Round and round

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In 1973 a Scottish machine shop, Castle Precision Engineering, was an OEM for the turntable company Ariston, marketing the RD11. Not long after, Castle engineering opened its own sales branch to offer essentially the same product from a new company, Linn Audio. Their first turntable was christened the LP12. Their founder, Ivor Tiefenbrun, had quite a challenge ahead of him; selling turntables to dealers who considered them little more than appliances. One of Tiefenbrun's most often quoted lines demonstrates the degree of difficulty that lay ahead. When prospective dealers inevitably brushed off his sales pitch for the expensive LP12 with, "turntables only go round and round" he'd fire back, "and loudspeakers only go in and out!" Reviewer Ken Kessler has referred to Linn's founder as the PT Barnum of HiFi, but I think he's much more. He was a high end audio pioneer that helped turn a nascent industry into something substantial, something worthy of its own category. It's perhaps instructive to remember that in the early 1970s most audio dealers were selling essentially hifi appliances—turntables that went round and round. When Tiefenbrun came through their door, he was on a mission to show there was more—much more to just round and round. The LP12's superior bearing and suspension assembly eliminated audible speed variations and obfuscating feedback and rumble. To get skeptical dealers to care, Tiefenbrun used a bit of common sense that resonated with even his most ardent critics. His gospel was simple. Once information was lost, distorted or corrupted, it was gone forever and could never be corrected. Garbage in equalled garbage out. If that message resonated, all he needed to do was demonstrate his turntable sounded better than their appliances—the simple mechanisms that went round and round—and the deal was done. That bit of logic, coupled with a demonstrably better sounding product, launched the company Linn Audio. But, it turns out that much more than Linn was started. Tomorrow, the birth of buried treasure.
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Paul McGowan

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