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Linx Nebula Integrated Amp

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I've decided to break open the cupboard of the amps that I've bypassed in my "Integrated Mission" and let them get some air.  If anyone has any info on the Linx Nebula, pictured below I'd appreciate hearing it, very little info exists on the web.

 

It claims to be a 65 wpc amp (and 90 into 4) it must have at least a few watts in class A since it heats up quite a bit (I'm sure those little heat sinks don't help things).  Hot enough that I am uncomfortable with the idea of leaving the room while it is playing, just in case.

It even stays hot when switched onto standby which was something of a surprise.

 

I've got a sheet of paper that lists the details of the phono stages (both MM and MC) but no other data except for the claimed dynamic power rating with is 160 watts into 8 Ohms, pretty decent if true!

 

It does sound rather good, a fairly typically "English" sounding amp with a bit less warmth evident than the exposure gear I have heard in the past.

I've got a greatest hits cd playing at the moment, if it makes it through to the end of the cd without dying of heat stroke I'll conclude that it just runs hot, if it doesn't it'll just have to go back into the cupboard until finances allow for some surgery to be carried out.

 

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post-130663-0-57986300-1414637309_thumb.

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Does it say where it was made on the back ?

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Ah I remember these well. A great sounding wee amp that matched beautifully with Snell type E's.

Originally manufactured in NZ b4 the team moved to the UK after being bought over by a British distributor.

The mainstay products were the Stratos? pre and power amps.

After the company moved to the UK they premiered the range at the Heathrow Penta hi-fi show where I first heard them. They came up to Glasgow to demonstrate the amps and the Snell speakers in the shop and the sound was lovely. Subsequently we ordered 2 of the integrated amps for sale but the production units didn't seem to live up to the sound quality of the demonstration units.

If the Amp was built in NZ ,jeff ,then it probably sounds very good.

Will be interested to hear your comments.

More info :

http://www.pinkfishmedia.net/forum/archive/index.php/t-137746.html

Edited by Ozcall

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It's an English model, it sounds alright but I'm a bit worried about the heat.  I've disconnected it and put it back in the cupboard for now, it was so hot on the right hand side that I could only hold my hand on it for about 1.5 seconds, the left side was a little cooler at about 4 seconds.  I'll have to get it to the doc and have it checked out, or maybe just wait until winter.

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Quote from a forum:

 

"Linx were originally a New Zealand based company. The 'Nebula' intergrated were one of the UK manufactured units, this particular one had Audioplan internal Ag plated wiring, some units had Van Den Hul. Very clean detailed sound but they got very HOT !!"

Edited by aasza

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Quote from a forum:

 

"Linx were originally a New Zealand based company. The 'Nebula' intergrated were one of the UK manufactured units, this particular one had Audioplan internal Ag plated wiring, some units had Van Den Hul. Very clean detailed sound but they got very HOT !!"

Hmmm, I guess my idea of too hot may just be the Nebula's idea of business as usual.  

I might see if I can get a couple of those little computer/USB fans to use on it.  At least then I won't feel so nervous about its thermal integrity.

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Quote from a forum:

 

"Linx were originally a New Zealand based company. The 'Nebula' intergrated were one of the UK manufactured units, this particular one had Audioplan internal Ag plated wiring, some units had Van Den Hul. Very clean detailed sound but they got very HOT !!"

Clean and detailed make it sound like an Audiolab 8000a , I would have said musical and warmish but with good dynamics with efficient speakers. I think the ones I heard had VDH cable.

Edited by Ozcall

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OK, I've got 2 little 12V computer fans on order.  They may not mean much to the amp but they will make me feel much more comfortable about listening to it at length.  With a little luck they'll be hear by Friday.

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Or maybe I'll still be waiting on them a week and a half later.  Good old Aust Post!  :)

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OK, finally got my fans.  I've wired each of them up to a 12V power supply so I'm ready to go, I just have to finish up with Ron's ME580 first.  

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Fans may help, but, I suspect, you are looking at a more serious and urgent issue. Given your 1.5 second touch claim, that suggests a heat sink temperature approaching 70 degrees C. WAY too hot for reliable operation. It suggests that the MOSFETs on one channel are over-biased. I suggest you discontinue use until the correct bias (or fault) is rectified. 

