LP12 Modification Frenzy
The “LP12 Modification Frenzy” (LP12MF for short) is the project that got me started on this blog. It consists of a lengthy and detailed step-by-step evaluation of the effect of upgrades and modifications to turntable components such as the subchassis, top plate, bearing, subplatter, cartridge, tonearm, and drive system of my Linn LP12, as well as systems for cleaning records. I’ll use this page to organize my many blog posts into a coherent narrative.
The methodology was really consistent from rounds 1-12, all happening on the same headphone-based system. Then I started putting together a really nice loudspeaker-based system, which sounded considerably better than my headphone system ever did, and the methodology kind of fell apart. Still, even if everything isn’t as perfectly comparable and quantifiable as it was before — I still trust my results, and perhaps you will as well!
- Beginning. My first post on the blog, in which I briefly preview the LP12MF
- In My Room, in which I describe my office/listening room and provide an overview of all my associated equipment
- The LP12 that I’m About to Dismember, which describes the story and the technical state of my LP12 in its pre-LP12MF state. I also unearthed some Baby Pics of this turntable in its original state.
- Test Tracks, Test Albums, in which I describe in significant detail many the records and songs I’ll be listening to in the course of the LP12MF. If you’re interested more in my musical interests than my hifi pursuits, this isn’t a bad place to look.
- Summary of Effects. This is the page where I record brief, digestible, comparable reflections. If you’re looking for a quick overview of the project and its findings, this is the place to check first. (Note: this only made sense in rounds 1-12, when my methodology was consistent. I stopped updating this page at that point.)
Round Zero: Pre-Modification
- Listening Test: Before any modifications, in which I provide a comparison of my pre-modification “Base” setup and my digital setup. In the early part of the post, I explain my comparative listening methodology (since superseded, alas — see note between rounds 12 and 13).
Round One: Mober Subchassis
- Installing the Mober Subchassis, in which I perform my first major modification of my Base LP12.
- Listening Test: Mober Subchassis, in which I discover that the Mober subchassis makes a considerable positive difference.
Round Two: Tiger Paw Khan Top Plate
- Installing the Tiger Paw Khan, in which I heavy-handedly force my 32-year-old afromosia plinth to accept a new aluminum top plate.
- Listening Test: Tiger Paw Khan, in which I discover that a machined aluminum top plate, too, can make quite a positive difference.
Round Three: Audio Desk Vinyl Cleaner Pro
- Washing Records with the Audio Desk Vinyl Cleaner Pro Ultrasonic and the Spin Clean, in which I explain how I wash discs and why I do it that way.
- Listening Test: Audio Desk Vinyl Cleaner Pro, in which I conclude that ultrasonic cleaning really does make records sound better.
Round Four: Linn Lingo 4 Motor and Power Supply
- Installing the Linn Lingo 4, in which I install Linn’s “Akurate-level” power supply, whose noisy motor began to bother me shortly after installation (Note: a full year later, this situation was finally resolved: see Round Sixteen below)
- Listening Test: Linn Lingo 4, in which I find that the Lingo made no improvement in my system, and reflect on whether it makes sense to do a listening test with a motor you know isn’t working correctly. (Note: after being insanely patient, I finally got a properly working Lingo 4, and it is awesome. See Round Sixteen below.)
Round Five: SSP12
- Listening Test: SSP12, in which a cheap and easy-to-install inner platter makes my system sound much, much better, and thereby relieves much of the existential angst accumulated in the previous round.
Round Six: Dynavector XX-2 mkII
- Installing the Dynavector XX-2 mkII, in which I realize that my custom-made cartridge protractor is messed up and I probably won’t be able to get the XX-2 properly aligned.
- Listening Test: Dynavector XX-2 mkII, in which, unsurprisingly, I find that my probably-not-properly-aligned XX-2 sounds really horrible, but also come up with many other theories to explain the terrible sounds coming out of this setup.
Round Seven: Linn Ekos 2 Tonearm and Kore Subchassis
- Installing the Linn Ekos 2 and Kore, in which I curse tonearm leads in cramped headshells and praise the stylish and user-friendly Ekos.
