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Do Linn systems produce the best sound quality, compared to other brands?


wildwildWes
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On 05/10/2021 at 20:01, wildwildWes said:

I asked a similar question to this on the Linn forum and unsurprisingly, most thought that Linn systems were the best.

What do you think?  Do any other companies produce better full systems than Linn?  

If you want to break this down by sources, amplifiers, and speakers, I'm ok with that too. 

The only other thing I ask is that we confine ourselves to the present day.  I'm not concerned with who had the best turntable in the 80s, for example.

Hi.

 Yes lots but that is not the crux of the question . Some brands and I am by no way identifying Linn here but there is an almost  zealots/ assimilate  like view occurring . My system is made up of over 30 yrs plus of being in the hobby. Now the mere mention of the word hobby sparks another debate  . To me its now very simple .Kit regardless of its origins or almost zealot like following is fine but not the arbiter . I play music first and foremost and the job of my kit regardless of brand and hyperbole is to put a smile on may face . End of. Linn is good but  no-one piece of kit or collective ever deserves the tile of best of. Ever . 

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4 hours ago, uzzy said:

Ok - starting at the beginning they copied another turntable (well they made the bits as an engineering company then stuck it in a slightly different plinth with exactly the same Goldring Lid) they then differentiated by changing the two switch on off to a rocker and then a push button (why the latter god only knows).
 

Copying is fine, particularly if you don’t get caught.  Shakespeare copied Boccaccio.  George Harrison copied “He’s So Fine.”  Jon Ives copied Dieter Rams.  If you can find the story of HJ Leak stealing the design for the Stereo 30, that’s quite a good read.  Also, “North By Northwest” is the “39 Steps” and the first “Star Wars” is the Arthurian legend.

Linn were important because they hit the market with the Sondek at the precise moment that it was needed.  It’s still a great turntable.

Edited by HectorHughMunro
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Thank you @wildwildWesfor opening this discussion. I rarely find time to venture out of the Linn section of Hifi Wigwam (not because I have an exclusively Linn system - apart from LP12/Uphorik I have no other Linn). It's been a real eye-opener into a whole world of other stuff that I would never have had time to find out about.

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35 minutes ago, HectorHughMunro said:

Linn were important because they hit the market with the Sondek at the precise moment that it was needed.  It’s still a great turntable.

Really - the Ariston RD11 was at the Harrogate Show in 1972 and already on sale some time earlier - the Linn (not copied Hamish commissioned Castle Engineering owned by Ivor's dad,  for the machining and identical parts were used for the Linn) came out in 1973 ..  

At their introduction they were about the same price as a Thorens TD160 .. as to the world waiting for it at that time - well Hamish modelled the RD11 on the Thorens TD150 with a better bearing and subchassis (the spring spacing is identical).

What Ivor brought to the party however was - turntables sound different and the Linn/RD11 (he left the identical RD11 which of course sounded exactly the same, out) was the best sounding .. and the magazines did the rest... 

I do have to hand it to Ivor though the first major change from the RD11 was the plinth  - the fluted plinth was an attractive feature and remains to this day ..  

Edited by uzzy
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20 hours ago, wildwildWes said:

Thanks for the responses gentlemen.  For those who have said no or emphatically no, which manufacturers produce better sound quality in your subjective opinion?  I live in the hifi desert of Ottawa, Canada, and I haven't heard many systems, so I really envy the choice available to you in Europe and specifically the U.K.    

Also, if you're sure Linn isn't the best, have you heard Linn Exakt technology?

I'm not trying to assert that Linn has the best sound quality, I'm just trying to learn what may be better in your opinion, and what Linn's weak points are.

You live in a hi-fi paradise. With you being in North America. I envy the fantastic choice of affordable and great sounding kit that you can buy on North American ebay.

For years I had an LP12 which I got as far as late Ittok, Troika, Lingo 2, Cirkus, Sound Organisation Turntable Table.

Bought an EMT 930 for £1900 and this sounded like a grown up vinyl source whilst the Linn sounded like a pre-pubescent one. I then bought an EMT 950, which also sounded like a grown up vinyl source.

For speakers I bought Linn Saras and then Linn Isobariks.

