30 responses Add your response
If you like your linn, all I would do is replace the cartridge and get a new set of springs and get the table up and running. After that you can research the newer upgrades and decide what you want to do, if anything. Those old Linn/Ittok combos were very good when properly set up and, IMO there's no need to rush into a bunch of costly upgrades at this point.
The “real” upgrade cost to another table is approximately $3,200 since both tables will require a new cartridge. In addition, I am not sure that an Akito tone is an upgrade over a good functioning Ittok, therefore, you can save on a new tonearm. The questions remains, what “upgrades” are you actually getting if you take out the cartridge and tonearm out of the equation?
"And the young man said to the emperor your new clothes are the most stylish in the land" . The LP12 can sound very very good. 7k for an existing one to be upgraded would be a large pill to swallow. I agree with a new cart and suspension. Leave the arm alone. Or if you want different then look at an EAT C sharp for $3.5k and do a cart to match your phono stage. Sell the Linn and buy more records
For the seemingly extravagant price of the upgrade/overhaul, I would require some very serious deficiencies in the setup and take some time to audition alternatives. In other words, I think you could find either a used or a new turntable/arm/cartridge combination that would be very, very satisfying. Perhaps you could even find an LP12 that fits your needs and is ready to go for somewhere around that price. Personally, I wouldn't pay that much for the services offered.
Why would anyone replace a functioning Ittok with an Akito? If your Ittok is totally fu**ed, I would replace it with the Project job Linn uses on the Majik. Or at least find a decent Ittok - there are plenty around. Are you sure you're getting this info correctly from the person who wants to charge you 7 grand? Certainly, Linn ugrades could go well over that amount, but not with an Akito. No way.
With $7K spent on your L12, I would expect that you are including the Radikal Power supply and the Keel subchassis. If not, then you are paying for something that you are not getting. However, once you have upgraded to a low level Klimax model, IMHO you would have a table that can easily better most of the competition up to $30K.
Your drawing an analogy to a vintage jaguar XKE is very apt. Because in some sense I get the feeling that those who cling to the Linn LP 12 over all others, at this point in history, are motivated by some of the same emotions that motivate people to spend huge amounts of money on a vintage jaguar XKE. I own vintage sports cars, and I spend lots of money on them.. And I am well aware that none of them comes close to the comfort and performance of any modern 4-door sedan, which can be had for much less money, when it comes to the simple act of getting from point A to point B. So if you think of a record player as a tool, an integral part of an audio system for playing vinyl, I find it hard to believe that the LP 12 still competes with the very best modern belt drive turntables. One might argue that all of the upgrades to the Linn that have been added over the years do bring it up to the level of a modern equivalent. But by the time you have spent that much money, you are in a lofty competitive price range. Of course, who am I to talk.? I am hooked on vintage direct drive turntables.
I own a Linn LP12 that I have upgraded three times during the last five years, taking it from a simple Rega RB300 arm and Valhalla power supply to an RB300 with a Lingo II power supply and a Kore subchassis. Finally, I upgraded to a full-blown LP12 “Klimax” turntable with a Woodsong Wenge plinth, Trampolin II bottom plate, Keel subchassis, Ekos SE arm, Cirkus bearing and the Radikal power supply and DC motor. All of the above used a Koetsu Urushi Vermilion cartridge. I benchmarked against a more expensive table, a Spiral Groove SG1.1 with Triplanar VII uII tonearm and the same Koetsu. The first iteration of the Linn was OK. The second was quite good. The third was slightly preferable to my Spiral Groove setup, though there were trade offs. (The Spiral Groove was quieter and had fuller and more defined low bass. The LP12 was more “organic” and involving, less dry.)
So my experience tells me that there is not one single “Linn LP12” but that there are many variations of arms, subchassis, cartridges, power supplies, bearings and even tables or racks beneath a Linn, each of which makes a difference. While I have not owned any VPI turntables, I have heard several and think that they are excellent. I have also owned Rega, Avid, Michell, Roksan, AR and even B&O turntables long ago. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. No one, including (maybe especially) me, can tell you what is right for you. Upgrading my Linn was right for me and I have been very happy with it, though I spent more than your budget to arrive at my set up.
I would advise making sure that the Linn dealer with whom you are dealing is very experienced in working on Linns. They require skilled set up though once set up, most Linns stay pretty well set up for years.
Do what you can to listen to an LP12 set up as the dealer proposes to hear if you like its sound. Listen to other turntables, too. $6K to $7K gives you a fair number of alternatives whether fixing up your LP12 or moving on to something else. Unfortunately, the LP12 is a polarizing turntable, maybe due in large part to Linn’s founder, Ivor Tiefenbrun’s, tendency to ruffle feathers for the last 45 years. Pay less attention to what people say here and more what you hear - and want to hear - when you listen to turntables.
I have been working on and fine tuning Linn, Rega and other turntables for over 40 years. The LP12 is still the finest record spinner I have heard and is certainly worth upgrading. However, I am having some problems with the figures you mention and the upgrades mentioned. First off an Akito 3 is $2400 and comes with a really excellent cable and a Krystal is $1900 so we are far short of $6000 parts. Secondly I can't see where there would be $1000 in labor. Linn products like tonearms, cartridges, power supplies, etc. include installation in their prices. I do a complete 3 hour setup and fine tune of an LP12 for $225. Unless the original turntable has been highly modified in a bad way I can't see it taking more than four or five hours - I could build a whole new LP12 from its individual parts in less time than that. Then as to the recommended upgrades I feel that the Akito 3 is really only a sideways move from the Ittok LVII. So unless your Ittok is actually broken I would just keep it, buy an Akito arm cable for $400 and put the Krystal on it. There are, of course, other upgrades that are very worth doing but that would require more discussion to see what you are wanting to do.
In the end, I would put a properly configured $7000 (or $12,000 or $26,000) LP12 up against any other turntable at the same price or even higher. The LP12 is an exceedingly musical turntable and I have had a number of customers buy one after comparisons with similarly priced or more expensive turntables. But you do want to do the upgrades sensibly and from the little information you have given on the proposed upgrades I don't think they fit that description. I hope this helps. ThomasOK.
I love Linn tables. I have seven, including 2 with DC motor; the others use either Valhalla boards or 2 other board types for speed control. I have Jelco, SME, Micro Seiki, Grace and Linn arms for them. I have installed counterweights on most of their subchassis to even the spring loading. I have one with an oversize plinth that uses 12 inch arms. IMHO Linn is God's gift to tweakers like me who WANT to mess with it, and I believe they can as good as anything out there. That said, I wouldn't recommend one to somebody who just wants to play the music and regards occasional adjustment as a chore or an expense. There are plenty of tables around that you can buy and forget about maintenance until they just stop. Of course, unless they are very expensive they won't have a suspension capable of the isolation the Linn provides.
I started with an lp12 with ittok and karma then changed to an Elite Rock with Excalibur tone but kept the Karma cartridge this was much better than the Linn set up. I now have an Alphason Sonata with Zeta tonearm and a Mr Brier cartridge again this is much better again than the elite rock turntable so why would you want to spend that much on the Linn. Sorry but in my opinion the Lp12 is a complete waste of money you can spend far less and get much better and you don’t need to keep upgrading. I am from the UK and there seems to be a big backlash against Linn over here as most audiophiles have seen the light when it comes to the Linn LP 12 and rightly so.