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Upgrade at a budget


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Hi,

I am brand new to the forum so apologies if my question sounds very kindergarten like.

I have a very old system comprising a Linn Intek integrated amp with Keilidh speakers which I bought in the early 90s. I upgraded my Arcam alpha to Linn Genki. I also have an LP 12 turntable. I also have a Nakamichi DR3 which I never listen to these days. 

I have been very lazy for the last 5-6 years and gone on to easier modes of listening, I have now seen the light and returned to my old hifi system.

I would like to split the amplification and was wondering what the best way of doing it is? I have seen some LK100s on eBay for around £250. However I have also found some Wakonda preamps in good condition so would it be better to go down the LK100 route or get the Wakonda for now and use my Intek as a preamp until I get some more cash in my hifi kitty. Is it easy to convert the Intek to a power amp? Looking at the manual, I would need to open it up and cut some of the cables feeding the power stage if I am correct.

Thanks for your help.

Sumit

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Hi and welcome to the forum! The Intek was pretty good back when it came out, but there's certainly room for improvement. What is your budget then? If I read between the lines, I'm assuming no more than about 300,-?? A Wakonda will definitely be a step up from the Intek and the phono section is better. Better still would be a Kairn with phono input, but they are quite sought after, resulting in fairly high prices. The major problem with all Wakonda, LK100 and Kairn is that they are getting long in the tooth. Therefore I would only buy from a retailer, who has tested the units and maybe changed caps, where necessary. There's also a battery in the Kairn, that's prone to leaking, when it gets old. Anyway, getting a better pre-amp would bring you more, than a better power amp. Also I would rather look for the LK85 or LK140, than the older LK100.

I would be very tempted to look a Classic Music 08 (around 500,-), which would be a fairly big step up and would replace the Genki and Intek. However, there's the problem of aging lasers, but then again, that's the case with the Genki as well. If you could stretch your budget to around 1.200,- you could get a second-hand Majik DSM and enter the world of streaming. A really major step up in performance in every area, including a very good phono section. Cannot tell how much you could get for the Intek and Genki though.

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So I have the opposite view :D, in my experience improving/adding a power amp has significantly more impact than improving a pre, Linn source first policy notwithstanding.

I had an original LK style Majik-I and tried that as pre and power amp, it it was definitely better as a pre with a decent power amp.

I don't know the Intek personally, but if you can use it as a pre only more easily than a power amp only, that would be another vote for that route....

I agree, the Classic is a good idea (was it really better than the Genki though? I would have thought not...). A Unidisc would be significantly better option (CD+pre, Krescendo have one with upgraded power supply for 800 quid), but you'd still need the LK100....

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2 hours ago, Solanum said:

So I have the opposite view :D, in my experience improving/adding a power amp has significantly more impact than improving a pre, Linn source first policy notwithstanding.

I had an original LK style Majik-I and tried that as pre and power amp, it it was definitely better as a pre with a decent power amp.

I'm not sure that there can be a hard and fast rule about this. Ultimately, its about system balance, that is identifying and replacing the weak link in the chain. I see the "source first" philosophy as, essentially, a checklist that helps the user identify any weak links and provides pointers as to how they can be corrected.

The only conventional pre- and power amplifier combination I have owned (though I kept it for over 20 years) was a Quad 34 and 606. There, the 34 was IMO the weak link, as was demonstrated when I acquired my original ADSM and used it for a while with the 606. But, as I did comparative listening tests when I bought the Quad components, I know that, if I had bought the 405 amplifier, I would almost certainly have regarded that as a weaker link than the 34.

David

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9 hours ago, DavidHB said:

I'm not sure that there can be a hard and fast rule about this. Ultimately, its about system balance, that is identifying and replacing the weak link in the chain. I see the "source first" philosophy as, essentially, a checklist that helps the user identify any weak links and provides pointers as to how they can be corrected.

Totally agree with this. There is no point having a pre or power amp orders of magnitude better than the other (or the source!).

I've had three different Linn pre-amps and four different power amps and have always found the power amp upgrade was bigger than the pre-amp upgrade.  They were always relatively balanced though. Also, my view may be coloured by going aktiv (and then Exakt) part way through that process.

The other thing that was mentioned by Tenderberry is the phono stage (I'm assuming the LP12 will be the primary source) and a big difference in phono stage with the pre-amp could mean you get a double upgrade by changing that, as he suggests.

Ultimately, in this case if the Intek can more easily be used as either pre or power, that's the route I would take, assuming a longer term aim of upgrading further.

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Hi,

Thanks to everyone for your helpful posts. You seen to echo my feelings about sorting the preampfification stage. Please correct me if I'm wrong but my understanding is that it's better to have a good preamp and the power amp can be so-so initially. So the choice is Wakonda vs Majik and using the Intek as the power amp for now. Has anyone converted an Intek from integrated to power amp?

Regards

Sumit

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  • 6 months later...

I know this is an old thread but I'm using an Intek with Keilidhs since 1998 so I think it could be usefull to leave some comments just in case somebody finds this by searching for the topic. 

As said, I have been usig this combo for quite a while knowing about its limitations but also exploring its strong points. I just recently upgraded where I found I would remove the weakest point of the chain and this is definitely in the Inteks power when driving Keilidhs. It just can't control the lower frequency sufficiently. Though still nicely audible it looses quite a lot of detail there up to the mids which an improvement in power-amplification brings back immediately.

Next step upwards would be activating the keilidhs as the Intek in my book really makes up for quite a nice preamp and I would rate its phono-section higher than many of its competitors outside the Linn-box, especially the MC-branch. Can't go much cheaper than that for a usable MC-pre than a used Intek if you asked me.

Sure Wakondas and the like may sound better but the weakest link in the combination Intek/Keilidh is the Inteks lack of control to the lower frequencies which also muddles up the mids.  

Best wishes

Stefan

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I think Linn agreed, as they released the Pretek and Powertek.  Yes add a power amp to the Intek. 

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If I may suggest the Linn AV5105 amp. I have three of them. They are a rather underrated amp, better than the LK140 (I have one of those), but oftentimes priced lower. The only concern is that they, like others, are getting rather old and could fail, thus requiring potentially expensive rebuild.

The bigger picture suggestion would be to also upgrade your pre-amp. I recommend at least a Kairn. They can be quite affordable these days. After that, start to work on your LP12. This is where the biggest, by far, gains in sound quality can be realized.

Edited by akamatsu
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