"What a refreshingly honest blog about listening to music through hi-fi. So happy to see views based upon the enjoyment of music rather than so-called sound 'quality'." - Peter Comeau, Director of Acoustic Design at Mission / Wharfedale

Wednesday 29 June 2011

End of an Era

How long should you hang on to something that you aspired to, but no longer use?

Deep philosophy?  Not really, just one of the thoughts that went into a pretty significant decision for me.  The item in question is my Linn Sondek LP12.  About 7 years ago, it was a major upgrade from a Thorens TD160 MkII with a Mayware Formula IV Mk3 arm.  Full spec of the LP12 on "previously cherished" purchase was:

- Black Ash corner braced plinth
- Trampolin base
- Latest springs and gromets
- AC motor
- Valhalla power supply
- Cirkus bearing
- Linn Ittok LVII arm
- Dynavector DV20HX high output moving coil cartridge
- Clear lid
- Rega felt mat

As I said, a major upgrade from the Thorens and sounding rather good in comparison - excellent timing, super smooth sweet treble and clear, open vocals.  A bit of the well-known lower mid / upper bass muddiness too.

After about 3 years something went horribly wrong in the power supply / motor department - with the motor just juddering and not turning.  Not being sure if it was a motor or Valhalla fault I did some research and didn't really find out anything conclusive except for one thing - everyone (including some hifi mags) who had tried an Origin Live DC motor kit were raving about how much better it makes the LP12 sound, so I took the plunge.  I have to concur with the reviews I'd seen - it adds dynamics and removes much of the upper bass muddiness, so an excellent upgrade.  Some say this is better than a Lingo, but I've never done a back to back comparison, so I can't comment.

Its probably worth mentioning here that I don't have a huge collection of vinyl - probably under 200 discs (albums and 12" singles) so the LP12 has always been a bit of an indulgent luxury.  As for sound, I find that the LP12 does sweet treble smoothness and female vocals better than the Meridian 508.20 CD player, but CD does much better control of the bass lines and is far more dynamic - so each have their compromises and its difficult to say which is better, but I find myself listening to CD much more because I have a much larger collection of disks.

Which brings us to the point at which I've now got a streaming device (Logitech Squeezebox Touch and Cyrus DAC-X) that outperforms the CD and the LP12.  Given the visit to the hifi shop where we heard the lowest "proper" Linn streamer, the Majik DS outperform the Touch / Cyrus DAC-X and working out that I have played vinyl about 3 times so far in 2011, then the need to keep the LP12 became quite difficult to justify.  Its a great looking bit of kit and makes for a "proper" and complete hifi system so it took me a few weeks to work from the logical conclusion through the illogical and irrational desire to keep the deck and finally arrive at a decision.

So the LP12 went up on ebay to generate some funds to buy a high quality streamer and has found a new home with someone who has had a lower spec Sondek in the past and is going back to his vinyl collection.  Great to see that its gone to a caring and very happy new owner.  I wish it well for the future and hope that it now give someone lots of great music listening sessions rather than just collecting dust in our house.

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