The 2004 Products of the Year Analog Source Component
Linn Sondek LP12/Lingo turntable & Ekos tonearm (review) ($6295; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.26 No.11, November 2003)
Runners-Up (in alphabetical order):
Kuzma Reference turntable & Air Line tonearm (review) ($15,000; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.27 Nos.8 & 9, August & September 2004)
Linn Akiva MC phono cartridge (review) ($2995; reviewed by Michael Fremer & Art Dudley, Vol.26 No.11 & Vol.27 No.10, November 2003 & October 2004)
Musical Fidelity M1 turntable & SME M2 tonearm ($5600; reviewed by Michael Fremer & Sam Tellig, Vol.27 No.3, March 2004)
Origin Live Resolution Modern turntable & Encounter tonearm ($4465; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.27 No.7, July 2004)
Sumiko Blackbird MC phono cartridge ($749; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.27 No.1, January 2004)
VPI Scoutmaster turntable & JMW Memorial tonearm ($2400; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.27 No.9, September 2004)
Despite the contenders being superb examples of modern analog design—or, as Ice Cool JA might put it, "wearing all the bling"—it was the Linn Sondek LP12, launched more than 30 years ago, that absolutely ran away with this year's prize. Originally reviewed in Stereophile 20 years ago, in Vol.7 No.2, the LP12 went on to earn the top spot in our 2002 "Hot 100" list (Vol.25 No.11), for which JA wrote, "It has brought the sonic benefits of belt drive and a suspended chassis to more audiophiles than all other high-end 'tables combined." Oh. Is that all?
While the long-established LP12 has held fast to its basic suspended design, its many detailed upgrades and modifications have only continued to impress our writers—it won the most total votes in any single category this year. Powered by the Lingo and suited up with the Ekos tonearm, Akiva cartridge, and Linto phono preamp, the LP12 had Michael Fremer just a little bit in awe.
"A legend can be intimidating," MF wrote, "especially when it's a classic, a revolutionary, an iconoclast, a survivor." And, yes, the Linn Sondek LP12 is all of this without the bling, simply keeping it real for generation after generation.