Linn Sondek LP12 turntable & Klyde phono cartridge Page 3

As for the two cartridges' HF performance, the Klyde had a bit more emphasis in the low treble and a brighter, more cutting high end than the Blue Point Special, which sounded smoother and more musically natural. The Klyde had very good HF detail, but at the expense of a degree of sibilance that the less expensive cartridge was free of. On some recordings, the Klyde's more tipped-up low treble gave it a more detailed and forward character, but the added bite that went along with it stuck out in comparison with the Sumiko's smoother yet no less detailed high end. And in terms of throwing up a believable sense of space around and between instruments, the Klyde was again no match for the still-surprising Blue Point Special, whose capabilities appear to be even greater than what I'm hearing with it on the WTRP.

Overall, the Sumiko just sounded much closer to the real thing on the LP12 than the three-times-as-expensive Klyde. The Klyde certainly had a satisfyingly weighty presentation, but the Sumiko was so much more open, dynamic, and detailed that it seemed as if the two cartridges' price tags had been reversed. If I bought the fully loaded Linn and I had a grand to spend on a cartridge for it, I'd definitely choose the $295 Blue Point Special over the $1095 Klyde.

Klyde vs Troika
As Linn claims essentially equal performance from the Klyde as from the departing Troika (and for $900 less), I arranged to borrow a pristine and fully broken-in sample of the Troika from a local audiophile who'd heard the new Linn MCs and decided to give up his Troika when they pried it out of his cold, dead fingers. The Klyde and Troika samples were alternated on the LP12/Ekos/Lingo Linn had sent along with the Klyde.

Ten seconds into the first LP, it was immediately obvious that the Klyde was a considerable step down from its predecessor. I'd listened to JA's prized Troika on his LP12 in Santa Fe many times; listening to the sample I'd borrowed, there was no mistaking the Troika's smoothly detailed sound, coupled with one of the most potent and direct low ends I'd heard from a cartridge.

The Klyde just wasn't in the same league as the unfortunately discontinued Troika. Its bass range was drastically inferior to the older cartridge's, devoid of the prized speed and articulation that made the Class A Troika such a killer cartridge. Bass lines that sounded as if they were being played by a speed-demon like Stanley Clarke via the Troika sounded like they were being one-to-a-beat plunked by a Nashville Cat with the Klyde. Even if the Klyde's sound quality was identical to the Troika's above 200Hz, its disappointing bass performance compared with the older cartridge would be reason enough to hunt down a good used Troika.

Across the rest of the range, the Troika continued to kill the Klyde. As good as the Blue Point Special is, the Troika is miles ahead of it in every sonic parameter—and since the Sumiko was good enough to better the Klyde across the board, suffice it to say that the Troika made the Klyde's life miserable. Where the Troika reproduced voices with ringing clarity and body, the Klyde sounded veiled and greyish. Cymbals that went ssssshhhhh on the Troika were turned to fffffshhh by the Klyde. And when it came time to crank up Stanley Clarke's first solo record and do the Lopsy Lu, the Troika made it impossible to sit still during the gut-thumping funk of side 1, while the Klyde had me sitting there thinking about all the energy that was missing from the track.

Angus, what's the frequency?
While the Linn Klyde is certainly capable of better sound overall—when mounted to the LP12/Ekos/Lingo—than a good midpriced analog rig like my $1195 Well-Tempered Record Player and $295 Sumiko Blue Point Special cartridge, it suffers in direct comparisons with the lower-priced cartridge when the benefits of the LP12/Ekos/Lingo are applied equally to both cartridges to level the playing field. In addition, I did not find Linn's claim that the Klyde equals the level of quality of their discontinued Troika to be the case—the Troika is a much, much better-sounding cartridge than the Klyde. I recommend that LP12/Troika owners give the Klyde a very careful audition before replacing their worn-out stalwart with the new model—they might find that searching for a used Troika with low hours is the better way to go, as Linn is not offering a retipping service for the discontinued Troika.

LP12 Basik/Valhalla/Lingo (& Cirkus)
A few years ago, Linn introduced the last big upgrade to the LP12, the $1295 Lingo outboard power supply. Long-time LP12 owner JA reviewed the Lingo back in Vol.14 No.1 and was astonished at the improvement the Lingo made to the LP12, especially in the low end—John told me afterward that the Lingo is "the kind of thing you automatically reach into your pocket for your checkbook for when you hear it." In his review, John found that the Lingo utterly transformed the LP12's bass range, bringing the Linn up to the competition of more recent all-out designs from VPI and Sota, among others.

As Linn was sending along a fully loaded LP12 for me to review the Klyde with, Audiophile Systems' head honcho Gary Warzin thought it would be interesting if I were able to listen to the LP12 in all three of its currently available iterations: the Basik, the Valhalla, and the He-Man Lingo versions. All three versions of the LP12 are identical in every way except for the power supply (footnote 3).

Footnote 3: And the motor—while the Valhalla and Lingo LP12s share the same 50Hz motor because both supplies output a 50Hz sinewave, the Basik's motor is powered directly off the AC, so it's a 60Hz model. When you purchase a Basik LP12, it comes with both the 50Hz and the 60Hz motors; the dealer installs the 60Hz one, and the 50Hz one is there for when you upgrade to the Valhalla or Lingo supplies.