Active Linn Katans

I wonder if anybody has any experience with Katans active using a LK-85 for treble and a Majik for bass? I found the system to be bass heavy and when compared with an active setup using two LK-85:s there is a huge tone difference. My problem is that tunewise the systems don't differ much... the two LK-85 being just a notch ahead of the Majik/LK-85 combo. At low to average volume levels the extra bass feels nice (but is it supposed to be there?????).

Is there a gain incompability between the stereo cards and the mono cards? (I have the new mono cards). Or is there a problem using the Majik (which is a different kind of poweramp compared to the LK-85) together with other Linn amplifiers? Or am I just going nuts and should go home, buy a $200 amplifier, turn the bass control to max, press the loudness button and enjoy all the bass??

The tunedem method is great, but what do you do when you have too systems that compare well to each other, but have a completely different tone balance? Which is correctly reproducing what's _on_ the record???


I'm not sure I understand the entire nature of your post. I think you are trying to say you have too much bass. If so, you should try to reposition them away from walls and especially corners. I have the Aktiv Keilidh's and without going Aktiv they are flat to 70 Hz. By going Aktiv they are flat to 40 Hz. Also, go listen to some live music. I think you will find the tonal balance of your Aktiv setup is very close to the real thing.

I have no knowledge of the Majik/LK-85 vs. two LK-85's differences. I do know that all Linn amplifiers have the same gain so this really shouldn't be part of the problem. Also, the cards should behave identically whether stereo or mono. I had communicated directly with Linn about using two LK-240's for the treble and my LK-100 for the bass. They advised that would be great. What I ended up using were two LK-100's (one for stereo treble, one for stereo mid/bass) being more cost effective.
I'm sorry for not being clear about my problem. You understood me correct though Lugnut. :)

The thing is that the two different setups sounds very different, which I don't think they should. Just by changing the bass amp to an LK-85 changes the tone of the system to a brighter one compared to the Majik.

The Katans change their frequency responce from (on the low end) 75 Hz to 60 Hz when active. When I originally went active (with the Majik) I repositioned the speakers and by moving the Katans out from the wall the bass decreased... Ok, now if I try to move the Katans closer to the wall when using the LK-85 for bass the bass should come back... Hmmm, I've got to go home and try that one out!!

Still, one wonders why the tonal balance is so different between the amps.

The first thing that comes to mind is whether the amps, left and right, are hooked up correctly when using the LK-85's. There really shouldn't be any difference except at higher volumes. If you installed the cards yourself, I'd start looking inside the bass amp and checking things out just to be sure. I'm unfamiliar with the LK-85's having not owned one. I do remember though that when I looked at my Aktiv card documentation that the cards are amp specific. You can get mono cards that work in some stereo amps as well as mono amps. But not all cards work in all amps. If you purchased these used I'd check the documentaion to see if they are in fact compatable with your amp. Good luck and you can email me through Audiogon anytime. Maybe we can figure this thing out for you.
My dealer was the one who did the rebuildning of both the Majik and the two LK-85:s. I haven't actually checked the installation he did, but I would be suprised if he made a misstake. You are correct that the cards are amp specific. The LK85/140 series (together with the 5125 and 2250) take stereo cards, while the Majik, Klout, old LK100 etc take two monocards. I suspect that the monocards don't mix too well with the stereocards. I have heard that there are two versions of the monocards, an original one and one newer based on the newer design of the stereocards. My monocards should be of the new type since Linn delivered them new to me.

I had a listening session yesterday evening and the balance in tone is now restored when using two LK-85:s and the speakers back to their original place. Listening to CD:s with some bass punch (Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation... and Alicia Keys, Songs in A minor) is now very enjoyable (again), with tune and _balance_ in place. The lesson learned is that there is a lot of care to be taken when mixing different cardtypes and/or amplifiers when going active.

I remember when I initially played my first CD on the Majik/Lk-85 combo, my first thought was that there was a little bit too much bass for my taste. Then I got used to the bass... But now I know. I was correct in my reaction from the beginning. Always trust your ears.

Thank for your suggestions and your help Lugnut! I really thought I was going crazy for a short while.

One of the first records I listened to after going Aktiv was Donald Fagen's "Nightfly". When Ruby Tuesday came on I got concerned when I heard THAT bass note that happens three times. Whoa. I had no idea my system could go that low.

Two benefits I noticed immediately from going Aktiv was a sense of effortlessnes in the presentation and lesser recordings were improved beyond belief. Were your experiences similar?
As you mentioned earlier the Katans aren't known for going low. That was probably what made me react in the first place. Sometimes I really miss the bass, but I guess that's why there is a Sizmik. What the Katans are very good at is delivering the music.

Since the bass received alot of my attention I haven't yet done a real listening session where I just listen to the music. (There has been alot of A-B tests though.)

