Radikal Linn LP12 or Palmer 2.5?


The motor of my 25 year old LP12 just conked out and I was planning to use this as an opportunity to get it keeled and radikalized, until I recently went to an audio show and heard a Palmer 2.5 with an Origami arm that sounded fabulous.  I’ve never heard a fully upgraded LP12, but I’ve been living with my Cirkus/Ekos/Linto/Lingo version for some time.  After hearing the Palmer, I thought it might be time for a new direction, but I understand the Linn upgrades to be quite dramatic. I probably won’t be able to do a A/B comparison, so if anyone out there has has a chance to directly compare the two, I would love to hear your thoughts.  This is going to be a big expenditure for me either way and it will likely be my last turntable, so thanks in advance for any insights you may be willing to share.
latenitecity
I have heard both tables. The Palmer is very good. However, to my ears, the Full spec LP12 Radikal D is at least as good, and depending on one’s musical taste, even better than the Palmer (particularly for jazz).
I think the Origami arm is a good arm, but I don’t think it is really substantially better than the Ekos SE-1. OTOH, I do think what the Radikal brings to the speed accuracy of the Linn, is superior to the speed control of the Palmer. Note, I am biased as I had a choice to do exactly what you are asking about, and my LP12 is still with me...with the upgraded Radikal D. 
Listen to both tables if you can, neither are a bad choice, but to my ears, it’s the Linn all the way.


Thanks very much for your reply, daveyf. Really appreciate it.  I hope to hear the full spec LP12 as well before making the call, but there will be so many variables between that experience and the Palmer experience (e.g., different cartridge, electronics, speakers, room, and month) that I don’t know how meaningful it will be.

All I know at this point is that there were quite a few high end turntables at the audio show I attended (you would know the names), and most of them didn’t make much of an impression on me. The one standout exception was the Palmer room, which I returned to three times and was very favorably impressed each and every time. I can’t quite explain what made it so compelling, but everything about the performances had that very direct “suspended in time” feeling one gets at a particularly good live performance.  Hopefully, the top of the line LP12 will be able to accomplish this as well. (Or maybe, hopefully not - since that would make my decision a lot easier!)
Excellent/timely discussion as I have had my Cirkus/Lingo/Ekos/Rhea/Shelter  for quite sometime, and listened to the Radical/Ekos SE/Keel/Kandid combo at my local dealer earlier this afternoon.  I went to hear the cartridge primarily but you know how that goes.  This is not the first time he has emphasized the radical upgrade before the cartridge, I'm just not convinced it is significantly better than the Lingo or should be more important than the cartridge...……...I'd be glad to hear your opinion. 
So, xagwell, what did you think of the difference between your LP12 setup (which is very similar to mine) and the maxed out version your dealer demonstrated?  Dramatic or incremental improvement?
@xagwell The Linn protocol is to upgrade from the inside out...so the power supply first, then the sub chassis then the arm and cartridge last.

