Sagatun and Sagatun Mono

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Sagatun and Sagatun Mono

Post by lejonklou » 2014-06-04 23:10

This is the official thread of the pre amplifiers Sagatun and Sagatun Mono.

I intend to describe their functions and features, post some pictures and videos - and perhaps share some stories from the development. Feel free to add your impressions, questions and comments!

As I am right now working non stop on delivering the first units, I'll be gradually contributing to this thread as time permits.

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Post by Ozzzy189 » 2014-06-04 23:13

Excellent Fredrik, I'll be keeping a close eye on this one.
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Post by Linntek » 2014-06-06 05:51

I recieved a box a few days ago. It was a Sagatun!

My first impression has to do with the look and feel. It’s nice... very nice. I can’t help just look at it from time to time.
Even my wife think it's good looking - and that’s a big thing!

Sorry, but I haven’t played a single tune yet (long story), but... I have some plans...!

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Post by lejonklou » 2014-06-10 09:36

Glad to hear that you like it, Linntek!

I am quite pleased myself, both looking at them and pressing the buttons, which are very tactile with a distinct 'click'.

These last days I have been getting Sagatun's and Sagatun Mono's ready for shipment. This involves testing them practically (front buttons, remote, Master-Servant Link, inputs and outputs) measuring certain critical parameters that are saved in a database, and finally listening to each unit before it's packed down.

In addition, each Sagatun Mono is being tuned by ear on two parameters. I am saving the values from each unit, in an attempt to see whether they continue to match what I measure. So far they do, but I intend to continue with the by-ear tuning until I have done at least 12 units. If there's a 100% match, I can later drop the by-ear testing and just tune by measurement, which would be faster and more practical.

Regarding functionality and how to use Sagatun, I'd like to make a couple of short video's. When writing the manuals it struck me how many words were necessary to explain something that everyone understands right away in real life. The only problem is that I'm a tiny bit pressed for time, as I plan to have a week or two off before my trip to the USA (with demonstrations at Overture Audio in Ann Arbor!). Right now top priority is delivering you the Sagatun's you have ordered.

I am very much looking forward to your impressions of Sagatun and Sagatun Mono! Especially what they do for your enjoyment of music.

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Post by Erik » 2014-06-19 17:08

Yesterday I received my pair of Sagatun Mono's.
I have just had a brief listening but after weeks of missing the prototype of Sagatun Fredrik kindly lent me, I'm smiling again. Wow.
I get back with a report later but initial impression is that this is something very special.

/Erik

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Post by lejonklou » 2014-06-19 22:05

Thanks for the feedback, Erik!

I'm so pleased that the Sagatun's are now starting to reach customers. They can now be demoed in Sweden (Gothenburg and Luleå), the United States (Ann Arbor) and in a couple of days Indonesia (Surabaya) and the United Kingdom (Hartley Wintney). More to follow!

My apologies, but I will not have time to update the website until I return from the USA in late July. I will be visiting Overture Audio on the 15th of July for a demo of Sagatun, Tundra and my phono preamps.

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Post by lejonklou » 2014-06-19 23:47

One story I'd like to share is how the Control Link was developed.

This interface is available on both Sagatun and Sagatun Mono. It allows units to be linked in a Master-Servant chain, where the first unit in the chain controls all the others. This makes multi channel systems (such as 5.1 or 7.1 home cinema) possible to build with Sagatun preamps, but it's also a crucial feature to make two Mono's act in synch. They behave as one unit when increasing volume or changing input.

The Control Link connectors are Toslink and an optical Toslink cable is used to link one unit to the next. Each pair of Sagatun Mono is supplied with a 0.5 m long Control Link cable. It's important to know that perfect operation is guaranteed with the supplied cable only. Its length allows two Sagatun's to be placed side by side or above each other on separate shelves. If you intend to position Sagatun's far apart and need a long Toslink cable to synch them, the optical quality (low loss) of this cable becomes important and perfect operation is not guaranteed. The signal being sent through the Control Link is very weak, in order not to affect sound quality.

So why an optical link? Actually it was the fourth solution.

