The first and possibly very largest bottleneck on the LP12 is the Urika phonostage or indeed any of the popular phono preamps that we see customers pair with it (Superline, Uphorik, Whest etc.). To be fair these are good stages in the context of many system and with respect to when they were designed many years ago now. The thing is much has progressed in the world of phonostages in the last 5 years or so and so much more is now possible. Since the design of things like the Urika, it is now a very wide open race with a huge breadth of ability, technology and asking price.
At the very sharp end of this race you have – at least in the Lotus portfolio – the Vitus MP-P201 at £40,000 and the world’s only direct heated LCR tube phono the Allnic H5000 DHT at £25,000. A quick google will give you some indication of what sort of reputation these units have, they are without doubt 2 of the finest phono preamplifiers the world has ever seen.
Consider that Allnic for example makes a further 3 phono stages below that flagship model with even the cheapest (the H1201 at £2500) being comfortably clear in terms of performance of something like a Urika. Similarly Vitus sells 2 other phonostages below the MP-P201 and their basic reference model is many many levels above the cheap Allnic. So I hope that clearly illustrates that what you have now is a very tall ladder of performance in the world of phonostages which from my own portfolio begins where the Urika ends and then goes upwards through many higher and higher echelons.
Now in the context of say a typical Linn or Naim system one could argue that a phono stage much better than a Urika is overkill and won’t pay dividends and to a certain extent you’d be right but in the context of a highend system with much lower levels of distortion and a far greater degree of resolution, neutrality, dimension and tonal accuracy, we would advise budgeting a more equal amount of money on the Phono as you have invested on the deck.
The Lp12 with keel/radikal and a good tonearm has pretty high resolution. When you go to a top draw £5000 or a £10,000 phono the deck’s full performance will be realised and amplification from the likes of Allnic/Vitus/Tidal etc. will do full justice to that much better signal. The result is you will get a very large jump in performance. So much is won or lost at the phono stage point in the chain, I really can’t stress this enough. It is a component that makes an enormous difference.
I have done many phono demo’s with Linn LP12 owners and the width of the grin and initial shock of disbelief is nearly always the same. So what we do is remove the Urika, fit a regular Trampolin and then the customer buys an Allnic H1201, or an H1500, an H3000, one of the excellent Vitus offerings or wires the deck straight into the inbuilt phono of his Tidal Preos preamplifier. This then is the single biggest moment of of unleashing that you can do to a good LP12.