all.

Highly recommended!

varyat, ''if you like what it does, it will be your last TT''.

In the thread ''What's been your turntable ownership over the

years...'' there is just one such person. The rest either ''moved

on'' or never owned LP-12.

@varyat, I do like Fagan/Dan, but not enough to swing for this particular release...plus, they are making 5000 copies. I do own a couple of the Evans disc...and missed out on the Abraxas..:0(

@nkonor, I own the MFSL BOTW, didn’t know they were releasing a UD1s of it. The original MFSL is nothing to shout home about IMO. Somewhat opaque recording with not much in the way of highs.
Great music of course!
Unfortunately I didn't find out about the Bill Evans until recently.  I would have jumped on it had I known, but I'm just not willing to pay $300 and up for one.  Congrats to those who got in on it early.