Manticore Mantra

Another long, lost British belt-drive turntable, the Mantra sat between a Rega Planar 3 and a Linn LP12 in the great nineteen eighties vinyl scheme of things. It was a decently made and attractive design, and provided a good, stable platform for tonearms ranging from the Linn LVX+ to the Rega RB300. Manticore also made its own Musician arm, retailing for £170 in 1989. If you were feeling really flush, then the Magician arm was available at £575 and looked great with its polished silver finish, and sounded the part with its van den Hul wiring – still, at £100 more than the SME309, it wasn’t popular…

Construction was totally conventional. It sported a real wood veneered plinth, underneath which was a steel subchassis isolated by three springs, Linn LP12 style. The glass platter rested on a Nylatron sub platter, resting on a conventional but well made precision bearing. The Airpax (Philips) 24-pole AC synchronous motor turned this via a rubber belt. For an additional £120, you could specify an upgraded motor with improved mountings encased in Acetal to reduce vibration. Another option was a better power supply – £220 bought you a synthesised 50Hz outboard twin-speed design in a matching wood veneered box.

A fully specified Mantra ran the basic incarnation of the LP12 pretty close, but didn’t quite have its seductively rhythmic sound – it was a bit more matter of fact, a less beguiling listen with a slightly lighter, tighter bass. These days, they’re excellent value for a couple of hundred pounds in good condition, outperforming – for example – the Linn Axis which goes for about the same price on the secondhand market. Still, there’s a lot of competition, and a well modded Technics SL-1200 gives a far more powerful and incisive sound if you prefer its more upfront, seat-of-the-pants feel.

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