What do you get if you put former Apple design guru Jony Ive and Scots audio obsessives Linn together? Possibly the greatest, most luxurious turntable ever made. Ive, who designed the iPod among many other iconic products, has turned his team's talents to the equally iconic Linn Sondek LP12 for its 50th anniversary. The result is gorgeous, and while the price tag is a hefty $60,000 the run of 250 turntables is likely to sell out in a heartbeat.
The Sondek LP12 is pretty special already. First designed in the 1970s to bring you closer to the music than ever before, it used an innovative modular design – and that means that every time tech made it possible to make the turntable better, Linn made it better. Today's Sondek may look pretty much identical to the original, but it's been transformed again and again over fifty years.
And now Jony Ive has transformed it again.
What's so special about this special Sondek?
Ive hasn't thrown the Sondek LP12 out and started with a clean slate: that's not what he, Linn or Linn's customers would want. Instead, he and his team have focused on refining it.
The first change is a new plinth, manufactured using Linn's new Bedrock technology. It uses multiple layers of beech placed under extreme pressure to create a very dense material with negligible resonance and improved isolation. And there are lots of aesthetic improvements such as subtly rounded corners and more tactile controls.
I think it's a beautiful thing in both the white and natural finishes, and I'm sure it'll sound fantastic: I've written a lot of words for Linn with my copywriting hat on, and as a perk of the job I've been able to spend time in their demo rooms, listening to my favourite music on equipment that costs more than my flat. I can honestly say it's one of the greatest musical experiences I've ever had, to the point where it's honestly hard to go back to more modest musical hardware, and while I think everybody at Linn is completely mad there's no doubt that their obsession with audio perfection has led to some astonishingly good products.
If you like the sound of the Sondek but don't have sixty grand to spend, don't despair: some of the best record players cost considerably less than that and will still deliver life-changingly great audio. And that applies to some of Linn's very best turntables too: the Linn Majik LP12 starts at a much more modest £3,700.