So what if you just want to make the jump into a proper Highend deck and trade in the Linn altogether. Well the good news is there are a good number of options here and in addition, your LP12 retains good value and I give full retail price on part exchanges (I don’t build profit into used equipment) so you will get a very nice credit note from Lotus when it comes to paying for your new deck.
In short all the new turntables I offer here at Lotus will outperform the LP12SE with Radikal/Keel and Ekose SE or ARO, and even if fitted with one of the improved top plates like the Karmen or Khan. The direct drive Brinkmann Bardo at £9890 has more resolution, is more dynamic, more neutral and has far better pitch stability and precision. The same applies to entry belt drive Brinkmann the Spyder at £13,890. I would say that an LP12SE fitted with the Stilleto starts to approach the performance of these two decks but for me I would definitely still favour the more neutral Brinkmann decks. The Stilleto’d LP12SE by that stage also costs well over £20,000 !
For a and even bigger upgrade, customers should look to the Brinkmann Balance or the Spiral Groove Revolution both at around the £21,000 mark. The Spiral Groove is a very dynamic and precise/fast sounding deck whereas the Balance is grandiose, majestic and very composed sounding, almost slightly laid back but also with fantastic dynamic range.
After these decks we then get into the super league. For this highest tier level you need extra technologies like vacuum hold down, very sophisticated suspension and/or isolation, floating air bearing etc. These technologies afford the deck a higher level of performance over what traditional isolation, resonance and damping and motor drive know-how can manage. The Spiral Groove SG1.2, Dohmann Helix 2 and Helix 1 can trade blows with the very best Turntables in the world regardless of how many telephone numbers are attached to their retail prices. These decks give you even greater pitch stability so imaging and focus, dynamics, noise floor, resolution all get even better again. They are many levels above what a fully blown LP12 can offer.
Are these decks “musical” and “tuneful” like an LP12. Yes ! Absolutely. More so, a lot more so if truth be told. You are a lot closer to the sound on the vinyl, the music is much more immediate, a lot less veiled, it is a lot more dynamic, emerges from a much blacker backgrounds, is far better organised and coherent so more together and intelligible, imaging is much better with sounds locked far more rigidly in space and the soundstage is just far bigger left to right, front to back and with way more air between everything. In experiential terms the sense of performance, expression, emotion, power, energy is just much greater. More musical and much more enjoyable.
I have moved many LP12 owners in to my range of decks (mainly though the cheaper Bardo) and none of them reversed back or thought it was even remotely sideways as a progression. Not one of them ever complained because of a lack of ‘musicality’ or ‘toe tapping’. The old idea that a Linn Sondek has a monopoly on “musicality” is I’m afraid nothing more than a myth. What it is though, is a very loveable deck and something quite historical and emotive so it’s nice in this day and age, to have the option of holding onto it as well.