- Listening Test: Linn Ekos 2 and Kore, in which I find that this very expensive and fancy setup doesn’t sound as good as I expected it to — certainly not as good as the much cheaper Round Five setup — and come up with many theories to explain it, including another seemingly faulty Linn product: an out-of-true Kore.
Round Eight: Mober Subchassis for Linn
- Listening Test: Mober Subchassis for Linn, in which taking out the wonky Kore and replacing it with the Mober subchassis makes a big positive difference, restoring my sense of excitement in listening to music on my setup and giving me faith that after several missteps, the LP12MF is getting back on track.
Round Nine: Mober DC Motor Kit
- Installing the Mober DC Motor Kit, in which I detail a very pain-free installation process, show how it works in a video, provide lots of pretty shots of the Mober in action — and give some thrilled first impressions.
- Listening Test: Mober DC Motor Kit, in which I continue to be thrilled with the Mober DC kit, discuss its clear, dynamic, “sizzling” sound, and decide it’s one of the best upgrades yet.
- Mini Listening Test: the Adikt Returns, in which I swap my trusty Linn Adikt cartridge back into the above configuration and find that it subtracts some of the previous magic.
Round Ten: Linn Troika Cartridge
- Listening Test: Linn Troika Cartridge, in which I find that the Troika takes nothing away from the Dynavector’s presentation but adds a lot of “snap.”
Round Eleven: Tiger Paw Javelin Tonearm
- Javelin Setup Guide, my attempt get together a proper setup manual for the Javelin.
- Listening Test: Tiger Paw Javelin, in which I find my ideal arm/cartridge match, from which there is no looking back.
- Listening Test: Tiger Paw Javelin with Dynavector XX-2, in which, okay, for practical purposes, I need to look back just a little.
Round Twelve: Naim Aro Tonearm and Greenstreet Subchassis
- Installing the Naim Aro and Greenstreet Subchassis, in which I finally get my hands on the tonearm I’ve coveted since I was a teenager reading British hifi-magazines in the 1990s (and also, you know, attach it via a subchassis)
- Listening Test: Naim Aro and Greenstreet Subchassis, in which I conclude — much as I love the Aro in many ways — that the Javelin really is a “super-Aro,” outperforming it in every respect.
At this point, I moved from using my headphone-based system to my still-evolving loudspeaker system in my garage aka Sillys Place. The methodology becomes much less repeatable and consistent — though from this point I’m evaluating equipment on a much superior system. With that in mind, read on!
Round Thirteen: Tiger Paw Tranquility Magnetic Bearing Support
- LP12MF Review: Tiger Paw Tranquility Magnetic Bearing Support, in which I find that a bit of “maglev” significantly improves the sound of my turntable, again cocinving me that bearings and motors are the most important elements of an insanely great-sounding turntable…
Round Fourteen: Stack Audio Serene Baseboard
- Installing the Stack Audio Serene Baseboard, a bit of drilling and you’re done.
- LP12MF Review: Stack Audio Serene Baseboard, in which I find the Serene baseboard a nice upgrade for very reasonable money, sounding better than no baseboard at all.
Round Fifteen: Linn Karousel Main Bearing
- Installing the Linn Karousel, in which I… well, you know, install a Karousel, which is not hard. I also talk about why I don’t think the Karousel will make any difference.
- LP12MF Review: Linn Karousel, in which I stun myself my finding that the Karousel makes a massive, fundamental improvement to my system.
Round Sixteen: Linn Lingo 4, Second Time Around!
- The Lingo Saga, in which I detail the sordid route by which a non-ticking Lingo 4 finally came back to me.
- LP12MF Review: Lingo 4, in which I find… wow, when the Lingo 4 doesn’t tick, it’s actually amazing good!
- Meet the “Palare,” in which I “externalize” the Lingo 4 boards, taking them out from inside the deck and sticking them in a pretty Chrome Bumper case.
Round Seventeen: SUPATRAC Blackbird
- The SUPATRAC Blackbird, in which I am blown away by a bold new tonearm design that comfortably unseats the Tiger Paw Javelin for tonearm supremacy.
Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.
You should try some of the easily reversible mods on the tripping the linn lp12 Fantastic article. Improvements are clear with oscilloscope.
Right, this article. I’ll definitely check that out!
