Updating Two Classics

Audiophiles of a certain age may very well have first tasted high-end sound by way of Linn's 1972 Sondek LP12 turntable and/or Naim's 1982 Nait integrated amplifier. There aren't many audio manufacturers that have managed to keep components in production for 25 years (35 for the Linn), but the two venerable British designs have been continuously upgraded over their lives, keeping them competitive.

Linn's approach to the LP12 has been to offer component upgrades to the original design. Over the years, the company has offered new motors, bearings, suspensions, power supplies—just about everything other than the plinth and the platter has been improved. The new LP12 SE series of upgrades consists of three components: the $4950 Ekos SE tonearm; the $3250 Keel subchassis, armboard, and collar; and the $250 metal Trampolin baseboard.

The Ekos tonearm has long been Linn's flagship model, but the Ekos SE takes advantage of "advanced materials carefully selected for their sound performance and low resonance properties," including a machined titanium arm tube (improving upon the original's thin-walled, wide-bore aluminum) and a stainless steel bearing housing.

The Keel is a subchassis, armboard, and tonearm collar machined from a solid-billet of aluminum, and is designed to be far more rigid than the LP12's separate subchassis, bolt-on wooden armboard, and separate tonearm collar—Linn claims this approach provides rigid support to the tonearm and platter, while eliminating screws, joins, and "fixings" that vibrate. The Keel maintains the same mass and center of gravity as the old, three-piece assembly, which means that the suspension systems of existing LP12s do not have to be replaced.

The metal Trampolin baseboard replaces the original 1991 Trampolin baseboard, which had silicone membrane suspension feet. The new version offers increased stability, says Linn. The company states the Trampolin has been acoustically deadened for reduced vibration, "enabling the listener to get even closer to the original recording."

The LP12 SE components were officially introduced at the UK's Bristol Sound and Vision audio show on February 25, and will be demonstrated in a series of events at Linn dealers between now and April.

The latest iteration of the Nait (Naim Audio InTegrated) is the $4750 Supernait (80Wpc), which is not so much a new, improved version of the original 15Wpc Nait as its bigger, beefier brother. The linear, fifth-generation descendent of that first Naim integrated is the current $1425 Nait5i (50Wpc).

The Supernait features an amplifier section modeled closely upon Naim's NAP200, with 400VA output transient capability.

Its preamp section is unusual in that it accommodates six analog inputs and five digital inputs via its built-in DAC, which accepts sampling rates from 32kHz to 96kHz. Digital inputs include two S/PDIF coaxial, two TOSlink (which Naim suggests are "ideal for connection to a computer . . . with perhaps a dirtier-than-normal power supply, as the optical connection isolates the two separate grounds"), and a front panel–mounted mini optical jack.

The Supernait also features two resistor-buffered subwoofer outputs, DIN-4 preamp outputs (for bi-amplifying), and a mini headphone jack. It can be used in conjunction with Naim's Flatcap2x, Hicap2, or Supercap2 power supplies.

The Supernait was also introduced at the Bristol Sound and Vision show. It will ship in April.