Those who "drank the Ivor Koolaid" tend to feel the LP12 is the best analog rig to be had. I suspect you'll get many people who feel you can do better than the LP12. I've played around with many 'tables and IMO the Oracles and VPI's are superior to any Linn set up. If you have the budget, you can certainly do better.
Boy, this would have been a really contentious debate not so long ago betweeen the "Linnies" and "the others". At one time, the Linn LP-12 was clear the best -- and maybe the only -- show in town if you wanted a truly high-end turntable.
I have to agree, however, with Jeff. There are a number of excellent TT's now available, and in my opinion, a number of them exceed the LP-12, both in performance and value. Among the tables that I prefer to the LP-12 are the Basis 2500 (not the Debut, which is too expensive for my budget), the ClearAudio Champion Level 2, the VPI Aries and VPI TNT, the Michell GyroDec, the SME Model 10, and the relatively new Acoustic Signature models which have been available at excellent introductory prices: the Analog One ($3500), and the Final Tool ($2000).
Pair virtually any of these tables with a top-flight arm (such as VPI JMW 10.5 or 12.5; Graham 2.2; SME IV; Immedia RPM2; the Wheaton Tri-Planar (available again); or even the new Rega RB1000) , and you'll have one damned nice analog front end.
The Linn and Naim products for that matter always seem to have a cult following. It's hard to ever hear of rhythm and pace without hearing these product lines mentioned in the same sentence. With that said, I too think the Linn LP12 is a fine product. I owned the LP12/Ittok combination for almost 19 years. There was never one problem with this setup. This alone says so very much about the reliability of such a product. But it also gave me 1000's and 1000's of hours of incredible musical enjoyment.
Finally I felt it was time to consider other products for possible table/arm upgrade. There are so many awesome used table/arm combinations for sale here on Audiogon. I see Clearaudio, VPI, Michel Orbe, Well Tempered Reference, etc., in the $2500-4000 range....all with arms. I was looking at an older Versa Dynamics, but a Clearaudio Reference with TQ1 arm came my way at an incredible price. As wonderful as the Linn setup was, this Clearaduio setup is in a completely different league. One or two subtle improvements is not always an issue but when an upgrade is like this, it is hard to know where to start the list of improvements. It took only a few seconds to realize the incredible extension in the low end, the far more resolution and air at the top and the less prominent and more natural midrange. The music took on a 3D presentation the Linn never did. More than anything however, the biggest improvement was the retrieval of information. Did the "rhythm and pace" factor increase or decrease? Who knows....but I got far more involved in the music with the Clearaudio. I had an initial tracking problem with cartridges in the TQ1 arm but this has passed.
I could have considered all the updates, arm changes, etc., to the Linn but I truly felt I would only get minor improvements based on the initial LP12 design. I felt the money spent on any Linn upgrades could be far better spent on other table/arm combinations. I am convinced, for myself at least, this was the case.
Before you go off and spend $2k+ on a new arm for your Linn, look into what improvements you might get from selling your Linn and the money you have set aside for an arm. Whether one setup is "superior" to another only you can determine. But as I learned, at least consider other products as you just might be pleasantly surprised.
Do you have a preference between the Basis 2500 and the Clearaudio Champion Level II? If you do, could you explain? I have a Basis 2500 and have been considering an upgrade to the 2800, but have seen the Champion and was very impressed, particularly considering its price.
I can try the Champion in my system, and probably will, but I'd be interested in your impressions.
if you're looking to unload your Basis 2500 in the near future, let me know - I'd be interested.
My REK-O-KUT is sounding better than my LINN. I felt like such a fool knowing that an $10 estate sale turntable would shame the mighty LINN. Someone bought my LINN so I had some extra money for LPs. Good Luck with those big buck tables!
My recommendation of the Basis 2500 and ClearAudio Champion Level 2 were made primarily on the basis of choosing TT's in the "reasonable" price range. The Basis 2800 is an excellent TT, and offers some improvement over the 2500. There is also, I believe, a ClearAudio TT that falls mid-way in price between the Champion L2 and the $12,000 Reference, but I have not heard it. My self-imposed dollar limit on suggestions was made based on assumptions I made about Gboren's apparent budget for upgrading.
I have had some short listening sessions with several of the TT's I mentioned, but not long enough to say with certainty which one is the "best choice". All will probably do a fine job with the right arm and cartridge.
