Linn Sondek LP12 turntable with Lingo power supply Page 3

Truly valid comparisons would involve swapping the arm and cartridge from a Linn/Valhalla to the Linn/Lingo. I own up. I didn't do that. There is a Linn/Valhalla fitted with an Ittok and a Denon DL103D in my wife's listening room, but I disturb her system at my peril! My impressions are therefore gleaned from "before and after" testing.

Not that that's something to be worried about. As good as I feel the basic Linn sound to be, the difference between the pre- and post-Lingo LP12s is anything but subtle.

Specifically, the new power supply adds an octave of low-bass extension to your loudspeakers. You know that slight tubbiness that you thought was your loudspeaker's intrinsic upper-bass sound? With the LP12/Lingo it disappears, bass instruments acquiring more definition and more low-bass weight as a result. You know that slight murk that obscures the rear of the soundstage, something that you thought was a characteristic of your preamp? That's gone too, the window into the image taking on more of the quality of an optical flat.

But more importantly, every record you put on seems more vivid yet more involving, even when you might have thought that you didn't like the music. I'll give you an example. A singer my wife loves but whom I've been unable to approach is Tony Bennett. Yes, a nice-sounding, cappuccino-toned voice, but I never felt that he breathed and phrased in the consummately perfect way typical of Sinatra in his heyday. In particular, I feel that he clips the end of phrases a little too abruptly for my tastes, whereas fellow Italo-American Frankie just effortlessly floats them on out.

Then Casey gave me a copy of The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans album from 1975 (Fantasy F-9489). Yes, TB still tends to end phrases more abruptly than I would like. But the clarity of the Lingo-powered Linn allows you to hear that this mannerism still makes musical sense, it being less of a clip than a tendency to do a sharp diminuendo before the actual cut-off of sound. On the Comden/Greene/Bernstein "Some Other Time," he sails the unexpectedly long lines over the Satie-esque backing figures in a risk-taking manner I wouldn't have expected, including a swooping portamento on the phrase "Oh Well" that sends shivers down my spine. Good stuff. (And has anyone else noticed how musically appropriate Karen Carpenter's phrasing was?)

Just lately I've noticed a number of second-hand LP12s appearing in Stereophile's "Audio Mart" section, presumably because their owners have been seduced by the latest CD players and D/A processors. I'm ashamed to say that, prior to the appearance of the Lingo, I also had been playing more and more CDs, as players and processors like the Meridian 208 and Stax DAC-X1t have proved capable of squeezing a little music from the little silver devils. (Casey McKee, being made from sterner stuff, doesn't own a CD player!) The Lingo-powered LP12 put paid to that, my LPs again showing up CDs as mere digital impostors.

The Lingo costs almost as much as the LP12 itself. Does it double the turntable's performance?

In a word, without a doubt. Yes. Absolutely. As Larry Archibald said when we were listening to loudspeakers one afternoon (without him being aware that the LP12 was being fed its AC fuel by the Lingo), "Your LP player still sounds a lot better than CD."

All you LP12 owners, go and buy the Lingo right now! Tell your bank manager I said you could. And if you've been putting off buying an LP12, the time has come. Do it now. Before the record industry succeeds in lobbying Congress to make LP playing and owning an illegal activity.

Oh, the Australian Grand Prix? Mansell fought brilliantly in his last season for Ferrari—for once he didn't ask too much of his mount—but ultimately lost out to the veteran Piquet's masterful handling of his Benetton-Ford. See you in Phoenix on March 10, Casey, for the start of the 1991 season.

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