It has been a while since my wrtiting about the Tiger Paw Akula LP12 subchassis.
In the meantime I have kept on listening and trying and found out new insight.
I have spent more time trying to highlight the difference between the two way the Akula can be mounted: the 1- classical way, with the armboard connected to the floating subchassis like all other Linn subchassis and the 2- fixed armoboard way, where the armboard is fixed to the plinth and the rest of the subchasis floats.
Again many cartridges used. Many it means 12. And four completely different preamp-amp-loudspeakers conbinations. Yes a lot of work!
This is what I would like to add to my previous findings: the two armboard mounting options do sound different from each other and in some combination their differences is very evident in other combination is just evident. So which differences are we talking about? First of all is reassuring to say the timing and rithmic capabilities is a sonic parameter that is left untouched from the different mounting methods and this is reassuring. This for me is very important since it means the musical message is not going to collapse any way you mount it. Timbres and focalisation of the instruments are differents and with them a different kind of resolution and transparency.
Let's develop this:
classical way (armboard connected to the subchassis): timbres are more compact more dense. This makes the depth of the immage more evident since the different timbres contrast is more evident.
If mounted with the armboard fixed to the plinth the density of the timbre is less compact it has less colour but has more shadings, more microdetails, more ambience clues. The landscape is larger and higher and it has a wider dynamic window. It is more like a tube sound compared to the armboard connected to the subchassis that can be closer to a solid state sound.
Another thing to notice is that with the armboard fixed to the plinth the turntable is more reactive to changment to different thing such tonearm cable, the shelf or table where is located and more sensible to external vibrations.
As said in my first findings I have the feeling that much of this is due to the different setting of the suspension since whith the armboard connected to the plinth the spring are less loaded.
At the end I can say that with the classical mounting you have a sound that is much closer to the original LP12 sound. With the armboard mounted to the plinth the sound gets closer to a Michel Gyrodeck without loosing the LP12 follow the tune capability. Read well: itgets closer means the sound gets to that direction not that is more similare to a Gyrodeck then to a Linn LP12.
If you love your LP12 and just want to improve it go with the classical mount; if you like your LP12 but you are not able to love it since it feels a little too different from other turntables you like you can use the amboard fixed to the plinth method.
Last thing. This is completely woo do and for me not technically comprehsible: the Naim Aro user knows that one day it sounds magic and another one it can sound strange. Strange means not so good, not so good as you know it can sound with the same music playing.
With the armboard fixed to the plinth this inconsistency is just gone. It sounds always the same.
With the classical mounting (armboard fixed to the subchassis) the Akula gives the Aro a better consinstency then other subchassis, say the Majik or the Sole (not tried the VII latest version) or the Rubikon (out of production) , but it still can happen, even though much more rarely, that one not good day. Go and figure this out why...
Which one I prefer? you know I am an hifi Casanova so I need to leave the doors open for different acoustic affairs, so I cannot really say I prefer one to the other if I have both option open, but if personally I had to choose only one I would go for the fixed armboard. I would have if one option was loosing the rytmic capability I love, but it is more question of tonality then other things. One thing for sure: the classic mounting option is more open to accept cheap cartridges and let them sing well and questioning the more expensive ones. With the fixed armboard mounting the cheap cartridges sound more the way they are or they should sound or whatever. If they are good they expose a good cheap sound, you are more aware of the missing nuances or colouration or other shortcomings that are well taken care by the more expensive cartridges. The classical mounting option in a way it molds the cartridge you are using to its own musicality. The way LP12 did and does. It is like the turntable and the cartridge become one instrument. With the fixed armboard option it is like a chorus, they partecipate at the same performance but you can hear them in their own. It is more difficult to get the best out since you get more out.
One word for the comparing method. I am completely and absolutely unfavorable to the A/B comparing method. It is the best selling method but surely (for me) not the best method to get truth out of a listening.In an A/B method you will tend to be pushed on your judgment by some caracteristic of the system A or B. It is not a absolute judgment but a biased one. The bias is set by one of the two systam or by both and with this bias set we get to conclusions that are biased. So what happens? We buy something more expensive and "better" performing in many parameters that were exposed by the A/B comparison then we start living with it and after few weeks or months we start to feel something is not right. What was better transform itself in not right. Yes I know it is difficult, but it is the way it is. This method, the A vs B, is not the right method but it the most comfortable for our conscious of well spending our money.
It makes me think about an article I have red not too long time ago about Stradivari violins. They gave these violins to play in a blind test against some new produced violins.Most of the players chose the new products. But beyond this test everybody using Stradivari said that a stradivari is like having more colours to paint...
Let's get deeper into this: you have three systems that are the same, same tonearm, same pre phono, same pre phono loading, Naim Aro tonearm, same cartridge, same set up.
In one you have the Akula sub chassis with the armboard fixed to the plinth (I call for brevity Akula 1) , another one with the Akula but with the armboard fixed to the subchassis (I call for brevity Akula 2) , and another LP12 with another maker subchassis. What happens? The Akula 1 sound more open more dynamic but less material, the Akula 2 sound more solid, the system three sound the way it sound better or worse then the other two options.
But what happens if we change cartridge loading? Why I get into this? Because with the Akula 2 and other subchassis I tend to charge less the cartridge in comparison two other references turntables I have got.
Before I was setting to 1000 ohm but if I set to 100 ohm the Akula 1 is better then the other two.
This loading matter happened since with different LP12 subchassis I had the tendency to load less the cartridge in comparison to what I know these cartridges sounded best in other systems.
What this suggest me is that the Akula 1 is the most transparent to the cartridge, so we have to control it with the correct loading; Akula 2 corrects the loading overdumping the subchassis with the mass of the armboard fixed to the subchassis (Linn classical way).
So at the end you realize that set up at the best to what each system needs the Akula 1 will bring you further; set up without optimisation or like another similar subchasiss the Akula 2 have more possibility to sound better then an Akula 1. But Akula 1 definetely can bring you further. The Akula 1 let you much more hearing the limit of the cartridge you are using.
For example you have two VDH cartridges. the DDTII at the entry level and the Crimson.
With the Akula 2 and loaded the same the Crimson is better then the DDTII but I don't think in the comparison you can justify 4 times the price.
With the Akula 1 the DDTII limits are more apparents, even thought it is an excellent cartridge, but when you mount the Crimson you can perfectly ear why it costs 4 times the price of its little sister.
Now this is all I can say about the Akula.