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macfan

AXPONA 2019 Turntable Video

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Just finished watching a rather long video from Analog Planet's visit to AXPONA. While there were some interesting products shown, I have to say I do not feel as bad about what I spent on my new LP12 project. There are products out there that are just off the charts expensive. Many of these just seem to throw many random ideas into turntable design and hope to find something that sticks. So much of it seems like gimmicks or attempts to reinvent the wheel. 

The nice thing about the LP12 is it has heritage and an almost kaizen like philosophy to upgrades that allows individuals to achieve a level of performance that is right for them. Furthermore, the ability to take a 40yo table from the 70s and update it to some level of "current spec" is great. Not many products allow for this.

Interestingly, Linn never seems to have a presence at these shows - or it seems that way here in the US. After auditioning many tables in the 5k range, the Linn Majik to my ears was much more musically pleasing than any other I heard. This 5k price seems to be fairly crowded, and you can easily spend much more, but you would think it could compete favorably if there were easier ways to hear or demo it.

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On 19/04/2019 at 04:57, macfan said:

Interestingly, Linn never seems to have a presence at these shows - or it seems that way here in the US.

There was a Linn presence at AXPONA, sort of. Nokturne Audio, represented by @ThomasOK teamed up with Fred Lejonklou to demonstrate the latter's new SINGularity phono stage.. This is a dual mono device with a provisional price of £32K for the pair of boxes, so presumably comes into your "off the charts" category. The front end of the demonstration setup was a fully loaded LP12, and the speakers were - well I never! - a 61 year old pair of Quad ESL 57s. More details are on the Lejonklou forum, which I thoroughly recommend for interest and entertainment value, if not necessarily for the opinions expressed thereon.

Linn is a small company (£20m annual turnover or thereabouts), and the US is a big country. Linn have been making efforts to improve their marketing in the US, with what success I do not know; Paulssurround has reported on events on the West Coast at which Gilad Tiefenbrun was present.

David

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Thanks for the plug David!  We did indeed play a system with a full Klimax LP12 with custom Woodsong plinth and 1958 Quad ESLs.  The Quads had their diodes replaced with stronger ones Quad themselves put into later production but otherwise were all original panels, crossovers and chassis.  Just that idea blew a lot of people away.  I thought it was great to use a system with arguably the world's most iconic turntable and speakers with Lejonklou's top electronics in between.  Although Michael Fremer didn't apparently get to our room that could have had to do with logistics (see below).  However we received plenty of positive comments from enthusiasts and industry alike.  The Dynavector importer came by all three days, once with his own record, and sent me a note saying we had put the fun back into a Hi-Fi show.  And John Atkinson, editor of Stereophile, said our room was a highlight of the show.  Here is a link to his report:

https://www.stereophile.com/content/nokturne-audio-lejonklou-hifs-singularity-and-quad-electrostatics

Although the big news for us was obviously the SINGularity mono block, copper chassis MC phono stage, we decided after two days of playing a $105,000+ system to show our other new product and what we could do with a much more modest system.  So we hooked up a basically Akurate level LP12 (Lingo 4, Kore, Ekos 2, Trampolin 2, Adikt - $9510) into the new Slipsik 7 at $1795, the Boazu integrated at the new lower price of $3999 and the Quads at $2500 for a system at $19,420 (not including the $4700 Harmoni rack).  Unfortunately, due to technical circumstances (a defective long T.Kable), Fredrik having to get to the airport in the snow, and my desire to get back to Detroit before midnight (the show was a bit of work for me still recovering from a hospital stay until the day before the drive to Chicago) we closed up the room early at 1:00.  I wish we had been able to do more as the people who heard the more modest system were also quite impressed with the musical quality.

In the end I think we had a really good show and showed many, many people the difference between a system that provides engaging and enjoyable music and one that just puts out a lot of sound.

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@ThomasOK My pleasure, Thomas. I think that what you and Fredrik are doing, even if I don't myself follow it every step of the way, should be of interest to every subscriber to this club.

I was interested in your description of the "more modest system", partly because, for the reasons you explain, it is less likely to appear in the write-ups, and partly because I am impatient to get my hands on my own Slipsik 7. That said, I spent a good part of today listening to my set of Bach's accompanied violin sonatas (Menuhin/Malcolm/Gauntlett), a 1960s recording from Angel that I have owned for many years. There is something very special about those times when nothing, but nothing, comes between you and the music, and that's what my LP12, Gaio, Exakt system and Akubariks were doing for me today.

David

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DavidHB: Yes that would be an example of "off the charts" but did not want to throw anyone under the bus. I remember when I 1st got into the hi-fi scene as a tween in the early 80's  I thought $3k ($7,902.65 in 2019) was expensive but most of my gear seems to fall in this range. For comparison the phono pre-amps cited would have been around $16k in these 1982 dollars. That being said I always try to place value on the effort to design and build products. I also admire many or the "price no object" offerings and would hope those who do purchase them are for musical enjoyment. 

