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Linn LP12 Turntable Reviewed

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Performance
4 Stars
Value
5 Stars
Overall
4.5 Stars

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BOX 2: LP12 HISTORY AND UPGRADE PATH
Below is the factory-authorised list of retrofittable upgrades and manufacturing changes which delineate the differences between the two turntables in our comparison. The latest upgrade, the Linto Phono Preamplifier, is discussed in the main text.

UPGRADE YEAR S/N (approx.)

1974 2,000
Changed from two buttons to a single switch with
mains neon.

1974 2,000
Motor control PCB changed from terminal strip
to small circuit board.

1974 2,600
Strengthened by addition of strap, spot-welded
in place.

1974 2,000
Liner material changed.

1978 23,000
Two holes added for 6 x 0.5 self tappers into
wood block.

1979 27,000
Lid support prop removed and hinges changed to
spring-loaded, self-supporting type.

late '70s n/a
Added strengthening bar, spot-welded in place.
Increases rigidity and strength.

1981 32,800
Improved material specification of many integral
mechanical components. Improved suspension
and stability.

1981 n/a
Manufactured to tighter tolerance; ground top and
bottom. (changed from zinc to black)

1982 38,800
Electronic speed control with a sophisticated crystal
controlled power supply. Isolates the rotation of the
turntable motor from variations in the electrical supply.

1984 53,000
Enlarged corner blocks. Strengthens and increases
rigidity of plinth.

1984 54,100
Attached strengthening bar with epoxy glue.
Superior bond; increases rigidity.

1986 n/a
Further tightening of manufacturing tolerance.


1987 70,000
Improved bearing liner material and thrust pad
specification. Bearing liner machined to lighter
tolerances, thus creating better speed stability.
Changed to black oil.

1987 79,150
Material changed to MDF core, laminated top and
underside. Increases rigidity of armboard, thus
creating improved platform for tonearm.

1988 n/a
Tightened grinding tolerance.

1989 79,700
Motor thrust pad replaced with stainless steel ball
bearing. Reduces motor noise.

1989 81,000
Composition changed to a new harder, denser rubber.
Improves performance of suspension.

1990 N/A
Direct-coupled power supply for the LP12. Offers low-
noise oscillators, precision filtering, separate drive for
both phases and eIectrical isolation from mains supply.

1991 87,047 (Valhalla)
Small cap factory-fitted (glued in position) to reduce 87,206 (Lingo)
noise level.

1991 87,672
Replacing hardboard base.

1991 N/A
Suspended base board available as an upgrade.


LP12 sold as a mechanical assembly only. Three 1991 87,672
power supply options available: Lingo, Valhalla and
Basik. (Basik PSU supplied with 45rpm adaptor).

1992 88,950
Fitted with additional stud which improves the
coupling of the top plate to the plinth and secures
the motor corner.

1993 90,582
LP12 Cirkus bearing and subchassis upgrade
fitted as standard.


BOX 3: MORRIS DANCING

Unable to accept that making seven professionals wait a tedious four-and-a-half hours was entirely his fault, but utterly convinced that his foul-up caused an invalid result due to the obvious loathing of him evinced by the listening panel, Linn's Brian Morris immediately fired off an e-mail as some warped form of damage limitation. It was unnecessary, as the newer Linn outperformed the original quite markedly - which is what he obviously wanted; the only surprise was that the original wasn't 'slaughtered' by the latest edition. But for an insight into the mind of an audio psychotic, one who firmly behaves as if it's 1979 and the Linn disease is still virulent, we thought it would amuse you to read his bleatings, especially as he fails to understand that the perceived extra loudness of a new LP12 over an original is a quantitative rather than a qualitative gain. And we were only interested in sound quality, not playback levels:

"1. Paul Miller has confirmed to me that the volume differences between the 2 amplifier turntable inputs was only 0 .25db which is significantly smaller than the perceived loudness differences we all heard when listening to the current LP12, compared to the earlier version. This greater perceived loudness of the current LP12 is due principally to the Cirkus and Lingo upgrades in addition to other modifications and upgrades incorporated during the LP12's lifetime. This perceived loudness is a characteristic of the current LP12 which benefits from:

1. a lower noise floor
2. greater information retrieval
3. greater dynamic range
4. more music for the listener
5. greater speed accuracy = more tune
6. being a better turntable

"As we were demonstrating the real differences between the 2 turntables, the listeners should have had the opportunity to listen to music via each turntable in the way the respective LP12s retrieve and communicate to the listener and importantly at the same level of volume set by the amplifier.

"This never happened in the review methodology. Instead, the immediate and most obvious difference (perceived loudness) was obscured in the test by equalising the amplifier/system levels and reducing the perceived loudness of the current LP12. Moreover, since a difference of 0.25db between the inputs/turntables is hardly a noticeable difference to the listener, the doctoring of system volume to equalise the two turntables actually had to have been greater than the equivalent of 0.25db.

"Since the review was set up to compare the real differences between the 2 turntables, each turntable should have been played at its respective level since the perceived loudness of the current LP12 is greater than original for reasons outlined above. As Paul Miller has established that there was little difference between the 2 input signals (0.25db), then an important difference between the two turntables was disguised in the test and should have been apparent for all to hear each time a track of music was played.

"Unfortunately, the listening panel was not given the opportunity with each piece of music to accurately compare the most apparent difference between the 2 turntables and appreciate the inherent musical benefits in this way. In this respect the review methodology was flawed, since the review approach disguised this immediate difference of perceived loudness (components 1-6 above).

"One interesting difference I found between the two turntables worth reporting in the review relates to the Ray Charles track. Played on the early LP12, I found that Ray Charles was clearly mistakable for Joe Cocker. When the same track was played on the current LP12 there was no doubt that it was Ray Charles singing.

"I thought your attempt to enquire into who reported what on their score sheets to be very much against the spirit and methodology of the review i.e.- since the ratings were supposed to be anonymised (sic). However, as stated in my last email to you, the fact that proportions of a small sample of people appeared to prefer both the new and old LP12 does not raise the possibility that Linn has been "dicking" its customers for the past 25 years as you put it. The current version of the LP12 is a far more accurate and revealing reproducer of music compared to earlier versions of the product, presenting music on vinyl in a way which the review methodology obscured in the comparison.

"I suggest we revisit this review and demonstrate the musical differences between the 2 LP12s as originally intended, allowing the perceived loudness of the current LP12 to deliver all the associated musical differences and benefits. Had this happened last week, the actual review comparison would have been more accurate and interesting.

"PPS: Moving volume controls on standard potentiometers will never track left to right within 0.25db and that is why we never use them. Had we used a "hi-end" system anyway as you suggested when we first discussed this review last year, we probably would not be dealing with these issues at this stage."

Final thoughts: All of the panelists were dying to see who wrote what after the sessions, not I. And note the dig at Rogers and Musical Fidelity. One can only assume that to satisfy Morris' idea of a "hi-end" system. It would have to be all-Linn. Again, he misses the point...

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