Keel, Ekos SE and Trampolin II

General HiFi discussion, using the Tune Method to evaluate performance

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Keel, Ekos SE and Trampolin II

Post by lejonklou » 2007-01-31 20:34

It would be nice if someone could share their opinion of each of these three upgrades for the Linn LP12. I have so far only heard them all together, demonstrated against the former top LP12 (with Cirkus, Ekos II and Trampolin).

The new LP12 was of course better, mainly with a more controlled and melodic bass, but I'd like to hear what each part does by itself. Like the Trampolin II, which doesn't cost all that much. Is it a worthwhile upgrade for an older LP12?
Last edited by lejonklou on 2007-02-01 15:21, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Samir » 2007-02-05 13:14

Can you tell us more about the keel/ekos SE upgrade? Is the improvement so big?

As you I would like to know how each of the upgrade improves the LP 12. I know some Linn dealer did demo a Full LP 12 to a full LP 12 upgraded with the Keel, and to another one with the Keel and the EKOS SE.

Thanks

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Keel, Ekos SE and Trampolin 11

Post by stevedsj » 2007-02-06 13:54

I'll be attending a demonstration on Friday. I'll report back on that ... and also if my bank balance has taken a nosedive!

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Post by lejonklou » 2007-02-06 14:29

Samir wrote:Is the improvement so big?
Yes, it's big but I expect that with those prices. Linn themselves claim the Keel does 60% and the Ekos SE 40% of the improvements I heard when listening to all 3 upgrades.

That leaves 0% to the New Trampolin, but Linn claim this part to be a worthwhile upgrade to a relatively low cost. The original board on the Trampolin flexes quite a bit, so I can imagine that the 4 suspended feet (these are the same as before) get a better environment to work in with the metal board.

stevedsj: Have fun on friday, we'll be grateful if you report back your impressions!

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Re: Keel, Ekos SE and Trampolin 11

Post by Pediatrik » 2007-02-06 15:11

stevedsj wrote:I'll be attending a demonstration on Friday.
Perfect Steve! All demos in Sweden so far has unfortunately been with the "old" full spec LP12 and the new LP12 SE. Even in Luleå (Takt & Ton) where there actally were an LP12/Keel/Akito 2b/Adikt avaliable, they didn't do the demo! :? Looking forward to that report! :D

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Re: Keel, Ekos SE and Trampolin 11

Post by jajo » 2007-02-06 17:14

Pediatrik wrote:Even in Luleå (Takt & Ton) where there actally were an LP12/Keel/Akito 2b/Adikt avaliable, they didn't do the demo! :?
I bet Keel alone is such a big upgrade that they are afraid to demo it against the top-spec... They don't want Ekos-owners to send down Ekos SE on the priority list...

I am playing with LP12 built 2003 with Adikt B, Akito, Trampolin, Lingo2. That particular demo would have been very interesting for me since I am planning to upgrade to Ekos first...

If anyone get to demo a Keel on a simple LP12, tell us what you think!

/ jajo

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Post by per » 2007-02-06 22:01

Hello!

I attended to the Linn reference system demo in Luleå, Sweden. The LP12 SE with an Akiva was compared with a current spec top LP12 with an Arkiv B. I do not know the difference between the two cartridges, but the difference in performance between the two turntables was HUGE. The present top LP12 sounded fantastic, yet, the new one was even more musical and more "just correct". To hear the new KOMRI AKTIV reference system is quite an experience.

I have some pictures of the event. Could it be made possible to attach pictures within the posts here?

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Post by lejonklou » 2007-02-06 22:54

Welcome, Per!

Read the 5th post in this topic:
http://www.lejonklou.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=22

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Post by Samir » 2007-02-06 23:04

per wrote:Hello!


I have some pictures of the event. Could it be made possible to attach pictures within the posts here?
Thanks! I am looking forward to look at the pics! I do not know the difference between the Arkiv and Akiva B...I guess the Akiva is the best in Linn cartriges.

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Post by per » 2007-02-06 23:53

Pictures from the event at "Takt & Ton" in Luleå:

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Post by lejonklou » 2007-02-07 13:21

Samir wrote:I do not know the difference between the Arkiv and Akiva B...I guess the Akiva is the best in Linn cartriges.
* The original Arkiv replaced the (gorgeous looking) Troika. They both had a cantilever of aluminium.
* Arkiv B replaced Arkiv. B stands for boron, which the new cantilever was made of.
* Akiva replaced Arkiv B. Boron is still used for the cantilever.

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Post by paolo » 2007-02-07 15:59

Per,
the pics show also a Keeled LP12 with Akito and Adikt, had you the possibility to listen to the comparison between the latter and the old top spec LP12? Thanks.

