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Can you hear that!? (An amusing LP-12 tale)


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So about the time I was getting my new Quatro wood CTs (yum) I took my LP12 in for a tune up.  In part because it seemed overly sensitive to walking near it (needle skipping) and it had an intermittent bearing tick.  Not audible at the listening position but annoying nonetheless.  Plus I hadn't had it checked out in over 30 years. (picture below)

So the Linn trained tech zeroed everything out, checked the anti-skate function, and then adjusted the tonearm counterbalance and anti-skate.  I was amazed! When he was done we could tap the tonearm board such that it would jiggle and the needle tracked rock solid. A happier Linn owner you have never seen.  (Note he also checked the stylus for wear. All good.)

Then he offered to give me a new felt platter pad.  I said sure.  He then started flipping the felt from one side to the other while listening in his headphones.  "Whatcha doin?" I asked.  He explained that one side of the felt sounded better than the other.  “Ah ha“  I said.  Felt "sweet side" identified and marked he then moved on to the bearing tick.

After removing the bottom cover he explained that he could “completely go over the deck“.  "What does that mean?" I asked.  He explained that there are 34 fasteners that hold a Linn LP-12 together and that every single one of them has a very specific torque that impacts the sonic quality of the deck.  (Including the screws that hold the brackets for the cover, and the screws that hold the fiberboard bottom cover to the frame.) "Ah ha" I said.

Gentle reader I was in the presence of a true "Linnophile".  Look it up.  Its a thing.  But I was torn.  The tech did a really good job setting up my deck.  I thought, maybe I should just ask him if he could tell which fasteners were "off“ by listening and we could just fix those, but that seemed a bit snide. 

So should I argue about the sonic benefits of a bracket fastener or the physical  impossibility of one side of a piece of felt sounding different than the other, or should I just shut up and enjoy my tunes?  Live and let live you know? 

I kind have the same reaction when I read accounts of people who claim they can hear speaker wire.  I'm kind of like "Live and let live", although $3K-$5K does seem a bit steep for $30 worth of copper and some plastic.  But then they try to back up their claims with appeals physical principles that are just plain balderdash.  (Like AQ) The engineer in me just won't let it go unchallenged.

On the other hand, speaker wires and turntable screws seem like a pretty benign way to separate the credulous from their cash, so maybe I should just shut and enjoy my tunes.

Oh, back to the bearing tick.  It turns out that there is a spring that presses the spindle bearing against the motor case.  After a few years it gets a bit worn and starts to tick.  The tech pulled the plastic cap off and threw both the cap and the spring in the trash.  "It doesn't make any difference" He said.  "Ah ha" I said.

My LP12:

0623211916~2.jpg

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Hi Bill,

I have an LP12 as well and am interested in your experience.  Though I had it rebuilt about 8 years ago, I think it's time for, at the least, a little tune up.  I'm considering having my  ten year old Sumiko Blackbird rebuilt (as opposed to replacing)  and also feel my Ittok LV II arm is ready for servicing as well.

What part of the world are you in and who / where did you have the work done?

Play on

Steve

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yep Robert - he setup my California TT,  but i don’t think he is there at Stereo Unlimited any longer.  My recollection w the LP-12 is that it rewards following a highly specific sequence and the Bills relayed point specific torques.

anyway, all part of the fun and mysteries….of analog….

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  • 3 months later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Bill,

I recently had the Karousel bearing put in to replace my 30 yr. old Cirkus bearing. A VERY WORTHY upgrade to say the least. After all, the bearing is the heart of the LP12 design,  it all starts there. Also, the EkosSE is a good upgrade although I would definately do the bearing first. Good luck.

Bruce

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Hello Bruce,

So, you noticed that much of an improvement with the Karousel?  I understand the function of the bearing, but am certainly not well enlightened on the specifics.  Is the improvement due to enabling the platter to spin at a more constant speed?  Less vibration?  My Cirkus is also in the 30+ year range.  I'm considering replacing my 10 year old Blackbird Sumiko soon, but may want to look at the Karousel first.  

Play on

Steve

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Hi Steve,

Yes I believe the bearing is a worthy upgrade. However, I do have a Klimax level TT so I had a very stable foundation to reveal what the new bearing brought to the table. I had also recently moved into a new home so my bearing upgrade came at the same time. It can be difficult to assess an upgrade with so many changes but I do hear deeper into the music (deeper bass) which I attribute to a lowering of the noise floor. The soundstage is also MUCH wider and somewhat deeper. however,  this could also be the new room. But I do attribute the quieter background and deeper bass to the new bearing. Hope this helps.

Bruce

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