Bought a pair of Bozak Symphonies, which once I got to the bottom of the slightly incorrect bass drivers fitted to them (2 x 8 ohms instead of 2 x 16 ohm) gave me midrange and treble that was slightly better than the Briks and bass that was significantly better. To the point that I thought what's all this PRAT that Linn are supposed to be good at? My Bozaks thrash them when it comes to PRAT.

Coming to think of it, my EMTS are better at PRAT than my LP12, and they are better at tunedem too.

I bought a pair of EV Sentry III speakers and they have midrange and treble that's significantly better than the Briks, with bass that's vaguely on a par.

And I bought EV Patricians that have better bass, midrange and treble than the Briks. All of which makes me laugh as in the early 1980's Briks were touted by Popular Hi-fi magazine as the best speakers ever.

All this Linn beating gear is stuff that I bought when I saw good deals on ebay.

For amplification, I'm very happy with my Coincident Frankenstein prototypes and Korneff Clone SET amplifiers. Mainly for their transparency in the midrange. With their lack of power not being an issue when used with my speakers.

There's loads and loads of kit that sounds better than Linn. With a lot of it being relatively affordable.

For vinyl sources look for well fettled Garards, Lencos, Thorens. Or statement 1970's to 1980's Japs, eg Pioneer, Sony, Denon, Technics, Yamaha, Trio-Kenwood etc

For speakers, big classic yank speakers from Bozak, Altec, EV, JBL, Urei. Or DIY'd speakers from body parts of classic yank speakers. Altec, for example mastered the art of making great woofers in the 1960's with their light cones and concertina surrounds. Hartley made some interesting speaker drivers too. And Klangfilm made some ultra classics.

People on the Linn forum are very ignorant when it comes to what's actually been made in the history of hi-fi.

Linn have always been predominantly a marketing-lead company and not an engineering-lead one.

And as for Linn Exakt, when I've heard it my impression has been that it has improved the mediocre speakers it was demonstrated on, but I'd much rather have speakers with a good set of drivers in the first place than bother with Exakt. IE Exakt is a nice tweak, but it doesn't fix fundamental faults with drivers / speakers and Linn Exakt is stupidly expensive. Plus what does Exakt do that miniDSP doesn't?

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At the patent hearing in 1976 a far different background was presented than that provided by Uzzy.

"The Officer saw the nub of the disputed invention as the point contact bearing formed by the conical end of the platter spindle. And it was agreed all round that this, by minimising rumble was indeed the nub of the invention. The Hearing Officer then went on to summarize the train of events that led up to the current marketing of Linn turntables. To the best of my knowledge this has not previously been crystallised, so thanks are due to the officer for his delightfully clear summary of the situation.

Indeed, anyone both puzzled by and interested in the history of the Ariston-Linn saga need look no futher than the Hearing Officer's main decision for a full breakdown of the extraordinary facts surrounding this unique episode in Audio History.

To summarize the summary: Jack Tiefenbrun formed Castle Precision Engineering (Glasgow) Ltd. 15 years ago. Hamish Robertson had a company called Thermac in 1967 which became Ariston in 1970 and Ariston Audio in 1973. In 1970 Jack Tiefenbrun's son Ivor Tiefenbrun bought some Hi-Fi equipment and became friendly with Hamish Robertson. Ivor Tiefenbrun made a prototype turntable with a ball bearing and then went off to Israel in 1971. While Ivor was away, Jack Tiefenbrun and Hamish Robertson changed the ball bearing to a point bearing. Robertsons's company Thermac then ordered some 40 such units from Castle. Now as Ariston, Robertson then planned a display of the units for Harrogate in September 1971. C. W. and J Walker were appointed selling agents for the turntable- by now christened the RD11. The turntable was indeed shown at Harrogate that year and the RD11 sales literature boasted "a unique single point bearing" and "almost rumble free sound". The next year (1972) Jack Tiefenbrun filed the two provisional patent specifications on which the disputed patent (BP 1 394 611) was finally to issue. By the end of that year (1972) there had been a deteriation, and finally a breakdown, of relationships between Robertson and Ariston on one hand and the Tiefenbrun's on the other. This culminated with a threat to Robertson that a copyright action would be brought against him if he had the RD11 turntable made elsewhere than at Castle by Tiefenbrun. In February 1973 Linn Products Ltd. was formed to sell single-point bearing turntables made by Castle. Ariston was then taken over by Dunlop Westayr Ltd. and the separate firm Fergus Fons formed with Robertson as director. As we have already seen, it was Fons and Robertson and not Ariston-Dunlop-Westayr, who attacked the Tiefenbrun patent claims.".