Paolo

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Post by per » 2007-02-07 20:51

Badly, there was no opportunity to do that demo. I asked for it, but the store did not seem interested in doing that comparison. That woul have been an interesting demo, especially because I am considering the Keel upgrade.

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Post by lejonklou » 2007-02-09 01:53

I am sure such demonstrations will appear in the near future, just because people are curious and demand it. When Linn is travelling around showing their top system, I can understand why they want to demonstrate the previous top spec LP12 against the new top spec LP12 only.

If anyone gets to hear a lower spec LP12 with the Keel, please report.

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Keel, Ekos SE and Trampolin 11

Post by stevedsj » 2007-02-09 20:36

I heard the demo today. They used three LP12s, the first was an standard deck with Ekos 11, the second with a Keel added and the third had the Ekos SE and Keel. All three decks had the Trampolin fitted, so it wasn't possible to hear the difference on that score. The amps and speakers were from Naim. The improvement was obvious in each case. The keel brought a general improvement in terms of hi-fi and musicality. People were playing faster and it was easier to hear and follow separate instruments. the SE was a greater improvement, particularly in imaging.

The shop was busy, a lot of customers had come for the demo. There were reps from both Linn and Naim. talking with otheres, I can say that everyone was impressed. If anyone here gets an opportunity to hear these items, don't miss it. One guy had travelled 200 miles to be there today. If I could only afford it I'd have placed my order today. But I can't. I left the shop trying to think of someone that I don't like that I could insure for £5k ...

Question: could somebody please explain how I make the smileys work?

Thanks, I hope my opinions help.

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Post by Pediatrik » 2007-02-11 15:34

Thanks for the report Steve!

So, you mean that the improvement between Ekos mkII and Ekos SE was BIGGER than between the unKeeled/Keeled LP12?!

Regarding the smileys. Just click on an emoticon and make sure that you haven't checked the box "Disable Smilies in this post". That should make it work :!:

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Keel, Ekos SE and Trampolin 11

Post by stevedsj » 2007-02-12 22:48

Well, what I really meant to say was that the Ekos SE was more like the icing on the cake.

The Keel is a very worthwhile upgrade and should obviously be done before considering the SE.

But maybe Fredrik will come up with something just as good ... :wink:
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Post by lejonklou » 2007-02-13 15:36

I do have full access to the same kind of machines that the Keel is made with, but there is no way I would just make a copy. If it could be made significantly better than a Keel (and preferably less expensive at the same time), well that would be another story.

It would probably take a huge amount of trial and error...

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Post by keV » 2007-02-14 09:40

I do have full access to the same kind of machines that the Keel is made with, but there is no way I would just make a copy.
Hi - it's very interesting you have access to the machinery necessary to make the Keel. I've heard the Keel and Ekos SE compared against a standard deck and there is no doubt it is far better and probably worth the money compared to other high end turntables.

However, just looking at the Keel, and ignoring any market value / development costs etc. I cannot understand how it can cost anywhere near £1950 to make. Linn have reportedly been asked why they machine it from a solid block of aluminium and the response was something like "it's what we do". This presumably makes it more expensive to manufacture. With your experience, do you have an idea of whether the price is actually representative of the manufacturing cost and whether the same part could be made much more cheaply without machining from solid?

It's always a fine line between pricing for what something achieves + covering development costs + market position etc. vs. actual manufacturing costs, and then factoring in the number of sales. We'll never know if Linn would have made more profit by reducing the price and selling more.

There's now certainly scope for someone to produce a more reasonably priced Keel equivalent (although getting a dealer to fit it could be interesting).

Thanks.

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Post by lejonklou » 2007-02-14 11:57

Hi keV and welcome!
keV wrote:I cannot understand how it can cost anywhere near £1950 to make.
Well, it doesn't of course. The machining is the most expensive part, then you need to program all the shapes and the aluminum costs a bit too. Several people working in this field have commented on the cost of the Keel (congratulations to Linn for making the product rather famous) and a common answer seems to be that if they were asked to make one, they would charge less than half the official Linn price. For making just a few copies.

But then you have to consider that the distributors and retailers want their share. The more they make, the more they are likely to promote and sell it (and some dealers honestly aren't that interested in vinyl in the first place). The rest is development costs and product strategy. Volià £1950.

Compared to the Cirkus kit, which in addition to subchassis+armboard also contained a new main bearing, inner platter and all the suspension parts, the price can be viewed as outrageous. But if you machine it from solid, in small numbers and to a very high standard like Linn does, it will become rather expensive.

I really don't know how a die cast Keel would sound like. For mass production, it would surely be very cost effective and could be priced like the Cirkus. But Linn would never do that as they are focusing on the top end of the market these days.

