Review: Origin Live Tweak

Category: Accessories

The Origin Live "Advanced" power supply and DC-100 motor represent a direct replacment and upgrade for a variety of TT's. This review will focus on the unit in an LP-12 where it replaced a standard Valhalla board and AC motor.

The OL consists of three parts that together replace the motor and Valhalla board in the Linn. The motor is a cogless DC design that is a drop-in replacement for the Linn motor. The motor is controlled by an external control box that filters and regulates the DC to the motor. The box allows 33 1/3 and 45rpm at the turn of a switch. Speed is adjustable through 2 pots at the rear of the controller.

Installation of the OL is extremely easy, taking me about one hour and requiring a screwdriver and allen wrench (supplied by OL). You need to allow the Valhalla board to discharge by unplugging the TT for about two to three hours. OL recommends allowing the motor and controller to run-in for two to four hours to seat the motor bearing and break-in the controller electronics. I allowed the units to run-in for greater than six hours before setting the speed. Speed accuracy at 33 1/3 is greater than .01% and 45 is greater than .03%. This accuracy led to absolute audible pitch stability on both test tones and music. Speed was set using the KAB "Speed Strobe and Disc."

A variety of music was used to review the OL in my system. The Staples Singers 12' 45rpm "I'll Take You There/Respect Yourself"; Diane Schuur "Deedles' GRP; U2 12" "With or Without You"; Saint-Saens "Symphony #3 'Organ'"; Respighi "Church Windows"; Holst "Suites 1 & 2 for Band"; and Donald Fagen "The Nightfly." Other albums were utilized also.

On "I'll Take You There", the bass guitar and the bass drum are more easily separated in both space and time. Pitches were more clearly differentiated and it was simply easier to follow the bass lines in the song. The lower registers of Mavis' voice are chestier and the transition to the upper registers is cleaner and more seamless. On Jennifer Warnes "Famous Blue Raincoat" the song "Bird On a Wire" has a low background humming by a bass. This humming is more distinct, with greater weight and greater extension. Musically, the humming is more integrated with the melody. The integration between octaves is tighter, vocal transitions between chest and throat are clearer and more natural sounding.

The Holst Suites on Telarc are justly famous for the impact of the big bass drum. With the OL mod, the LP-12 is the finally capable of giving the full weight and impact to not only the drum but to the brass as well. The trumpets have the bite of reality without brashness, woodwinds are melodic, in fact airy and lovely, the trombones are suitably "blatty" and powerful, the tuba is round and majestic. Percussion is exceptionally well reproduced, the snare is cleanly delineated, the triangle cuts through the horns cleanly, without excessive etch. I once thought that U2's "With or Without You" had a serious tendency to bass bloat or, if one is generous, bloom. It does not, with the OL mod the bass is still rich and full but no longer bloated, it is now deep and controlled.

The two orchestral works both utilize the lower registers to underpin the orchestra. The Respighi is a massive work, dark in color. The OL helps to reinforce this aspect of the music without masking the other aspects of the orchestra. In fact, the improvements in the bass help to resolve the other sections of the orchestra, giving their contributions greater weight and power also.

The OL motor and controller represent a substantial improvement over the standard Valhalla PS and the Lingo for the LP-12 giving greater musical satisfaction and realism. For the Linn aficionado, the OL maintains the PRaT that the Linn is renowned for, with added clarity, precision, drive, and power in the bass and mid-bass and, at the same time, cleans up the mid-bass that can be too full in the LP-12.

Associated gear
Click to view my Virtual System

Similar products
Linn Valhalla, Linn Lingo
There are several versions and upgrade options available for this. How did you decide what to get?
I follwed the law of diminishing returns. OL only gives the "Ultra" a 20% better rating than the "Advanced", although the "Ultra" is twice the money. I figure I can swap out the DC-100 motor for the DC-200 at some point and get a similar improvement. If I add the uprated transformer that adds further to the sound.

As I said, the upgrade path is expensive.
You can easily upgrade the advanced to near ultra level by simply upgrading the internal components for about £30 eg. black-gates etc and swap the plug-top transformer for a decent toroidal for a similar cost.