If anyone wants to read the Hi-Fi News coverage of the patent hearing then it is here. Thanks to Rob Holt for the scan of the later article.


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What is apparent from the coverage is that Hamish Robertson in his written submission must have conceded that the RD11 started out as a prototype turntable developed by Ivor Tiefenbrun. Someone would probably have to access the patent hearing documentation likely held at the British Library to fully verify this. However based on my research I have no doubt that the whole thing evolved from Ivor developing his own version of a TD150 using facilities at Castle and with assistance from the Castle staff and Hamish did not offer up an alternative story to claim otherwise.

It is clear that the Tiefenbrun's conceded that Hamish was responsible for the RD11 styling. This was probably more than just the arm board logo and would have likely involved choice of plinth and dust cover (both likely sourced from Lenco) and a change to the platter appearance (similar to the ARXA).

The bearing design was contested and the coverage does not provide a clear steer. It would have been Jack Tiefenbrun's area of expertise and I have seen a comment on another forum that leads me to believe it was designed by Jack. At the hearing the decision about who designed it defaulted to Jack as per patent law but the Hearing Officer was not fully convinced about the merits of the patent.

What Uzzy has presented appears to be derived from a self serving story told by Hamish Robertson to Peter Dunlop to justify moving production of the RD11 to Dunlop-Westayr. The patent hearing coverage is quite clear that the RD11 was entirely developed at Castle with major input from Ivor Tiefenbrun and also probably from Jack Tiefenbrun if he developed the bearing. By taking production away from Castle then Hamish was effectively leeching off the Tiefenbruns and Castle.

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10 minutes ago, cre009 said:

What is apparent from the coverage is that Hamish Robertson in his written submission must have conceded that the RD11 started out as a prototype turntable developed by Ivor Tiefenbrun.

In war, to the victors, comes the opportunity to re-write history.

It's part of the Linn marketing history to give the impression that Ivor T designed the LP12, after a period of painstaking development.

This Linn marketing spin is history re-written.

Hamish Roberstson designed the RD11. And he didn't put a lot of R&D into designing it. He just copied midrange turntables from AR and Thorens. Hamish owned an AR turntable.

Hamish was an alcoholic. This was a large factor in him fluffing the court case and in Linn getting away with what they got away with.

All of which is - to a huge extent - by the by.

What matters now in 2021 is should anyone buy Linn on the basis of the sound quality that it offers for the price that you have to pay to get it?

If you can find a once in a lifetime bargain deal on - for example an LP12 with all the bells and whistles on for under £2000 then it's worth buying and keeping. Or if you can find a pair of fully working 350a's for under £1000, that's good sound quality for the money.

If on the other hand you are buying at full retail price, brand new Linn equipment, then you will be getting disappointingly poor sound quality for the money. Although to be fair, there's almost nothing sold in hi-fi dealers in the UK that represents good sound quality for the money.

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9 hours ago, lindsayt said:

Linn have always been predominantly a marketing-lead company and not an engineering-lead one.

This hits the nail on the head. When I heard the LP12 in 1983 it was a king with no clothes on moment.  I became aware that what the magazines were saying was not true.  At the time I was not aware of the stranglehold Linn had over dealers and payments to the Thatcher government to keep trading standards off their back.

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Nah - the question was about complete system - so all products from the same company - that limits it to just about two - Linn and Audio note.



And Rega, Yamaha, Technics, McIntosh, Burmester, AVM, T+A, Cambridge Audio, Pioneer, Bang & Olufsen and Quad, off the top of my head.

And of course, let’s not forget the mighty Steepletone!
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15 hours ago, uzzy said:

Nah - the question was about complete system - so all products from the same company - that limits it to just about two - Linn and Audio note.
 

The opening post contains the following 2 lines:

"What do you think?  Do any other companies produce better full systems than Linn?  

If you want to break this down by sources, amplifiers, and speakers, I'm ok with that too."

