If you’re into vinyl, odds are you’re familiar with one of the most recognized and copied turntable designs of the last five decades: the Linn Sondek LP12. Lauded for performance even in entry-level guise, the model here is the mid-tier Akurate featuring Krystal moving-coil cartridge, Akito tonearm and upgraded power supply and sub-chassis. No stranger to the Sondek or Linn’s Selekt DSM which, while diminutive, gives nothing up sonically or aesthetically to larger integrated amplifiers on the market, this is what many would describe as ‘classic UK sound.’ Meaning to me? Sonic warmth without syrup, affectation or sacrifice of timbral colour for resolution.
This setup is comprised of an ecosystem of sorts with the source for both digital and analog provided by the same company. Nils Peter Molvaer is a Norwegian trumpeter and his 1997 album Khmer on ECM Records (TIDAL FLAC) showed off the holistic voicing of the Linn gear. There was a solidity, a fleshing-out of timbral and tonal colourations here to instruments with incisive textures off drum skins, and stringed instruments. Impactful and believable ‘blaat’ from Molvaer’s trumpet which honked with Miles Davis-like authority.
As with many DACs and network players, resolution was again highlighted in the playback, but it didn’t come at the expense of much else. Embouchure changeups, while easily discerned, only added appreciative detail to the already weighty and convincing holographic soundfield floating between the loudspeakers. Upper registers showed off plenty of space around instruments with light-footed transients on guitar and dulcimer, that when paired with the satisfying percussive and instrumental decay denoting the spatial placement of players on the recorded sound stage, added flesh-and-blood presence.
Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington came together in 1961 to record The Great Summit and the Roulette LP gives up real felted-hammer weight to piano body and key work through the LP12 and Krystal cartridge/Akito arm combo. This was a meat-on-bone sound that was not only propulsive, but nicely balanced tonally and timbrally and the album excelled at reproducing 3D imaging, with Barney Bigard’s clarinet in particular blowing with colour and exquisite pitch stability thanks in part to the improved Lingo power supply that the Akurate comes equipped with.
Armstrong’s trumpet punched through from deep between the speakers with authority and most of all, tangible emotion and authenticity: analog grist if you will. Hallmarks of the system were transparency to source, loudspeakers that did not add any sonic colouring or flourishes of their own, a warmth and human presence to the sound and above all a convincing cerebral connection consistently established with the music.
Read the next Virtual Audio Festival post covering Vinnie Rossi, Lumin, Totem Acoustic and Antipodes HERE.
More information on these products HERE.