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 In the early part of the post, I explain my comparative listening methodology (since superseded, alas — see note between rounds 12 and 13).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.