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Linn Keilidhs - what amp?


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Hey guys, 

First setup for me, so am a noob. 

Have the Sony PX-HX500 with an integrated amp right now, but my Linn Keilidhs have just arrived and want to get them set up. 

3 questions: 

1. Best bang for buck option amp under £400? If there is one that completelt stands out for these speakers and is above then include but ideally sub. Mine are currently passive but would be open to converting if it is the best option. 

2. Do tube amps work well with these? Any recommendations? 

3. What cabbles do people recommend? How important are they? 

Not looking for the silly sound output as small flat but want some excellent sound output. 

Thanks in advance. 

Xenon

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Super Wammer

Welcome Xenon

What sources do you have, as this will affect which amp you use.  Also, is the £400 plus the sale of the Sony, so perhaps you have £500?  The ideal would be something like a Wakonda pre-amp and an AV5125 power amp which will allow you to go active with the Keilidhs, but this would be perhaps £700.  Might be worth waiting a few months and save up a little more, if you can?

For integrated amps at £400 I would look at Rotel RA15xx, Marantz 6006, Audiolab 8000S or new 6000 series, Arcam FMJ etc

For tube amp recommendations, try the main forum - there won't be too much experience here.  Personally, I think you'd need significantly more budget to get a tube amp with enough current for Keilidhs, they like an amp with plenty of grip otherwise they sound too loose in the bass.

Make sure the bass driver bolts in your Keilidh are tight and use the spikes to tilt them back a little to free up some of the treble.

Edited by sunbeamgls
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Adding to what Sunbeam GLS suggests, if you do struggle to find a pre/power combination in budget then you could always start with a Majik Integrated (pre 2005)

https://docs.linn.co.uk/wiki/images/0/0a/Majik_user_manual_rev2.pdf

which will run the Keilidhs straight away but gives you the option to add power amps later. You could probably find a magic integrated and an LK 85 and still be in budget. The Wakonda is better but requires an additional power amp immediately - and I think that you will struggle to find both and stay in budget.

Keilidhs can be powered in many different ways and can grow with you. I've had a pair for 25 years and started with a simple set up but still have them today powered by an Exaktbox-i and an Accurate hub.

Keilidhs definitely benefit from good speaker cable. If you are on a budget then find one length of Linn K400 on eBay and split it into two sets of pairs.

A word of caution on the Magik integrated. Some models come with a Phono stage (for the turntable) and some don't. The phono stage is for a moving magnet cartridge input. What I'm not sure about with your Sony (if it is the one with the ADC inside (and I think that it is) is whether it outputs at Line Level or MM Level - just something to check.

Enjoy the journey!

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Sorry for slow response. You are most kind to answer in such depth! 

Clarification, have already bought speakers and table, just need the amp now, don't want to drop £1k more on this setup as is my first, so an amp that fits my needs circa £400 top end would be ideal.  

Does making the speakers active circumvent the issues of low output from underpowered amp? 

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The Keilidh sounds very good with the Sneaky in bi-amping mode. I don't know what the Sneaky costs used.

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My first 'serious' pre-power combination was a Quad 33/303 combination (and I had the tuner also). What would it sound d like with Keilidhs? No idea, sorry.

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6 hours ago, Dasher said:

Adding to what Sunbeam GLS suggests, if you do struggle to find a pre/power combination in budget then you could always start with a Majik Integrated (pre 2005)

https://docs.linn.co.uk/wiki/images/0/0a/Majik_user_manual_rev2.pdf

which will run the Keilidhs straight away but gives you the option to add power amps later. You could probably find a magic integrated and an LK 85 and still be in budget. The Wakonda is better but requires an additional power amp immediately - and I think that you will struggle to find both and stay in budget.

Keilidhs can be powered in many different ways and can grow with you. I've had a pair for 25 years and started with a simple set up but still have them today powered by an Exaktbox-i and an Accurate hub.

