I'm one of many who did make the change from LP12 to unsuspended T/T (I chose the Raven One after listening to a fair number of them and getting nowhere). Part of the problem may be that if one is a longstanding LP12 user then the ear becomes conditioned to that presentation. So in my case I ended up, perhaps subconsciously, looking for something "similar but better". Such a requirement is paradoxical because no mass damped unsuspended T/T has any commonality with a Linn at all.
It's worth mentioning that not all the turntables you listed are unsuspended (e.g. the Avid's suspension pods. The Clearaudio probably uses the Air-Ceramic bearing which offers an intrinsic suspension effect - something that's always worried me with the Clearaudio designs because it doesn't constitute a rigid closed loop. That's the old Linn mindset in action! It is something that never gets fully purged. However, this said, I've never heard a bad performance from the Master Ref so it shows that a well-implemented and optimised design can work despite the doubts.)
If it were me I'd consider going higher up the food chain and look at the Acutus but I realise then we are talking serious $$$. Not easy to acquire S/H unless someone fancies a change of colour! (e.g. from chrome to gold!)
I'd argue that the Acutus would probably be much more to your liking as it really does share a generic bond but is far superior.
There may be many satisfied users of these tables out there but overall, I'm not convinced any of these offer a big enough improvement - in terms of musical experience - over what you're already using. If you did choose one of them, I'd be disinclined to dispense with the Ekos unless it turned out to be a poor marriage. Hope this proves helpful.
Theo, I have heard the LP12, P9 and Avid. Avid Volvere is one of the best TTs I know of for the money. Its upgraded version, the "Sequel" is eerily close to the Acutus sonically and some even prefer it to the Acutus. Rega P9 is good, it sounds different (transparent, clean, a bit CD like) and is in the same league as LP12 at best so it may not be an upgrade per se. Volvere is definitely in a different league!!
And yes if you like UK style of music making (PRAT, jump, boogie) you will not like the VPI :).
Well Tempered Amadeus GTA and Raven 1 would be my recommendation. Both amazing decks at their pricepoints.
As moonglum eloquently says though, if you are hooked on the LP12 presentation then best stick with the LP12.
If you want the LP12 sound but have to have something different then the Phonosophie P3 is another choice.
Pani,I mostly listen to old rock, some blues,jazz and virtually no classical. So does that change the VPI consideration and actually I meant to list the Classic III not the II.
From what Moonglum and Lotus340r are stating that I am gleening that I need to set my sights higher in terms of money? I can't do that in the forseeable future. As mentioned I have an itch to get into a different table, and I realize that I can continue to upgrade the LP12 but I can't see adding another 3-6000 to it. In my mind it is an old table and adding a keel or a khan would surely improve it's sound. But to upgrade the power supply and other things, I just don't see the value or return on my investment. I feel that I have taken this table as far I can without deeper obligation.
IMO, no matter what you listen to, there is a style of playback that a seasoned audiophile generally prefers. Since you are coming from a LP12 background I would like to assume you like UK style of music presentation, which is vivid, bouncy, good tone and good dynamics. The Volvere does all this and much more..like soundstage and transparency and a very lifelike presentation. The only other TT that I liked as much was a Nottingham Analogue Hyperspace.
Check out the Salvation TT thread on this forum, it will provide insight on a vey different TT and arm alternative.
Pani, on your Avid how long have you had it and are there many upgrades available? Also have you ever had any cause to need parts or service and if so how did you find availability of either to be? Do you have a dealer close to you, I would have to order one from an internet dealer in my location. Also on your earlier comment, what is it that you find the VPI to be lacking or adding? Also are you refering to a Classic series or a Scout series. My understanding is that they have two totally different presentations.
Theo, I dont own any Avid TTs. But I have heard them multiple times. Yes, there is a dealer close by. I do lurk around UK forums often and I dont remember anyone complaining about Avid quality or customer service.
I dont have extensive experience with VPI, but I have spoken to people who have heard both they say VPI is darker and slower compared to the Regas, Linns and Avids.
If you like suspended tables, I would recommend the Oracle Delphi V or VI. I prefer it much over a Linn, but retains the musicality and beautiful midrange. Your Ekos will work well on it.
for a more neutral presentation, I would recommend the Sota Cosmos IV. A little stronger bass than the Delphi, which you may prefer. the Delphi has a nice, tuneful bass, but not quite as much power as the Cosmos.
Otherwise, for non suspended, the Classic III is a winner.