I replaced my Valhalla with the Radikal D...a huge upgrade! But here’s the thing, like many large improvements, the actual sum of the improvement isn’t that obvious until after a little time has gone by. It is then that you begin to hear the many differences...as more and more LP’s hit the platter! So, IME, the Radikal D brings the following: much greater inner detail, speed accuracy that increases imaging precision and timbre reproduction. Lastly, we have the biggest improvements in my experience....the increase in overall dynamics. This isn’t quite as noticeable until everything else in the system is dialed in. So, if your amps or preamp, or speaker synergy, aren’t up to the task, this aspect will probably go unnoticed!
With a more resolving cartridge as the final step, all of the benefits of the Radikal become even more evident!
You heard a snippet of the reproduction when you went to hear the Radikal, and most likely did not AB against your Lingo at the same time. I believe IF you had done that...and the system was resolving enough, the difference would have been very obvious and as extreme as I am describing!
Linn charges a lot for their Radikal D upgrade, for very good reason IMHO.
Hi again, daveyf.  If I understood xagwell’s post, what he heard was the maxed out LP12 (Radikal/Keel/Ekos SE/Kandid - each of which would be an upgrade to my LP12).  That’s why I was interested in how it compared to the level of LP12 he currently has (which is very similar to my current model). I’m really curious  about xagwell’s impression of the top of the line Linn rig since that is what I will probably go with (should I choose to stay with Linn rather than take the Palmer 2.5 / Audio Origami PU7 path).  That said, your comments on Linn’s upgrade philosophy make perfect sense to me and are very helpful.  Thanks again for your input.
@latenitecity There is a variable here that occurs to me. If you are happy with the sound of the Origami vs the Ekos SE, then I would still go with the Linn platform. However, here is the one thing that I somewhat dislike about the LP12...it locks you into a light weight arm that the old fruit box approves of. This is not the case with the Palmer. As such, if one wanted to go with a super arm...like a Basis Superam9 or a Triplanar etc., then this would be an option with the Palmer...and not with the Linn. Having said that, we are talking of a considerable expenditure over and above the cost of either the Linn arm, or the Origami arm. I utilize a custom WTA ’Black’ arm with Nordost Tyr phono cabling on my Linn. Many folks think this combo easily sees off a Ekos SE! I am not sure about that, but one thing I do know, is that if i wanted to opt for an arm like the one's mentioned above, and were willing to dig into my wallet to do so, then these arms are not an option with this LP12 platform. The biggest drawback IME with the LP12; one that I am ok with based on the superb sound I am getting with this deck, but a drawback nonetheless. Something to perhaps consider.
Thanks, daveyf.  I’ve heard about the LP12’s incompatibility with certain types of arms (SME arms are often used as an example). That’s why I will stick with my Ekos or, more likely, upgrade to an Ekos SE, rather than take my chances with another brand (though when I first bought the LP12 many moons ago it was fitted with a Rega RB300 to good effect).

  Likewise, if I go with the Palmer I will most likely buy it with the Origami arm since that is what the manufacturer recommends and because that was the arm in play when I first heard the Palmer and was so impressed by it.  Again, it’s hard to sort out all the synergistic factors that made that experience so positive since it was a combination of the TT, the arm, the cartridge (d/k), the electronics (Vinnie Rossi), the speakers (Harbeth), the room, and probably my mood at the time.  My associated equipment is different and my mood is ever-changing, so ultimately my decision will be something of a crap shoot. But what else is new about this nutty hobby!
@latenitecity. Great post, and so very true. What you heard was a culmination of the various pieces of gear and the room/ your mood at the time. Would this hold for your current room and gear...who knows? 
When I heard the Palmer, ( on two different occasions) I wasn’t as impressed as I was expecting to be. Probably because of the hype that the dealer ( who I very much respect) had given it before hand. 
Not that the table is bad, just that it really was not better than my experience with the LP12 Magik deck that a friend owns. Again, maybe it was the ancillary gear, also Harbeth ( which btw can sound amazing) or perhaps it was the room..or who knows?  Crazy hobby, like you stated.
As we both know, a home audition of the Palmer in your system would probably be an excellent idea, before committing to buy.
......….Linn also recommends to let the stylus clean the record which nobody else advises either...….I believe the source or cartridge should be upgraded first especially since I already have a Lingo.  After all The Lingo or Radical is performing the same function albeit by means of AC or DC Servo. So the dealer rig bested my table but I extend most of that to the Kandid, Keel, and size of the listening room and then then maybe the Radikal or Ekos SE.  Also my system is all tubes but the dealer used solid state with some phono stage mono blocks which I had never heard of nor afford but the soundstage was absolutely huge and the detail was phenomenal.  I listened to a Pablo recording of Milt Jackson then a re-issue of Ben Webster and Sarah Vaughn.   I would not hesitate to get the Keel/Kandid but would take my time with the Radikal, and/or Ekos SE.  I've had my table for >20 yrs btw  
 @xagwell The Radikal increases the speed accuracy and timing over the Lingo. IME, speed accuracy is going to be more audible than what a better cartridge brings. YMMV.
Hi daveyf.  Happy New Year to you! 

