Linn Owners

Linn SDSM: Katalyst to Organik + Utopik

macfan

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For those interested in the process of the Organik DAC and Utopik power supply upgrades I thought I would share a bit of the upgrade process. The nice thing about the modularity of the SDSM is allows for these types of upgrades without having to sell a perfectly fine component to help purchase a new one.


1.jpg
Image 1: My pre upgraded SDSM with the original power supply and a line output card with the Katalyst DAC that came with the unit when I purchased it new. Technically and sonically, nothing wrong with the setup - I just decided to take advance of the upgrade offer. Take note of the small black box by the dial with the air slats in it. This is the original power supply and it will be very obvious once Utopik is installed.


3.jpg
Image 2: The Utopik power supply waiting to be installed. There are two connectors on the bottom of power supply that delivers power to the system. It is clearly larger and heavier than the orignal PS that came with the SDSM.


5.jpg
Image 3: The original power supply removed. I was rather surprised at the size difference between the two units.


6.jpg
Image 4: Utopik installed. Compare to image 1 where the Utopik occupies the space up to the HDMI board (shown on the bottom left).


7.jpg
Image 5: Here we can see the analog 2 channel card removed from the system with the Katalyst module still installed.


8.jpg

9.jpg
Image 6 & 6a: Simply a closeup of the Katalyst module and how the analog output cartridge appears with the DAV module removed. Note the the little white arrow at the top of the 2nd image. With Katalyst this aligned to another white arrow in the bottom of the module. Also note, Katalyst is "right reading" in this view. The Organik module is just a touch different.


10.jpg
Image 7: The Organik DAC module in all its glory waiting to be fitted. I would be curious how the layout of the board or what aspects of this module are different from other implementations in the Linn ecosystem. If anyone knows please chime in.

11.jpg
Image 8: Just prior to closing the SDSM back up and placing it back in my system for the first Organik/Utopik listening session.


My next post will be on initial listening impressions. More to come...
 

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silkie

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For those interested in the process of the Organik DAC and Utopik power supply upgrades I thought I would share a bit of the upgrade process. The nice thing about the modularity of the SDSM is allows for these types of upgrades without having to sell a perfectly fine component to help purchase a new one.


1.jpg
Image 1: My pre upgraded SDSM with the original power supply and a line output card with the Katalyst DAC that came with the unit when I purchased it new. Technically and sonically, nothing wrong with the setup - I just decided to take advance of the upgrade offer. Take note of the small black box by the dial with the air slats in it. This is the original power supply and it will be very obvious once Utopik is installed.


3.jpg
Image 2: The Utopik power supply waiting to be installed. There are two connectors on the bottom of power supply that delivers power to the system. It is clearly larger and heavier than the orignal PS that came with the SDSM.


5.jpg
Image 3: The original power supply removed. I was rather surprised at the size difference between the two units.


6.jpg
Image 4: Utopik installed. Compare to image 1 where the Utopik occupies the space up to the HDMI board (shown on the bottom left).


7.jpg
Image 5: Here we can see the analog 2 channel card removed from the system with the Katalyst module still installed.


8.jpg

9.jpg
Image 6 & 6a: Simply a closeup of the Katalyst module and how the analog output cartridge appears with the DAV module removed. Note the the little white arrow at the top of the 2nd image. With Katalyst this aligned to another white arrow in the bottom of the module. Also note, Katalyst is "right reading" in this view. The Organik module is just a touch different.


10.jpg
Image 7: The Organik DAC module in all its glory waiting to be fitted. I would be curious how the layout of the board or what aspects of this module are different from other implementations in the Linn ecosystem. If anyone knows please chime in.

11.jpg
Image 8: Just prior to closing the SDSM back up and placing it back in my system for the first Organik/Utopik listening session.


My next post will be on initial listening impressions. More to come...
Awesome writeup! Very interesting. I wish the edition had a tilt away facia.
 

FearOfMusic

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Image 2: The Utopik power supply waiting to be installed. There are two connectors on the bottom of power supply that delivers power to the system. It is clearly larger and heavier than the orignal PS that came with the SDSM.
I have read that the original Selekt was supplied with one or other of two power supplies when it first shipped. The size of the supplied power supply depended upon the cartridges that were ordered with the Selekt. It might be, for example, that a Selekt ordered with a power amp cartridge would get the larger power supply and a Selekt ordered with a line out cartridge would get the smaller power supply.

It appears that Linn dropped the smaller power supply soon after launch and any Selekt supplied after that date got the larger supply. It might be that you acquiried your Selekt before the smaller power supply was dropped.
 

macfan

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I have read that the original Selekt was supplied with one or other of two power supplies when it first shipped. The size of the supplied power supply depended upon the cartridges that were ordered with the Selekt. It might be, for example, that a Selekt ordered with a power amp cartridge would get the larger power supply and a Selekt ordered with a line out cartridge would get the smaller power supply.

