Jony Ive helped design the $60,000 Sondek LP12-50 turntable for free
The man who helped usher in the the age of the iPhone, former Apple design head Jony Ive, has collaborated with Glasgow-based high-end audio company Linn for a 50th birthday limited-edition reworking of the Sondek LP12 turntable.
The Sondek LP12 was introduced in 1972, and has been through many design/tech revisions in the years since, but has also received much praise from industry pundits – including top of the pops from Hi-Fi Choice, Stereophile and (more recently) What Hi-Fi, as well Editor's Choice from The Absolute Sound.
According to a recent blog post on Linn's website, Managing Director Gilad Tiefenbrun received a request for a meeting from Sir Jony Ive through LinkedIn in early 2022, but initially dismissed it as spam and deleted it. The message was later retrieved and a video call setup, where the 50th anniversary of the LP12 turntable was mentioned. Ive subsequently expressed his keen interest in helping to design a special edition.
Naturally, Linn's engineers focused on the audio side of things, including the use of a new dense wood for the plinth that's made by compressing multiple layers of beech, and is reported to offer an extremely low resonance isolating housing for the turntable's mechanism.
Though not specified, the internals are likely the same as Linn's current top-of-the-line audiophile vinyl spinner, the Klimax LP12. This means a brushed DC motor, "hyper-accurate" speed management, a precision Ekos SE tonearm with an Ekstatik moving coil cartridge, machined sub-chassis and a moving-coil phono stage built into the suspended base.
The team at LoveFrom – the design consultancy set up with Marc Newson in 2019 when the end of Ive's time at Apple was announced – began working on the overall look of the turntable. Edges were rounded and smoothed, a machined aluminum power/speed control was added, the hinges were refined and anniversary badging created.
Intersingly, Fast Company revealed in a recent interview piece that LoveFrom actually completed the design work on the turntable free of charge – "There are many things that I’ve always wanted to be able to do purely for the love of doing them," Ive said in the interview. "And there’s a substantial percentage of our work which we do purely for the love of doing it."
Pricing for the individually numbered Sondek LP12-50 starts at a whopping US$60,000 – almost twice that of the Klimax LP12 – and only 250 models will be made in either natural or painted white finish. Shipping to a customer's nearest Linn specialist is due to start in August, and the last unit is expected to head out in March next year.
Product page: Linn Sondek LP12-50