Just thought I would circle back here with an update. I think I’ve read (at least twice) just about everything there is to read on the internet about the top of the line Linn and Palmer 2.5 turntables.  I hope to hear the LP12 in a few days and, unless it really blows me away, I think I will be going with the Palmer.  Ultimately, I think the determining factor is that I’m just ready for a change. I recently switched from all Naim electronics after 30 happy years, and am now am very happy with a different type of presentation. Likewise, I moved from a Linn CD player and Linn speakers (again, I was very happy with both for decades) to other brands that make me happy as well - in a different way. So now I’m thinking it may be time to cut the Linn cord altogether and finally step away from my beloved LP12.

I think your advocacy for the Sondek on various forums is the main reason I have taken so long to make up my mind.  (As far as I can tell, you are the only English-speaking person in the world who has done a direct comparison between the current (near) top-of-the-line LP12 and the Palmer/Origami combo who has taken the time to comment on the experience!)

To that point, you have said that the Palmer  was more comparable to Linn’s lower tier Majik model, and that “the LP12 was better at portraying dynamic swings, more precise in its imaging and depth portrayal, better at the high frequency reproduction and at least equivalent in its bass reproduction.” You have also mentioned that the Linn particularly bested the Palmer on jazz recordings.

About two thirds of my fairly extensive vinyl collection is classic acoustic jazz, so this last comment particularly caught my attention. However, I am hoping that the recent improvements that have been made to the Palmer (an upgraded main bearing, motor, and power supply - now called the Palmer 2.5i) will close that gap somewhat. 

Anyway, as I think I mentioned previously, I consider myself very fortunate and truly blessed to have a “problem” like this!  I’m pretty sure there is not a wrong decision to be made here (including, perhaps, the possibility of the Linn deck with the Origami arm). We’ll see.  In any case, thanks yet again for your prior input. It has been most thought provoking and helpful.

Regards,
latenitecity


@latenitecity. Happy New Year to you.

I will be interested to learn what your thoughts are on the two tables once you have had a chance to listen to the LP12 Radikal D Klimax. Presumably you will be hearing it with the Ekos SE arm and I would imagine a Kandid cartridge. Hopefully, you will be hearing it with ancillary gear that is comparable to the ancillary gear that the Palmer was utilized with. I am not a huge fan of the Linn electronics or speakers...with the exception of the Klimax DAC.
I think if you heard the Palmer with Harbeths, that those speakers would be an excellent choice to hear the LP12 with as well....I am a pretty big fan of Harbeth speakers.

Hi daveyf,

Hope all is well with you.  My turntable quest was derailed for a while due to other priorities, but I’m back in the hunt and wanted to share my latest experiences. 

I had an opportunity to hear the full-mod LP12 and found it to be a slightly pinched and restrained, which surprised me. It turns out that the cartridge (the Kandid) had only a few hours on it, so I probably need to do a second audition.

In the meantime, various reviews led me to believe that an AMG Giro might be another contender. I found a dealer but he only had the higher-priced Viella 12 available for audition, which reportedly has the same characteristics as the Giro - just “somewhat better.”  So I gave it a listen (with an Ortofon Cadenza Bronze) and it was very good - no question - but, frankly, not as good as the reviews led me to expect. 

I asked the dealer about the Palmer 2.5 and he said he carried it, but (unfortunately) not for audition.  However, he could demo a table that was “clearly better” than any of the aforementioned decks.

Enter the (somewhat unfortunately named) Dr. Feickert Woodpecker with the same Ortofon cartridge.  I listened to about 8 varied tracks (jazz quartet, modern big band, Albert King, The Rite of Spring, etc.) and it never failed to produce a completely compelling and enjoyable performance. Everything sounded interesting and musically right. I really liked this thing a lot.

So now my happy predicament has taken an unexpected turn, and I am very seriously considering either the Woodpecker (with a Jelco TK-950L arm) or (more likely) the Dr. Feickert Blackbird, which is a step up. Interestingly, these tables seem to be the polar opposite of the LP 12 when it comes to tonearm compatibility (which has been a nagging negative with respect to the latter).