And yes, when buying hi-fi equipment I do like to break it down very much to each individual part of the chain.

Because there are so many companies that made great sounding equipment that specialised in one or two parts of the chain. With this specialisation being a key factor in what made their best products so good.

As well as every DIY'er, that I know, sourcing their components from different manufacturers.

As well as the finest hi-fi being so easy to mix and match. The fewer faults that a component has, the less temptation there will be to introduce an inverse fault elsewhere in the system to balance it out.

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The LP12 has to be the most overrated hi-fi product of all time. If you can't find a better TT for less money, you are not really trying. The Isobariks are among the worst speakers I've heard, and Linn's current offerings are no better. The streamers are good, if wildly over-priced. A marketing-led brand masquerading as engineers, imho.

For a single-brand "lifestyle" system, I'd probably choose B&O, and for hi-fi, maybe Rega.

Edited by Blzebub
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Quite the reverse really I buy CD's constantly for about £2/£3 then rip them and get to play them all the time without any issues of wear to the medium . I also get a truly huge spread of music from UK , US , Europe , Africa , Asia , Arabia , South America and many Islands and remote places . Buying Vinyl to achieve the 68,000 tracks I currnelty have would have cost me far more and currently only about 25% of my music would be available and this mean I would not have heard so much music . So my soul is the opposte of your comment and has truly been enriched and fed a wonderful diet of varied music because I switched .
I can also say I have heard quite a large number of very high quality and carefully put together Vinyl systems which are the pride and joy of their owners yet to date not one has made me think yes that it what I have been missing . So please spare me your pity it is not needed or welcomed instead be happy that i have been able to get to enjoy my music in my own way , just as i am truly pleased for all those who love their Vinyl , it is the music that matters and not the medium and how we get to our own version of music heaven is not as important as that we are getting the music .
Andrew just be aware that one of the known issues with CD is not that they wear out through use but whatever material is inside with the pits on can degrade over time. This was more an issue with early CDs and they might have improved it. I know some of my old CDs have small random spots or holes visible on the inside and then skip or refuse to play.
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Can think of lots of companies I would prefer whole systems by, like; Sony, Technics, Krell, Arcam, Rega, Marantz, Yamaha etc.. 

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Super Wammer

I have quite a lot of CD's from the late 80s early 90s that play perfectly no visible damage. This theory has been circulating since cd appeared & I think because it was claimed to be indestructable on release people tried to discredit them and still try to even now.

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Super Wammer
55 minutes ago, Lawrence001 said:
On 06/10/2021 at 13:54, bencat said:
Quite the reverse really I buy CD's constantly for about £2/£3 then rip them and get to play them all the time without any issues of wear to the medium . I also get a truly huge spread of music from UK , US , Europe , Africa , Asia , Arabia , South America and many Islands and remote places . Buying Vinyl to achieve the 68,000 tracks I currnelty have would have cost me far more and currently only about 25% of my music would be available and this mean I would not have heard so much music . So my soul is the opposte of your comment and has truly been enriched and fed a wonderful diet of varied music because I switched .
I can also say I have heard quite a large number of very high quality and carefully put together Vinyl systems which are the pride and joy of their owners yet to date not one has made me think yes that it what I have been missing . So please spare me your pity it is not needed or welcomed instead be happy that i have been able to get to enjoy my music in my own way , just as i am truly pleased for all those who love their Vinyl , it is the music that matters and not the medium and how we get to our own version of music heaven is not as important as that we are getting the music .

Andrew just be aware that one of the known issues with CD is not that they wear out through use but whatever material is inside with the pits on can degrade over time. This was more an issue with early CDs and they might have improved it. I know some of my old CDs have small random spots or holes visible on the inside and then skip or refuse to play.

Thanks Lawrence I was aware of this and it was an issue with a small number of CD's mfg in Germany which used an alternative laquer in the process which turned brown over time and eat away at the substrate causing clear spaces which made the disc unplayable. The CD's were produced over a five month period and in the main they were classical releases with just 20 or so popular titles . As has been noted the media and the Vinyl lobby at the time made a huge deal over this but really just a storm in a teacup . Just pulled out one of my very first ever CD buys Peter Gabriel's So and it plays perfectly . In most cases when you remove the CD you will see the problem so know that you are unlucky and have one of those discs.

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