ThomasOK: What do you think of current production Quad ESL's? Worth a listen or are they too finicky? Considering listening to PMC or Harbeth. I have heard PMC speakers in a mastering enviornment.

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, macfan said:

For comparison the phono pre-amps cited would have been around $16k in these 1982 dollars.

I'm a bit older than you (my Hi-Fi involvement goes back to the late 1950s), but as late as the 1980s all Linn prices were, by definition, "off the charts" for me" And to be fair to Fred Lejonklou, all of his products apart from the SINGularity are IMO reasonably priced for what they are (hand built in batches from very carefully selected components, and individually tested, typically by Fred himself, before despatch). The Slipsik 7 MM only phono stage I have on order costs £1,100, which is hardly cheap, but is fairly priced considering its build quality and level of performance. To match it from the Linn lineup, you'd have to get the Uphorik, which (admittedly with MC capability) costs twice as much.

David

Edited by DavidHB

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19 hours ago, macfan said:

ThomasOK: What do you think of current production Quad ESL's? Worth a listen or are they too finicky? Considering listening to PMC or Harbeth. I have heard PMC speakers in a mastering enviornment.

It is always worth giving something a listen to see what you think of it.  Personally I have never been a fan of the Quads other than the original ESL.  When the 63 came out it was a complete redesign with a system of annular rings energizing the diaphragm in a circular pattern starting from the center and moving out to simulate a point source.  It accomplishes its desired effect but I feel it has lost musical quality in the effort, possibly due to the signal going through ever longer induction coils to achieve the delays.  All Quad ESL speakers since the 63s have been based on the same design with upgrades to things like cabinet rigidity (sorely needed) and internal electronics.  They still all use the series of inductor coils to create a range of delays for the diaphragm.  But I have not heard the latest versions so I can't say if they would be more to my liking or an improved version of the 63 with similar flaws.  There do seem to be a fair number of people like me who feel the only Quads to have are the originals.  PMC and Harbeth do also both make speakers worth checking out.

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Posted (edited)

@ThomasOK has now posted on the Lejonklou forum an interesting  video of the AXPONA setup now that it has returned home:

https://www.lejonklou.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4496&start=50

So, not the video to which the title of this thread refers, but perhaps one that is even more relevant.

David

Edited by DavidHB

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I just viewed the very interesting and informative video by MF on AnalogPlanet. While the video is quite long...almost two(2) hours, i found it to be highly informative and well done.

The most interesting part was about an hour in, wherein MF interviews the rep for Wilson Benesch about their new SOTA table. This beast really looks to be a 'world beater'! Down to the custom designed stand with draws for easy change out carbon tonearms. Hate to think what the price will be, as this wasn't mentioned in the video, but my guess is if you have to ask!

The new AMG Viella also look great...and at $30K may be competitive with others at higher pricing points. However, as the OP pointed out, there are a ton of tables, new and old, that still don't hold muster compared to the sweet little fruit box, LOL!

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And having had personal experience of it, I can state that the original AMG Viella is one of them.  I haven't heard the new Forte version.

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The new AMG Forte looks very promising. 

Thomas OK, did you hear the AMG is a decent set up? What was the ancillary gear? When i heard it, i thought it was an excellent table, where do you think it falls down compared to the lil' fruit box?

Edited by Daveyf

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That's a bit of a long story, which some on here don't seem to appreciate, but I'll give it a go.  Several years ago when the Rega RP8 had just come out I had a potential customer come in to hear one after reading some of the rave reviews.  He was getting back into vinyl and we had him take one home for the weekend.  He quite liked it but when he brought it back he asked if there was anything else he should listen to.  I mentioned that the Majik LP12 was about $700 more so he listened to the two compared and said "The LP12 is better." to which I agreed.  Then he asked about the Klimax LP12 with Akiva we had in the other room.  I told him that was quite a bit better than the Majik but it is dangerous.  He wanted to hear it and was pretty blown away.  So he went home thinking about it and called me back about a week later asking about the AMG, which had just gotten several good reviews.  I said I'd never heard one but I had my doubts considering how many expensive turntables had failed to better the LP12.  A few days later I received a call from the US distributor saying that they had a call from a customer of ours inquiring about the AMG.  He said they didn't have any dealers in the area and they would be glad to send us one to let the customer hear.  There were no strings attached.  If the customer liked it we could sell it to him even if we didn't want to become a dealer and if we did like it they would make us a dealer and give us normal demo price on it.  If the customer didn't want it and neither did we they would pay return shipping.  I was glad to take him up on such an offer as I try to hear alternatives when possible and it was an offer in everyone's best interest.

