Linn Owners

A year with Exakt Katalyst Akubariks:

zee9

Audio Junkie
Wammer
Oct 16, 2018
1,315
706
148
New Jersey, USA
AKA
Zorawar
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Well it’s been just above a year since we’ve had the Exakt katalyst Akubariks. What started out as a big gamble has MAYBE (more about why it’s still a maybe at the end) paid off. I was very hesitant when I heard our 242’s mk1 with a non katalyst exaktbox and quickly realized that Exakt is better than analog Aktiv but not without katalyst.

An opportunity came up to buy a pair of mint Aktiv Akubariks and we added on the full Exakt katalyst upgrade ($24000) which involves new measured 3K arrays with brand new amp Modules etc. The speakers arrived in December 2021 and have been our main system since then. They’re driven by our Adsm/3 (I know I’m still looking to sell the Adsm/3 for an ASH as we don’t need the analog outs or the katalyst dac in the Adsm/3. Over the year, I’ve found a few things that are really required for the Akubariks. They need room to breathe. Yes you can place them close to the wall and try SO but that didn’t work for us. We have uneven suspended wooden floors (extremely bouncy( still figuring out the foot fall issues with the lp12)) and that’s the worst thing you can have for these speakers. It was only in august 2022 that after trying multiple positions and different stone slabs that the speakers are now sounding semi decent to my ears. I can tell that there is still a lot I can do to make them even better. The trick that really worked is a 20” x 17” x 1.5” Stone slab. Maybe a 2” thickness would have been better but damn they’re heavy to carry. Another mistake I had made was using felt pads under the stone slabs so that I could slide them easier. Big big mistake. When I took those off and was experimenting with the last stone slabs I got I spent an hour leveling the slabs with ikea gunstigs. Some of the gunstigs had to be wrapped in blue painters tape to level the slab. Now with the gunstigs the slabs can’t be moved so I had to gauge approximate location before hand.

68944086790__F5C5EBCE-3462-4F1E-93FF-1828995EBAE2.jpg


You can see in the above picture how much of a difference is needed to get the slabs completely leveled.

The skeets that I had earlier for my experiments (3 different sets) were with 1. Felt pads (worst) 2. Gunstigs and 3. Bare linn skeets. After getting the heavier stone slabs surprisingly they sound best with no skeets at all. Just bare spikes on the stone. My spikes seemed too tall to a member who suggested I lower them as much as possible which did improve the sound even more. Earlier the speaker height (spike tip to metal base) was 30mm. Now we are down to 10mm. Surprisingly the kabers worked best with the gunstig layered skeets but I never tried just bare spikes on the slabs. Full disclosure the kabers are now without skeets on just stone slabs in the wife's art studio.

Throughout our journey I’ve realized that this system is the best I’ve had for movies and TV sound Watching a good movie with a killer soundtrack is just sooooo good and I don’t think id be able to watch a movie anymore without these speakers. i was still unable to figure out why the music was not as satisfying as the movies were anyhow i was still not ready to give up on them. some forum members suggested that an ASH (2018+ version would sound better than the older aedan's that are now available in the market at very very low prices. i was looking for one but thought the maybe a KSH might be the better way to move forward. the issue was i had no more motorcycles to sell. i sold all 3 motorcycles i had during the pandemic yers to buy these speakers..... the one thing i liked although I was never bothered by the thick k400 cables (10 channels) that fed our 242’s but now, besides seeing an Ethernet and a power cable has grown on me a lot. I still do wonder that if linn had used all 200w amps internally this speaker may have outdone the klimax floor standers. Maybe that’s why they didn’t do it.

tinkering on trying to improve the sound to at least what i think they should have sounded like (we bought these speakers blind and i don't know what akubariks are supposed to sound like), Another weird thing we noticed about the placement was that they sound best with a width of 1.9 to 2.1 meters. I mean the distance between the speakers (center to center) . Anything less or more starts to sound not so good but that’s to my ears so please feel free to try your own experiments. Regarding distance to wall in my original experiments I found them to sound best at approximately 88cms from the front wall but realistically that won’t work for our golden retriever who likes lying in front of the right speaker. I WOULD LOVE TO TRY THESE SPEAKERS 1.5m FROM THE FRONT WALL. I have also tried practical via ideal (65cms: 88cms) Position via SO but didn’t quite enjoy it). We finally settled at 70.5 cms from the front wall. Speakers are positioned dead straight. Now the stage started appearing ( i know most linn people don't look for that) and i started getting some depth behind the speakers but not yet infant of the speakers.....

