Upgrade my older Linn Sondek or move on?

Hi All,

I have a 1984 Linn Sondek that is still as it came new with a couple of exceptions. I did rebuild my Valhalla board as I was having some issues. Still has the Basic LV X arm, but I added an XTC counterweight as the stock counterweight bushing turned to mush. I am running a Nagaoka MP-200 cartridge. 

Question is do I drop the money to upgrade the arm, bearing, and power supply or move on to a new or used table? Looking at used parts to upgrade the Linn I can easily spend $2k. I can sell the Linn and that puts me in the $3.5k budget range for a different table. 

I have been looking at Well Tempered and VPI. Any thoughts on these or other recommendations? Better sound quality and ease of set up / use would be the objectives. The rest of the system: Quicksilver M135 mono amps, Fisher CX-2 preamp, and Magnepan LRS+ speakers.


Either get the Hercules power board and DC motor kit and Ittok arm or save the effort and get a Technics SL1200G with Nagaoka MP500.


MOVE ON!! But, no to the well Tempered or VPI. A isolation suspension is crucial for the best performance. The Kuzma Ref 2 or the Stabi R on a Vibraplane, The SMEs, The Basis tables, The Avid Acutus then the best value of them all, the Sotas. You can put any turntable on a vibraplane or MinusK, but you will save money getting the suspension built in. The Sota design borrowed by Basis, SME and Acutus is far more stable than what you have in the LP12. I do this demonstration all the time. Put a seismograph application on your phone. Put it on the surface your turntable sits on then jump on the floor and bang the surface and watch the response on the phone. Now put the phone on your platter and do the same. On the Sota Cosmos platter you get absolutely nothing. Not even the tiniest squiggle.  People think if they put their turntable on a big heavy object that will protect them from environmental rumble and noise. That application will show you that is nonsense.  With the system like yours I would get a Sota Sapphire and put the best Rega arm you can afford on it. The RB2000 would be killer. Sota will mount it for you. Get the dust cover. You will be blown away by the improvement and ease of handling. Do the seismograph test and smile!

If you have a local Linn dealer that is going to install the parts or you are a detailed oriented meticulous person and want to do it yourself I would do the upgrades. Each of the upgrades you propose will significantly increase the sound quality. I have a LP12 which I have upgraded several times and have been ver impressed with the cost effectiveness of the improvements. In the end, you can take the table as far as you want to contemporary Klimax if you choose. A really great feature of the line.


If you are neither of the above then sell it and buy a new table. It is not that Linns are finicky or incredibly complex any more, they are precision instruments that must be set up precisely. A friend of mine is a Linn certified master technician and tells me lots of stories of folks that set up their own table and put on the wrong nuts, or did not level the internal springs and wonder why it didn’t sound right. Anyway, if you are not a detailed oriented person, like me, there are lots of great tables available.

Couple of great upgrades are available for you with the LP12. Replace the bearing to the current Karousel and replace the arm...look for either a good used Ittok, or if funds allow...a used Ekos or Naim Aro. 

I have a few friends who have Belt Drive TT's, I have shared this info before.

One TT is a Brand that is modern, one TT is a older model from a Brand and modified with OL Parts and the other is a LP12 of similar vintage as your own having undergone some of the available upgrades (note Linn are not the only Company with Upgrades on offer for the TT).

The demo'/comparisons were far from perfect, as a result of using different Tonearms and Cartridges on each TT.

The outcome reported from the attendees was that there was not too much to be discovered, and the Linn was as attractive in use as any other being demo'd.

There might be discovered within the Link some info that inspires you to keep on with the Linn.


@noromance  If I sell the Linn the budget will be $3.5k.
@ghdprentice No local Linn dealer. I would have to do the upgrades myself. Not completely opposed to doing it, however I would like as close to as little set up as possible.

@pindac thank you for the link

@thermionicemission Not to split hairs but I was addressing ghd who is assuming you keep the Linn and therefore have $2k. I’m cognizant of the $3.5 ‐hence my recommendation for the $4k 1200G. A friend has had the Tangerine (modded) LP12 and much prefers the Technics.

I always wanted a Linn, but passed mainly because of the endless upgrades.

I went another wish list TT: VPI Prime.  Despite what others may say, it's rock solid-set and forget.

Clearaudio, EAT, and SOTA were also on the radar.

@thermionicemission Setting up the LP12 is unfortunately not that easy. Changing out the bearing, requires a compete re-build. Since the LP12 really needs a good tech to do the set up...and suffers if it is done incorrectly, as many folk here have discovered ( even though they thought their set up skills were up to the task! These very same folk then blame the table. vs. their inadequate set up skills), I would suggest another table , one that is set up by your dealer- or is easy to home set up. The Technics is pretty much open box and play.

