Saturday, 24 October 2015

Bling Removal

Linn's Klimax electronics come in a choice of silver or black machined from solid aluminium ingots. And very nice they are too.  Solid sculptures that are both elegant, understated, but oozing quality.
I like them.
But bolted onto their bottoms, supporting them above their resting surface are 4 large diameter feet. They're also very nicely made machined solid lumps of metal, but, disappointingly for me they're chromed, and therefore rather "blingy". This might not be too bad a thing for those who have the silver version, but mine are the black version, chosen to be more discrete and not so much of a distraction when listening to music.
So, with these been Linn's top of the range kit, there'll be a choice of feet for those who don't want highly polished chrome gleaming out from under their kit?  Nope, not even the black version of the kit has the option of more subtle feet.
So what to do about it?  Well an early experiment used the insides of toilet rolls coloured black with a marker pen - just to see if they would look better. They do, indeed, look much better, to me at least. As the feet are quite far back on the underside of the unit, when the feet are black it gives the impression of the kit "floating" above the shelf. Quite pleasing, and no distracting glinting.
So the search was on to find something more permanent than the loo roll inners, but that would not be permanent to allow for return to standard, should that be required later. Its taken over a year to get around to something better, the addition of KK/1 and KCT/D into the system this year meant either doing more loo rolls or putting that time into something better.  At the factory visit in September 2015, Linn forum member Steven someone suggested heatshrink (thanks for that, a great idea to try) and that was so blindingly obvious really, don't know why that wasn't thought of before.

So here is the step by step description of what I've done - keeping it all reversible of course:

Materials:
- 200mm or so of 80mm diameter black heatshrink - no writing printed on it, no adhesive inside
- Evo stick glue (optional)
- insulating tape

Tools:
- small screwdriver
- allen key
- sharp craft knife
- cutting board
- try square
- steel rule
- heat gun (or hairdryer)

NOTE: only do this if you are completely confident.  Do not do this if you have any doubts.  If you decide to do this, it is entirely at your own risk and no liability will be accepted for any mistakes in the instructions or in your actions.  Take great care with the tools and the heat gun. Take great care with the finish on your unit - its easily damaged. Thanks!  :-)

First, disconnect your Klimax unit from everything. Clear a flat area - make sure it is very clean, then cover with a thick soft material such as a clean towel.  Lay the Klimax kit upside down on the clean material.

Klimax shiny chrome feet, as standard

Place a small piece of insulating tape on the edge of the foot (to protect the finish), then use the screw driver to lever up the rubber foot pad, pivoting on the protected edge of the foot - it lifts easily. Once started, it can be peeled back using fingers. Remove the insulating tape.

Levering up the rubber pad - insulating tape protects the finish of the foot
Removed rubber disc

The rubber pad is held in place by a very thin film of double sided tape.  Using the sharp knife, cut away a disc in the centre to allow the removal of the mounting bolt.

Double sided film cut away to allow access to the bolt
 Using an allen key, loosen the mounting bolt.  The foot can then be lifted clear of the unit.

Under the foot is the threaded mount and a step in the inner side of the cut-out

The removed foot, from the top - there is a step in the foot to match the step in the unit casing

Removed foot on the 80mm strip of heatshrink
Align the long edge of the strip of  heatshrink with the edge of the cutting board. Place the try square against the edge of the cutting board and cut the heatshrink along the edge of the try square, to create a clean 90 degree end on the heatshrink.
Using the steel rule, measure a length of heatshrink - 17.5mm is ideal if you can be that accurate, but 18mm is fine too.  17mm isn't enough as it doesn't cover the full depth of the foot. Now, using the try square again, with it and the heatshrink aligned with the edge of the cutting board, use the sharp knife to cut across the heatshrink.  You will end up with an  17.5mm or 18mm tall hoop of heatshrink.

Aligning the cutting board edge, try square and long edge of the heatshrink ready for cutting

Place the foot on a heat proof surface, with the double sided tape facing down onto the surface (to protect it from the heat).  Drop the loop of heatshrink over the top of the foot, so it rests on the heat proof surface.  Now gently heat using the low setting on the heat gun (or a medium / high setting on a hairdryer), moving around the foot evenly, from about 10cm away.  Heat for a few seconds then make sure the heatshrink is still touching the heat proof surface, then repeat several times all around the foot until the heatshrink is fully in touch with the foot, all the way around.  Do not keep heating as it will get too tight and start to shrink vertically, which is not helpful.  Most times you will get a nice smooth surface, but sometimes the heatshrink will have some slight indentations.  If it does this, you can choose to do it again, or not, up to you.
You will note that the heatshrink shrinks into the cut-out section of the foot - this is the part most likely to lift up from the surface, if you heat the material for too long.


Heatshrink fitted
Where the foot has a cut-away section, snip through the heatshrink at each end of the cut-out, and about 3 times across the width of the cut-out.  These "tabs" can then be trimmed off with the sharp knife - trimming flush with the bottom edge of the cut-out.  Take care not to scratch the chrome finish with the knife.

"Tabs" cut into the heatshrink where there is a cut out in the foot

Trim the tabs away with the sharp knife
Now re-fit the feet to the unit, aligning the cut out in the foot with the step which is nearer to the centre on the unit.  Make sure the foot is full engaged and sitting flush, if not, re-check the part of the heatshrink that you cut away to make sure none of it is fouling the casing.  Now re-fit the mounting bolt and nip it up gently with the allen key - no need to tighten it much, just enough to hold it in place. Re-fit the rubber pad (smooth side to the foot, textured side is the outer surface).  Most times the double sided tape will hold the rubber pad in place.  Optionally you might want to put 3 tiny blobs of EvoStick glue onto the double sided tape before placing the rubber pad back on.  Your choice.  If using the glue, leave the unit upside down for a couple of hours to allow it to set.

Completed foot back in place

Klimax Twin amp with standard feet in the foreground and stealth feet in the background

Stealth feet on the Klimax Twin (and some dust)

DS

DS

DS and KK
DS and KK "floating"

Rat's Nest In The Garage?

I've decided that wiring the 5 channels of an active Linn 5.1 system using Ninkas, Trikan and Katans is not for the faint hearted.

Here's the back of the AV5125 amps:


Friday, 23 October 2015

Travel? Still Great Music

After hearing some decent headphone systems as the recent National Audio Show at Whittlebury, I revisited the idea of using them more for music in hotels - as a step up from in-ear buds (I use BeyerDynamic 101 with the iPod and occasionally the FiiO player).

Having a good source (FiiO X3 which plays FLAC files up to 24bit/96kHz) and a reasonable mid-range pair of Sennheiser Momentum headphones, the biggest improvement I could make would be to insert a dedicated headphone amp into the mix.

At Whittlebury, I really enjoyed the sounds being played by the Trilogy 931 amp but its price puts it out of range for experimenting with deciding if this was a sensible solution for the longer term - ie will I enjoy headphones enough to cart the kit around with me?

So ebay to the rescue and I picked up a Mk1 version of the very well regarded Schiit Magni - a product of the USA and very good value for money, even when new.  The used one I have is in mint condition and functions very well.  First foray with the kit away from home this week proved a sonic success - still not sure about the comfort of wearing headphones in bed just before going off to sleep.  The iPod into a small portable speaker is still better for this part of the day - no headphones and set it to 30 minute sleep setting and I hardly ever hear the end of the music.  With phones you have to take them off and switch off the kit which means not exactly nodding off to sleep.  Still, it does sound much better than the portable speaker.

FiiO X3 FLAC player, Linn Silver interconnect, Schiit Magni (v1) and Sennheiser Momentum