The first was a simple RCA cable from one unit to the next. Easy to design, easy to make it work. But I suspected that problems with sound quality might occur when connecting Sagatun's to each other. I was right and this very simplest of solutions was quickly scrapped.

The second solution was a transformer link. Each Sagatun had one input and one output pulse transformer that isolated the circuits from the RCA connectors, where one Sagatun connected to the next. The transformers required some tuning to flawlessly transmit the signal, but it worked really well and galvanically there was good isolation between Sagatun's. In other words, no ground loops could be created. Sound quality should be unaffected, I thought. But I was wrong! Sound suffered badly even when the transformers were not transmitting a signal. No matter how I tried, I could not remove the negative effects. A new idea was needed.

The third solution to the problem came from Linntek on this forum, who is responsible for the firmware of Sagatun. It was a Onewire communication link, where only one wire links several units together and a clever timing scheme lets them speak to eachother by pulling this wire up or down in voltage. Ground reference is "borrowed" from the interconnects. I loved the simplicity and cleverness of this communication link and its large value resistors made me think it could work without affecting sound quality. I was wrong. For some reason, not even megaohms could stop the bad effect it had on sound quality. At this point, the Control Link was delaying the whole Sagatun project.

I felt that optical was the only sensible option left, but the problem was that the available transmitters and receivers consume a lot of power. Toslink was a very convenient connector, but the Toslink circuits were like noisy diesel engines from the last century when placed beside my silent electrical motors. One of the reasons behind the performance of Sagatun is that nearly all of it's digital circuitry is switched off as soon as the front light of Sagatun goes dark. Which happens three seconds after the last remote or front button command. The Toslink circuitry could not be switched on and off like that, so it added about a hundred times more noise.

So the fourth and final solution became to use Toslink connectors, cut and remove their electrical parts and install ultra-low power infrared emitters and receivers. Then tune these input and output circuits until their effect on sound quality could no longer be heard.

My initial plan was to get this Control Link ready in a week or two. Instead, it delayed the introduction of Sagatun by about a month. Thankfully, it now works perfectly and does not affect sound quality.

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Post by ThomasOK » 2014-06-19 23:56

I received our first Sagatun (serial number 001) early this week. I was only able to listen to it for a couple of hours and the power cable hasn't been burned in yet. Despite that and a short warmup period, the Sagatun is already showing itself to be a very musical unit. I first compared it to my latest version KK/2 using the Sagatun standard inputs. I found the two extremely close musically but thought I felt a little more emotion form the KK/2 on one track. I switched back to the Sagatun and Debbie came in and listened to a couple of Harmoni rack comparisons. Once she had done that I switched back to the KK/2 and she said that whatever I did sounded better. We were using an extremely good vocalist and she felt she could hear the intonation better. Then I switched to the direct input on the Sagatun and Debbie said "What did you do? That's the best sounding it has been yet!" and threw her hands up in the air. I agreed that we were hearing more music through the Sagatun direct input than on the KK/2.

Obviously the Sagatun needs more time to fully stabilize and show what it can do. But I have to say, bracketing the KK/2 with the performance of the Direct and Standard inputs is quite outstanding for any preamp period - let alone one at this price level.

The Monos should be here next week. From the reports on here it seems I will be listening to the new world standard in preamps. I'm really looking forward to it. Congratulations, Fredrik - see you soon!

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Post by moog_man » 2014-06-20 00:01

Some very interesting insights to the process, FL.
Must admit, when I read TOSLINK, my first thought was - surely the bandwidth is compromised?

Next, the pics, please...

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Post by CJ1045 » 2014-06-20 14:01

Toslink is only digital control between the Sagatuns though and does not carry a digitised audio signal as I understand it.

CJ

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Post by moog_man » 2014-06-20 15:36

CJ1045 wrote:Toslink is only digital control between the Sagatuns though and does not carry a digitised audio signal as I understand it.

CJ


Yes, got that, CJ - my comment was more about initial reaction.