Having said that here are my impressions of active. I think that the best way to describe it is that going active is like taking away a pillow from the front of the loudspeakers. The sound just opens up and I'm more _there_, sitting in the room where the musicians are playing. The piano is not coming from the loudspeakers, it's coming from a piano in my room. Combining that with the effortlessnes that I think Linn always have had it their equipment makes everything called listening fatigue vanish. In fact, since the bassproblem dissapeared we (me and my girlfriend) have not watched tv at all.. only listening to music. I think that is a good grade! The same thing about the car audio. I have always found my car audio system to be very good (of course not the same league as my home system), but now the sound just is boring and I end up turning the radio/cd off!

Since the second LK-85 made the setup sound good again, I have decided to trade my Majik for an used Kolektor. I have no use of the poweramp in the Majik anymore. It'll be interesting to see if it makes any difference (this upgrade is a "bonus" upgrade since it won't cost me anything :).
Hi Christian,

I too have Linn Katans, although at this point just a Classik. My future plans are to upgrade via LK-85s, and then go active, and then look at the source. That may be a little bit backwards, I'm not sure.

Some Qs: how far out into the room are the Katans? Did you ever experiment with the tone controls (I know that might get me some flack on that one...).

My Katans are wall mounted, which was a practicle solution due to a small apartment + baby. The bass was immediatly 'muddy', generally horrible. Experimenting with the bass tone control made the difference.

I think about the Sizmik...possibly even the custom one, installed into the wall.


My Katans are standing on a shelf (I know this is NOT a good thing but that part is out of my control), so I have them quite close to the wall, 15 cm:s. Since the space for repositioning is very limitied I think getting the Kolektor will allow me to adjust the tone to better fit my listening room (which is very bright).

The Majik lacks these tone controls so this is yet untested.

What has happened though is I received a response from Linn Helpline where they told me that I had made an error with the connections. I had daisychained the Majik through the first LK-85, which was a big error. The Majik automatically senses the active cards and reroutes the signal to the poweramp, even though the external links are removed. I was feeding the poweramp with two signals.. both the bass from the internal active cards AND the daisy chained signal (which is the original source signal). No wonder thing were mixed up!!

The Katans are singing more and more for every day. I still have some minor repositioning to do, and am waiting for the Kolektor with big expectiations.

I think the Sizmik is a perfect match for the Katans. I have listened to the Katans with a CD12, a 5103 and a 2250, combined with a Sizmik. The sound was (for me) pure magic. In my opinion the Katans are underestimated, they just need a very good source because they are very demanding. My Genki is looking weaker for every day...
Christian and Gavin,

I understand that speaker positioning is sometimes dictated by factors beyond our control. You both need to experiment with methods to overcome the negatives of having the speakers too close to the wall. Tone controls, although perhaps needed in THIS case, are rarely beneficial. You need to place absorption panels behind your speakers. I realize that you will probably be limited in the size of the panels but urge you to do as much as you can. You need to minimize the coupling effect and your bass will improve a great deal. If my memory serves me correctly this early in the morning Westlake offers an accessory that looks like a foam surround that is flush with the face of the speaker. Take a look and try some home brewed remedy that is similar. I do think that "if" you can place Sonex (or similar) panels on the wall behind the speakers the results will make you happy.

The Sonex comes in 2 x 2 foot panels. For description sake, let's assume the speakers are the same size. You would need 9 panels per speaker making the absorption area 6 x 6 feet with each speaker directly in the middle. There are less expensive home brewed designs that are searchable on net.

Ideally you both need really good speaker stands a couple of feet into the room, minimum. The panels would mimic this to a certain degree.

Good luck,

Christian: Don't the Aktiv treble cards have an adjustment dail? I have read that it is accessible through the back of the amp. Maybe that would help the brightness?

Partrick: Yes, about positioning...not only the bass response, but also the soundstage. It really seems to take some depth away. I can't tell you how much this bothered me (I had the speakers on makeshift stands when I first got them, and things got smaller when they were wall mounted, as far as depth). It still does bother me...but it is a real battle between reality and ultimate performance.

I am going to investigate absorption panels, thanks for the idea. Anything that would help, while within my constraints, would be nice!


My Aktiv cards (treble) have eight DIP switches for "room correction". Each switch is worth 0.5 db. I'm working from memory here but I believe four of the switches in the "on" position is the factory preset. So, assuming that is flat response, then you can boost or reduce the highs by a total of 2 db + or -. I hope this helps. Also, there was a post recently about anyone subscribing to the DELE or LEDE room treatments. Do a search of the Audiogon archives. I have a description there of a great room with Linn speakers tight against the wall. This Dead End/Live End application, while not preferred, will be your best bet, IMHO.

If you are willing to invest some money, in the neighborhood of $100-200, to build great absorptive panels then email me directly for a description. I do advise doing something makeshift in advance of the investment. Even cutting a piece of 2" thick foam rubber and temporarily placing it behind your speakers will let you tell if this is the way to go. Be warned however, that I wouldn't use this material permanently because of the fire hazard. Ultimately you need to use rigid fiberglass inside a frame of some sort with a fabric (burlap is best) covering. If you can find a material like the sock fabric the Linn speakers use this would be a very good alternative. It can be very attractive if you are a little handy and willing to give DIY a try.
Patrick, thanks for the suggestion about absorption panels. That just might do the trick.