It appears that Linn dropped the smaller power supply soon after launch and any Selekt supplied after that date got the larger supply. It might be that you acquiried your Selekt before the smaller power supply was dropped.
Very possible on when I purchased my Selekt - it was early days for sure and mine definitely only had the line out card.

I will begin proper listening session later tonight and provide feedback to the group.
 

macfan

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Hey everyone. I have now had time to listen to a few albums on my newly updated SDSM to Organik / Utopik. Just a few notes. My systems is not very elaborate and fairly straight forward. The signal paths are as follows...

Vinyl Chain:
LP12 w/ Urika II --> Exakt to SDSM --> SDSM line out --> McIntosh MC150 --> Dynaudio Audio Special 25's.

PCM (all supported resolutions):
Melco music server (PCM & DCD) via ethernet player port to ethernet in on SDSM --> SDSM line out --> McIntosh MC150 --> Dynaudio Audio Special 25's.

4k Blu-Ray playback (all stereo no surround)
Oppo HDMI audio only out --> SDSM on HDMI daughter card --> SDSM line out --> McIntosh MC150 --> Dynaudio Audio Special 25's.

All analog interconnects are Transparent Ultra and and digital interconnects are Chord Epic series cables.


This comments are based on limited listening and are only for the vinyl chain for my initial comments. I let plain old stereo TV play thru the optical connection for a few days before sitting down for a listen.


Album 1: Analogue Productions (AAPA 012-45)
p1.jpg
While Face Value tends to be cited by most as their favorite Phil album, and it is no question a great, since I was a teen discovering music this one always spoke to me more. There is a vibe to this record that the others do not quite have and I still feel this way today.

The running theme throughout all my listening (vinyl and PCM) is there is a complete lack of grain or edginess that as plagued recordings since the mid 90s (even the 80s to some degee). The drums on "I Don't Care Anymore" sound like drums and the various reverbs and delays added to them are enhanced in ways that are hard to describe. While it might sound cliche, I felt more like being in the control room and engineer hits play, the tape machine starts rolling, the meters start to dance and the song starts to play. But rather than just a song, it is music and I hear each part played in the space and level it was meant to be heard. Effects are not overbear or say "look at me" - but add to experience. There was a stereo shop in my home town with the catch phrase of "...we sell goosebumps" and this is what I experienced here for the first time in a long time.

Perhaps my favorite track of the record is one most do not care for is "Do You Know, Do You Care". Similar theme as before - the low end has power and authority but does not overwhelm with being to tubby. Effects such as early reflection reverbs are all rendered very nicely, with the top end ear candy "twinkle bits" finding their place in the mix with ease. The sounds I am hearing are seem to be what was originally intended vs. what I have listened to for 40 years - ok, now I am sad after typing that.


Album 2: Analogue Productions (AAPA 002-45)
g1.jpg
For me one of the defensive Genesis tracks is "Cinema Show" which I came to love after being introduced to it in the medley section of "In The Cage" from the "Three Sides Live" video shown on MTV one Saturday night - also 40 years ago (sigh). The absolute best version of this song is from Seconds Out and I have an excellent Abby Road half-speed master which I must pull put.

Like my experience with the first album, the low end power and control and excellent. Of note here are the quiet parts. The beginning of the song is very quiet and the guitar parts a clear with every note played distinct and audible. You can clearly hear the space around the notes being played. Furthermore there is a complete lack of background noise - dead quiet. Imagine being in a darkened studio with Mike Rutherford or Steve Hackett and someone "shush's" you and they start to play. Then Peter Gabriel's vocal cuts through the back. The along they way Phil starts to play various percussion bits - all rendered with clarity and distinctness. There had even been bits of distortion on some parts of this track that are totally absent here. Very cool stuff.



Summary:
This may sound silly, but it is almost like this upgrade is recreating the little Dual / Luxman / Mission system I had in my bedroom as a kid only a much better version of it.

My overall impression of Organik / Utopik is excellent, and for me is the almost reel-to-reel tape like when compared to other DACs I have heard. It is almost like Organik / Utopik creates its own form of head bump that analog tape machines have (which is not always good but in this case seems to be). When paired together, they create a compelling playback and musical experience.

The AKM based Katalyst is no no slouch, and was clearly better than any previous DAC I have owned. With Organik everything sounds and feels like it should. If you have an option to upgrade, I can definitely recommend it especially under the current promotion while the Utopik is gratis with the purchase of the Organik module.