Looking forwards to further insights, FL.
And, the pics.......... :grin:

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Post by ThomasOK » 2014-07-02 22:11

Sagatun has landed in North America! Although the musical evening where Fredrik will launch the new Lejonklou preamps at Overture Audio is almost two weeks off, the preamps are here and already impressing us. The Sagatun arrived about a week and a half ago and the Sagatun Monos arrived late last week. These fine units are already causing quite a stir.

I first installed the Sagatun at home for a few days to listen and break it in. I was doing some comparisons of shelves and Debbie came in just after I had started comparing the KK/2 and the Sagatun using the normal inputs. I had the Sagatun on and did a couple shelf comparisons for her and then switched back to the KK/2. She asked what I had just done and said she liked the KK/2 better. I played another track or two and then switched to the Sagatun direct input and she said: “What did you do now?” I explained the direct input and she said that was the most musical the system had sounded. On these listening tests that was my finding as well. The regular inputs on the Sagatun and the KK/2 were very close but a touch more emotion showed through on the KK/2. However the direct input on the Sagutun was definitely superior to the KK/2 allowing more music through. Note that this listening was with only two or three hours on the power cable (although as this is Sagatun number 001 there were some hours on the unit itself).

I then brought it into the store and kept it running on a random continuous loop of a 978 track playlist. While it has been on demo here it has been listened to by a number of people a few who have done A/B comparison with the demo KK/1. The first to do the A/B was a person with a relatively mixed system who needed a new preamp. He had previously listened to the AK/1 and the KK/1 and definitely preferred the latter despite thinking he wouldn’t hear the difference. He came back to hear the stereo Sagatun vs. the KK/1 bringing a few of his own records. He immediately put down a deposit on a Sagatun although he will be in next week to listen to the Monos and decide which Sagatun(s) he wants. He said that the vocals were simply unquestionable better on the Sagatun. Two other customers also did the comparisons and both felt they could hear more of the music on the Sagatun. One stated that the Sagatun really engaged him in the music whereas with the KK/1 he found his attention wandering. One of the other guys who works here listened to the system (LP12SE with DV XX2mk2 and ADS/1, Tundra Stereo and Dynaudio Focus 380 speakers with Linn Silvers and 2.48m K200) and simply said: “I have to say it was sounding pretty magical in there. It seemed to me that I was listening through the system all the way back to the studio.” Not bad praise from a jaded Hi-Fi salesman! I too found the system revealing musical information I hadn’t heard before. Musicians and vocalists I already liked proved to be even more talented than I was aware. The burn helped and I felt it was pretty close to a toss up between the KK/1 and the Sagatun normal inputs with the direct input just simply better.

Then the Monos came in and went through the same regimen – a few days at home warming up and doing some comparisons and then into the shop for more burn in and listening. I’d say at this point the Monos and power cables have about 125 hours on them and Stereo over twice that. I will start off by saying that the Monos are just plain dangerous! In comparison with the Sagatun Stereo the Monos were definitely even more musical with the Mono normal inputs being better than the Stereo direct input. As a matter of fact the Mono normal inputs are so good that I find less improvement with the Direct input than I do on the Stereo. After the Stereo vs. Mono it was time to compare to the KK/1. This was very interesting and also surprising. Why surprising? Well the KK/1 sounded very good (most here will know that the KK has been my reference preamp since it was released, having easily fended off North American iron from several companies costing two or three times as much, and I have owned the current version since shortly after its release). But then I would switch to the Sagatun Monos using the normal Input 1 and had to do a double take! Can it possibly be THAT much better than the KK/1? Yes, indeed it could. The comment of my cohort fit like a glove here: with the KK/1 I was listening to a good recording whereas with the Sagatun Monos it seemed like I was present in the studio at the making of the recording. Wow, Greg Lake really could sing (yeah he has to stretch a bit for that one note but it is still impressive) and what texture in Carl Palmer’s drumming. Even at the end of “Lucky Man” where the synth comes in heavily and there is a lot going on you can still hear the actual texture of each bass drum hit – not just the thump but the sound from the skin stretching – even though it is back in a fairly dense mix. This is musicality like I’ve never heard before form a digital sourced system. Switching to the direct input is indeed even better but there is less of a change than I noticed on the Stereo. The character of the Monos seems the same with that “listening through” the system quality but through the direct input the dynamics are even better – the music is now more forceful. Then I switch to the LP12 and play a somewhat beat up copy of “Temptation” by Holly Cole in order to hear the sliding bass notes and vocals on the first track on side four. Wow, I never heard those overtones on some of the higher bass notes before and the voice is simply stunning! Although I am supposed to be doing A/Bs it is hopeless – I just have to listen to the next track and the next one, etc. until the side ends with a single powerful, undamped piano note trailing off. How cool, I can not only very clearly hear the note and its harmonics but I also hear the rhythmic change in the note from the way the vibration travels along the string sounding now louder, now quieter and now louder again as the note and harmonics fade away – I can’t remember ever noticing that before.

