My bad kolektor not Direktor!
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Although there are many many audio companies out there, I have listened to quite a lot of equipment but I cannot listen to all of it ... especially since the US really does not have much in the way of HiFi stores. I do not have the the time to listen to demos ... I have a research scientist position which occupies time, am fixing up my new home and have other interests ... not to mention my wife would bury in the woods if I bought something excessive (joke).
To give an overview ... I had an odd road getting into audio before I decided on something that hit me in the right place. I have always (almost) been musical and have worked a lot doing PA on the side. I was introduced to separates in 1992 as a fresher by my friend Pravinda who introduced me to his Yamaha KX650 cassette deck, 3 motor, 3 head, dual capstan ... I consider these decks second to Naks, though on a direct price comparison Yamaha first ... I was sold!
I started as a student with Revolver Rebel(LP)/Arcam(Amp)/Marantz(CD)/Mission(780's), went through Rega(Planar3)/Arcam(Alpha5+)/Micromega Stage 1/Cyrus(SL/XPA)/Mission(780 then 752) and ended up going towards Linn adding a pair of Keilidhs and an LP12/Valhalla/Ittok/SumikoBP(and a Rega Elys).
It was then I sold the audio and moved to the states, after graduation. For the record, Cyrus make good components ... just not available in the US.
I had a friend who worked at Image Audio in Leeds, UK and I used to spend some time listening there and in other stores. The best system I heard by far was my friend showing me the best Linn set up at the time ... fronted by the CD12, on loan to them from Linn for 2 prospective buyers ... I was amazed, but long before that, I had decided the Linn sound was for me! However, was swayed against Linn on a beauty level because in the face of Roksan, Wilson Benesch (Full Circle), Cyrus and B&W (CDM's, P6) they looked like ... er ... crap!
Not to be exhaustive ... I have spent a good amount of time listening to Linn, Naim, Arcam, Cyrus, Musical Fidelity, Creek, Rega, Rotel, Nad, Audiolab, Epos (spkr only) and B&W (spkr only) ... may have omitted some.
Anyways, since my Audio Alchemy DLC dropped out I have been listening to an Adcom GCD575 through variable out ($40, ebay, I bought to compare to my Micromega Stage 2 ... $150, ebay, the Stage Two trounces it!) hooked to a GFA 535 ($5, thrift store) through KEF Q15s ($100, Ebay). It's quite toppy and the midrange hollow ... so I am ready for the change.
I am looking to set up for less than $2K if I can, so if you have any suggestions ... let me know.
If I were going to stick with Linn and my options were those detailed in the OP, I would choose the Kolektor and the LK140. This is from having demoed the Wakonda, LK85 and LK140 with Keilidhs both active and passive, back when they were new... it took several visits to the store to hear all the possible combinations.
Particularly interesting was a single LK140 versus two LK85s in passive biamp configuration. The LK140 won for its energy and drive, a big difference over the smaller amps, with no important sacrifices. Active LK85s were another story, but still lesser amps in the drive department and frankly, I decided it made sense to start higher up the line.
I have not heard the Kolektor--eventually I went in a different direction from Linn entirely--but the dealer recommended it as a preamp over anything I had heard up to then.
Thanks for your reply Tobias! I took a quick look at your system ... Teac made some very good stuff 10+ years ago, the VRDS was (and is) highly regarded in all its forms (T1, 7, 10 etc.) as were the cassette decks ... its not unusual to see the V-x0y0 ranges selling on ebay for upwards of $400. My question for Teac is what happened? The VRDS had the CD market. I wonder if they are just concentrating on Tascam.
Anyway, my HiFi plot just thickened. I see that an LK140 (or two of the others) sells for not much short of a Klout! Doh!
Hi Nano, I think what happened to the TEACs is they got very overbuilt,
multitalented and wonderful, and grew prices to match.
Check out the drawings of the VRDS mechanism's latest evolutionary stages
BTW Klout indeed much better than LK140... Linn know/knew this of course,
it made upping the music lover's ante an easy game.
I earned that store's undying hatred by going tubes instead of active. Can't
blame them really.