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.
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.
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.
- Sagatun Stereo ($4,950 USD), and Mono ($4,950 USD) preamplifiers , Tundra Stereo ($4,490 USD), and Mono ($4,950 USD) power amplifiers
- Loudspeakers JBL 3677 ($1,766 USD/pair), JBL 4645c commercial cinema subwoofer $1,453 USD
- Linn LP12 Klimax ($26,190 USD with custom Chris Harban plinth)
- Linn Urika MC stage mounted internally of LP12
- Linn Radikal DC power supply (Klimax enclosure)
- Linn Kandid LOMC cartridge
- Linn Ekos SE tonearm
- Four-shelf Harmoni Racks
- Nokton turntable stand
Marchand XM44 electronic crossover $1,600 USD. Customized for subwoofer, 80Hz 24dB/octave low pass, 22Hz 18dB/octave high pass – starting at $800 USD