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?
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
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.
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!
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.