If one could budget it, I would move on. As great as the Linn was, it was a pain and modern manufacturing has improved for less money ( relative). 


Boy, you are not kidding. I owned two LP12s in succession. It was the best reasonably priced turntable in it's day, 1970s. But it was a PITA to live with and I rejoiced along with the HiFi press when David Fletcher released the SOTA Sapphire. It was the very first suspension turntable that was a joy to live with.


Ha-Ha, I had two friends back in Colorado. Both with Quads, MV-50's and PV-5s. Both ran Denon MC. One a Linn, One a SOTA.   Now, the sound from both was fantastic, but they would argue endlessly about their tables!  

The biggest improvement I heard on a table was at Transcendental Sound in Denver. He put his table in an isolated box on a suspension.  No feedback. Really improved midrange clarity.  If I remember, he ran a Panasonic strain gauge cartridge powered by Jeff Roland's power supply. Jordan module arrays on giant sono-tube woofer cabinets. 

You mentioned a Well Tempered.  My own TT journey took me from a Linn LP12 /KMAL to a Technics SP12 /AT, to a SOTA Sapphire/ Premier MMT.  this spanned 1975 to the late 80s.  I then got a Well Tempered TT/TA and enjoyed it until a year ago.  No springs, no feedback, no static buildup, no endless tweaking.  Stress free listening….don’t dismiss it!  I now have a Thorens TD1600 and AT-LOC9XML, and it’s pretty good, but I am disappointed with the arm.  

The LP12 is a great TT owned one many, many years ago, had the best PACE to the music than almost any other table at the time. Biggest issue was it was tweaky, as many have already pointed out, and the top end was rolled off as well as the bass bloated. I moved onto a SYD (Simon Yorke Design) which had the PACE & Rythm but took care of the top end and bass issues of the LP12. Yes @mijostyn is correct regarding isolation, almost a MUST for any non-suspended table. Once heard it becomes a eureka moment. (Dealer disclaimer, we are the importers/exporters of the Vibraplane and have now sold over 6,000 units world-wide). The MinusK actually goes lower in isolation than a Vibraplane but has other concerns but is another excellent isolation platform not to overlook. 

Recently I was at @mijostyn home and had a listen to his SOTA and as he stated, when he placed a seismograph application from his phone on the platter there was ZERO response. GREAT sounding system BTW, a most enjoyable experience. 

FWIW,  I chose a different tack for a lot less money and it's a nice affordable turntable.

I bought an old SYSTEMDEK IIX (the poor man's LP12) in good working order,  ordered a NOS Jelco 370 oil damped  tone arm  from 1984 (period correct for the circa 1984 llX).  I'm going to find a phono cartridge  commensurate to the rest of this TT and hopefully be set for many years. 

Just some food for thought. 

So that’s what you’re supposed to do with a TT!!!

Put a seismometer on it. No one ‘splained that before.

Just to toss this in…my local Clearaudio dealer has a couple of demo tables for sale:

Concept with Satisfy arm $1200 with some entry level Clearaudio cartridge 

Performance DC Wood with Tracer arm $4200 no cartridge




I’m the current caretaker of what was my pop’s LP12 with the Valhalla mod and Rabco straight line tracking tonearm. I completely retuned, leveled, lubed and rebelted it a couple of years ago and it sounds lovely. 

I liken it to my ‘93 Ducati also known as “the world’s greatest kit bike”; You could enjoy it as is from the factory or heap time and money at it with all sorts of modifications! LOL

Really there is no wrong answer though now I’m thinking of unpacking his old SOTA Sapphire and getting THAT going again  


Happy listening  



To be clear, I do NOT think the LP12 is in any way inferior to the tables mentioned above, including the table( a Technics) I would recommend IF one cannot get the Linn set up professionally. On the contrary, I think the LP12 with its ongoing ability to be upgraded is superior to the others mentioned!! With the proviso that a tech is able to do the set up. I once owned a SOTA, and while it is a nice table, it really is not in the same league as today's LP12 Akurate or Klimax version. YMMV.

For over two decades, I dreamt of having a Linn Sondek LP12 in my system. When the opportunity arose of a good high-quality used LP12 (single-speed) available from Canada, I jumped at the chance. It had Mitch Cotter silver phono cables, and a Grace G707 tonearm. I added a Sumiko Bluepoint to complete it.