I agree with you that using tone controls normaly won't be beneficial, and the reason for getting the Kolektor is not because of the tonecontrols, but for the sake of a better preamp. Despite that I am still interested in doing a comparison with the Kolektor with the bass increased with 1-2 knotches.

Actually sometimes I find it interesting to go back to a not so good system to find why I keep on defending the amount of time, effort and money put into your own. This friday I had a listen to a system with a X-Box as source, a Denon multichannel-amp and a pair of huge Dali speakers. The speakers were more expensive than my Katans (according to the owner). And there was a subwoofer hidden away too. The music was just not there, no matter what I listened to.
So tunewise it was awful. But the other interesting part was that compared to my setup there was about the same amount of bass, so I'm getting more and more sure that my tonal balance isn't that much off.

Gavin, it is true that the treble cards have a dial to setup the active cards. The bass, of course, not having one. The dial has the same function as Patricks dip-switches have, the only difference is that you can reach the dial without opening the amp:s case.

Best regards,

Please report back when you have the Kolektor installed. Although I am far behind your current setup, it has been my intention of following a Linn upgrade path that includes similar equipment, but possibly more importantly restrictive speaker placement like yourself.

I think that many people must have funny stories about friends' less than thoughtful, but half-expensive systems. I was at a friends place listening to his home theater setup, and he just had a huge rack of equipment, 5.1 speaker setup, etc., and we were watching a new James Bond DVD...the whole house was shaking with the intro: explosions, rockets, etc., then he managed to scream over all the noise, saying "just wait till the music starts, you won't believe it". I couldn't believe it, it was horrible.

He had spent twice what I had spent, albeit on a different type of system. It really made me feel good about my choices, especially what my actual goal was.


I can relate to the story about the homoe theatre setup. Seems to me like alot of people today are going for the "more is better"-sound instead of listening to what is going on. Using my setup together with a dvd have made more than one guest ask about what kind of HT-setup I am using. When I answer none, I'm just using a 2-channel amp, they just drop their jaw.

The Kolektor will arrive on wednesday, so on Thursday I'll give it an initial test. I'll keep you updated of the progress! As I think I mentioned earlier, the Katans can grow with the system, and I'm sure they will be the last part of my system that will receive any attention in the future. So although the Katans are small and people claim they can't be compared with floorstanding speakers I'm sure you (and I) have made a good compromise between size, positioning and ability to deliver music. I think upgrading your Classic with the Linn path will give you many hours enjoying the music you have.

Actually, I have decided that next step will be an used Ikemi, but it will take a year or two before my girlfriend will let me open my wallet again.


I have now received my Kolektor now and I'm not sure what to say. After having had a month where the sound has changed alot, I now think my system is where it should be, very musical and wonderful performance. The tune is there _and_ the tonal balance is there. My LK-85:s are suddenly doing what they should do, amplifying a great input signal. I have a feeling something is wrong with my Majik.

Going from a Majik to a Kolektor and 2 LK-85 active is a _huge_ improvement. If I had known how big it was I would have done it for a long time ago. My itch to upgrade has weakend alot.

Tonight I'm going to try and reposition the Katans, but I really am not sure if it is necessary, the source, pre-amp, amp combo just sunds great. I'm sure you would find the same in your system, despite the restrictive speaker placement.

What is your upgrade path?


That is nice to hear that the Kolektor is such a big improvement on the Majik. Did you end up using the tone controls on the Kolektor at all? It sounds like you are happy with your Genki now as well, or is an Ikemi soon in your plans as well?

My first upgrade, I think, will either be to add a LK85/140 and biamp with my Classik, OR, possibly go with a sub. I plan to demo both when I get a chance to go to my nearest Linn dealer, which is unfortunatly 400km away. I will be interested to hear with my own ears the 85 vs. the 140.

From there, either a second LK85/140, or two if I have a sub, in order to go active. After going active, I would start looking at the source and pre. This is a bit away for me however, but it is nice to think about!

One should always set up goals and try to reach them... :)

At the moment I am very pleased with my setup. So far I've had no use for the tonecontrols at all, the sound being well balanced. The Ikemi is my next goal, but I already know (my girlfriend told me..) I won't reach that goal in the next year. I hope the Unidisk will bring out alot of second hand Ikemis.

I have never heard I Classic but I've been told the CD is quite good, almost in par with the Genki, and the tuner is supposed to be great. So in my opinion you already have good sources.

Judging from your setup I think the LK85/140 would be the natural way to go. The LK140 is probably the best match, since the Katans prefer power, but of course that's depending on what you're trying to achieve.

The Katans are a pair of good speakers, I've heard of people who preferred them to the Ninka. If you take the Katan and add a Sizmik I'm sure you'll have a speaker configuration that beats the Ninkas (I'll probably get flamed for saying that :).

400 km:s?? And I thought I had it tough with 200 km (although the dealer I'm purchasing my stuff from is 1000 km away).

As always, go with your ears, and if it doesn't sound good then it isn't good. Very simple.