Sondek LP12 - what does the panel think?

Amongst other hifi equipment, I have just inherited a Sondek LP12. The first look at it when lifting the dust cover is that the build is very nice indeed. I’ve included some pictures here. Obviously it needs a good clean and possibly a service. I can find no paperwork for this yet, and no obvious label on the underneath. So I had a quick internet search and realise its not just an average turntable and may well be a great re-introduction for me, back into playing vinyl ?. I have to say here, that I have been listening to almost 100% Hi-Res streaming for a while now, so had not planned a renewed interest in vinyl listening. But one never knows what the future holds. . . So, before I think about hooking up the Sondek and giving it a spin. . . Any input from you vinyl enthusiasts would be very welcome. For example, would this work well with my supernait 3, and is it worth finding someone to give it a good service etc. etc. etc?

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Its certainly a world class turntable…

The SME 3009 is a special arm too…

Have you powered up ?

Does it spin ?

If you are in UK area there would be a service centre to help you with looking at the turn table.

The SN3 has a good inbuilt phono stage so you are good on that front as long as you use a MM cart.

You are indeed lucky.

Good luck!

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An LP12 with an SME arm, the person who owned it probably knew a great deal about turntables. You have done very, very well

It may need a new Moving Magnet cartridge as more than likely it is fitted with a moving coil, what this means is that if you have a Supernait 3 you will either need a new phono stage to accompany it or a new Moving Magnet

Best wishes and enjoy

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I think I can see a Stanton cartridge in the first picture, which could well be the 681, that was a classic combination with the 3009. That was a moving magnet IIRC. If it is LP12/3009/681 it should be a fantastic deck, but it’ll probably need a looking over from a specialist unless it was in regular use.

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Thank you mpw/Ian2001/Eoink, for your reply. Yes it was working last year, and I know it has had light use over the years. Yes I am in Suffolk,UK and understand it may have been manufactured in Scotland? . No idea what type of cartridge it is, here is a picture if this helps?.

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This looks like a hi-spec LP12 from the 1980s/perhaps slightly further back…but times have changed, with numerous updates for the LP12 and, as you allude, this TT could do with some TLC and may need an update/replacement electronics to make it work safely/at least some investigation.

Some questions:

Have you the original boxing for transport? - not massively important but it helps and there is a recommended way (with slight variations) to move LP12s and protect the bearing etc. Quite easy - just ask.

I would book an appointment at your local Linn dealer and ask for their opinion - and take along any outboard kit which you may have e.g. power supply for the motor?

There are many, many questions and points which could be asked here but I think the best route is to get it inspected and go from there. For one thing, I’m unclear what the shiny bulb-like structure is one the head shell - is it a protective guard for the stylus or a brush?

Re vinyl playing in general, I would think really hard about this as, unless you have an existing stock of vinyl (or have inherited?), getting the LP12 sorted (and married to your SN3) and buying new vinyl can be expensive and far from the convenience and utility benefits of streaming.

Good luck.

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Let me draw @Eoink into this.

I don’t own a LP12 but on this forum there are many many who do…and it’s a top turn table

The person who owned it knew his / her stuff.

So I back away here so other members can chip in…so you are guided with relevant experience

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Thank you, wise words

I would give Andy Heavens at Signals a call, they are near Ipswich/Felixstowe and just have a chat. Be worth sending the pictures in advance…lovely TT👍

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If the OP likes to…he can try…vinyl is loads of musical pleasure…

Why deny oneself the pleasure of such a beautiful deck… ?

But I hear you @HappyListener

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Thank you for your comments
My father-in-law was a good man :slight_smile:

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Thanks Gazza

So we’re looking at a Linn Sondek LP12, an absolute classic turntable. It’s been a top deck for nearly 50 years. There have been many upgrades to the deck over the years, so it’s hard to say what spec you have. The SME3009 tone arm was a classic. I think that is a Stanton 681, but I’m no expert on Stanton carts, that combination was a classic and much sought after deck in the early ‘80s. I’d echo the suggestion to get Signals to look it over, it could sound really good, and if it’s the 681 go straight into your SN3 phonostage.

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There is a thread called show us your Sondek, a lot of people will appreciate seeing that particular model .

Also from the internet Screenshot 2020-06-01 at 11.07.43

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A great deck and the fact it is worth treasuring across generations tells its own story in our throw away, disposable age. A Linn dealer will be able to carry out a basic service (new bearing oil, belt and report on the condition of the stylus, arm bearings, operation of the motor & power supply). They can also check the suspension. If all is well plug it into the amp and enjoy but make sure your first LP is a well recorded piece of music for the full effect. A good version of Louis and Ella is great fun if you like that type of music.