Even as I type this, my attention keeps getting drawn to the music coming out of the other room around the corner. Music both familiar and unfamiliar keeps grabbing my notice, it is just so involving, so riveting it requires your attention. In my opinion the Sagatun Monos set a new pinnacle in the musical information available through a preamplifier. The extra involvement in the music is reminiscent of some of the substantial upgrades to the LP12 in recent years. These are simply stunning units and the Stereo version is not very far behind and still equals (or through the direct inputs exceeds) my previous reference at a cost that is $8000 less. These units are probably Fredrik’s greatest accomplishments yet – great job!

(Sorry if I've duplicated some impressions here from an earlier post. I just felt it would be good to expand on it and have it all in one post.)

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Post by moog_man » 2014-07-02 23:19

Superb review, Thomas - a really enjoyable read. Thank you.

(FL will be super happy now)

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Post by fieldmice » 2014-07-03 07:00

Thank for the great review.

But sorry for my question, as I don't understand what is "normal input" and "direct input" in Sagatun? I suppose to have different devices such as CD, tuntable, DS...etc which all plugged into the pre-amp (Sagatun), so what's those normal/direct input meaning?

Thank again.
fieldmice..

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Post by Ozzzy189 » 2014-07-03 09:53

What a fantastic read Thomas, I really enjoyed reading that.
Fieldmice, there's an input for one source users that bypasses some of the circuitry used for multiple inputs. If you only have one source then use the direct input. Of course you can use this alongside the other inputs but the quality is highest on the direct input.
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Post by mrco99 » 2014-07-03 10:10

Thanks Thomas for your extensive report, a great - as usual - read !

As to the direct inputs, indeed like Ozzy stated in ´direct mode´, there is only one input available that then gives the highest performance level.

I suppose you could still connect multiple sources to a Sagatun, and the best one or most listened at, to the direct input.

As this direct input is a switchable one, you could enable it when listening to your favourable/best source, and set the Sagatun to multi input mode when listening to your other sources.

Maybe not like you´d wish it would be, but still an advancement to using a Kikkin and keep reconnecting multiple sources to that one ;-)

And, as reported by Thomas´statements, with Sagatun (stereo) those other sources would still be preforming near Klimax KK/1 level.

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Post by fieldmice » 2014-07-03 10:25

Thank you mrco99 and ozzy, it's very clear now ^^
Feeling very interest and look forward more review.

I'm having a Tundra currently and very satisfy the performance. So maybe it will be my next upgrade to my pre-amp in near future. (Currently is using a very classic LK box - Kairn) :-)

Thanks again,
fieldmice..

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Post by Ozzzy189 » 2014-07-03 11:13

No worries!
I had a kairn, then an Exotik - which was tons better (pm me if you want my full thoughts on why), and am building towards a sagatun to match my tundra.
Sagatun is stunning. It doesn't really do anything 'wrong ', I know you'd be a very happy fella if you got one.
In life sometimes we take risks, or a bit of a punt if you will. Was buying into Lejonklou one of those times? Yes, I think it probably was but I tell you what, I'm bloody glad I did.
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Post by HIDDENSYSTEMS » 2014-07-03 11:53

Thomas's review is spot on, really enjoyed reading and all true. Our Sagatun Monos 007 and 008 are also IMHO in a different league and somehow way better than at the UK launch with Fredrik here. Yes the direct input is much better but for lesser inputs the sound is still remarkable.