 

All that said, the Lynx uses Hitachi MOSFETs, which are pretty tough, WRT over-temperature issues. Tough that they are, they are not indestructible though. I've worked on a few over the years and they are generally quite reliable old things. I reckon it should be just a simple bias adjust. Get it checked before you use it any more. Fans will not stop the output devices from reaching quite high temperatures. 

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Thanks ZB, I'll have it looked over prior to use.

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You know, I actually forgot I started this thread all those years ago.  It took me quite a while to get the Nebula looked at and then to get a review written up, but it finally happened.  I've copied and pasted the review below from my "addicts guide the third" thread because it belongs here too.

 

Linx Nebula

 

The Linx Nebula is a very nice amp.  It comes across as a very neutral amp, I can hear many things that I have come to expect as sound signatures that originate from my cd spinner and not a whole lot else.  However it does have a mild personality with a few perks that warrant mentioning.

 

The first is that the bass is just a little fibrous, it has a bit more of a thick texture to the upper and mid bass than usual.  This is an interesting effect, not really a good or bad one as such, it doesn’t really add or detract from the enjoyment to be had from listening to the music but it is worthy of mention.

The second is the effect on lightly played piano, lightly played piano comes across with a sort of a ghostly-spacious effect to it that adds greatly to its enjoyment.  Very nice!   I think it is this same effect that makes woodwinds so nice to listen to on the Linx too.  It also makes lighter female vocals feel like they are fading off into forever.

 

So in summary of its personality it has a lightly warm/smooth background effect that probably clouds some of the micro details but adds a very pleasant atmosphere.  In pretty much every other respect it feels very neutral.  This lightly warm/smooth effect means that listening fatigue is never going to be an issue.

It does have a nice, light PRAT effect that draws you in, in the PRAT it almost feels like a lighter, slightly softer version of a NAKSA.  Maybe 70% as PRAT-ish as the NAKSA, which is pretty good considering that the Linx actually gives pretty good bass as well.  To get that level of PRAT the bass usually takes a serious hit, but not in this case.

 

So yes, a light personality that takes quite a few words to describe its lightness.  Good thing it doesn’t have a heavy personality or I could be here all day.

 

Or maybe I will be here all day, in the 2 hours since I typed the above I’ve managed to cotton on to a bit more of that personality.  That lightly warm/smooth background actually achieves what most room treatment sets out to achieve in that it removes all the bright and sharp edges from the music.  It does result in slightly blunted leading edges on drums but having heard a very similar effect from Both Redgum and Luxman (the L590AXII to be specific) amps I have to say that the Linx loses less of that edge and actually maintains enough of it that it is difficult to feel like you have actually lost anything.  Which is more than I can say for either of the other two.

The more I listen the more I like. 

 

If I was forced to reduce this review to a single sentence I think it would be  “If you like the Exposure 2010S2 but want a more lively amp that still has a warm and smooth presentation then you should try to have a listen to the Linx Nebula”. 

 

Now, to the details.

As usual I have been using my YBA Heritage cd spinner, Aurealix R1 interconnects, Redgum Audio Pipeline speaker cables and my old faithful Lenehan S2R stand mount speakers.

 

Highs:  no hardness, no harshness of any kind, that warm and smooth effect has filtered out all of that nasty stuff that can make the top end sound so un-nice, trumpets sound nice but a little distant and triangles sound like they are behind those trumpets are that are a little distant.  Very, very easy to listen to.  8.0

 

Mids:  Woodwinds sound nice and resonant, very effective in the area of eerie feelings.  The rest of the mid range doesn’t really stand out, it’s almost as if there is a big fluffy, warm cloud surrounding the mids and keeping them all together.  It makes for a really nice ensemble effect but it doesn't really let any of them stand out from each other either.  7.75

 

Bass: very controlled and much deeper than I expected from a smaller amp such as the Linx, although it doesn’t have the current or separation to go deep if there is a lot happening in the mids at the same time.  Slow drums can sound a little thick, fast drums are good though, nice and tight.  Bass comes across as smooth and warm, can get a bit bloat-ish if bass guitar and drums are mixing it up at the same time in the same frequency range but that’s rare.  7.5

 

Vocals:    Plenty of breath but still very honest, a combination that really works well for both male and female vocals.  Also there is a large degree of separation between the instruments and the vocals, they really stand out.  8.0 for both male and female vocals.