Really enjoying your blog. Reading the LP12 modification frenzy (apt name btw). I’ve been into turntables for about 15 years and it has hit a feverish pitch! I have a 41-year old LP12 that I just did the Cirkus upgrade to – so much better. I also have seven other ‘tables – Well Tempered, Rega, Pear Audio, AR, Oracle, etc.. (I have a problem) Anyway – a note on grgaudio – that guy is a creep. I bought a cartridge from him and it came with a clearly bent cantilever. Anyway – enjoying your blog (and I really like the graphic design) – Greg
Thanks, Greg! And sorry to hear about your bad experience with grgaudio — that was so frustrating for me, sorry to hear you had to go through something similar.
Hi, great reading and especially about some of the mods / parts I’ve never heard of. Have you ever tried spring alternatives or non spring options?
PS: I’m an Aro fan but I’ve never had the chance to hear the Javelin – probably won’t now either.
Not yet but I’m definitely interested. Do you recommend any in particular?
The Aro is amazing — as is the Javelin, though yes, sadly a very rare bird!
As one English Professor to another, I wanted to thank you for your blog and for introducing me to the word “janky” (a new one for my internal dictionary).
I’m writing to ask if you obtained another Lingo 4 motor? I’m interested because I am tossing up between getting a Lingo 4 or a Mober dc motor and supply for my highly modified non-Linn LP12. I have the Funk Firm dc motor and supply at the moment, and whilst the results are excellent, there is a bit of long term drift which a tacho servo arrangement should solve. I’ve tended to prefer the sound of dc motors which to my ears seem to provide a black background, allowing tonality and soundstaging to be more readily apparent. I’m not, however, deaf to the drive and “welly” of ac motors, which has a different kind of appeal. As so often, it appears that the devil is in the detail and that it is less the technology than the implementation that counts. At the moment I am leaning toward the Mober. I am concerned about servo “hunting” at 16 times per second, but the installation appears much neater and there seems to be greater sonic potential than the Lingo. On the other hand, someone on one of the forums says that his Mober was clearly bettered by the Lingo in a shootout. As I am unable to hear a direct comparison of the two, I’d really appreciate any comments you have to make.
Thanks and best wishes,
Hi Gerald and thanks for your comment!
As it happens, there is now finally (after many, many months of patience) some hope that I’ll be getting a new Lingo 4. It’s fairly unlikely that I’ll actually open the box if I do receive it, though — I’m too concerned it too will have a “janky” motor and I’ll have to go through this whole procedure again. I’m a fan of the Mober in any case and am dubious that the Lingo can better it.
Anyway, decisions, decisions — I’ll make my decision when and if the replacement Lingo 4 ever arrives!
Ok, thanks for the reply. I understand only too well how frustrating it can be to go through what amount to minor traumas when a lot of time, energy, and money goes to waste. I’m quite sure there are not many audiophiles who haven’t had some pestilential experience or other. I, for one, am sworn off buying mechanical devices that are second hand: motors, bearings, speaker drivers, all must be brand new for me. Presumably you could open the box and fit all the connectors without mounting it in order to test out the jankiness (sp?) or otherwise of the motor before you make a decision? Anyway, I hope the Lingo does arrive.
My concern is that doing even this would significantly reduce the resale value — for the very reason you cite, that many buyers would be hesitant to buy a mechanical device that had been opened. (The Linn seal on the box would stand as a testament to this.) My main takeaway from this experience is that I will never again buy anything whatsoever from Linn (at least its current incarnation). Their failure to stand by their products, including ones with known problems like the Lingo 4, is inexcusable.
I take your point; one does not want to throw good money after bad. However, are Linn not sending you a new motor? Moreover, I wonder if you could clarify what the known problems of the Lingo are? Surely they don’t all have dodgy motors?
I have mixed experiences with Linn. I think their bearing and platter are top notch, but their circuit boards and some of the componentry are definitely janky.
Until I have it in my hands, I am going to stay mum on what exactly is happening with this Lingo 🙂 Suffice it to say it’s complicated.
Many people have reported issues with noisy Lingo 4 motors. I have it from several reputable Linn dealers that a great number of them need to be sent back for replacement.
