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RMAF 2017: Nokturne Audio shows how torque matters with Lejonklou, JBL, and Linn

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Big, bad, JBLs.

Lejonklou is not a high-fidelity manufacturer many audiophiles have probably heard of, and that’s too bad because Fredrik Lejonklou the man behind the Swedish company – is on to something special with his incredibly transparent amplifier, and preamplifier circuit designs. Lejonklou had paired up once again at RMAF with Thomas O’Keefe of Nokturne Audio out of Westland, Michigan, and once again the two of them had put together an outstandingly musical system consisting of Lejonklou pre, and power amps, a pair of Urika-equipped, Linn Klimax specified LP12s, and the incredible $883 USD JBL 3677 theatre loudspeakers (albeit with a subwoofer unit added to the mix this time which brought even more extended, tight authority to the lower octaves). Harmoni Racks were back to provide support as well. I was crushing hard last year in Denver about this very same room, so I wanted to return to see if the magic was still alive.

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Double your LP12 pleasure.

I’m happy to report I stayed for a long time in this room soaking in the tunes, and taking in all the gear that was responsible for the powerful, cohesive, and musical sound that I was hearing. Vocals had organic, flesh-like articulation, guitar strings possessed twisted-wire textures, and horns carried brassy colour through their exhalation. The high-efficiency, easy load JBLs (99 dB, eight-Ohms, 40Hz – 20kHz) with their paper-based drivers sounded as if the LP12’s RCA outputs were jacked directly into them. All I could think of was the old amplifier adage “a straight wire with gain” while I was listening through them. An old Elvis LP brought the man into the room when you closed your eyes; every subtle nuance to his close-mic’d performance captured in startling clarity without ever straying into stridency or becoming analytical.

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RMAF 2017 coverage is proudly sponsored by Noble Audio.

According to O’Keefe, and Lejonklou part of the secret to the quality of the sound they are able to wrest from this system (and Lejonklou’s designs in particular) is based on the application of specific torque settings for every screw, nut, bolt, and fastener used in the amps/preamps, and also the turntable. O’Keefe discovered this technique through massive amounts of trial, and error, but found that tuning each component for optimal performance was achievable through this process. To demonstrate his findings he proceeded to play LPs while minutely adjusting the torque setting of one of the LP12’s tonearm mounts back, and forth several times… the sonic change when the screw was changed from “tuned” to “untuned” in it’s torque setting was audible – not startling mind you, but a perceived lack of focus/clarity did seem to affect the sound – which left me mildly perplexed. How could such a negligible amount of difference in the tightness of one screw affect the sound? This isn’t some add-on they are trying to sell, not some room treatment, or aural atomizer, no this just seems to be quantifiable mechanical specification changes affecting the sonic signature. Strange perhaps, but not voodoo in my mind as O’Keefe, and Lejonklou are dealing with variations of only millinewtons. I couldn’t shake the feeling when I left the demonstration that perhaps the two are on to something.

–Rafe Arnott

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Thomas O’Keefe of Nokturne Audio takes it all in.

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About Rafe Arnott (325 Articles)

Editor and Creative Director for Part-Time Audiophile & The Occasional Magazine.

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