At first, the table was an improvement over my old Rega Planar 3. But the more listening I did the more I noticed some weirdness, an underlying rumble tone in the sound. I called my local Linn dealer and he told me to bring it in. He suggested I fix the suspension, because it was not working the way the specifications stated. So I spent the money and fixed it. He also suggested, quite rightly, to get a new tonearm and cartridge but my budget wasn’t there yet at that time. The sound improved a bit, but not by the amount I thought it would. In the end, upgrading the whole enchilada would have been too expensive. As all of you on this forum know, a brand new Linn Sondek LP12 with all the bells and whistles costs north of US$30,000. The immutable law of diminishing returns.

After seven years I finally sold it. I was underwhelmed by its sound and disappointed. I went to a VPI turntable and haven’t looked back.

At least I can say I fulfilled my dream of owning a Linn…

I have a VPI and love it. The only change I would ever make would be to a WT. The arm design is brilliant.

I have 2 LP 12s and have done upgrades on both. One started where you are and has been modestly upgraded. (The other done full-out including Ekos SE arm, Karousel, Radikal ...) 

You could start with a Karousel bearing at $1,100 and $1k for a new base and Majik sub chassis. These would give you better grip and overall nicer musical presentation. If that's good stop there. . 

Later on your could add a used Lingo power supply at around $1k and get a new arm. A new Krane is $1.8k or get a used one you like. 

Also, Linn tables are very fussy and I would strongly recommend that you find a dealer to do the bearing, base, sub chassis at least. Those are installed prices anyway I believe.  


Or if this seems like a hassle, get the best Rega table you can afford and have fun with it. 

Either way, good luck and enjoy!

@audiovideonirvana  while you are correct that the Linn LP12 Klimax comes in at around $30K, there is also the entry level LP12 Majik, which comes in around $5K. The nice thing is that one can upgrade the Majik to Klimax level if and when funds come available, how many tables can you say the same thing about?


@ddrave44 The problem the OP has is apparently there is no dealer anywhere near him, which is unfortunately becoming more common with Linn LP12 dealers.

I have the exact same issue, as my "fettler' retired and the closest guy now is hours away. This is the one thing that is a negative with the Linn table, it pretty much requires set up experience/expertise and some specialized tools. For this reason, I suggested a different table to the OP, one that is not requiring basically any set up. 


@daveyf ”The problem the OP has is apparently there is no dealer anywhere near him, which is unfortunately becoming more common with Linn LP12 dealers.”

BINGO! These are very fussy tables. One definitely needs a local dealer to be able to fix common problems, or do upgrades correctly. Just as an aside, my local Linn dealer no longer is. He got tired of the BS with parts and shipping, etc. and he decided to go VPI. Maybe if I had the inclination to be constantly tweaking it I wouldn’t mind, but I’d rather listen to music than tweak the turntable. With my VPI it’s play it and forget it.

@audiovideonirvana   While the LP12 does require an experienced set up, once it is set up, it does not drift. Since you have had no experience with the Linn table for what sounds like decades, this is probably something new to you. Nonetheless, the LP12 has not had this issue for decades. SO, they are in fact NOT very fussy tables, in fact exactly the opposite, but they do need an expert set up initially. Would i trade my LP12 for any VPI, even though I do not have a local Linn dealer and I do have a VPI dealer....nope. 

Just to pile on, Linn tables need to be tuned up every 3-5 years so lack of a local dealer would be an ongoing problem.

At your $3.5k all-in budget a Rega Planar 8 is well worth a listen. Maybe compare to a Planar 6 at $1.9k. Rega's are also low maintenance, great sounding TTs. 


Not questioning VPI as a cool solution. I've heard great things about them, but I haven't heard one myself to comment. 

@ddrave44   Where do you get the idea that Linn tables need to be tuned up every 3-5 years??? The versions with the old Nirvana springs ( we are talking from the late 70's here) usually did...but since the springs have been updated ( from the mid 80's on), that is not true. OTOH, if the LP12 is incorrectly set up in the first place, then yes, it will drift through time. Who does the set up on your table??


I agree they're less fussy now with the aluminum sub chassis and all that, but I find that every 3 or 4 years its good to get mine tuned up at my local dealer. Typically Linn has some new upgrade available that I get when I bring it in. YMMV

One dealer website ..

For best performance, an LP12 should also be regularly fitted with a new belt, oil charge, and suspension springs and grommets, and be ‘tuned up’. A tune up includes having all fittings and connections examined and tightened, tonearm and cartridge checked for correct alignment and operation, and the suspension calibrated for proper isolation and performance.