Anyway, that’s where I’m at. Would be very interested in your thoughts  (or anyone else’s, for that matter). Thanks.


@latenitecity  Nice to hear that you have done some listening and included a few options. The Dr.Feickert Woodpecker and Blackbird are nice tables. i would consider them if the Linn wasn't an option. Different sound to a full blown Linn, but one that certainly is very enjoyable, IME. 
I would certainly re-listen to the Linn set-up once the Kandid is broken in.
@latenitecity Today I auditioned the AMG Viella V12 with the 12JT Turbo tonearm and Benz Gullwing SLR cartridge. The associated equipment was Audio Research Reference 3 Phono to an Audio Research Reference 6 pre to Audio Research 160M mono blocks. Speakers were Wilson DAWs. Transparent Cabling throughout. I thought this setup sounded really good. The TT is definitely in the mix for me as I try to narrow the field I'm interested in seriously considering. Overall, I thought the sound would have benefited from the Benz LP-S cartridge. That is not based on personal experience with the LP-S, however, it simply is affirming what I have read elsewhere of folks who replaced their Gullwing cartridge with the LP-S and why they did so. Others who have owned these two cartridges have commented that the LP-S compared to the Gullwing is lusher, has more bass, with the midrange having more body to it. However, it has been noted that the Gullwing has extended highs compared to the LP-S. Now having heard the Gullwing, if the descriptions of the LP-S are correct, the LP-S would probably be more my cup of tea. But, the big take away from today is that the AMG Viella V12 provided a nice quiet background for the music to emerge from. 
I am a Linn guy, and have not heard the Palmer. But there is an attraction to me, as a Linn owner, in cutting the cord with the dealer, the elaborate setup and the panoply of various upgrades.

If I were getting off the merry-go-round it would certainly be for a Rega Planar 8. I’m just not ready yet.
 @astewart8944   Your post brings up a very good point. I just noticed that the OP had listened to the top of the line AMG Viella...versus the little Giro, what the OP said with regards to his findings would make some sense if he was talking about the Giro...but not the Viella, imo. Yet, when we notice the cartridge in use on the Viella, that begins to make some sense. Same with the SQ from the Linn and Kandid. The Kandid is not broken in yet, the Ortofon...elicits the kind of sound that the OP heard, but not necessarily the table and arm!
It’s the old saying, a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link!
 @viridian  I see your point, but I don’t really look at it that way. Instead, I believe that once the Linn is set up correctly, it really is play ready without fuss for extended periods of time. ( so you really don’t need to be visiting your dealer on a regular basis) One doesn’t need to upgrade the table, unless one wants to...and then the upgrades are there. Unlike the nice new Rega Planar 8, wherein what you see is what you get...with no future upgrade ability... unless you completely change the original platform.
Great points Davey, and probably why I stick with the Linn. Being a music lover and not an audiophile the dead end nature of the Rega is a virtue, not a curse. More time would be spent on my music collection and less considering upgrades. But that’s my own mental trap.
Hi astewart8944. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the Viella V12. I’m glad you enjoyed it so much. It sounds like you had the kind of reaction I expected to have, but didn’t. As I said, I thought it sounded very good but, for whatever reason, it just didn’t engage me as much as I thought it would - the way the Palmer and the Woodpecker did. 

To daveyf’s point, I don’t think this was entirely due to the Ortofon cartridge, since it’s the very same cartridge that drew me in on the Woodpecker. I just think the Woodpecker managed to tap into the emotional core of the music whereas the Viella, while impressive, seemed to be more detail oriented and analytical - and I don’t mean that in a negative way. It’s just not what I’m looking for, apparently.

What I find particularly interesting and also want to share is that the demos of the two turntables I have fallen in love with (the Palmer and the Woodpecker) had one thing in common:  Both were played through Harbeth 40.2 speakers.  So maybe that’s the secret sauce!
@latenitecity. You bring up a good point about the Harbeths 40.2’s. They are an excellent speaker, but one that is a tad reticent in the very highest frequencies...and they require a large room. If possible, I would think it better if you could listen to any table under consideration in your own system,