Author Topic: Linn Sondek LP12 review  (Read 429 times)

Online vleisman

Linn Sondek LP12 review
« on: March 27, 2020, 10:32:07 AM »
Does the world really need another LP12 review? Especially by some shamateur reviewer that tends to gush about mundane stuff? Regardless, here it is:
Having a long history of using turntables and a much shorter history of restoring and fixing and sometimes upgrading them, I've owned and seen and heard a fair number of them. This is my first LP12, something I've lusted after for more than 35 years, but never been able to own one until Chrisc offered up the bargain of the year and I was lucky enough to snap it up. It's pretty much a standard LP12 with an SME series 3 arm and a Shure V15 V cartridge, with Valhalla power supply. The lid has some aftermarket hinges and there is no base board.
After unpacking and assembling I spent a good few days researching and adjusting the SME arm, the suspension and general alignment trying to get everything as perfect as possible. This is not a trivial task, there is a ton of information out there on how to set up an LP12, and not all methods are in agreement.
Luckily for me Mike (Fdlsys) kindly offered to sort out the Valhalla board and advised me not to switch it on until that had been done, so after delivering it to him it was a frustrating couple of days until I got it back. This LP12 has seen plenty of use in its plus minus 33 years of life and has a few scratches and dents and has been worked on before. Aside from sorting out the Valhalla, Mike also adjusted the suspension and the arm, basically redoing everything and getting it set up the way it should be. For anyone tempted to try set up a complex turntable, I would definitely recommend getting Mike or Croak to have it done properly, itís not easy or simple. Making one adjustment often affects other parts and you can end up going in circles.

She is connected to a Valve Audio Whisper and then to a Cayin A55tp integrated amp with phono stage, playing through Sonor Audio Capella speakers. I use the Cayin in 18 Watt triode mode. At first I listened to it through the onboard phono stage, but for now letís concentrate on the Whisper as it is currently set up. One other change I made is to fit an Achromat instead of the cork mat it came with. The room is not treated acoustically at all and the set-up is probably far from optimal. Interconnects are home-made jobbies and the speaker wire is basic stuff from Builders, I think 2mm thick. The left and right speakers are wired with different lengths and make of wire, I am not a cable evangelist. My previous references or benchmarks are a lovely Sansui SR-636 Direct Drive, a Sony PS 1800a belt drive with 12 inch arm, Technics SL-1200 and numerous lesser decks.

Enough background waffling, so on to listening to the darn thing. Bottom line: this LP12 is simply in another league to everything Iíve ever owned before and my search for a turntable has now ended, possibly for life. I reckon the SME Series 3 arm with the Shure cartridge seems to be perfectly suited to the table and I am not about to change anything without having a really good reason to. Describing the sound of any hifi or component is (to me) really difficult and probably best left to the professionals, but Iíll give it a go. The words that come to mind are clear, balanced, airy. Wonderful imaging, channel separation, nice horizontal soundstage (on the right record). Possibly a very little bit dry, with clean, tight bass. No sibilance, no harshness up top, wonderful midrange.
I have heard better set-ups, but not many and these usually have been worth much bigger bucks in all departments. My opinion is the LP12 still has lots of potential that could be extracted by fixing the room and upgrading a few small things, for example cables *gasp*.  Then there are mods to the plinth and other parts to go even further, but my butt ainít itching now and hopefully wonít in the next few years.
Iím not ashamed to say that I am now a Linnie. Huge thanks to Mike for getting it properly set up, and to Chris for selling the turntable.

Offline marantz123

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Re: Linn Sondek LP12 review
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2020, 10:44:33 AM »
Absolutely beautiful !  :)

Show us a few pics sire !

Offline fredeb

Re: Linn Sondek LP12 review
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2020, 11:07:00 AM »
Amazing Vleisman ! Yeah ... some pics would be cool . Are you listening with the Muffsy phonostage you just completed ?

Oh ... yeah , and thanks for the review , a pleasant change from hearing about you know what all the time .
...evolution is the gradual development and stratification of progressive series of wholes, stretching from the inorganic beginnings to the highest level of spiritual creation.
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Offline stereoholic

Re: Linn Sondek LP12 review
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2020, 11:18:03 AM »
Great read, thoroughly enjoyed that  :thumbs:

Online chrisc

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Re: Linn Sondek LP12 review
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2020, 11:26:44 AM »
Glad you are enjoying it.  Up until a few months ago I played maybe 1 LP record a year.