How much of this is real or marketing? I dunno, but it makes sense to me and I've been happy getting these tune-ups done.  I think its a relevant consideration for the OP in deciding how to handle this question. 

I’m sad that my first and only Linn experience was less than optimal. I will say this, if I ever win the lottery, I’m earmarking $$$ for a fully loaded Linn Sondek Klimax and a VPI Direct. That’ll be the ultimate shootout…


I just chatted with my local Linn dealer and he did say that there’s less wear and tear on the tables nowadays. Especially for the ones with the with the newer motors - Radikal or Lingo4 compared to the older motors and suspensions. Often now a customer comes in for a cartridge and while it’s there he’ll tuneup the table and do the other upgrades they ask for.

I had an LP12 for awhile - decent table but I moved on (now use a VPI TNT V and a Sota Cosmos in my systems). I prefer either of them to the Linn.

I had an LP12 for awhile - decent table but I moved on (now use a VPI TNT V and a Sota Cosmos in my systems). I prefer either of them to the Linn.


I looked at Clearaudio too.  I think you need to research the arms to see which combo is better.  Was very close to getting a Concept when the VPI popped up for sale.

I think at this level, arms make the difference.

I had a 1980s lp12/ittok. Nice sounding but a bit bloated. Replaced the valhalla

with a mose/Hercules which tightened the bass. Well worth the upgrade.

Then I found a michell gyrodec. So much better and cost less than the price I got for my linn. Hard to find nowadays but worth the search. Trouble free,  built to last and it looks gorgeous!


@OP, I've been delayed in posting on this topic due to ID verification issues which, self evidently, are now sorted.

In answer to your opening post, it makes no economic sense to upgrade an LP 12 from the early eighties on the budget you are planning. To get that LP 12 to an acceptable standard, you'll end up replacing everything except the plinth and top plate and, possibly the motor.

The reason why there have been so many upgrades to the LP12 over the year is that the standard deck doesn't sound very good and buy the time you eradicate it's various problems you end up with a very expensive turntable that is up against serious competition.

At your price point, the Technics SL1200 G is a good option. In terms of the Clearaudio options, they are worth considering, although personally, I'd prefer to start with an Innovation Basic which, with arm, would be outside your budget. I think at your price point, a Rega Planar 8 is certainly worth a listen.

If you want to stick with a suspended subchassis turntable, the Michell Gyro SE is a good alternative.


From the Link that I have attached, I have been demo'd the version on the Kuzma Base for quite a few hours at a event a few years passed.

I do not know what it costs to create such a design. I do not know how it compares to a modern version of a Uplifted Linn Sondek.

What I do know is that the experience in front of this design for parts belonging toa Linn Sondek has a very attractive presentation and is very easily lived with.

The design I am referring to, can be seen as a Image and description of the methodology in the link.


You mentioned plug and play. The Rega P8 is the definition of that and can  be had in the low $3K range and if you put it on a wall shelf on top of a Townshend platform (I think around $5-600 nowadays since Max passed away unexpectedly) you will eliminate vibrations dramatically and foot falls completely. If foot falls are not a problem, the Townshend alone will solve your vibration problems. You get the RB880 arm which is fantastic. You can't beat the value, and it is in your budget range (including a good value MC cartridge - you didn't mention wanting to replace that or what phono stage you are using).

If you want to spend more and start mixing and matching arms and tables, you can go down the path like @mijostyn and others are mentioning (unless you want to spring for an end game table like an SME) or you can get the Rega P10, but that price is getting into tables with excellent built in suspensions. There are no dealers of SOTA near me and I will not buy a table and ship it. I personally would stay away from VPI because their arms are a rip off.

The LP 12 is legendary, but too finicky and way more expensive than it used to be (what isn't? )new things have come out in the last 50 years. I'm not saying you have to get the latest and greatest, but there have been improvements.


Sota will sell directly to you if you do not have a dealer near you. They will mount the arm and cartridge for you. It will be shipped ready to go with only one exception. The heavy platter will be shipped in it's own box. All you have to do is slide it on the bearing then put on the belt and motor cover. You will also have to adjust the feet to level the turntable and plug it in.

I was in the same position about 2yrs ago.  I had a late 80's Ittok LVII / Valhalla table and decided to upgrade.  I did a lot of research and concluded that upgrading a Linn LP12 is not a black art, rather it is a carefully considered process.  There are several non Linn upgrades that are just as effective, and maybe more so, and certainly cost much less in direct comparison to official Linn alternatives.

I would upgrade the bearing to at least Cirkus level, and upgrade your arm to at least an Ittok LVII.   