Michell and Nottingham are two British manufacturers that have quietly produced some of the best TTs at their price points for decades. Some recent designs from others look a lot like the Orb and Space Deck, which have been around for years.
I am considering the same up-grade
situation. My Linn 12 has been modified
by George Merrill with new damped suspension,
syn. arm board, mat, record clamp, Morch arm
and Benz cart. Looked at Oracle, Basis and
SME tables. More ad money than table/platter
investment. Seriously considering Redpoint,Teres
(both DIY's) and Nottingham. Check out Schroeder
and Nottingham arms also. Try AudioAsylum website
before buying. We all take Stereophile, Absolute
Sound,etc. too seriously. Listen to other end users
also. Lots of choices,limited chance to try before
I was sort of in the same situation as yourself. Check out my recent LP12 upgrade adventures under the 'Extreme Phono-first impressions' heading.
None is bad or wrong, just preference. Remember for each $, you get something, you loss something.
American camp - big, over-damped sound, shoot-for-the-star/deep-in-the-trench frequency extreme. VPI, Basis etc. Phono stage examples: Aesthetix, CJ Premier, Krell KPA.
British camp - fast, agile, not-care-about frequency extremes, timing and rhythm are kings, Rega, Linn, Roksan, etc. Phono stage example, Linn Linto (listening to Linto will teach everyone a lesson what rhythm/drive/timing is about.) Tom Evans, Audible Illusion M3 (without MC Gold).
Somewhere in middle - Well Tempered, SME 20/30, Simon Yorke, Micro Seiki, Clearaudio and other European tables which I have not had a lot of experience. Phono stage examples, Spectral DMC20, Vendetta Research, Hovland.
Notice that the somewhere in middle camp includes very expensive table, and there is a reason. To have the engineering cost in order to capture rhythm and timing, yet retains the weight, authority and frequency extrmemes do not come cheap.
Some people are just more sensitive to timing and rhythm, and others more critical to bass and 'air'. Getting VPI and squeeze more timing/rhythhm out of it (like adding SDS), or getting Linn and squeeze more extension (using carbon graphite), just different avenues towards a satisfactory musical experience.
You don't mention having had the Circus bearing upgrade. Ihave the new/latest Lingo P/S and if you go for the bearing upgrade too, you will have a mighty fine turntable as described in other postings
I had a Linn LP for 15 years and went through the upgrade path to cirkus bearing, lingo power supply, switched from Itok to ekos tonearm, etc. The last cartridge I had in it, for about 6 months, was a van den hul Black Beauty.
I have since bought a TNT Mark V with JMW 12.5. Everything else in my system, including the cartridge, has remained the same.
I liked the Linn and was quite satisfied. I still think it sounded really good. But the new rig is really in an altogether different class. In particular, the bass extension is SO much better that I don't think I could live with a Linn again. (Yes,the Linn was set-up by a Linn technician and the bounce was right on.)
While the Linn was "musical", the new rig has a more complex and yet more natural and authoritative sound. I hear more, and it is dead quiet. I listen exclusively to classical music and this new rig has been a revelation. I won't dump on the Linn, I was a fan for long time. But it is possible to do a LOT better.
Having drank the Ivor Koolaid myself for about 10 years, I now have a Teres 245, and it has the PRaT of a Linn, and wide response and digs deep into the fine detail. It is an excellent combination of sound quality that usually only comes with very expensive tables. The price is very reasonable for the performance level, and you can get it fully assembled, or a DIY kit. Very good value.
I had the Linn LP12 over a few years with the upgrades and switched to the VPI Aries. The sound was more dynamic and the Aries was easier to set up and stay in tune. Both tables are no slouch but I always felt the sound was a slight bit compressed. I now have the Nottingham Spacedeck/Anna arm/Benz Ruby2. This is a major upgrade. Big dynamics, soundstage and very musical and nonfatigueing. The Aries and the Linn also seemed a bit on the bright side compared to the rich tone of the Nottingham. This is a great looking turntable also. Rock solid
There is no doubt that a Linn LP12 has a knack for polarizing people.It is not the be all or end of TT's.It is very good (and fairly priced imo) for what it is. If you are happily dancing away to the music enjoy it.I know the VPI is good, the Clearaudio excellent but you don't own them.Get the bearing upgraded to Circus consider the Naim Aro tonearm.Above all enjoy.P.S.I own a lp12 anniversary table.