They shipped us the AMG and I wanted to make sure the comparison was as fair as possible so I removed the Akiva from my Klimax LP12 at home and installed it in the AMG arm.  I did a full setup on the Viella including precision adjusting the torques as I do on all turntables.  I put it and the Klimax LP12 on the same Quadraspire SVT double wide rack but I had to put a Quadraspire glass shelf under the AMG as the slots in the SVT didn't work with the spikes on the AMG.  On the lower shelves were a KK and a Klimax Twin Chakra which fed a pair of Vandersteen Treos.  All wiring was Linn silvers and K20.  The customer came in and brought four records with him.  He listened to the first one and said: "Well the LP12 is certainly better in the midrange on up.  I can hear how the instruments are playing better.  The bass may be a little too powerful on the LP12 but everything else is better."  On the next two records he felt the LP12 was easily superior.  Then he played the last record and said: "Forget what I said about the bass on the first record, the bass is as good as I have ever heard.  And I am sure how it should sound because I played the bass on this record!"  He bought a Klimax LP12 a week later, minus a Urika as he already had a phono stage he was happy with.  

But there is a second part to the story.  The person I had talked to at the distributor was going to be in town the next week (he was doing a product demo on some electronics they handled for another dealer about 40 minutes away) and asked if he could stop by the store.  We were happy to have him and he spent a few hours here.  He saw the AMG setup, checked it out and said that it was properly setup and on a good surface.  Noticing the Akiva, which he hadn't heard before in the AMG he asked to hear it.  I used the same system mentioned above.  I played it and he said it sounded about how he would expect.  Then he asked to hear the LP12.  I played that for him.  He smiled and said: "I probably shouldn't say this, since I represent the AMG, but that LP12 sounds very good."  I received an email from him later thanking me for the hospitality and saying that the system he heard sounded so musical that he would buy that exact system himself if he had the money.

So I think it is safe to say that it was adequately setup and in a system of high quality.  It wasn't a bad sounding turntable, I have certainly heard worse in comparison that cost more - like an SME 20, but it wasn't musically competitive with the LP12.  As you can imagine the AMG went back to the distributor.

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Thanks for the very interesting reply, Thomas. You stated that you mounted the Akiva in both arms...the Linn and the AMG. This is where I suspect the issue of incompatible synergy arose...because the Akiva needs a three point mounting system at the head shell, which on the Linn is doable...and not on the AMG headshell! So the question now becomes what were you, the rep and the customer actually hearing, the AMG table against the Linn table, or the Akiva mismatch on the AMG arm and no such mismatch on the Linn arm...hmmm, food for thought!

This hobby can so easily lead us down a path that draws us to an incorrect conclusion...or not. The Viella could certainly be less of a table than the LP12 Radikal, but I would be concerned about your cartridge selection and the AMG arm.

Edited by Daveyf

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On ‎23‎/‎04‎/‎2019 at 19:54, ThomasOK said:

...  There do seem to be a fair number of people like me who feel the only Quads to have are the originals.  ...

Yep,

  ..and they're still possibly almost as good a speaker  as you will find for listening  to four blokes playing variously sized  fiddles.

Just a shame they leave a little to be desired if you need to move some air and make a bit more racket .:D

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7 hours ago, Smokestack said:

Yep,

  ..and they're still possibly almost as good a speaker  as you will find for listening  to four blokes playing variously sized  fiddles.

Just a shame they leave a little to be desired if you need to move some air and make a bit more racket .:D

Blokes?!? Methinks it is time you became acquainted with the work of the Ragazze Quartet ... :)

I first got to know the ESL57s in the late 1970s when my best mate had a pair (not the most obvious thing to see in a house in Brixton, but then, God rest him, he was always an oddball). In the 1990s, when I had Quad electronics and a pair of LS3/5As to compare them with, another friend inherited a set of ESL63s. Both were, of course beautifully uncoloured and distortion-free, and they were always an easy listen. But I have to agree with you about the lack of oomph. I used to go back to my humble standmount/sub-woofer combination and feel that it was actually more fun to listen to.

That was true of string quartets as well. In fact, in all the classical repertoire, the great string quartets (late Beethoven, Janáček, Bartók, Shostakovich) actually, in my view, require a as great a dynamic range as a symphony orchestra as well as an equally good bass response (the 'cello goes down a long way). The ESLs are very responsive, but they are not particularly good at dealing with the extremes. As the great composers typically did not regard the string quartet as 'nice' music but used it as a means of taking their ideas to the edge, it follows that the ESLs would not be my first choice for listening to string quartets either. If i want "a bit more racket", the final movement of Bartók's 4th Quartet on my 'bariks does me very nicely, thank you.

David

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