This is one of the few Linn LP12 sub chassis option you can get in the market besides the one offered by Linn itself. I have to say I have heard most of them from the now discontinued Rubikon, The Sole in its many versions, the Funky Firm one, Linn Keel and Kore. I have to say every changement in the LP12 effect its sound greatly. Or better: it is easy to change the sound of the LP12. it is easy to improve one of the parameter of the sound constitution of the LP12 like linearity, bass, details, but it is extremely difficult to do this keeping the whole musicality. It is like if you change one thing you have to change all the rest according to the changement if not you Linn sound will be lost.
I have to say that at the beginning of my hifi passion I didn't like the LP12. I much preferred to it less coloured designs like Michell Gyrodek or Oracle and even a well tuned Thorens TD124. In direct comparison the other well done design where sounding like a cover was taken away.
Then over the years I started liking other aspect of the music reproductions, like the inflection of a singer voice, the nuance in an instrument and so on. I was developing more complex musical apreciation. And I started liking the LP12.
So I perfectly understand the ones that don't like the LP12 but they have it for its legendary status, any changement in the subchassis can be felt as an improvement. But for the LP12 real lovers things are not that easy.
I have to say that among all the subchassis designs the Akula was the one that had my most profound respect. It was the one closer to the LP12 concept of simplicity of esecution. The Keel is a beautiful piece of "highly precision " machinery. I have never felt or looked to the LP12 like a piece of high technology output, but more like a wise use of a simple concept. The Akula shares the same simplicity of concept. I would add: elegant simplicity. Yes simplicity is more elegant then commplexity. It is easy to be seduced by the difficulty of esecution and the magnificient look of a thousands dolars parts of engineering marvel.
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The sound. I will compare its sound in absolute terms. In absolute terms I have found the Linn Keel to be the best subchassis option for the Linn LP12. The key word in the Keel performance is: consistency. No matter what cartridge combination, no matter the system in which you have the Keel in, you will get the same results: the sound is more natural, more fluid, more organized more calm more listenable. In all LP12 with Linn power supply it an hands down winner with the Akula coming to a second close. The Akula looses to the Keel a certain complexity. Music is in a way more simplified. But the Akula even in a context of being used with Linn own power supply it is better then the Linn Kore. In comparison to the Kore it hase better timing and better timbre.
The nice things come out with the Naim Armageddon power supply. and the Naim Aro tonearm, a combination that still holds favour amoung the LP12 owner me included. Why? Becouse of its unique expressivness.
I feel the all Linn tuned up Radikal Keel being too much in the direction of being an extremely good analogue device that is in a way similar to others. The LP12 Aro Armageddon keep the LP12 different from others. It is more about getting expression out that getting rid of difects to get to perfection.
With the Naim Aro tonearm the Akula is more Naim Aro. Its caracter fusion more seamlesly with the caracter of the Aro tonearm. The comparison with the Keel is very, very interesting.
With the Keel and the Aro the sound becomes more calm and relaxed. The stage espands more laterally. You have the feeling you loose a little hight but is just because the proportion of the sonic landscape has changed. It is a very good sound, but not a special one. Not one that will be saved with a special color tag in a part your brain sound archive.
But I think the very reason that a person has and loves a Naim Aro is not just because it has a very good sound, since the Linn tonearms and others do a more complete work in the reproduction of all the sound landscape, but because it has a special good sound that none of the other tonearms have. Loosing what it has special for me doen't make any sense, if not at the begining I would have used a Linn arm.
With the Akula the Naim tonearm doesn't change its soul. It is like its characteristics are better portraied and its idiosyncrasies tamed. The last sentence will refer to the ones that experiences or have experienced sometimes from the Aro a sound that is beautiful with good bass in one day and some other times like something really collapsed in its integrity. And this happens only when the Aro is mated to the LP12 since I have never experienced this with the Aro on a Platine Verdier or other turntables. With the Akula on the LP12 the Aro sound acquires consistency keeping the integrity of the LP12 sound.
In the meantime with the Akula you experience a much lower noice floor and the silence between the instruments or voices becames ticker and darker and much more real. I am particularly sensitive at the reproduction of the silent background. This was my major complain with the LP12 + Aro. A kind of greysh silence. The Akula pushes this fog out. The medium frequencies are left there with no improvement neither degradation, and the bass just go deeper but never heavy to call attention to itself. The bass region for me becomes perfect. You don't feel is missing something and you don't feel there is too much of something. The tonal equilibrium is exceptional. And fortunately the musical fluidity so convincing and beguilling of the Aro is left there.
Just for this reason I feel like there is not another real alternative to the Akula in the LP12 subchassis market for the Naim Aro.
I don't know why but I feel there is a mixture of deep competence and luck with the design of the Akula. The very same thing I have always felt with the Aro design.
I have forgotten: the Akula can be mounted on the Linn plinth in two ways. The first one is identical to the standard LP12 subchassis, the other one is fixing the armboard to the Linn plinth and let the Akula floating inside the arm collar hole. In the pictures I have taken is shown this second possibility. But I have tried both ways. Which way it is better?
Ther is not a big difference, but this affirmation doesn't mean anything since we are after small but significant difference. If I have to say in one sentence: fortunately in this case the small differences are not of a significan nature, but there are nevertheles and are contained in the feeling of preferences. I have tried with many different cartridges and this is what made me crazy about it and at the end not to worried. With some cartridges it is better the classic mounting way with other cartridges the "floating in the armboard" way. For example with all my Koetsus I preferred the classical mounting while with all my VDH the other option. With cheaper cartridges like Dynavector 10X5 the classical way, Linn Klyde the classical way too. Miyabi 47: the floating one. Why this happens? I don't know. From one part could be the classical mounting way altering the total mass of the subchassis but what I really think and I could be wrong, it has more to do with the Linn suspensions. When the subchassis is heavier we need to tighent the suspensions up to compensate the weight of the subchassis and doing so we greatly change the relation - integration of the subchassis with the chassis. The tighter the suspension the more we go toward a rigid suspensionless design. I say this since in the past I have played a lot with tightening the suspensions and changing the suspension with other of different materials and also making heavier arms (SME IV) lighterand the sonic differences that I have felt with the two mounting way that the Akula offeres I feel they go in the same directions of the one linked to tightening the subchasis suspension or making them stiffer.