Linn’s evergreen classic Sondek LP12 turns 45 this year, and the latest version of the Lingo power supply is one big part of its birthday present. The other big part of the celebration – the Urika II phono stage – is the subject of next month’s test. For those new Lingo or Urika II buyers, the company is also reissuing a classic, limited edition fluted version of its plinth. Although the afromosia plinth is gone, the new fluted plinths are available in black ash, cherry, oak, rosenut, and walnut.
Regardless of product, Linn’s lines are neatly sub-divided into Majik, Akurate, and Klimax: not so much ‘good, better, best’, more like ‘best, bester, bestest’. The modern LP12 is no different. The Lingo is the Akurate level power supply, an upgrade to and more, erm, accurate than the relatively simple Majik unit, but not as precise as the DC motor system deployed on the Klimax level Radikal power supply. The original Lingo dates back to 1990, and – although it went through two significant changes in the intervening 28 years – the basic filtered twin crystal oscillator circuit in an external power supply box was very much in the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ camp.
However, there were many lessons to be learned from the Radikal power supply, launched in 2009. This lived up to the name in that it made the fairly radical move from an AC to DC motor, using a calibration system that measured from the turntable sub-platter itself, and required a full-sized Akurate or Klimax power supply box. However, while the idea of referencing the actual speed of the platter to the motor is a good idea, on the AC motor used in a Sondek LP12 that alone doesn’t open up a whole can of ‘better’. Something more was needed.
That ‘something more’ involved a move to digital. The new Lingo 4 creates a precision sine wave in the digital domain, which is converted to analogue and amplified to drive a new AC motor. Couple this with both the Radikal’s feedback system (a sensor mounted near the motor reads a mark on the inside of the outer platter), and more decoupling between motor and top-plate, and the precision of the system is clearly audible.