Hercules II outboard power supply.

Mober Inner Platter, Linn outer platter and new springs grommets etc.

Stack Serene chassis, top plate, bottom plate and arm board.

Upgraded DIN to RCA cable. 

Watch several You Tube videos until you can literally play back a complete video in your head from memory.  Then dive in.

The upgrade and building process is not a black art or rocket science.  It is very simply actually, but needs careful patient work.

I was rewarded with a much more expansive sound.  The first thing I heard was a darker, quieter background, which allowed microdetails to be more easily heard.  Speed stability increased.  Bass was deeper and more precise.  Midrange clarity improved, and treble is cleaner overall.

I was able to sell off unneeded parts.   Net cost of upgrades was less than $1800 US, and I now have a table that easily defeats a Majik level build.

I would like to thank everyone for their input. @iopscrl you are so right. There is no black magic here. I jumped in and was able to adjust the suspension and in turn level the arm board much better. Bounce is in agreement with what I’ve read and seen.
I will go for the Circus, Ittok LVII, and Hercules II for the first round. Your thoughts are in line with many others. I do generally like the table. Beat the pants off my old Rega P3 and sounds better than my brothers Thorens TD-160 which he has meticulously set up. Maybe step up the cart from the Nagaoka MP-200 as well. Any suggestions? I need the higher output of a MC due to my vintage Fisher CX400-2 preamp.

Do you mean to say you need the higher output of an MM ( not an MC)? In any case the Nagaoka is a moving iron. I’d move up to MP500.

And why was your Rega wearing pants?

Unfortunately, I believe in order to get the best out of your LP12, it does need a precise and correct set-up. If one is willing to do the set up oneself and can accept the fact that the set up might be at the 80% level ( at best), then the right path for the OP is to do upgrades. The best bang for the buck, IME, is the Karousel bearing, which is at the heart of the table design. If one can upgrade to the Karousel and can utilize a majik subchassis, I think the OP would be off to a great start.

@thermionicemission I am visiting and reading this thread with a interest, as I own a Linn TT, which is a little younger a model that your own. It is a TT that has not had a regular use for many many years.

I am not a Engineer but have had a lot of experiences of having works undertaken on certain functions of a TT. The Bearing Assembly has been an area of interest for numerous years, where the rigidity of the bearing housing when in place has been worked on and the Internals of the Bearing have been worked on. All examples of work produced to date have been quite successful as the outcome.

@daveyf has referred to the Karousel Bearing as well as the Majik Sub Chassis.

The Bearing I am sure will benefit from a particular type of treatment or a replacement might be the easier option to achieve a very similar end product.

The Majik Sub Chassis is solely a device to create a rigidity and decrease a deflection in the chassis, which should then ensure the bearing housing is not impacted on by the deflections, with the result being the axis of the Platters Bearing Spindle is truer in rotations. With less energy being produced as a result of a decrease in deflection, there is also the likelihood noise is reduced as well as less mechanical movement is present.

Within this Forum, it is no secret I am a advocate of the use as chassis material produced from a Resin Impregnated Densified Wood such as the Brand Panzerholz or Permali. Such materials are also used by other TT producers and have been a material used by the savvy forum members for many many years. I am a Greenhorn to the usage, and will not be returning to earlier used materials. 

It is not too expensive or difficult to acquire a Permali Board at a dimension that would suit the role as a Sub-Plinth / Sub-Chassis.

Linn in their latest offering of a TT with a value of approx’ £50K are making it known they have now adopted a Resin Impregnated Densified Wood, they are using a term Bed-Rok, as a disguised name to identify the source of the material. 

I am sure there will be third party versions of a Bed-Rok upgrade to be seen very soon, that is a no brainer, and Permali or Panzerholz will become much closer to being a Household name for a material. 

It might be prudent to wait and learn if the Densified Wood is an easy option to be produced as a mimic for the the latest Linn TT, and jump forward a few generations in relation to upgrade designs if achievable.

The following will show where my info about Linn is sourced from.

Linn was already in the process of incorporating a new wood technology for its plinth (the case), which pushes layers of timber together under high pressure to create a facade that is acoustically silent. (Whereas an acoustic guitar or other wooden instrument uses its wood for resonance, a turntable wants to mute those vibrations.) LoveFrom spent hours on calls learning the boundaries of the design, and homed in on dozens of details that it could address in the product.


If this is a adopted approach, this methodology will have the potential to put the TT under discussion, at a place where it is able to out perform mechanically suggestions for alternate TT's  already referred to in this thread, especially those dependant on Aluminium to control transferred energies.