MY LINN LP-12 DREAM
Because writing about the technology of ecstasy is so difficult, it literally drains me of my essence, so I often have take naps and curl up with my teddy bear. At 3PM after my milk and cookie break I did the right thing and nodded off to never, never land for some inspiration, with the hope of making contact with some new mysterious spirit.
In my dream I was back in Lynbrook High School in 1959 and it is the class break and I am in the hall watching all the girls go by with their tight pink wool sweater, lipstick ablaze, every one a Sacred Virgin, and there is a tight knot in my stomach, and who walks up..... but Ken Kessler, and says to me..."Your horny bastard".... and hands me a Linn LP-12. Then I wake up.
Because of twenty years of psychoanalysis I can interpret my dreams ten different ways back and forth, and I will give you a multiple choice question to see if you got it right:
1. I wish I was back in high school with Ken Kessler
2. Girls in tight pink wool sweaters are a symbol of my secret desire for sheep.
3. Audio totems can tap into some very primal male feelings.
4. I lusted for an LP-12
The right answer is number one, I wish I were back in high school with Ken Kessler, because then I would have the best sound system and all the girls would want to come over to my house and party. But, being that is a totally absurd idea, if you guessed number four..you can still win.
The dreams was telling me that I not only lusted for the Linn, I wanted to fondle it. I wanted to touch it and watch it wiggle. I wanted to rub my fingers along its smooth base board. I wanted to feel its long black member move freely back and forth in its pivot....This was getting pretty scary so I called my old shrink Hal, who is in heaven and asked his advice, and being very insightful, he gave me this advice....Call Brian Morris at Linn and speak to him. Tell him how you honestly feel and see how he responds. And remember Brian is not your mother or father or dead parakeet.
This was not easy. Being vulnerable to an almost complete stranger is not easy...as you know...so to get my courage up I chewed on some black leather, kicked a puppy dog, drank a bottle of Scotch and called Brian.
"Brian", I said, " a couple of weeks ago I friend of mine got killed...boing.....gone...and I thought what if that happens to me...or what if I am permanently maimed in a lawn mower accident...or what if I go like Nelson Rockerfeller.......or what if on my deathbed I have a moment of clarity and realize I have never loved a Linn LP-12?".
I couldnt help myself...at this point I started to cry hysterically...you know the kind of wrenching tears when your life is before you and you realize...you missed something major...and you are filled with regret and remorse.....so I wailed out to Brian...."Dont let me die before I experience an LP-12...I will do anything you say....Ill give you my only Julius Futterman T-shirt (soon to be available again for only $19.95 not including postage) ".
Fortunately my medication alarm went off and I took a pause to take my second dose of Prozac and then I got back on the phone with Brian.
Brian then revealed to me that my emotional response was so typical of other Linn owners that the company had developed a medical alert shipping procedure, with Fed Ex, that would get a turntable to chez moi in forty eight hours. But because 48 hours is a long time Brian, who has one of the best side manners of any doctor I have ever met ( he has to because his job is to interface with audio writers), suggested I open the Linn website (www.Linn.com) and just fondle the computer screen until touchdown.....
That night I dreamt I got a call from Naomi Campbell wanting to know if she could bring all of her favorite Ben Webster vinyl to my house...and could she bring anything? Dreams have power. Why does vinyl turn supermodels on? If you have the answer email me.
NO MORE SHAME
I have dreamed of owning a Linn turntable since 1972 when it first appeared, and though this dream was buried deep within my unconscious, its power recently broke through the slag heaps of my mind. (Note: another dream I have is to own a perfectly restored 1956 Harley-Davidson Electro-Glide)
So there sitting in front of me are a bunch of boxes filled with the jewels of the Linn clan and nada, zip...nothing is happening because I have to wait for Brian Morris to come and to do the "proper" setup. This didnt make any sense to me...I mean.... I am a skilled techie, and renting the Graf Zeppelin to fly Brian, all by himself, to America to do the set up aint cheap....I mean I was honored, but why the big deal on set up...I asked,,,and then I asked...the normal profound ontological questions that Guidmeisters must ask:.
(1) Why is Linn LP 12 such a durable totem. I have wanted to experience this totem since 8 BF? ( eight years before I met Futterman)
(2) Is El Ivor, the CEO and owner of Linn, still alive? An anonymous source told me that Ivor had died while hunting the wild Scotch Haggis, and the employees of the company, being devout followers and inspired by Ivors favorite movie, EL Cid, starring Charlton Heston, embalmed him and propped him up in his chair in his office so the world will think that EL Ivor is still alive.
