December 30, 2010

Hercules To Power My Linn LP12. Hercules Power Supply For Linn Sondek LP12.

All the contents in the Hercules power supply kit. Also included is a very clearly written install instruction guide with illustration. PCB board and compnent contents are of high quality and very well made.

The Linn Sondek LP12 is such a successful product, that many have found it profitable to design and sell after market substitute parts or accessories to avid tweakers! Stamford Audio is one such out fit located in the UK, but has an e-bay store to make it easy for us to place orders. I placed my order on the first week of December, and it arrived about 10 days later! Not bad at all, considering I only asked to use the services of Royal Mail and Pos Malaysia.
The package that greeted me when I came home from work just a few days prior to Christmas.

Since restoring my Linn LP12, I've always wished for the capability to play 45 rpm singles or re-issues, as I've got quite a few of those in my vinyl collection. I know the Linn Lingo power supply is available, but they just proved to cost more than I am willing to pay. Hercules seems to be the next most popular and obviously cost saving option.(What??? Big E talking about cost saving in hifi purchases? That sure doesn't sound like him, He! He!) Other than cost saving option, I also needed something that didn't take up another rack space, which clearly only the Hercules option is viable, because it's designed to slot neatly where the original Valhalla resides, all the wiring is the same too.
The original Valhalla power supply board.

The Hercules power supply kit came with everything one needs(sans tools) to complete the job, and comes with a clearly written with illustration installation instruction guide.

I needed a place to work without turning my LP12 over to avoid having to set the three point spring suspension system "bounce" again. So I had my Linn placed on a pair of dinning chairs on both ends of the turn table, this way I could slide in on my back(just like a mechanic slides to work under a car)and work from beneath the turntable. I had the platter and gypsum board base plate removed to access the original vintage Valhalla power supply board.

I start by removing all the wiring to the mains power cord(2 core) and a 4 core cable to the motor. Then very carefully unplug the plastic clips holding the Valhalla board by use to a long nosed pliers. I used very gentle force to pull out the fragile looking vintage Valhalla board and had the original Linn power switch removed from the top plate.
The new Hercules supplied dual speed switch vs the original Linn item(red LED only).

All the Valhalla components removed.

Note the plastic clips in white used to secure the power supply board. This is only available for Valhalla equipped Linn LP12s made after 1982.

Next, I had the new Hercules board installed back in to the original slot, by re-using the original plastic clips that secure the Valhalla board to hold down the new board. Then I re-wired all the cables as they should be according to colour codes and replaced the top plate switch with the new dual speed unit supplied by Hercules. I hooked up the power cord for a brief test run to confirm that I did everything right, re-attached the bottom base plate and platter and away I go!
The Hercules power supply board now in place and ready to go. All done in 25 minutes, D.I.Y. style.

I only expected the Hercules power supply to provide me with the extra option of 45 rpm playing speed other than the standard 33 rpm. So it was indeed a pleasant surprise that I also got some sonic improvements. Totally notable from the first LP spin is the bass quality. The slightly bloated and ill defined if voluminous bass quality of the Linn took on a more solid form. It's like the bass lines shed a few pounds, and in the process improved definition, yet proved more tuneful than before. It's qualities are closer(though not exactly the same) to the kind of bass that I so enjoyed with the VPI Scout II turn table I played with just a while ago.

Another area that yielded improvement was the imaging, which took on a more precise outline, against the now darker sound stage in the back drop, making stage depth and field of layering perception more obvious, then the previously rather flat presentation. Finally there's also a sense of reduced noise floor and quietness, which I believed had it's share of contributing to the above improvements. The reduced noise floor also allows my Benz LP cartridge to retrieve more inner detail and low level resolution from well recorded LPs.

I also noticed better timing and rhythm flow with the Hercules and there is less speed "wandering", even though if at first, the Hercules seems to make the motor feel less torquey, resulting in slower start up to speed time.

There is only one area of the Hercules that I did not like. It seems to dump out quite a bit of it's own EMI/RFI back in to the main power lines. This is because I heard more noise and white hash being feed back through the CD player, if the Linn turn table is turned "On" at the same time! So that means, I can only turn on either source at any one time, which is quite frustrating, as I like to keep all my components on boil when I in a listening session.
Press and release the switch immediately to start 33 rpm play, and the red LED glows.

Press switch and hold down firmly for 5 seconds and the blue LED glows to indicate that it's now spinning at 45 rpm.

It cost me slightly less than RM$1000.00(including postage) for the Hercules power supply kit to arrive at my door step. It's an investment worth many times it's sonic returns. I highly recommend this Hercules power supply kit, if one cannot(or does not want to) stretch his budget for a Linn Lingo, of which I am told(but cannot confirm), along with a Radikal motor will out perform it, at a very much higher cost!

By the way, this is very likely to be the last piece of investment I will do on the Linn Sondek LP12.

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