I managed to acquire a AT450E from fredeb and this has been a revelation.  I can hear nuances of detail that were missing and also have been able to compare the LP version with a digital recording.   There are subtle differences, to be sure
Music is the shorthand of emotion

Offline johan.pretorius

Re: Linn Sondek LP12 review
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2020, 11:40:40 AM »
Enough background waffling, so on to listening to the darn thing. Bottom line: this LP12 is simply in another league to everything Iíve ever owned before and my search for a turntable has now ended, possibly for life. I reckon the SME Series 3 arm with the Shure cartridge seems to be perfectly suited to the table and I am not about to change anything without having a really good reason to.

Awesome, enjoy!

ps - I can say the same about my Thorens and SME, won't be looking for another turntable any time soon.
There is no better idle time than Thorens time.

Online vleisman

Re: Linn Sondek LP12 review
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2020, 11:51:44 AM »
Amazing Vleisman ! Yeah ... some pics would be cool . Are you listening with the Muffsy phonostage you just completed ?

Oh ... yeah , and thanks for the review , a pleasant change from hearing about you know what all the time .

Pics meh - you and Marantz are Linn pervs by the looks of it :) . It looks like any Linn. Seeing as you guys asked I will and will try make them half decent.
No, the Muffsy is sleeping in the study. I tried hooking it up to my Exclame, but it needs some earthing and want to put it into a box of some sort. I'm not spending much time on hifi yet. When I get that hooked up and running I'll post a more thorough review.

Online vleisman

Re: Linn Sondek LP12 review
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2020, 11:58:20 AM »
Lynette the luscious lady














« Last Edit: March 27, 2020, 12:06:07 PM by vleisman »

Online vleisman

Re: Linn Sondek LP12 review
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2020, 12:05:03 PM »
VA VA voom (and Tannie Tannoy with Caytlin) also featuring the Caprice and Cappelonia twins.














Online vleisman

Re: Linn Sondek LP12 review
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2020, 12:15:57 PM »
Glad you are enjoying it.  Up until a few months ago I played maybe 1 LP record a year.

I managed to acquire a AT450E from fredeb and this has been a revelation.  I can hear nuances of detail that were missing and also have been able to compare the LP version with a digital recording.   There are subtle differences, to be sure

Hi Chris, I'm loving it, she is amazing. Would you say the AT450E is better than the Shure V15 V?

Online vleisman

Re: Linn Sondek LP12 review
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2020, 12:21:12 PM »
Awesome, enjoy!

ps - I can say the same about my Thorens and SME, won't be looking for another turntable any time soon.

That reminds me, I need to get my Thorens back from Mike as well - hopefully the lockdown lasts until I can afford to pay him  :2c: :be: :baseball:

Offline fredeb

Re: Linn Sondek LP12 review
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2020, 12:30:20 PM »
What a beautiful combination , firstly in the Linn , Shure and SME 3009 S3 , and then with the other equipment ( VA et al ) . Stunning man !

I wouldn't say , the AT450 is better , or worse , but rather different . I do think you should enjoy your newly acquired setup , before you start wondering .   ;D

Maybe plan for another stylus for the V15 later on ?
...evolution is the gradual development and stratification of progressive series of wholes, stretching from the inorganic beginnings to the highest level of spiritual creation.
Jan Smuts

Offline fredeb

Re: Linn Sondek LP12 review
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2020, 12:34:12 PM »
Like so : https://www.turntableneedles.com/VN35HE-Type-Stylus-for-Shure-V15-Type-III-Cartridges--our-Needle-764-DHE_p_1077.html

"DHE" = Diamond HyperElliptical bonded tip needle

.75 - 1.5 grams tracking pressure.

Replaces: VN35HE




...evolution is the gradual development and stratification of progressive series of wholes, stretching from the inorganic beginnings to the highest level of spiritual creation.
Jan Smuts

Online vleisman

Re: Linn Sondek LP12 review
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2020, 01:40:06 PM »
What a beautiful combination , firstly in the Linn , Shure and SME 3009 S3 , and then with the other equipment ( VA et al ) . Stunning man !

I wouldn't say , the AT450 is better , or worse , but rather different . I do think you should enjoy your newly acquired setup , before you start wondering .   ;D

Maybe plan for another stylus for the V15 later on ?

Thanks Ari, I'm very happy with it. I am planning on another stylus one day. As per Chris this one is still fairly new, although I am putting miles on it when I get some privacy (the rest of the family don't like my volume settings and often the music choice).

Offline marantz123

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Re: Linn Sondek LP12 review
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2020, 06:36:24 PM »
Thanks Ari, I'm very happy with it. I am planning on another stylus one day. As per Chris this one is still fairly new, although I am putting miles on it when I get some privacy (the rest of the family don't like my volume settings and often the music choice).

Now youve taken all the fun out of it for yourself....nothing left to lust after since you have Lynette. Caitlyn must be most upset n hot as a light bulb and those cute PL6A's would be up in arms about this :sulky:
« Last Edit: March 27, 2020, 06:51:14 PM by marantz123 »