October 8, 2010

Catching Up With An Old Flame! A Rebuilt Linn Sondek LP12.

My re-built Linn Sondek LP12, seen here under going trials with a Clearaudio Concerto V2 cartridge. My sonic description below is based on using my resident Clearaudio Stradivari cartridge.

If one asked me what drove me to wanna rebuild the Linn Sondek LP12? Here are my answers in no particular order, except perhaps the last one, yep! I always save the best for last.

1) The wooden plinth was in fair condition, but from certain angles, it really did look rather tired after all. Plus I saw how Jo's reworked Linn LP12 plinth look like brand new, and I became a little jealous. He!He!

2) The three spring points would never quite hold their position well enough. After a few plays, the setting would drift and my Linn would not be level anymore. It tends to slant a little down wards on the side where the arm weight rest. I guess that particular spring/rubber grommet set is subjected to more tension due to the weight of the arm resting over it.

3) Speed stability, a.k.a. wow and flutter was starting to become an issue with piano and some string recordings.

4) JT came over to my place one day, and said "bro! your LP12 is only performing like 20% of it's original capabilities!, let me help you get it right" What a guy! And friends like these, are far and few in the context of today's audio/hifi circles.

So you saw my rebuild story, I will now share with you how it sounds. The re built LP12 sounds very much like before in general. It still has this very comfy warm, mellow glow in the mid range that is endearing. The highs are now less splashy and cleaner sounding. The refinement and airiness displayed is still there. The bass has however, tightened up and kick drums have more "kick" that before. The sometimes wooliness of double bass lines is now better defined and articulated now. I also noted improved transparency and much more resolving low level details. Most importantly, the Linn's famous "it could follow the tune" signature is still very much present. On the practical side, the perfectly leveled and aligned turn table will now certainly keep it's settings, un-less, it's been jarringly moved around.

Despite it's noted sound improvements, the Linn is an aged classic design. It's back ground noise levels like hiss or hum, can never match those new class of superb high end turn tables from Clearaudio, TW Acoustic, VPI, Oracle and many others. Those new turn table designs will provide a truly jet black back drop for a sound stage and palpable imaging to be painted on. That's the sad but un-avoidable truth.

What matters is that the Linn Sondek LP12 is still musically relevant, if technically flawed, when compared to the latest of rather expensive high end turn table designs.

If I could put a little spin on the re-built Linn LP12 based on my little hand held journey, it would be like this. I originally found the Linn LP12 to be like getting to know an old friend again, trusty, reliable, with known warm qualities and little nasty surprises.

The re-built Linn LP12 is like getting to know an old flame all over again. You know the scene, in a dingy bar, you get intoxicated, you end up in a one night stand only to realise next morning, she was your ex lover who parted ways a few years back. Now that you're sober, you find still her attractive, but only a little un-predictable in her ways. She has issues, with your encouragement, she goes to rehab. After a few months of re-shaping her mind and outlook, out comes a more sophisticated and more cultured lady that you once so much loved. Only naturally, she can't fight the ravages of time, and younger competition.

But sometimes life's not about having the best, latest or greatest, let someone else more qualified do those things. As a matter of fact, just being able to sit back, relax, and enjoy where the journey takes you to can be just as full filling.


Drubb said...

Big E,
You have a very vivid imagination. Quite a romantic aren't you? Dingy bar and all.......all you need now, to complete the picture is to have Dick Tracy there with his talking watch...
What is it with you Linnies.?...I was told that there is a 'crazy' collector in Klang Valley ( or is it Penang?? ) who buys up any LP12 offered on the market. Seems he already has about a dozen. Is this true or just mythical? Even the Singapore guys are talking about this.
Not impossible for me to believe though, cos you guys are ever soo romantic.....

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

Big E,

Your last paragraph coined my thoughts exactly.

Or maybe like the LP12, we are also aging....hahahahaha...just kidding.

I am thrilled for you bud.

Big E said...


Ha!Ha! All part of my earlier singles lifestyle.

I am not sure if I can consider my self a Linnie yet? But what you've heard is ceartainly true! The person buying up all the LP12s in the market is a friend of a friend. He has more than 20 turn tables and counting, of which 12 are Linn LP12s!

I've yet to meet this guy yet though.

Drubb said...

Big E,
I actually wanted to ask if you were reminiscing about past sojourns but of course that would've been most impolite :=). Don't want to be too personal lol.

As for the guy with 20 turntables, I think whoever knows him should tell him to stand up and be counted. He is a legend indeed. I'd like to take my hat off to him.

Shaharudin said...

Big E,
I just discovered your blog today soon after re-kindling my love for hi-fi. Scouring through my store room I "re-discovered" my LP12/Ittok in a truly sorry state after 20 years of dis-use. Also found Quad 66 preamp, 67 CD (with a broken tray), a pair of 306 power amps and Harbeth HLP3 loudspeakers. The Quads and Harbeths I could possibly ask Sam of Tropical Audio to look at but I need help with the LP12. Any suggestions?

Big E said...


Welcome to our humble blog, whose efforts includes the likes of Odiosleuth and Hifi-Maverick.

You've got some nice vintage gear, and it'll be a waste to leave them un-used.

The Linn LP12 DIY is not that difficult, if you follow my step by step pictorial guide, that is if you're in to that kinda thing. Otherwise, maybe I can check with a few buddies willing to help?

If you need more than just a guide, than leave me your e-mail add. here, I'll contact you off line.

Oh, by the way, welcome back to the crazy world of hifi & music!

Shaharudin said...

Thank you for responding, Big E. It is indeed an immense waste to see those equipment un-used and without hifi, my life is incomplete.
I do indeed need help and a push to be back in the audiophile circle which I left behind almost 20 years ago.
I can be contacted at din1964@hotmail.com
I have a feeling that this is going to be a wonderful re-kindling of the hifi enthusiast that I was all those years ago in Liverpool......

nasarudin said...

Hi Big E,

Just found out that I am so love with the sound from turntable. My Epos M12.2 doesnt even show the booming thingy.

Cant imagine in less than 1 months, I have collected nearly 10 LPs ranging from Santana, Pink Floyd, Jean-Luc Ponty, 2 classical & even old LP Grease & Frank Sinatra. Thinking of getting a s/h LP12, but heard that the setup is not easy & you wont get the sound if it is not setup properly.

I think will add more collection on vinyl compared to CDs.

Btw, do you think s/h LP12 is good to get as a starter? Thank you in advance.


Big E said...


Sorry I did see your post here earlier.

I do not recomend a Linn LP12 as a first turntable for starters in the black arts. There are other easier to set up/plug & play decks in the market to bring starters up to a certain level of competence. That is assuming you are intending a DIY journey much like mine?

However, if you're getting a brand new LP12 Majik with dealer's support, then by all means go get it!!!

Happy spinning!