Linn Krystal life expectancy & replacement advice

I don’t know how many hours my Krystal has done, but it must be well over 2,000, and not all on pristine vinyl.

It still sounds good, and fine judgements are impossible because I have improves other things and audio memory is bad, esp on gradual changes.

In any event, judging by previous cartridges and by previous threads here, it is probably already a bit less than A1, despite it looking ‘fine’ to a dealer last year when my Karousel arrived - and it will get materially worse sooner or later.

Can I just send it off for refurbishment and get it back in as-new condition?

My kit would support a better cartridge, I suspect, but whether my ears could tell the benefit is more debatable. In my house and system, I could hear the difference between a new Krystal and my (ageing) Arkiv, but I was really struggling to hear any difference between Kandid and Krystal. Mind you, that was through a Linto and I now have a Superline…

If I can’t get it refurbished, I am open to suggestions about what to get, though hopefully that is a project for 2023.

I have a Superline, now with the 576R airplug Z - which might need replacing with a new one if that isn’t the right loading for a new cartridge.

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Did the dealer check with a proper stereo microscope with the cart off the deck?

To avoid guestimates I use a mechanical click counter, 1 click for each record. At 2000 records I’d have my dealer do a proper check.

Hi Nick

Well with the superline ( which I have with the supercapDR) I can attest that the Kandid is far superior to the Krystal and so it should be for the price difference

I started off with the Krystal with the superline /hicapdr combo, moved up to the Kandid which was a massive improvement and then finally the supercapDR

If not the Kandid then Linn have just released another moving coil cartridge called Kendo which sits nicely between Krystal and Kandid, that might be worth a shot with the superline.

My personal view is if you have the superline then I think you deserve a better cartridge than the Krystal , as good as it is.

A nice combo might be kendo/superline/hicapdr if you don’t want to go over the top price wise


Linn used to offer a trade-in price on old for new cartridges and hopefully still do.

I’m sure someone would retip it but not Linn.

Interesting to hear about the Superline vs Linto - have never been entirely convinced by the Linto which I got on release and has been serviced a few years ago.

I have an original Arkiv which perhaps I should have traded in when I got the Krystal/Karousel and a few other things.

The Krystal is very detailed but to me seems to show a lot of surface noise probably due to the cantilever which isn’t boron.

Thanks for all that.

I spent a long time with a Linto because the overall sound was pleasing and I didn’t know what I was missing. And then I spent ages vaguely hearing options and hankering after a Superline and bidding occasionally. With hindsight, I should have bought a new one as soon as I heard it.

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@Alley_Cat - also, I’d agree that the Krystal is noisier on tatty vinyl than the Arkiv, but with more shiny detail.

@Bevo - thanks. I take your point. At the moment, I don’t think anyone has heard a Kendo, but then I don’t need it today.

More generally, am I being lazy and wasting money by just sticking to Linn cartridges? The last non-Linn I had was an Ortofon MC25E…

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I’ve always believed a cartridge will last 1000 - 1500 hours. The problem is the reduction in SQ occurs so slowly it’s actually past its best before you realise.
Also dirty records will wear a stylus quicker. That’s why a good RCM will help lengthen the life of your cartridge.

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My understanding is that because the Krystal is a current cartridge then only trade in through Linn for a replacement would be the option.
I don’t think Goldring /Armour refurb cartridges unless out of production as they supply Linn.


Thanks @SteveO. I use a Audiodesk Systeme cleaner for just that reason. Clean LPs are (eventually) a cheap upgrade!


Good point Nick

Take your time - no hurry as you say

Be interesting when a few reviews come out on the kendo

But as you say many options out there

All good fun as they say

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I moved away from Linn decades ago.
Can report a AT33PTG/II seem very surface noise quiet in a 1200G


If you like what the Krystal does, then you could trade it in for a replacement through the Linn cartridge replacement scheme. I lived with one for a few years, but never really liked it as much as the Troika, which it replaced. I took advantage of the bundled deal when the Karousel came out and upgraded to a Kandid. Ok, effectively I changed two items at once (Kandid and Karousel), but I can say that the Kandid+Karousel combination is a huge improvement over the Krystal+Cirkus, delivering more detail and sounding very musical. If you can get to a good retailer, they may be able to demonstrate different cartridges quickly on the same LP12 by swapping Aro heads over. A well known Linn and Naim retailer in the Midlands can certainly offer this.




As said before Nick / Kandid is brilliant

Not cheap mind you

Clearly, a lot of Kandid owners would disagree, but your comment resonates with me Nick. I wouldn’t say no difference, Kandid definitely had more detail in a back to back, but for me it didn’t add enough over Krystal to justify the leap in price. I also know I’m very capable of being clumsy with my Aro and the thought of trashing a Krystal is frightening enough, never mind a Kandid…
Kendo will be interesting to hear. I’ll still be nervous about handling a £2.8k cart, but I might just be able to placate my fears if the sound uplift justifies.

Was that comparison with your Urika?

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Yes Nick, with Urika 1 powered by my Klimax Radikal (original, non-revised version)

That’s directly relevant then - thanks.

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Hi Nick,

Surprised at your comment re. surface noise from the Krystal. I use one & there was little to none prior to having Karousel fitted & none after.

I have no real idea why our experiences are so different but did wonder if the MC pre-amp plays a part here. I use a Rega Aria, recommended by my dealer when I purchased the Krystal & it has proved an excellent match for the rest of my system.

With the rest of your system being a notch or two above mine, I to wondered about the new Kendo. Priced near the Kandid I would expect performance to be close. As it is brand new I wonder if a few years extra development have produced the same or better performance at slightly lower cost. At the similar, price will the Kandid continue for much longer as it is now clearly not Linns top cartridge?

Perhaps unfairly, from pictures, the Kandids apparent build quality did not inspire even compared to the Krystal. Build quality of the two new cartridges seems to have taken a further step forward, again from the images I have seen.

Feel that I must point out that I have never heard a Kandid before I enrage owners of the said cartridge!

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Linn has a part-exchange program and I found the Linn pricelist on many dealer websites by googling. Screenshot from the 2022 pricelist: