Manticore Mantra Review

In the big eighties vinyl scheme of things, the Mantra sat between a Rega Planar 3 and a Linn LP12, another long-lost British belt-drive turntable. It had a nice, stable base for tonearms ranging from the Linn LVX+ to the Rega RB300, and it was well-made and stylish. In 1989, Manticore released their own Musician arm, which sold for £170. The Magician arm was available for £575, and it looked wonderful with its polished silver finish and sounded excellent with its van den Hul wiring – but at £100 more than the SME309, it wasn’t very popular…

The structure was built in a traditional manner. It had a real wood veneered plinth with a steel subchassis isolated by three springs, similar to the Linn LP12. The glass platter was supported by a Nylatron sub platter, which in turn was supported by a standard yet well-made precise bearing. A rubber belt turned this Airpax (Philips) 24-pole AC synchronous motor. You may upgrade to a motor with improved mountings encased in Acetal to prevent vibration for an extra £120. A superior power supply was also available for £220, which included a synthesized 50Hz outboard twin-speed design in a matching wood veneered box.

A fully specified Mantra came quite near to the LP12’s basic version, but lacked the LP12’s seductively rhythmic sound — it was a bit more matter-of-fact, with a slightly lighter, tighter bass. For a couple of hundred pounds in good condition these days, they outperform – for example – the Linn Axis, which sells for around the same amount on the secondhand market. Still, there’s a lot of competition, and if you prefer a more upfront, seat-of-the-pants vibe, a well-modified Technics SL-1200 delivers a significantly more powerful and incisive sound.