Thanks so much; that has helped me make up my mind. I was biased towards the Mober anyway by my experiences with going dc. The Mober is offering what Kronos, Clearaudio and many other top tables are.
Btw, I wanted to mention that I have a Dynavector te Kaitora Rua and it can sound terrible if misaligned by even a spider’s whisker. Not the most forgiving cartridge then, but when it is spot on it has that magically airy and relaxed alnico sound with very good prat. I’m keen to try the Hana ML.
Mober report back
Hello Greg; hope you are well. I thought you, and anyone else who reads this page, might be interested to know that I did buy the Mober and install it on my non-Linn LP12. I got the black casework and the motor with a brass pulley (I like the sound of brass).
Firstly, there was an issue because Mober’s latest board included an incorrect value resistor that caused start up to be delayed by 10 seconds. When I contacted Edmund, he was really accommodating and couriered me a new correct board free of charge. Not a new resistor, a new board! Now that is great, no quibble, service! Super happy about that as the second board took only 10 minutes to install and works perfectly.
Secondly, installation was pretty straightforward. I made a couple of minor mods (like not using the big brass plate for the tacho and using the right height brass nuts instead) due to my own particular situation which worked just fine.
Thirdly, there is some run in (as there is with every component). Things sounded a little bright, harsh and ragged initially. I found that bass really kicked in after two or three days using it for a good three or four (or five or six) hours per day. This is primarily due to capacitor charging ime. Smoothing happened after about a week. Full detail about a week after that.
Fourthly: the sound? Bass, bass, bass. Oh yes, the Mober plays bass. I’ve never heard such bass reproduction from the Linn before: bass thumps, growls, snaps, pops, thunders. Play a metal ep at 45rpm and prepare to be scared witless as the floor shakes and windows rattle with the drummer’s attempt to immolate his skins. Moreover, prat, for which the LP12 is justly famous, is off the charts. Play a jazz lp with a good rhythm section and prepare for your toe to fly off it is tapping so hard. Play a psytrance 12″ at 45rpm and I challenge you to sit still. It is not just prat; the soundstage is enormous, recording depending. Play a Decca tube era first edition of Stravinsky, Britten, Sibelius and be transported to The Malting Snapes in 1967. I had a friend round who hasn’t heard my system in a while; he said “it has been many years since I had a 3d experience like that”. Mober brings a wonderful consistency via speed stability; leading edges are properly defined, tonality and dynamics are convincing. Nothing sounds too fast or too slow, because it is not. This leads to greater insight into musician intention and skill, which for this listener leads to heightened emotion.
My assessment is that the Mober is phenomenal value for money. It unleashes the potential of the Linn because it sorts out many of its foibles and weak points. The suspension is more pistonic and stable than ever, the top plate vibrates less, the speed is rock solid, the Maxon motor is such good quality that you can barely detect that it is turning with the naked eye, there is zero (I mean zero) pulley wobble when seen through a magnifying glass. Edmund has said that the Mober is derived from the Technics SP10 quartz lock, but is computer controlled for greater accuracy. Essentially you are adding the benefits of a top direct drive to the mechanical isolation and silence of the Linn. The results are beyond expectation. I’d love to put this up against the Radikal or Lingo 4.
Thanks for the recommendation; it has certainly worked for me.
If anyone is interested, this is my front end:
Dynavector te Kaitora Rua (I’m keen to try my Koetsu Blue and other cartridges now too)
Eminent Technology 2.5 tonearm
van den Hul MC150s silver litz
Vinyl Passion Unity One subchassis and blue springs
Funk Firm carbon fibre top plate
Custom Purpleheart double thickness plinth
Linn Cirkus and platter
Mober dc motor and supply
If given the choice updating a pre cirkus which of these options would you take.
MOBER SUB Chassis and Inner platter
Or Karousel and Cirkus subframe?
Both will make a big positive difference. If it were me, I think I’d start with a “used as new” Cirkus kit from Cymbiosis, like this one: https://www.cymbiosis.com/product/linn-cirkus-bearing-kit-used-but-as-new/ I’m really enjoying my Karousel but I think its advantage over the Carousel might only really be apparent when everything else also really upgraded. The Mober subchassis is great also.