 

The soundstage is muffled a bit, stereo effects are definitely still present but there is no such thing as razor separation of left and right channels, they sort of blend into each other and the music in general.  All part of that soft warmth that pervades pretty much everything that the Linx plays.

 

Overall Performance Integration:

Very expressive if a little soft, the Linx Nebula really comes across as a “listen all day” kind of amp, that soft approach is a bit like a throat lozenge for the ears, it lets them listen for longer without fatigue.  There is a really nice sense of rhythm as well, maybe 70% of a NAKSA 80 level of PRAT but with a more satisfying level of bass present.  I can see the Linx doing well on everything from slow acoustic music all the way up to (but probably not including) heavy metal.  It seems to be a very good all-rounder.

 

Ability to Emote:

Very involving on the slower songs, quite good on the faster ones but it does need a bit of extra volume on the faster ones or it doesn't have the energy to draw you in.  7.5

 

Electric Guitar Test:  8.5

Very surprisingly the Linx manages to instil a hard played electric guitar with both the scale and energetic feel that I believe should be present.  I was expecting that soft and smooth approach to work against it but, somehow, it overcomes it with just enough rebellious soul to really make Joe Satriani come alive. 

 

80’s Rock Test:  8.0

Very good but it can suffer from that bass effect I mentioned above, it isn’t a common occurrence but it happened just enough to be a concern.

 

 

In short, the Linx Nebula is a great little amp and it is a damn pity that the company went belly up so long ago.  I have read a few discussions on the net where the Nebula was compared favourably with Naims costing several hundred pounds more at the time of its release so it would have been nice to be able to see how the company evolved over time.  Oh well, these things happen to audio companies continually.  At least I’ve had the opportunity to hear a little piece of NZ/UK audio history. 

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It was worth waiting 4 yrs for your review to come out. Nice internals on the amp and huge looking capacitors.

 

How does it compare to say an Audiolab 8000A, Mission Cyrus II or NAD 3020 classic series.

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It's a bit more lively than an Audiolab 8000A with more punch and bigger bass and my next amp up is an NAD 3120 so I'll be able to comment on that as well rather soon.  

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I really wish people would cease using the term PRAT. It is and always was a bogus term to frequently describe a poor quality power supply and/or an amplifier which has restricted low bass performance. 

 

Here is precisely why the term PRAT is bogus:

 

Any recording by Enya.

Beethoven's Fugue in D Major for organ

Bach's organ compositions

Anything composed by Sibelius, Debussy or Wagner.

 

Listen to any of the above and see if PRAT makes sense. It doesn't and it never has. I realise that it is a very popular term used by many reviewers, but it really is a useless term. 

 

[/rant]

 

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Well in this case the term PRAT could be replaced with the words "rhythmic feel" or the idea of a foot-tapping factor.  Or even "an emotionally satisfying sense of timing".

No promises I won't use it again at some point though.

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3 minutes ago, Cafad said:

Well in this case the term PRAT could be replaced with the words "rhythmic feel" or the idea of a foot-tapping factor.  Or even "an emotionally satisfying sense of timing".

No promises I won't use it again at some point though.

I get the term and why people use it. It is still highly bogus, because it ignores many, many musical genres. AND, more importantly, it can be shown to favour products which perform worse than the very best products. And that bothers me a great deal. The term 'PRAT' was initiated by Linn in order to defend the limited bass response of their systems. That it has lasted so long says a great deal about reviewers and their inability to explain why things are the way they are. Present company excepted, of course. 

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Thanks for those details ZB, I was not aware of the origin of the PRAT term.

I also can understand why it is still in use, because, as I continue to discover, finding ways to describe how things sound is pretty damn hard.

IMG_0669.thumb.JPG.21ad3c94e80707a0aaf20133b5769e2e.JPG

 

 

Back when I was starting the Linx review I found this magazine on ebay.  It contains reviews, from 1989, of the Linx Nebula amp and Theta tuner.  While interesting to read I liked the Nebula more than the reviewer did.  We agree on the nice mid range and the bass but while he thought that the top end contained to much grain.  I guess his speakers were more fussy in the top end than mine.

