Thursday, 13 September 2012

Linn Akurate DS/0 Dynamik vs Akurate DS/1 Dynamik With ADS/1 Upgrade Kit

As Scott Wilkinson would say - its time to geek out!
Apologies for the title, but there isn't really an easy way to describe this. Here is the bullet point version:

Linn produced an Akurate DS - we'll call this the ADS.
It was then available with a new power supply so it was they called the ADS Dynamik.
Linn made the power supply available as an upgrade so now it is possible to have and ADS Dynamik from the factory or an ADS with a retro-fitted Dynamik. Both are called ADS Dynamik and sound the same.

Then Linn launched a significantly improved Akurate DS called the ADS/1 which is in the same chassis but has a new front panel and a slightly different display panel.
The ADS/1 comes with a Dynamik power supply as standard, but we don't mention that in the product name - its just an ADS/1.
So after launching the ADS/1, the orignal ADS is now called the ADS/0 or ADS/0 Dynamik if it is a later version of the ADS/0 or an ADS/0 with a retro fitted power supply.

 OK? Try and keep up!

Linn have now decided that the circuit boards from the ADS/1 can be retro fitted to the ADS/0 and ADS/0 Dynamik.
You can then use old circuit boards to go into a new, fairly basic case to create the Akurate DS Renew or ADSR.
All ADSRs and ADS/0s that are upgraded to ADS/1 spec will have Dyanmik power supplies.
If you take this option of an upgrade to your ADS/0 or ADS/0 Dynamik you will effectively end up with exactly the same spec as and ADS/1, but it'll be inside an ADS/0 case.

What do we call an ADS/0 with ADS/1 circuitry inside? There doesn't seem to be a concensus, but I'm going to call it the ADS/0/1 on this blog.

So that's the history and naming nonsense out of the way. If you're still with me, now I'll write something about the sonic differences, which is waaaaay more interesting and important of course.

I heard an Akurate DS/1 in my system last week - we did ABABA comparison using the following tracks:

Blues Company - Cold Rain
Blues Company - Dark Days
Trentmoller - Evil Dub
Yello - Tangier Blue
Tom Baxter - Skybound

Found that the ADS/1 was much more organic, the treble even sweeter than my ADS/0/D and the imaging much more precise and 3 dimensional. A nice upgrade that should satisfy even analogue fans (maybe). The only thing that detracted was that the bass seems a little shy - I think that might be more control? We only spent about 20 mins so didn't get into speaker repositioning or anything.

So that's great, as far as it goes.  Being a skeptic I still wanted to hear an ADS/0 that had been upgraded to an ADS/1 for myself - just to be sure that the upgrade was as effective as a completely new ADS/1. I had the chance to take my ADS/0 Dynamik to my Linn dealer just a couple of days ago to compare with an ADS/0 Dynamik that has had the ADS/1 upgraded boards.

System: Akurate Kontrol/1 pre-amp, 2 x Majik 4100 Dynamik power amps with active crossover cards and Majik Isobariks loudspeakers (in Rosewood, just in case anyone thinks the veneer affects the sound...), Linn Silver interconnects, 2 x Linn K400 speaker cables, Quadraspire racks.

Tracks used: Robben Ford "Mystic Mile" Eagle Eye Cherry "Shooting Up In Vain"

Happily, my earlier notes about the ADS/0 Dynamik vs ADS/1 apply equally to this comparison. The upgrade is not subtle. The feeling and emotions in vocals come through much stronger, the bass guitar on the Ford track seems to be playing many more intricate moves which previously didn't stand out as being something so subtle and intricate, decay is longer but doesn't blur into other instruments so much. Imaging also gets a boost - left to right images are much more stable in space and there's more front to back depth. The keyboard on the intro to Shooting Up has so much more texture to it.

In summary, its worthwhile and very enjoyable to listen to.

Funny isn't it? I was very happy with my ADS/0 Dynamik, until I heard the upgrade. When you go back from the upgrade the original sounds black & white and 2D compared to the colourful textures and 3D of the upgrade. So its just a matter of time to get the cash together now!

It is very pleasing to see that Linn is making improvements in the ADS - and that they offer this improvement as an upgrade for existing customers - reducing the normal obsolecence in our consumer society.

p.s. I didn't listen to the ADS Renew as I don't intend to buy one, but the dealer suggested that it doesn't sound as good as an ADS/0 Dynamik and not that much better than a Majik DS Dynamik. I have no view on this, just passing along the discussion.

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