This makes sense to me because (1) in many parts of Scotland ancient Celtic burial rituals are still practiced...affirming for me that Linn is, in the truest sense of the word, a clan (2) If Ivor were alive he would be running for Prime Minister.
(3) Is the LP 12 a subversive device?
AN HONEST ATTEMPT TO ANSWER THE QUESTIONS
FIRST I HAD TO CLEAR UP AN ISSUE WITH BRIAN.
All audio writers are bitches (except me), and they are very insecure. I remember the time I had to punch out an audiophile who insulted Corey Greenberg. Audio writers are human and we need to know where we are in the audio hierarchy...I must have a better system than Harry, John, Gordon, Art, Dave....winning isnt everything...it is the only thing....so I knew I had to pop the ugly potentially lethal question to Brian while, dressed in his white lab coat , and wearing his surgical rubber gloves, he was doing his LP-12 setup.
But I knew that he couldnt answer the question honestly, voluntarily...because of the political pressure...so I took my "classic" Winchester 94...the one that John Wayne and Buffalo Bill loved...and showed it to Brian as I loaded some of my own home made 30/30s with the 170 grain Hornaday bullets and the IMR 3031 powder. This got Brians attention, and he quickly admitted that this was a new experience for him......so I asked him the ugly embarrassing question...and I swear this is true..he said.."What a relief, now that you are holding that loaded Winchester 94 carbine to my head I can relax and finally tell the truth...no more need for pretense".
What a relief to know that not only is my system the finest he ever experienced but I am his favorite writer. I knew we were soul mates, and Brian just affirmed it.
To understand what I am about to say you must remember that I am a professional gizmologist and therefore look at gizmos differently than you. So I have to admit this truth...one of the reasons I love the Linn LP-12 is because it wiggles, and the way it wiggles has been an obsession with Ivor for almost three decades. Professionally I love machines that wiggle because there are so few of them. Most machines including other turntables just sit there. I know. My last turntable, a Micro-Seiki, weighed about 80 pounds, and the only time it wiggled is when there was an earthquake. Lets face it men love wiggling things and this may explain why Linn addicts will argue about the nature of the springs in the Linn, the way other men argue about their favorite baseball players.
There is divine inspiration in this wiggle, and I often sit in front of the LP-12 and just touch the platter so it wiggles. Of course this has been a top secret at Linn...but now it can be told....some men buy the LP-12 just for its graceful wiggle...and that is cool.
This floating chassis is not only the primary gizmological thrust that makes this turntable so unique and sound so good; (the notion being that by decoupling the "record playing" from the turntable base the distortion caused by all forms of vibration feedback will be minimized), but a philosophy that shook the foundation of the audio industry. (For a detailed exposition of this philosophy go the Linn web site)
(David slew the giant...across the world audio writers were saying that the LP-12 was a better sounding turntable than the best and most expensive rigid turntables that were coming out of Japan....how could the LP-12 beat out the giants?)
Wiggling works the way Ivor has refined it, and he has for decades continuously refined the constitute elements, with each being a major event for the Linnies of America. The way a Linn wiggles is so important to the refinement this system is capable of Brian had to come to Chez Gizmo to set the turntable up properly because it must be tuned so that it wiggles just the right way. When you become a Linn dealer you must go to the Linn College and get at least a B+ in Turntable Wiggle 101.
Why do I mention this College training? I remember the good old days when there were literally Linn Masters...those who had refined the art of Linn Turntable setup to a high art...and that was when there were at least fifty different tonearm/cartridge combos available.
Over the last twenty five years hundreds of turntables and arms have come and gone, and with the rebirth of vinylmania a new generation of high tech Robo-turntables have appeared...so why am I so inspired by this 28 year old classic?
There is something gizmological right about the Linn, (the way the Mac Intosh 275 is gizmologically right) and I cant help feeling that way because it is attached to my deep belief that we have recently entered the NEO-CLASSIC stage of the audio arts.