Keilidhs definitely benefit from good speaker cable. If you are on a budget then find one length of Linn K400 on eBay and split it into two sets of pairs.

A word of caution on the Magik integrated. Some models come with a Phono stage (for the turntable) and some don't. The phono stage is for a moving magnet cartridge input. What I'm not sure about with your Sony (if it is the one with the ADC inside (and I think that it is) is whether it outputs at Line Level or MM Level - just something to check.

Enjoy the journey!

I second the first comment here. I ran an original LK type Majik amp (with phono stage) with my Ninkas (updated version of the Keilids) for several years and it sounded just fine. I still have and use that amp with the TV system. 

Getting a bit long in the tooth, but the only problem I've had is needing to replace the fuse once. 

Don't worry about cables if you don't have money to spare, spend it on the electronics first. Bigger impact per $. 

PS like Dasher, I'm still running the Ninkas, with Akurate EDSM and Exaktbox and the speakers have improved with every step. 

Edited by Solanum
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My suggestion if you were to keep the Keilidhs long term is to climb the Linn upgrade ladder.... With upgrading amps, going Aktiv, bi/tri-wiring, bi/tri-amping, upgrading all cables you will be rewarded at each step of the way. Stick to the Linn brand and there will be no guessing. I have had my Keilidhs nearly 30 years and I still enjoy them.

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Another good value amplifier second hand is the Arcam Alpha 6 to Alpha 9. 9 is more recent than the lower numbers. These are the UK built amps and seem to last pretty well, whereas the later Arcam amps built in China often suffer failures, though they also sound very musical. 

I climbed the Linn amp upgrade ladder, starting with Majik-I and found each step brought more music. Having done so, I'm not so sure I would recommend adding power amps to multi-amp or go active though. Even secondhand its relatively expensive and you will most likely get more musical enjoyment from upgrading the source or the pre-amp. Having spent three (!) decades exploring many Linn combinations, including active, I have found most enjoyment from the best quality source, preamp and single poweramp combination I could afford at the time. 

Active can seem very appealing, but I got more music from tuning speaker positions than from going passive to active. 

Edited by petecallaghan
Realised I've been doing this for longer than I first thought!
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Room tuning/ speaker placement goes without saying....Keilidh speakers will serve you a long time as you make improvements upstream. These speakers are revealing enough to allow you to hear most everything you do to your system.

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I'm more than doubling your budget, but I suggest, source firsting first, a Majik DSM version 2 or 3. Lots of power, great sound, only one more step to Exakt Katalyst. 

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Thank you all for your help! 

I ended up purchasing the Majik - I for circa £300, hopefully will be adequate for my first setup. 

Now dealing with cabling - any recommendations? 

I am viewing K200/K400/K20 but also am reading that Van Damme provide good cabling too. 

Finally, I read a paper on cable length, its importance. From what I have covered, it seems 2.48m seems ideal for Linn K series. Is that right? 

Thanks again, 

Xenon

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I've used Linn speaker cables and QED cable and can confidently say don't use QED :)

I recommend single wire with the Majik-I, so K20 or split K400. 

Also take your time to tune speaker positions - this will have a big impact. Here's a good guide: https://lejonklou.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=4526&p=39464&hilit=Hemmabio#p39464 

Edited by petecallaghan
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Personally I'd get a length of K400 off eBay and split it in half (lengthways down the centre). The 2.48m comes from the Lejonklou forum. I've never been in  a position where it was practical to try it out but it certainly isn't a hard and fast rule! You could always buy a pair of K400s and then you have a spare for when you buy an additional power amp:D

Beware, if splitting K400 it is strong stuff and you need a sharp knife (I used a razor saw the last time that I did it).

As said in the above post - learning to position your speakers will serve you well. I've always found Keilidhs to work best slightly toed-in and tilted back - the fronts being around 5-8mm higher than the rear.

Do you have the additional bases (these are like a 30mm (ish) wide three-sided base that the speaker fits onto - leaving the from face open) for the speakers?

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