Dezeen Magazine

Linn Sondek LP12-50 by Jony Ive

Jony Ive redesigns 50-year-old Linn Sondek LP12 turntable

Former Apple chief design officer Jony Ive has given audio brand Linn's Sondek LP12 turntable a "respectful and gentle" update in time for its 50th anniversary.

The project represents a return to music player design for Ive, who was responsible for several generations of the iPod during his time at Apple. The designer worked on the LP12-50 turntable with his new studio, LoveFrom.

Ive describes the studio's contribution to the design as a series of "respectful and gentle" refinements that respect the evolution of the turntable, which aesthetically remains unchanged since its launch in 1972 but has had a number of technological upgrades.

Rendering of the Linn Sondek LP12-50 shown from the top
Jony Ive and LoveFrom have made subtle changes to the Linn Sondek LP12-50

The most noticeable of Ive's interventions is in the design of the primary switch, which has been made circular and flat, and in the more rounded shape of the board under the arm. Both of the interfaces have created a more tactile appearance.

The dust cover, hinges and badge have also been subtly tweaked, while Ive said Linn's engineers have also developed a plinth with a completely new manufacturing approach.

Ive explained that he had been a fan of the Linn brand since his early 20s when he visited its factory south of Glasgow, which was designed by British architect Richard Rogers and is where the manufacturer makes all of its products.

Rendering of the back of the Linn Sondek LP12-50 showing new hinges and badge
Some of the changes include new hinges and a new badge

"I've always had a deep love of music, and have had the wonderful opportunity and privilege to design a number of different music players and headphones — most notably the multiple generations of iPods while I led design at Apple," he said.

"I have a particular affection for the mechanical-wheel iPod, with the hand-polished and laser-etched stainless steel back with white headphones," Ive added. "I saw in Linn an inspiring obsession with musical fidelity and beautifully made products."

Ive also said that the product had been "life-affirming" and "joyful" to work on.

Rendering of the bottom left corner of the Linn Sondek LP12-50 showing a redesigned, circular and flat primary button with two small red and green lights
The primary button has been made circular and flat

The Sondek LP12 has always been entirely retrofittable and Linn has released 50 modular hardware upgrades to the machine, something that Ive said he appreciates.

"I love the idea that after years of ownership you can enjoy a product that's actually better than the one you bought years before," said Ive.

Linn and LoveFrom's collaboration began after Ive approached the company last year, according to Linn CEO Gilad Tiefenbrun.

He added that the resulting product combined Ive's "immediately recognisable and iconic" design language with the Linn team's technological innovations.

"Not only does it produce the best vinyl playback performance we've ever achieved, but it is also a great joy to behold and to interact with," said Tiefenbrun.

Rendering of a white record player from the side
The Sondek LP12-50 will be available with white or natural wood finishes

The Sondek LP12 is Linn's flagship product and was once voted the most important hi-fi component ever sold by Hi-Fi Choice magazine reviewers.

It was invented by Tiefenbrun's father, Ivor, who believed that the turntable was the most important component of any high-end audio system.

"My father Ivor's Sondek LP12 turntable revolutionised the hi-fi industry," said Tiefenbrun. "It employed precision engineering to extract more music from the grooves of a vinyl record and, in doing so, improved the sound of any hi-fi system, regardless of the amplifiers or loudspeakers."

Close-up rendering of the back right corner of the Sondek LP12-50 showing redesigned hinge
The turntable will be released in a limited edition of 250

The Linn x LoveFrom LP12-50 is being released in a limited edition of 250 and will be available with a choice of a wood or white finish.

Ive joined Apple in 1992 and is known for working closely with Steve Jobs in the design of the original iPhone, iMac and iPod. He left the company and founded LoveFrom with his friend Marc Newson in 2019.

Recent work from the studio has included the logo for King Charles III's coronation and a new nose for fundraising event Red Nose Day.