At last we are having the ego strength to re-examines the classics..the technologies of ecstasy that have endured...and for a good reason.....and I return to my emotional response...the LP-12 is exactly what a "classic" turntable should be in shape of size, proportion, mass...smell ..and taste. I have been 180 degrees of this with enormous modern machined bronze 80 pound mass (Micro-Seiki) with four separate air pumps for the turntable and the tone arm...and it took 30 minutes to get the system up and running.
I also happen to be in love with VW Beetles and Western Electric 300Bs for the same reason... acts of gizmological genius that will never be bettered..(that is the definition of a classic) ...it is impossible to design a more classic turntable, and LP-12 is beautiful the way the Parthenon is beautiful, and the way my Winchester 94 is beautiful..they are timeless.
EL IVORS MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION
One of the benefits of being the world greatest authority on audio technology (in my own mind) is that I can make broad sweeping statements that can not be refuted...like...the most beautiful element in every audio system is the turntable. Turntables illicit powerful emotional responses that are never illicited by FM tuners. Turntables are living creatures, heavily endowed with spirit (in this case Ivors) and we must interact with it in very human terms....we must be gentle, caring and responsive to its needs.
When we compare the original LP-12 to the one bathing in golden light in my living room we see the progression of development to a much higher state of refinement. The regulated power supply for the turntable motor, the system approach with the arm, cartridge and phono preamp integrating with the turntable....is exactly what I need in my life right now. Let me explain two different turntable paths...(1) Turn it on and enjoy the music (2) Spend hours in joyful torture figuring out how to get the best sound...just like the good old days of my youth. The first is my path because I have a gizmological agenda with tubes that is a mile long and I have no time for playing with turntables...I just want to enjoy the joy.
Ivor is a sly gizmological dog because he went through the considerable trouble of designing a phono preamp that has a switching mode power supply, which as far as I know is the first...and it works especially well with his moving coil cartridge...which is why you should go to the Linn web site for more details about its design....way cool.
You can tell that I like the "package"...everything works just right...all the pieces...are optimized for me...I even love the famous thin felt mat...
SWIMMING IN THE VINYL AURAL MATRIX
It is obvious to me that the reason EL Ivor (dead or alive) created a $20,000 CD player is to prove that he is also the master of digital, but I havent experienced his CD player so I cant comment. He is obviously the master and pioneer of the vinyl aural matrix. The vinyl aural matrix is the aural matrix I grew up with and in which I swam to fame....I left the audio business right before the Digital Devil appeared. When I turn on the LP-12 I am back swimming but this time it is better. Did Marshal Mc Cluhan say something to the effect that once something becomes obsolete it reaches the height of its development...or something like that?
Because most dont know about the aesthetics of the vinyl aural matrix I need to point out that its creation is directly connected and inseparable from the appearance of Eastern mysticism in the West, the widespread use of mind expanding substances, and the movement from three track to 24 track recording. Remember the audio arts emerge from culture, and express it. This was the music-mind that was blowing off its boundaries, searching for new forms of subtle manipulation of space, time and tone...always done best with vinyl.
This vinyl aural matrix was and is the artistic high point of the audio arts and it was a reflection of a new music mind that evolved during the height of the cold war...
Three things that heretofore never existed before on the face of the earth appeared...rock and roll, the musical recording technology which could create a complex multi-dimensional aural matrix, and a type of audio playback equipment that made "the stereo" the dominant technology of pop culture (the personal computer didnt exist yet). The world hasnt been the same since because the home became the primary place of musical ecstasy....and it was vinyl dependent...and the outer edge of the art was and still is defined by the LP-12.
The vinyl aural matrix became so sophisticated that it was possible to just jump into it and swim around...... that is how existentially buoyant its liquid midrange was and is, which brings me to the paradox of digital audio....which often times feel like we are swimming on the beach rather than in the water.
When I listen to this latest incarnation of the whole LP-12 shabang, including its preamp, I am once again swimming in the vinyl aural matrix and time has dissolved...I am back then..and I dont mean back in my living room in the 1970s...I mean I have swum back all the way to the recording session, and I can smell the beer, booze, and smoke of recording sessions that no one ever talks about....I am in the saxophone...I am the saxophone and I am in control of Ben Websters soul...and I dog paddle, I do the frog kick, the breast stroke and the back stroke and I can swim all around the aural matrix because the musical juice is so buoyant..and the harmonic juice that flows from the vinyl aural matrix oozes across the boundaries of time and substance...and Ivor knows this, whether he is dead or alive...because he is the master that designed this black groovy time/music transportation system.