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Post by ThomasOK » 2007-02-15 00:27

There are a couple of things to look at when evaluating the Keel pricing. First it is important to realize that as a general rule the cost of parts on most Hi-Fi components is about one-fifth of the selling price. The other four-fifths consists of labor costs, packaging and shipping charges, research & development, manufacturer profit, distributor profit and dealer profit. Obviously the dealer has to make a reasonable profit as he has to almost fully disassemble the LP12 to fit the Keel. I don't know how most dealers handle this but we do not charge for labor on a Cirkus kit and I don't believe we will on the Keel either.

You could take most any high-end piece out there and make it for less if you know how. But making it and being able to sell it through a knowledgeable dealer is quite a different thing as is made obvious by how little really good hi-fi equipment is on the market.

The other question that keeps popping up is why machine it from solid? Couldn't it be cast and then finish machined for a lot less money? The answer is that Linn must feel that there are performance advantages to doing it this way or they wouldn't do it. The idea that "it's what we do" is preposterous as the inner and outer platters are cast and then finish machined through a multi-step process . So Linn certainly have the capability to make it that way. It must not perform as well and obviously they are striving for the ultimate in performance from the LP12. (Although I saw where that came from - he stated he was not involved in the engineering. Comments like that may be why his blog is on hiatus.) Let's hope they don't get the idea to machine the platters from solid - forget I said that.

And the "whatever the market allows" theory doesn't make sense either. If Linn was just trying to wring the bucks out of us why the same price on the improved Trampolin? I'm sure they could have slipped in a 50% increase when changing it to aluminum without complaints from customers but they are keeping it the same. Unlike some companies out there (can you say $300,000US turntable) I have never seen Linn just charging whatever they can get away with. So all in all I have to assume that the price of the Keel represents the typical markup on all the costs associated with its manufacturing and distribution.

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Post by lejonklou » 2007-02-16 00:28

I partly agree with you, Thomas, but not quite. It was a long time since the pricing of Linn equipment was related to manufacturing and distribution IMHO. It is rather related to the performance of the product and - yes, just that - what they think will yield the most profit. Linn is a professional company these days and they need to make a good profit - that is the only way they can stay in business. And both we and them would be sad if they don't.

As I believe the improvement from the new Trampolin is not that big, they simply can't get away with a hefty price increase on it. There are several old products like the K400/600 that are still very reasonably priced and this is quite likely a problem for Linn. When did you last see a cable test where the K400/600 was included? It is far too cheap to be taken seriously.

If Linn would release a significantly better speaker cable than K400/600, I think it would be expensive, regardless of the manufacturing price. Just like that new and significantly better subchassis for the LP12. (I really hope Linn will prove me wrong in this!)

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Post by vicdiaz » 2007-02-17 15:54

Thursday nite I had the opportunity to finally listen a Keel'd LP12 with
both the new Ekos SE and Trampolinn.

Compared to a non-Keel'd LP12/Ekos2/Akiva, music flows a lot easier,
tunes are easier to follow, and in hi-fi terms, the noise floor is a lot
lower. One funny thing is that it also sounder louder, this maybe due to
a lot more information being extracted from the record grooves.

The total investment for the would be:

Trampolinn - $250.00 USD
Keel - $3,295.00 USD
Ekos SE - $4,950.00 USD
Total - $8,495.00
Tax - $553.00
Grand Total - $9,048.00 USD

Worth It???

If I had $9,048 for spare and not need for it in the next 12 months?
Yes.

Back to real life, it seems REALLY expensive, but then again, there's
folks that have spare change available and the luxury to go for it.

Not me in this times.
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Post by lejonklou » 2007-02-17 23:05

Thanks Vic!

I did not have the impression of the new top spec LP12 sounding any louder, though... I'd rather say that on the demo I attended, the bass stopped bouncing around in the room when the Keel'ed LP12 was played. Less intrusive and easier to turn up the volume without the music feeling "loud".

Do you mean as in "subtly louder" (perhaps the background details standing out more) or "definitely louder overall"?

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Post by keV » 2007-02-18 11:17

The other question that keeps popping up is why machine it from solid? Couldn't it be cast and then finish machined for a lot less money? The answer is that Linn must feel that there are performance advantages to doing it this way or they wouldn't do it. The idea that "it's what we do" is preposterous as the inner and outer platters are cast and then finish machined through a multi-step process .
I'm not convinced the machine from solid argument is true, or that Linn have even tried casting and finishing it. Fredrik (sorry have I spelt your name right?) - are there any good engineering reasons why machining from solid could give a better performance? Could casting make an identical piece of exactly the same geometry and density?

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