Linn Sondek LP12
in the late 1980s, when vinyl albums and singles were still
widely available in record stores, choosing the large,
ungainly format over the more portable tape or CD was often
viewed as old fashioned, or
even eccentric. Vinyl was the medium of your father or
grandfather, and it's crackly, hissy sound was no match for
the clarity of CDs.
Of course, this latter assertion, like many widely held
beliefs from the 1980s, (such as thinking that Thatcherism
would work, or that being a New Romantic was a good idea)
was ultimately wrong. Normal audio CDs, in fact, have a much
more limited dynamic range than vinyl, and, in blind tests,
listeners generally detect this in what they describe as a
'warmer' sound in the older medium.
Audiophiles, especially the more extreme varieties whose
choice and positioning of furniture, flooring and internal
walls in their home is dictated solely by their search for
perfect acoustics, prefer vinyl. It is the choice of the
purist, the obsessive, and to some extent the raving maniac
- how else can one explain why anyone would be prepared to
pay more than
£3,000 for 12ft of cables?. But - and this is a big but
- if you can be bothered with the attendant dusting and
general hassle of vinyl, it is the best (but not necessarily
the most durable) format on which to listen to music.
turntables are fairly specialist items, manufacturers tend
to assume that the end consumer is the sort of person who would
purchase something resembling a part from the Large Hadron
Collider (Goldmund Reference II), a CNC machine from a car
parts factory (Basis Audio 'Work of Art') or wishes to look
like a washed up Ibiza DJ (anything by Technics, really).
But there is one ray of
light from the often aesthetically dismal world of high end
hifi - the Linn Sondek LP12, whose sleek looks have remained
largely unchanged since it was first produced in 1972, yet
whose sound quality makes it a benchmark turntable.
As arguably the first
turntable that was designed with the primacy of the source
as its guiding principle, the Linn features a patented
single-point platter bearing,
which helps to eliminate unwanted noise. An independent
three point suspension system, which was a world first when
it was introduced, ensures that the platter bearing and the
tonearm are isolated from vibrations.
But this attention to detail does not come at the cost of
its looks; there are no enormous metal cylinders or other
gimmicks here - just a functional, minimalistic design that
looks as good today as it did in 1972.