Those of us who participate in this forum clearly strive to obtain the best sound we can within our means. For me, the great thing about Linn is the upgrade paths available that allow us to get to the "next level" without having to start from scratch. I am definitely happy with my purchase and look forward to years of great listening. Until I get a hankering to go with "dual-mono line out cards" but that is a story for another day, the LP12 is calling.
 

timster

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Alot of what you describe mac is as I felt with Utopik. I take it you paid for Organik and got Utopik for free? Or did you have Organik beforehand?
 

macfan

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Alot of what you describe mac is as I felt with Utopik. I take it you paid for Organik and got Utopik for free? Or did you have Organik beforehand?
I paid for the Organik upgrade and received Utopik for free. Taking advantages of the various Linn promotions is how I made big jumps over the last few years. The LP12 is just shy of full Klimax sans subchasis and cartridge.
 

timster

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I paid for the Organik upgrade and received Utopik for free. Taking advantages of the various Linn promotions is how I made big jumps over the last few years. The LP12 is just shy of full Klimax sans subchasis and cartridge.
Absolutely and good to hear you are pleased with it!
I have heard alot about the Utopik upgrade in recent times, and have experienced it myself. I haven't heard so much about Organik vs Katalyst though, other than it's not as great an improvement. Makes me wonder....
 

Pennypacker

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The step up from Katalyst to Organik is big, but either will be improved by Utopik.
To add to the Organik debate here:

I spoke to my Linn pusherman last week about adding Utopik to my ASH and then Selekt was quickly entering conversation with the various options. The dot on the horizon he suggested would be Selekt edition 2 x Organik with power cartridge. Since this is a to big of a financial step we discussed some options.

As I’m quite fond of my Exakt/Aktiv set up I mentioned to go Classic Selekt instead of Edition. With the current price difference in combination with some sort of promotion he argued it would be a no brainier to go Edition.

Next option would then to go Edition with 2 x Katalyst power cartridge, this was also quickly of the table as he argued that Organik is a clear step up from Katalyst and I would be better of with one Organik power cartridge and to step back to passive.
 
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timster

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To add to the Organik debate here:

I spoke to my Linn pusherman last week about adding Utopik to my ASH and then Selekt was quickly entering conversation with the various options. The dot on the horizon he suggested would be Selekt edition 2 x Organik with power cartridge. Since this is a to big of a financial step we discussed some options.

As I’m quite fond of my Exakt/Aktiv set up I mentioned to go Classic Selekt instead of Edition. With the current price difference in combination with some sort of promotion he argued it would be a no brainier to go Edition.

Next option would then to go Edition with 2 x Katalyst power cartridge, this was also quickly of the table as he argued that Organik is a clear step up from Katalyst and I would be better of with one Organik power cartridge and to step back to passive.
Intrigued what promotion would make the Edition price difference a 'no brainer'?
 

Moomintroll

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Intrigued what promotion would make the Edition price difference a 'no brainer'?
The Akurate DSM trade-in? Still running AFAIK and can be used alongside the free Utopik offer.
 

LSPC

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Oh yes I remember. Edition was still over the odds for me.
Yes me too timster, still deciding whether to get the ASH Utopik 'ed or wait and get the AEBI Kat done first when /if it gets Utopik :unsure: Might be a waiting game until price increases in the new year are announced :oops:
 
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macfan

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To add to the Organik debate here:

I spoke to my Linn pusherman last week about adding Utopik to my ASH and then Selekt was quickly entering conversation with the various options. The dot on the horizon he suggested would be Selekt edition 2 x Organik with power cartridge. Since this is a to big of a financial step we discussed some options.

As I’m quite fond of my Exakt/Aktiv set up I mentioned to go Classic Selekt instead of Edition. With the current price difference in combination with some sort of promotion he argued it would be a no brainier to go Edition.

Next option would then to go Edition with 2 x Katalyst power cartridge, this was also quickly of the table as he argued that Organik is a clear step up from Katalyst and I would be better of with one Organik power cartridge and to step back to passive.
So some thoughts here -

  • 2x Organik power cartridges could be very nice - however, I have not spent any time with any Linn power amps except a short in home audition. I forget which amp it was but it sounded a bit forward for my tastes.
  • 2x Organik line cartridges would be great and then control the amp selection downstream unless a one box solution is the goal.
  • 2x Katalyst with Utopik would be great as well. For convention chip based DACs, I feel Katalyst is one of best options one can buy. There was absolutely nothing wrong with my Katalyst stereo module. The only reason I jumped at the upgrade was the the timing of the promotion. It was more of a want than a need.

Let me know if you have any questions.
 

Jail4CEOs2

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Yes me too timster, still deciding whether to get the ASH Utopik 'ed or wait and get the AEBI Kat done first when /if it gets Utopik :unsure: Might be a waiting game until price increases in the new year are announced :oops:
I'm hoping once the amp Utopik drops there will be some kind of two for one deal for Utopik? Hoping...

Hey Gilly, you readin' this?
 

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