Cartridges for Vintage Linn/Naim Systems

I’ve got three vintage Linn/Naim setups (Kans/Saras/Briks) that are all serviced by Naim or Class A and the LP12s are setup by a reputable dealer. One thing I’ve struggled with is finding modern cartridges that sit right in these old systems. I have a couple of medium hours K9s that sound just right but I need a long term solution.

The VM95E is a decent alternative with equally good timing but it lacks a bit of musical involvement compared to the K9. It also sounds thinner than a K9 which doesn’t help any of these systems. Definitely liveable though. I don’t like the NE and ML - too boring.

The Adikt works really well in one Lingo/Ekos deck, except with overly warm Sara 9s. It has the musical involvement and weight of the K9 but doesn’t time as well. However, timing can be good enough depending on the rest of the system. It’s also the worst tracker, but I’m definitely keeping at least one deck with an Adikt despite all this.

The Krystal doesn’t seem to match well as I assume it’s designed for a modern Linn system. I’m not sure why but I can’t relax into the music 100%. Something gets in the way despite it’s tuneful sound. It also sounds a little too warm unless partnered with Kan 1s.

Based on comments from @Peder I’m now trying a Troika refurbished by Goldring - fitted to the Ekos/Lingo deck that previously had the Krystal. It needs more hours but it has some real strengths. It matches brilliantly with the Sara system so must be on the lean side. Timing is excellent and the pace is super fast (if you like that sort of thing - I can take it or leave it). However, it’s not as tuneful as the K9, Adikt or Krystal, particularly in the bass. Things may improve a bit but I’m thinking it’s unlikely, so not sure what the future holds.

Which has got me thinking, how might a modern DV 20X or XX2 compare to these carts? Are they a bit on the heavy side for an LP12 arm? No doubt they provide lots of detail and refinement but what about tunefulness and timing which is what I care more about? Are they on the lean side which would help them partner the Sara 9s?

Have you thought about putting a shibata stylus in the K9?

Someone who has similar preferences to my own said it was the least tuneful / musical out of all the VM95 styluses, so I’d dismissed it. You like it I assume?

Not tried it yet but its on the list. Least tuneful though is worrying.

He really slatted it tbh and I’d already decided they got musically worse as you spent more - to my ears of course.

Hi Murmur

Do you have the Linn Karousel upgrade to your LP12’s ?

Before going down the cartridge track I highly recommend it . I like you have 3 LP12’s I guess equivalent from the Majik through to the Klimax with the Linn cartridges through to the Kandid.

The big jump in performance is the karousel before anything else


I’m stuck in the past tbh :slight_smile:

I bought a Majik LP12 with Karousel in the Linn promo but it didn’t work in vintage setups to my ears. That pre-Cirkus bearing seems to be part of the 70s/80s recipe. 1992 is my cut off point :slight_smile:

Heard Karousel decks a couple of times at my dealer’s in various modern systems and it does sound stunning.

I’ve not found the required synergy when mixing kit from wildly different eras to be honest - i.e. 3 - 4 decades. The Nait is probably the most flexible cos it’s very transparent but in general I prefer to keep things broadly from the same point in time, especially when it comes to LP12 upgrades and speakers.

Oh - different ears I guess - I have LP12/ karousel/ekos 1/Akidt cartridge with the old Crome Bumper 32.5/hicap/250 combo into Naim nSAT speakers . Sounds pretty good to me

But we all hear things differently. A revamped Troika might do the trick , I had one on LP12 next level up, sounded pretty good but changed to the Krystal which I really like very much

I wish you luck in your search. Yes maybe one of the DV cartridges, some like some don’t

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Yes, we’re all on a unique path and have to learn to trust our ears and build what works best for each of us.

Out of interest, did Goldring do your Troika?

I’m not sure, probably did, my Naim dealer handled it.

I did have one of the DV cartridges years ago but I didn’t really get on with it. Mate of mine has one in his Linn and he loves it

Problem with cartridges it’s hard to get a demo so I tend to stick to the Linn ones and luckily I like them

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Hi Murmur,

I have a DV XX2 hanging off the end of an ARO on my LP12 and it’s good but I don’t think you’ll like it. DV’s are renowned for detail retrieval and bass extension, a bit like AT carts on steroids I guess and that’s the direction I believe the modern Linn user is heading.
Back in the early 90’s I had an Ittok-equipped pre-Valhalla LP12 as part of an all-Linn active system which was shod with an Asaka cartridge. This was a cart which seems to have been regarded with disdain by the Linn faithful, yet I found the whole presentation to be gorgeous - lush, musical and dynamic. I doubt whether you’d find one in existence now but I preferred it to the Troika at the time which to my ears sounded too analytical and neutral. Still miss that system today, it was toe-tappingly good!

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Hear hear - I was sad to see my Asaka finally go, it had been a lovely companion for all our years together :heart:


That’s very interesting - thanks. There is no doubt more to music than toe-tapping but it’s what keeps me putting more vinyl on :slight_smile:

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The Goldring Troika has improved a bit with some running in and I’ve also swapped the Lingo 1 for the more tuneful Lingo 2 which has helped nudge away the slightly flat tune. So, it’s a keeper after all. Not perfect, but what is. Thanks for the comments all.

The old metal-bodied Linn/Supex cartridges (Asaka, Karma, Troika) appear to be the best match for these older (and some newer) Linn/Naim systems.

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