The List




The List


Linn Sondek LP12

Even 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.


Unfortunately, as 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.