The Linn Karousel bearing.
After twenty seven years, Linn recently announced an update to their Linn Cirkus bearing--the Karousel bearing. For those who may not know what a Linn Cirkus bearing is...well this is the main bearing of the Linn LP12 turntable. The main bearing design is the part that Ivor Tiefenbrun used as his logo for his table back in the day. Ivor believed, rightly so IMO, that the bearing was the most crucial part of the whole turntable design. His original design had a oil based bearing consisting of a inner platter with a machined spindle that rotates in an oil filled container. Naturally, the container and the spindle had to be precisely manufactured for the spindle to rotate in an accurate manner. The original bearing was replaced after about fifteen years with the first bearing upgrade called ’Cirkus’. This bearing was more beefy than the original bearing and used Linn’s black oil along with a more precisely machined spindle. As such the ’Cirkus’ bearing kit consisted of a new inner platter and bearing fixture. The bearing ’cup’ attached via three screws to the sub- chassis. I replaced my original white collar inner bearing with a Cirkus bearing only about a year or so ago....to say the increase in SQ was substantial would be an understatement! Much lower noise floor, larger images and a more obvious ease to the flow of the music. This ’Cirkus’ upgrade when it first was released, about twenty seven years back came about to some fanfare, but not as much as the more recent power supply upgrades and plinth/subchassis upgrades..and yet i always felt that this particular upgrade was more impactful on the SQ than any other upgrade. ( as perhaps it should be if we go along wth Ivor’s original point!).
So, after many years of Linn LP12 ownership and with an upgrade of the sub-chassis ( to Magik/Kore) and power supply/motor to the Radikal D, i was excited about the new bearing that was introduced just in time for ---the pandemic!!!
The new bearing features a different mounting system to the sub-chassis ( resulting in far more rigidity),plus more precise machining than Linn was able to accomplish before ( there is now talk of 5microns in precision!). This precision pays off in a BIG way as we shall soon see.
I had expected a step up in SQ, since the Cirkus was so very impressive when I fitted it, but to say that I was ’gobsmacked’ when i first heard the new Karousel would be an understatement!
This review is based on listening to the new bearing with about ten hours on it...and as such it could get even better...which would be a truly incredible thing. But, here’s the thing, the new bearing is so amazing in what it does for the Linn LP12 turntable that i think IF funds allow it should be a mandatory upgrade.
My first listen with the upgrade was to the reissue of the old favorite ’The Royal Ballet gala’ album from Analog Productions. This classical LP sounds great on the Linn Cirkus, yet with the new bearing in place, I noticed something that i had not when listening to this album before...a complete and total silence between tracks along with far more precision of timbre on all of the instruments. Better dynamics and larger dynamic swings, more bass reach and better deep bass resolution and lastly, another increase in the ebb and flow ( which i wouldn’t have thought to be even possible) over the Cirkus bearing. To say that the table now moved another step closer to the reproduction of master tape would be appropriate, IMO. The new Karousel bearing for the Linn LP....simply this- Linn has hit one out of the park>>>