In June of 2022 we decided to get an LP12 and got distracted by the LP12. i had meanwhile also tried a 2013 varian KEDSM and found it to be just a tad bit better then our adsm/3 so i didn't jump on that upgrade. i also needed to sell the adsm/.3 first. i cant gauge how good the lp12 is supposed to sound. it was setup by a very well know TT specialist from the NYC area. Luckily a fellow member who does not live too far away and also has a fantastic setup came by for a listen and help me with my issues. he has a nice LP12 too, klimax source and exaktbox with akurate amps and Ninkas. of course his lp12 has a much better arm, cartridge and a way better phono stage (urika II) than us.

68693131563__ED798A1C-002D-462D-B588-FEFE184AC775.JPG

The LP12 (walnut) is similar to the walnut akubariks but obviously the grain is different. anyhow i digress..... when the gentleman came over he commented that the lp12 sounded very good for the $200 cartridge and older arm we had on it (AO serviced Akito/1 - we decided to spend the money on the more important upgrades and can always address the cartridge and arm when we have a dedicated phono stage) but both of us feel there was still something missing with the Akubariks...... was it detail? No the 3K makes sure of that!!. was it the bass? No the Akubariks feel like they can handle themselves well? was it too much Bass? Nope SO made it clear how much life it sucked out of the music. i just couldn't get my head around it. i kept asking myself, how is it that i could listen to my Kabers for hours on and just couldn't stop smiling? why cant i have that with the Akubariks?

Anyhow late 2022, a friend of mine decided to upgrade his setup (mdsm/3+5105+ Keilidhs) and wanted to try my adsm/3. problem was that i needed an exact transport for the Akubariks. Yes i could have used his mdsm/3 but was sure that would be no upgrade. Anyhow i spoke to a dealer about borrowing a Selekt hub as the Akurate range was getting discontinued and i thought might as well stay with something that is future proof and he said he could lend me one for a demo. Problem was he only had one with line outs and Katalyst dacs. i borrowed it for a short time just to test the exact outs. if he couldn't find me a used hub then i would just have to buy a brand new Selekt hub (subject to it being just below or at par with my adsm/3) i was also concerned as Linn told me that the phono stage in the selekt is different from the adsm/3 and my fear was that this might be where we really lose out.

when the selekt arrived and since it had line outs (no internal amps) and Katalyst Dacs, i thought i should first compare them on our bedroom passive setup (Lejonklou Tundra 2.2 >> Kan II's) the Tundra had just been purchased but not yet setup..... so the bedroom experiments started and i tried the selekt dam first. i compared it to my computer with a doc (modi 3+ to a kairn to the tundra) and also to a blue sound Node. Obviously the selekt sounded best out of the three but the moment i connected the adsm/3 in place of the selekt i was surprised how much better the adsm/3 sounded. i wondered why is linn killing this line if it sounds better than the Selekt. Infact the adsm/3 sounded so good with that Lejonklou amp that i decided to carry the Kabers from the wife's art studio back into the bedroom. The Kabers are normally driven by a Klout and in all my experiences i think the Klout is perfect amp for the Kabers.

IMG_6729.JPG

Anyhow now my concern was that the Selekt would surely be a downgrade to the adsm/3. The only thing that made me keep trying was because another forum member had spoken about how a selekt hub sounded better than his aedsm (2014 variant) in his exact setup. This wasn't hard to believe simply due to the newer Selekt (2018 version)

The selekt replaces the adsm/3 temporarily with the akubariks:

69065693266__321AC9F4-57F8-4FD6-8DF6-BD86C2B37695.JPG

With some Hesitation i plugged in the selekt into the main system. i liked that there are separate MM/MC connections on it unlike the adsm/3 where the phono card needs to flipped by opening up the cover. My aging eyes also prefer the bigger display but i didn't like the fact that it won't stay on longer than 30 seconds.....

Anyhow the wife and i sit down to listen to a track and i wasn't expecting much of an upgrade so we just played a random track.

30 SECONDS INTO THE TRACK, MY WIFE AND I LOOK AT EACH OTHER AT THE SAME TIME WITH THIS EXPRESSION OF ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ AND JUST STARTED SMILING.........

we both couldn't understand what happened but for the first time it felt like wow that sounds Fantastic.i had maintained all the same exact cables and location etc. the photo that shows the missing chopping boards is from much later (whole different story). How do i say this....... the difference is transformative. it's such a big difference that i had to eventually unplug the selekt and do the passive tests again before i sent out my adsm/3 to the friend. Hands down the akurate is a better streamer/preamp than the selekt (in passive or analog aktiv) but why does the selekt drive the Akubariks better? No one has been able to give me a straight answer.....