I went from the LP12 with Ekos,Cirkus,Trampoline and Lingo II to a VPI Classic and absolutely love it, except for the hum problem. The PRAT to me is a TAD bit better with the Classic. When you add the Ring/Record Weight/SDS it's better still. The Classic images much better and has better depth. Now having said all that, it's basically a lateral move in the sense of the money that's spent. The main reason that I switched was that I was totally put off by the price of the Linn upgrades. The VPI is affordable for me, in that I can afford to purchase the latest and greatest upgrades. Now for the Linn I can't afford to purchase "all" of the latest and greatest upgrades. Again sonically the my VPI (300 RPM motor)Ring/Record Weight/SDS is better than my Linn was. But the sonic difference wasn't worth the money spent. However the " upgrade affordability" aspect makes it well worth the money. Finally, when you throw in ease of users setup and maintainability it's a no-brainer. Hope this helps.
I enjoyed my Linn/Ekos for quite a few years and was very reluctant to change, as I truly loved the sound. Like you, I wanted to upgrade, but, as you say, it is really difficult to audition turntables in a meaningful way - in your home with the same cart/phono stage, etc. Working with a local dealer, I decided to buy a Basis 2001/Vector, but I was somewhat worried that it wouldn't have that nice midbass warmth that the Linn has and such. In any case, I was shocked at how much more I enjoyed listening to the Basis over the Linn. Notice I didn't say it was BETTER- just that I, personally, enjoyed the Basis much more. To put it in a nutshell, the Linn sounded like a record player and the Basis sounds like a master tape. Only after I changed did I realize the Linn seemed to superimpose a boxy coloration on all the music, which was something I just chalked up to the "analog experience" and resonances inherent to vinyl. With the Basis, there is virtually none of this, and you hear the record as it is, without any sonic signature imposed. At least within my level of expertise - I've no doubt that the uber-tables go far beyond what I'm hearing. However, in spite of this lack of coloration, the Basis still has great warmth and beautiful sound. It is not cold or clinical in any way. In short, I love listening to it. I don't know if this is due to the TT or the arm or both, so I can only speak for the combo I have. I know that Basis can fit their tables with a Rega 250, which will lessen the cost, but I've never heard this combination, so I couldn't say this will be an improvement over the Linn without the Vector tonearm. In any case, that was my experience and best of luck to you.
I would also suggest looking into the Well Tempered Amadeus or the Townshend Rock 7. Robert Greene's reviews of these in The Absolute Sound sum up their sound nicely (WTA=top down; Rock=bottom up).
I have had and loved both (went with Rock due to build quality and suspension, slightly better bass and upgradeability of the arm), but only had a chance to compare to a VPI HW-19, not a particularly fair fight.
Macster, which Classic do you have? What areas of performance would you say were the most identifiable?
Chayro, unfortunately I don't have a Basis dealer in my area. So can you elaborate as to the presentation the Basis offers over the LP12? More analytical, more musical, more relaxed etc?
I have the Classic 1 with the 300 Rpm motor and the Shure M97XE regular stylus and the Jico SAS stylus/ To me the Classic 1 is the same as my LP12 with a bit better imaging, base and rhythm. To put the difference into $$ it's about a $500.00 (to me) upgrade. But again the upgrade path for the Classic 1-4 is a lot more affordable than the LP12 upgrades.
as Roscoeiii said, Well Tempered Amadeus should be on your list. I've had a Classic 1 and there is nothing the Classic does better than the Amadeus.
Just went from Classic 1 to Amadeus. The Classic 1 is really good, but is bettered (to me) in every aspect. Of most importance, it is like you are in the concert hall and the music surrounds you, while the Classic is like you are listening in the studio, more closed in but still not bad.
Also, I was a long time LP12 user having your exact setup but with a Helikon, I loved it, and the Amadeus has a little bit of that magic as well.
I think I pretty much said it when I wrote that the basis sounds more like a master tape and less like a record. I loved the Linn, but the Linn is a box and the cartridge picked up the boxy resonances. The Basis, being plexiglass, is free of those resonances and you just hear the record. I know that some TT designers think plexiglass is a bad material to use, so I guess it's a matter of execution. I can't describe it as "more" this or that. I just, to me, is more enjoyable to listen to. But - if you have no dealer, I honestly think you should buy something that your local dealer carries and can assist you in properly selecting a cartridge and setting up for you.
Another TT that is really nice and is in the same ballpark is the Thorens TD350. Whenever I heard it I came away very musically satisfied. It sounds cleaner, goes deeper in the bass and most importantly retains the "analogue" sound. I heard it paired with a Rega RB700 tonearm, the combination was very nice. Deserves a nice cartridge!!