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Great review Jeff which reminds me of the sound I heard from this amp. Prat was I think a term coined by Naim rather than Linn .Rythmic feel or dexterity is probably a better description. What was wrong was repaired with the amp in order to reduce operating temp?

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7 hours ago, Ozcall said:

Great review Jeff which reminds me of the sound I heard from this amp. Prat was I think a term coined by Naim rather than Linn .Rythmic feel or dexterity is probably a better description. What was wrong was repaired with the amp in order to reduce operating temp?

Nothing serious, it just needed re-biasing.  Interestingly the right hand side heat sink still runs warmer than the left but now I can actually hold my hand on it, no time limit needed.

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On 1/9/2018 at 6:43 AM, Zaphod Beeblebrox said:

I really wish people would cease using the term PRAT. It is and always was a bogus term to frequently describe a poor quality power supply and/or an amplifier which has restricted low bass performance. 

 

Here is precisely why the term PRAT is bogus:

 

Any recording by Enya.

Beethoven's Fugue in D Major for organ

Bach's organ compositions

Anything composed by Sibelius, Debussy or Wagner.

 

Listen to any of the above and see if PRAT makes sense. It doesn't and it never has. I realise that it is a very popular term used by many reviewers, but it really is a useless term. 

 

[/rant]

 

That is interesting, and not what I understood PRAT meant. Maybe the products I thought had good PRAT, really don't..

 

I thought it referred to the slight bass emphasis from the upper bass all the way down to the bottom, rather than only the top part.

 

Both my Naim Nait XS2 and the Roksan Caspian M2 have this effect, and in the Roksan's case I think the deep bass might be even stronger than the upper bass.

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57 minutes ago, audio_file said:

That is interesting, and not what I understood PRAT meant. Maybe the products I thought had good PRAT, really don't..

OK, one more time: PRAT is a bogus term, which attempts to justify a bad bass response. 

 

57 minutes ago, audio_file said:

 

I thought it referred to the slight bass emphasis from the upper bass all the way down to the bottom, rather than only the top part.

Nope. Until you hear a product with a truly accurate low bass response, you might think that. 

 

[Anecdotes] Several times, over the past few decades, clients have called me up to say that their system sounds better with Brand X amplifiers. I then asked them to bring their preamps to me for a small modification. I simply installed two, high quality, polypropylene capacitors, in order to supply a gentle HF pass on their systems. All then stated that their systems had better PRAT when using the HF pass function. All were using speaker systems which lacked truly low, low frequency capability. 

 

57 minutes ago, audio_file said:

 

Both my Naim Nait XS2 and the Roksan Caspian M2 have this effect, and in the Roksan's case I think the deep bass might be even stronger than the upper bass.

Doesn't surprise me that you found this effect with those products. All possess a measurably non-flat bass response, or are unable to supply large amounts of power at low frequencies. 

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On 2/1/2018 at 8:20 PM, Cafad said:

Thanks for those details ZB, I was not aware of the origin of the PRAT term.

I also can understand why it is still in use, because, as I continue to discover, finding ways to describe how things sound is pretty damn hard.

 

 

 

Back when I was starting the Linx review I found this magazine on ebay.  It contains reviews, from 1989, of the Linx Nebula amp and Theta tuner.  While interesting to read I liked the Nebula more than the reviewer did.  We agree on the nice mid range and the bass but while he thought that the top end contained to much grain.  I guess his speakers were more fussy in the top end than mine.

I still hate the term. You will never hear owners of speakers like Duntech Sovereigns, Martin Logan Monoliths, VAF i93, etc, talk about PRAT. You will only ever hear it from owners of equipment that possesses a restricted bass response.  

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11 minutes ago, Zaphod Beeblebrox said:

Doesn't surprise me that you found this effect with those products. All possess a measurably non-flat bass response, or are unable to supply large amounts of power at low frequencies. 

Interesting, I haven't heard anything with more emphasis on low bass than the Roksan Caspian M2.

However I am in no way saying there aren't any, especially since I haven't heard that many amplifiers yet.

My current speakers can only reach to mid thirties, and that's probably a -6db rather than a -3db, so I might not even notice more. However I used to have Linn Majik Isobarik speakers that went quite flat down to 28Hz.

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