With deep pockets there is a huge world of upgrades available from Linn and others if you want but I suspect the deck as is will sound great.

Adding vinyl to your system complicates things but I find listening to vinyl a markedly different experience to streaming. Partly it’s the warmth and body of the vinyl sound but it’s also just sitting and allowing a whole 20 minutes of music to soak in. One can of course easily do that with streaming but I never feel I’m getting inside the music in the same way. That may of course just be my age and the fact I’ve been listening to an LP12 since 1985.

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Some further thoughts and by way of managing expectations/FYI:

  • If you take this for a service, ask if you can listen to what approximates as Linn’s equivalent LP12 now, as these are badged per the spec they have. This way, you can get an idea of expectations as against Hi-Res streaming.

  • re the deck in general (and as others have said),

the arm should be a keeper s/t no issues with the bearings. SME arms are wonderfully engineered.

the Stanton looks old and cartridges/styluses tend to last ~2k hours, before needing replacement or service (for the more expensive ones) n.b. usually, the arm should be removed from the deck when removing/fitting a cartridge, so as not to stress the arm’s bearings. The SN3’s phono stage is designed to work with ‘Moving Magnet’ type cartridges - and the prices of these tend to be reasonable.

if this deck hasn’t been updated for many years, it could well have an original bearing (within which the inner platter sits). Linn have recently released an upgraded bearing known as Karousel, which replaced their Cirkus bearing (which replaced the original). The good news is that a Linn dealer may have trade-ins (as well as other pre-owned/used goodies in their parts bin), if you want to upgrade/or need to change the current bearing. And you may have noticed from your research that an LP12 is tantamount to an ‘open source’ bit of kit, with many other providers making parts for it.

you may need a new rubber belt and the dealer will (of course) check out the motor & speed control circuits. Be mindful that if this LP12 has a PCB within the chassis, don’t go near it as some of these can carry something like 400volts (put another way, let the dealer remove the baseboard underneath).

Re moving and transporting (hopefully with an LP12 box):

Unplug all cables!

1- arm secured in holder - add a bit of tape
2-cartridge guard on
3- remove lid and hinges (no real need to take these)
4- remove felt mat and outer metal platter (with gloves if poss) - fingers can mark.
5- lift inner platter about 15mm or so and insert sponges/thin paperback books under the inner platter and let it relax back down. The plan is to trap the platter, which restricts any movement in the LP12’s suspension.
6- insert various wedges of soft paper (kitchen towel works) around the arm board, which further restricts the movement of the suspension.

– if you lift the wooden plinth slightly, you should feel little movement/rattling.

7- if you have the box, the mat/outer platter & belt sit in the bottom moulding - the player sits in on top (I put a small towel in between).

– FYI, when new LP12’s arrive at dealers, they are in kit form, hence don’t be confused by the mouldings on the polystyrene upper part - this can be left at home.

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@artist first thing to do is enjoy the deck and redescover your vinyl

Owned an LP12 for 20 years, stated off small and over the years built my deck up, thats the great part (and downside) of LP12 ownership

so first things first, get it serviced by LP12 specialist and then draw up a plan going forward, all it might need is a little oil on the bearing a new spring and off you go, you can then decide in time where you want to go
great on SN£ very good AMP and inbuilt phono stage so on to a winner there

most of all enjoy the music, Sondek in full flow is a joy

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The Stanton 681EEE was a very highly regarded moving magnet cartridge back in the 80s (I think, or maybe even the late 70s). Normally, I would have expected there to be a lable on the side stating that it is a 681, so I’m not absolutely sure that it’s a 681, and yes, Stantons of that era (along with Pickerings I think) had very unusual front mounted cleaning brushes. I remember being very sceptical about their value and their effect on tracking back in the day.

I would think it very likely that the stylus could do with being replaced, so I would definitely get that checked out by a dealer. I believe that you can still get replacement styli for the cartridge.

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I’d be inclined to change the cartridge as the coils are unlikely to be at their best after all these years - particularly if there has been a long period of inactivity. The SME is compatible with many modern cartridges.

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My wife has just finished going through the paperwork and found the original - August 1973 sales invoice, listing :
Linn Sondek LP12 transcription-quality belt driven motor and turntable (33rpm)mounted on base with lid - £66.22
SME 3009 (improved) pickup arm - £34:65
Stanton 681EE pickup cartridge with elliptical diamond for stereo and mono records - £34.30

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