Manticore Mantra Turntable and Linn LVX Basik Plus tonearm
After several years of quite happily using a Goldring 88 turntable, in 2007 I sold it and bought a Manticore Mantra.
The Goldring offered very good sound quality, but I wanted something a little smaller and more domestically acceptable, and easier to move with us when we emigrated.
The Mantra's dark looks may initially seem a bit "80s", but the finish is rather good and it looks great. The green glass platter and power light make for a very pleasant contrast with the black finish. It also sounds fabulous. Somehow it's like having a new cartridge and tonearm (though they're the exact same ones), with a less distorted sound than the Goldring ever managed.
While plinth design can do a lot for rumble with rim drive turntables, the Goldring always had some audible rumble when the volume was turned up. The Manticore is utterly silent in this respect.
Why a Mantra ? A few years after I first starting using the Goldring in the 1980s I asked a Linn dealer's opinion on the turntable. I expected my choice to be completely slated, but it was not. His opinion was that to beat it, I'd need to buy "at least a Linn Axis". That was great so far as I was concerned. Goldring turntables were not very fashionable in the 80s and mine had cost me just over a tenth of the cost of a new Axis.
When it came to be time to replace the Goldring I had to find something which wasn't going to be inferior in sound. I remembered that the Mantra always got better reviews than the Axis, so when I saw one for sale on eBay I bid on it.
The tonearm is a Linn LVX Basik+. For more information on the tonearm, see below.
A contemporary review from HiFi Choice:
Linn Basik Plus tonearm
I use the Linn Basik Plus tonearm with my Manticore Mantra. It's a fine tonearm which I used to have mounted on the Goldring and kept when I changed turntables.
Linn produced three tonearms called "Basik". First off was the LVV, a silver coloured S-shape design, then the LVX, a straight black tonearm with removable headshell, and finally the LVX+ or "Linn Basik Plus", which is the tonearm shown here. All were solid and well engineered, but each of the Basik tonearms was an improvement on the one before. In particular, they became stiffer and the main bearings became more robust. The Linn Akito is a further modified and improved version of the Basik+.
The Basik+ seems to have been forgotten these days due to Linn having abandoned the name in favour of "Akito" and also due to the fashion for Rega arms. Rega arms are very good and have always been exceptional value for money, however they're not the only possible quality arms. When it was current, the Linn Basik Plus was considered to be a very good buy at a price 50% higher than an RB300 and nearly twice that of the RB250. If you compare the review below of the Linn arm with the review of a Rega RB250 in the Manticore section above you'll see that the Linn received a higher rating than the Rega (good+ vs. good). It's still a good tonearm and can be a bargain secondhand.
Various companies sell upgrades to the Rega which improve its performance further. These are unfortunately not available for the Basik arms.
My Mantra came with a Rega compatible armboard, so I had to make a Linn armboard to accomodate my Basik+ tonearm. This was cut from of 10 mm thick plywood. One of these days I'll get around to painting it black.
For quite a while I had an Audio Technica AT-OC3 MC cartridge fitted to the tonearm, but I've now moved onto an Audio Technica AT150MLX Moving Magnet Cartridge. This is an improvement, but I suppose it should be given the difference in price. Both have been used into a home built John Linsley Hood design phono preamp. A cheaper alternative is the Audio-Technica AT440MLa cartridge.
Contemporary review from HiFi Choice:
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