Also played Sagatun Stereo 004 vs. KK/1 with KDS/1 source, Tundra Stereo and Akurate 2200 with Majik 109s. It all seems fully Linn compatible to mix and match.

Sat on the fence, Fredrik has somehow engineered the electronics sound layer out that remains in on a kk/1 but both are awesome but Sagatun Monos benchmark.

The manual is all written up and well presented - the led's tell you the level and disappear. The change of input is simple to use as well.

I have a private listening club coming here tomorrow and who knows - other views will follow but for now deeply impressed and looking to join HiFi shows in the UK before the years out to spread the word.
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Post by dave_st185 » 2014-07-03 13:36

If I was using two sources, my DS and my home theatre processor, and had the DS plugged straight into the direct input and the home theatre front left and right plugged into one of the four normal inputs, is it OK to just flick the selector switch at the back to choose between direct and normal inputs without having to power the Sagatun off first ?

I assume so but would like clarification otherwise I guess I'd have to plug both sources into the normal inputs instead - I don't want to have to power the Sagatun down when changing source but want the best performance (direct input) for the DS player - happy to flick a switch, rather than a remote command, as long as everything can stay powered up

Also has the Unity Gain feature been tested as I believe that was due to be a product feature ?

Thanks

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Post by rowlandhills » 2014-07-03 13:44

I'm going to get a chance to listen to them tomorrow, and I'm very much looking forward to it.

One question comes to mind:
- With the "Control link" interface via toslink cables, is there any reason why it wouldn't be possible to build a breakout control box which could take an ethernet connection, allowing control of volume and sources through Kinsky or other UPnP control points? Alternatively, could RS232 be supported this way?

I know that building ethernet (or RS-232) control in was rejected fairly early on due to impact on musicality, but it would be a real step down for me in usability of the system (particularly for the rest of my family) if we couldn't still control things using Kinsky.
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Post by lejonklou » 2014-07-03 14:22

Thank you for your reviews and feedback!

dave_st185: Yes, the rear switch can be flicked at any time and what it does in the 'Single Source Only' position (down) is to switch off everything but the Single Source input. In the other (up) position, your home theatre will be active (input 4 can be set to unity gain). Please note that your DS will also be active, as the Single Source input can't be switched off. So if you play that as well, both will be heard. Although this isn't anything you'll have any use for, it's perfectly harmless to all the units involved.

rowlandhills: Yes, I think this is possible. There was a guy emailing me the other day, who was interested in trying it. I'll think some more about it after my vacation.

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Post by dave_st185 » 2014-07-03 14:25

Thanks Fredrik

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Post by Ozzzy189 » 2014-07-03 14:28

As someone who's never had a working volume control via any control app, be it kinsky or my favourite - bubble DS, this would be fantastic if in app volume control worked with the sagatun.
Good point.
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Post by magnuska » 2014-07-05 20:19

lejonklou wrote:Regarding functionality and how to use Sagatun, I'd like to make a couple of short video's.
Hm Not a bad idea.
After reading the documents belonging to it I couldn´t
understand how connection is done..
Fredrik is there a specific reason for designing the inputs/outputs like you did on Sagatun apart from sonical ?

I had the chance to listen to Sagatun with mono Tundras at Tonläget some weeks ago.
The system was very addicting and kind of reminds me of how I reacted the first time I listened to Klångedang a couple of years ago. "I just wanted to have them"

I have heard Tundra before at Tonläget and also took them on a homedem so I´m familiar to how they sounds.
But now there was something more that I had not heard before only listening to Tundra. I really liked what the new preamp was doing for the overall result. Could it be that finally the poweramp has found his dearest!

I could change the pre first and keep my current monos to find out what this will do but I guess using both Tundra AND Sagatun would be best. Synergy!!

Congratulations to a great sounding product wich will hopefully sell a lot!

/Magnus
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