Colin's Karousel Review
Due to the current situation and there being no informed opinion out there yet, I decided to give the Karousel my own review here in Beaconsfield.
I used two LP12’s of the same Akurate specification with Lingo 4, Akito 3B and Krystal cartridge. Those who know me also know how fastidious I am with making sure that a comparison is absolutely fair. Both decks have to be “spot on” and set up to my standard rather than “half hearted”.” Failure to ensure an accurate set up can result in an unfair comparison. One deck has been changed from an unworn Cirkus bearing to Karousel and both sit on identical supports sharing the same system. In this case I chose the system last used here in the demonstration room.
This was the Q Acoustics Concept 500 loudspeaker which then were ordered and delivered direct to the client 10 days ago. As the buyer used older Naim amplification we used an amplifier I purchased with a system from our village postman 12 years ago as I collect things. This is a Naim NAC 42.5 pre-amp with Hi-Cap power supply and a 160 power power amplifier all from about 1986 which was the 160’s last year of production and all recently fully serviced including the phono-boards at Naim in Salisbury. This was chosen as “why not” as it approximates in quality many systems out there fronted by an LP12 that are not necessarily top spec or new.
All LP’s standard and most second-hand. I don’t use “special” pressings and prefer old records that are nearer to the original master tape. All LP’s previously cleaned on our Audiodesk Vinyl Pro machine. The LP’s used were not pre-planned and just came to hand on the day.
“Counceltation” by Curtis Counce. Contemporary records 1957. Jazz.
First track on the album called “Complete” It actually made me giggle as it wasn’t a subtle difference. Starts with a struck cymbal followed by a languid Counce bass intro and then muted trumpet. This is when the “bell” is stopped with a “mute” resulting in a pinched and squeezed sound. On this album Jack Sheldon on trumpet but a mute was commonly used by Miles Davis. For me it was a seriously wow! moment. The struck cymbal having more harmonic structure and a longer decay with more “sheen”and the whole track was more “cheeky”, fun and better put together, The trumpet and everything else much more real and “there”, shining from a recording made 62 years ago.
St Germain “Boulevarde” 2002. House/Jazz. Give by a customer trimming his collection.
Track 2 side 1 “Thank U Mom”. Starts with a sort of “click clack” tapped percussion leading to a big, round succulent low synth bass and later some echoplex electric guitar. The intro on the Karousel has much more precision, tune and meaning, and when the bass comes in the power made me look right as it made the door vibrate. More energy, clearer, precise and more fun.
Steely Dan. “Black Cow” from “AJa” 1977.
Karousel deck. Clean and meaningful with a lovely sort of “stop and start” quality with little echoes in the mix from the keyboard. Vocals wonderful as one would expect as they were obsessed with making good recordings. Going to the Cirkus bearing it sounded a bit soft ,muddy and “sat on”. Back to the Karousel again. lovely. Once heard I didn’t want to go back to Cirkus.
Paganini Violin Concerto No1 . Side 2. 3rd movement Ithzak Perlman. EMI 1972.
Wonderful record and Perman was only 25 when recorded. On the Karousel richer, more harmonic information from the violin , better played, more delicate and cheeky. (You can tell he had fun playing it) More together with a better and richer Orchestral sound. More “Majesty”.
“Be cool” from “Wild Things Run Fast”. Joni Mitchell 1981.
Again the Karousel made the Cirkus sound “shut in” and less real. The busy “pitter patter” skiffle on the Karousel is much more “on the button” and tuneful and you are more aware of the drummers other input. More weight to the sound and more powerful. Wayne Shorter’s little Sax blips more interesting and real. More music. A track that only Joni Mitchell could put together and very cool.
“Expresso Love”. Dire Straits “Making Movies” 1980.
On the Cirkus it’s hard to hear Mark Knopfler’s singing as it’s placed back in the mix. The intro strumming on top of the “Stones” riff is far better on the Karousel, and as well at the track being more powerful when the band comes in you can also hear his words much more clearly. I stopped listening to Dire Straits many years ago and this album is part of a collection gifted to the showroom and it’s been refreshing to hear them again.
Everything I have compared is significantly better and like looking through a higher resolution lens.
I recall when the Cirkus bearing came out in 1993 people saying it would mean they would never have to upgrade their Valhalla power supply to Lingo or Ittok arm to Ekos as the deck would be so good. Not true then or now as these things are cumulative. If you want to hear more LP and less turntable other Linn upgrades like Lingo 4, Radikal, Keel, Kore and Ekos SE are no less valid than they were before. However this new bearing has seriously impressed me and is to my ears a huge sonic and musicaI upgrade in its own right.
Congratulations to Cameron and the team at Linn who developed the Karousel. I think it’s possibly the single biggest musical upgrade have heard in the 40+ years since I bought my first Sondek in the 1970’s.
It’s worth noting that despite current circumstances, the Karousel promotion is still on, running until the 22nd May. You’ll receive the Karousel bearing free of charge if you spend £3000 (inc VAT) or more on Linn*. (terms and conditions apply).
For those who have already placed orders for equipment we will fulfil when the time is right, and thank you for your patience and support.
I am not seeing clients but as we are a consultancy and not a shop I am busy here Tues-Sat between 11.00-5.00 taking deliveries for stores and catching up. There is still much to be getting on with.
Any questions please phone 01494 681300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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