Did you understand my hyperventilating-frontal cortex jive? What I am saying is that the vinyl aural matrix is very different than the digital aural matrix. If you are a Wholey Musical Warrior, you too can open the door that Aldous Huxley talked about...the door to the mind beyond here...the higher musical mind that opens with the right key....are you ready for the vinyl key to the beyond?
If you are ready for the journey the master will appear, and every pilgrim knows that very soon he will be tracing his step, going back to his roots of ecstasy, to the first taste of the sweetness, the first opening, the first cosmic union...the place where the journey began....and so I am returning to my dream of owning a Linn and experiencing once again the timeless dance.
Do you understand how I feel or do I have to slit my thumb with my knife and bleed for you?
If all of this confuses you my dear Pilgrim you can always go to the Linn web and get a "normal" opinion about the LP-12 system.
IS EL IVOR DEAD OR ALIVE?
This is a difficult question to answer right now because I am getting conflicting reports. A friend of mine at Tannoy, which is also located in Scotland, told me that he personally saw a wild Haggis gore EL Ivor... because he was in the hunting party...and it was a fatal wound. Evidently the wild Haggis herds have been roaming the hills and forest of Scotland for tens of thousands of years and have survived because they stay away from humans and when approached become very mean (Note: these are long tooth ferocious beasts and a mature boar can weigh 500 pounds). Because EL Cid was one of his favorite movies EL Ivor, near death, instructed.... "Do to me what Charleston Heston did".
Then I heard another story that this story was not true and made up by one of Ivors competitor, and in fact Ivor was alive and well and planning his next wild Haggis hunt.
On the other hand if Ivor is alive I cant understand why he isnt running for Parliament or Prime Minister. The UK needs an across the board upgrade in the quality of its music life, and Ivor is the right man for the job.
Brian Morris assures me that EL Ivor is alive, and that I can talk to him on the phone. But how can I be sure, with modern voice synthesizer programs, that it is him?
YES, THE LINN LP-12 IS A SUBVERSIVE TOOL
All high art is subversive. This is the favorite turntable of George Orwell. The best concrete example is to tell you about the experience my audio bro Mark Conese had when he listened to the Linn LP-12 for the first time. Mark is not only the second most sensitive man on earth but owns Ambient Recording Studio.
As soon as the first few bars of vinyl oozed from the Tannoy horns...Mark raised his hands to the sky and shouted out....."A turntable is just a turntable...but that Linn...thats a smoke"...and then Mark ranted and raved about the delicacy, purity and totally non-digital discombobularity of vinyl...obviously. "If every CD sounded as good as this, then the world would be saved", was his comment.
We live in a digital world, and that isnt going to change, and, in effect, the Linn LP-12 has become the raging righteous voice of the music high ground reminding us how far we have to go in getting digital to meet the standards of vinyl.
It is the ultimate subversion to ask this question: Has there been any real progress in the audio arts in the last twenty years? And the LP-12 will make masters of digital quake with fear...and that is a good thing for music....we all need a higher standard.
THE CONNOISSEURS TOOL
"Where does the Linn turntable system, which consists of the turntable, power supply tone arm, cartridge, and phono preamp fit in the grand scheme of existence", asked Nietzche,
And I answered:...."Hey cheese ball if you dont know where a fine Havana cigar fits in the grand scheme of existence...then you just dont get what this hunt is all about".
Neo-classicism in the audio arts is all about the emergence of a new group of musicmaniacs of more refined taste, and broader aesethetic horizon. This growing group is not impressed by newer and better because they spend too much time polishing their 1948 Ford Woody station wagons. We live in a digital world where we must drive our Volvo station wagons.... to make it through the day...but for our souls we have our motorcycles and our vinyl. Todays music connoisseur has a wide bandwidth mind and embraces vinyl because it is inconceivable to be cut off from this vast treasure trove of music. Yes, gourmet cooking takes more time and effort than fast food, and yes vinyl takes more time and effort than digital...and that is the point...caring about music quality, hunting for the ultimate musical thrill means that something black and groovy is turning in your living room.
Vinyl is a different path than digital, and it is not for everyone, but those who are looking for the finest smoke, smoke with the Linn LP-12 system.
That was good for me, was it good for you?
e-mail Dr. Harvey "Gizmo" Rosenberg: email@example.com
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