DOES THE SELEKT HAVE A BETTER CLOCK?
no-one will confirm that......

how does the music sound better? - in lay mans terms it sounds more analog, more meaty, more full, more engaging!

Meanwhile two people from the forum have visited me, the first being the gentleman who fell a selekt hub was better than his aedsm. we didn't get to listen much as there was more drinking and eating involved but he said the akubariks sounds really good.

the other forum member with the Organik exact setup was here 2 weeks ago and asked me what all i had changed as he found the difference probably as large as i did. he found it hard to believe that just a selekt transport could have such an impact. he then remembered his dealer telling him that the the 2018 selekt in exact will give the old klimax (KSH) a good run for the money......

all in all if i was to evaluate how big this change is id say 25-30% better and that is a lot in terms of an upgrade (unless you’re moving from a mdsm/1 to a KDSM/2)

i know wake up really early and the system is on by about 5:30am. its so much fun to listen to even at low volume and my smiles are back again. i have noticed some glitches with my selekt but not audio related. random reboots etc and linn has suggested that since its in warranty it should be sent for a warranty check. i don't want a replacement device if it does not sound this good.

MAYBE I JUST GOT LUCKY WITH THE INTERNALS OF A NGKSH IN THE OLD BODY OF A USED SELEKT HUB :)
 
Last edited:

stuarts

Wammer Plus
Wammer Plus
Dec 3, 2018
43
35
58
DOES THE SELEKT HAVE A BETTER CLOCK?
no-one will confirm that......
I asked my dealer in Tokyo if there was any difference in the master clock (for Exakt) in the new-generation Klimax Hub versus the Selekt Edition Hub. They relayed the following response from Linn Japan:

===
The difference in clocking between the KLIMAX System HUb and the SELEKT Edition Hub as a System Hub is that the clock device itself is the same, but the distribution of the clock signal is different.

In order to control perfectly the arrival of the clock signal to each part of the system, KLIMAX has constructed a special distribution network with the utmost care.
===

Not super-specific, but they seem to be saying that the Selekt Edition Hub has the same master clock as the new-generation Klimax Hub, but not the same clock “distribution network.” I’ve been trying to figure out how much difference there is between the new-generation Hubs in an Exakt system, but this all I’ve been able to find so far.

If anyone has had a chance to compare the Selekt, Selekt Edition and (new-generation) Klimax Hubs, I’d be very curious to hear how it went.
 

zee9

Audio Junkie
Wammer
Oct 16, 2018
1,315
706
148
New Jersey, USA
AKA
Zorawar
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
I have not yet heard a KSH (2018 variant) but will next week. Well actually a kdsm/2 feeding to an organik exaktbox if my selekt sounds better with the kat akubariks i’ll be a happy man.
 

Tendaberry

LP12 Scholar
Wammer
Oct 9, 2018
1,037
1,121
148
Hamburg
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Nice story Zee :) Your floor seems similar to mine, have you considered trying the IsoAcoustics Gaia II under your Akubariks? When I had a more stable floor, the effect wasn't as big as now with the bouncy floor. And they look a whole lot better than stone slabs in the living room...

Gaia.jpg
 
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zee9

Audio Junkie
Wammer
Oct 16, 2018
1,315
706
148
New Jersey, USA
AKA
Zorawar
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Nice story Zee :) Your floor seems similar to mine, have you considered trying the IsoAcoustics Gaia II under your Akubariks? When I had a more stable floor, the effect wasn't as big as now with the bouncy floor. And they look a whole lot better than stone slabs in the living room...

Gaia.jpg
I have but the difference in height just under my speakers varies by almost a cm or more. Can I trouble you to take a picture from the level of the floor so as to see how much height difference you have between the Gaia’s?

Thanks
 

Tendaberry

LP12 Scholar
Wammer
Oct 9, 2018
1,037
1,121
148
Hamburg
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
I have but the difference in height just under my speakers varies by almost a cm or more. Can I trouble you to take a picture from the level of the floor so as to see how much height difference you have between the Gaia’s?
Hi Zee, here's a pic. There's still room for adjusting height differences.

Gaias.jpg
 
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Tendaberry

LP12 Scholar
Wammer
Oct 9, 2018
1,037
1,121
148
Hamburg
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
No, they're sticky, so it's better to put small pieces of paper or towels under the Gaias, while finding the right position.
 

Utlover

Newbie
New Wammer
Feb 15, 2019
18
10
8
You can use a towel. Just tilt your speaker,,slide the towel underneath the two Gaia's of the left (or right) side, tilt your musical friend again and slide the towel under the right (or left) side. Next, move it around as desired! (Pull the towel to do so)
 

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