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Loki Max

Remote Control, Pure LC, Relay Potentiometer, Fully Discrete Nexus™ EQ

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$1,499.00

Ships in 1-3 days.

Description

Specs

FAQ

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Yes, remote control. As in, you can adjust the frequency response of your system from your listening chair—and save presets. And this thing is as crazy as you can get—relay potentiometers for precision matching between channels and repeatable settings. All discrete, with no ICs in the signal path, including our own Nexus™ balanced differential topology. And pure LC—inductor-capacitor filtering from the highest to the lowest band, including 4 custom 80% nickel-core inductors as big as 1.5 Henries. 

Or, in English, this is our shot at making the best EQ possible, with maximum transparency and minimum compromise. It’s an EQ that can look straight at the storied EQs of yesteryear and say, “Yeah, we got that…and remote control.”
 
Remote Control—and Relay Potentiometers
Go ahead. Try to find another remote control equalizer. If you succeed, look at what kind of potentiometers it’s using. They’ll probably be motorized slide pots. We decided to go all-out with Loki Max, though, and create our own 31-step precision relay potentiometers using 0.5% thin-film resistors and 60 relays, together with custom firmware. These aren’t just relay attenuators—these are relay pots, a very different thing. What relay pots buy you are 15 perfectly defined steps on either side of the knob, for precise control of your EQ settings, as well as perfect matching between channels. 
 
Pure LC Equalization
On our more affordable tone controls like Loki Mini and Lokius, we use gyrators to simulate an inductor on the lower frequency bands. This is because big inductors—and we’re talking 0.5H and 1.5H in Loki Max—are physically large and expensive. To get the performance we needed, we had to specify 80% nickel cores, making things even more exotic. But the result is that every band of Loki Max—from 20Hz to 16kHz—uses nothing but LC filtering.
 
Fully Discrete, Nexus™ Topology
For Loki Max, every stage is fully discrete—from the dual-stage superbuffers and balanced summers, to the current-feedback gain stage and Nexus™ balanced output. These stages are fed by a 4-stage power supply with two rail levels, up to +/-32V. This allows us the large output voltage swing necessary for an equalizer with lots of gain. You’ll never need to worry about overloading Loki Max with any standard source.
 
Ease of Use and Fingertip Control
Forget complicated UIs and indecipherable screens. To adjust Loki Max, just twist a knob…or press a button on the remote. All bands are independently accessible on the front panel and on the remote. You can define your presets from the front panel or the remote, select from balanced and single-ended inputs, and bypass the EQ completely (as in, just a relay and resistor in the signal path, no active stages). Enjoy adjusting your EQ from your listening chair—no need to go back and forth to the rack.
 
Designed and Built in California
By “designed and built in California" this is what we mean: we design, assemble, test, and QC Loki Max in our Valencia, California facility. And the vast majority of the total production cost of Loki Max—chassis, transformers, inductors, PC boards, etc—goes to US companies manufacturing in the US. Our chassis are made in California. Transformers and chokes are done in NorCal. Our PCBs are done in Simi Valley. You get the picture—this is not just a “put the final screw in it in California” product. 
 
5-Year Warranty and 15-Day Return Policy
Loki Max is covered by a limited warranty that covers parts and labor for 5 years. And, if you don’t like your Loki Max, you can still send it back for a refund, minus 5% restocking fee, within 15 days of receiving it.

Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.1db, 2Hz-1MHz, -3dB 

Maximum Output: 10V RMS (SE), 18V RMS (balanced)
 
THD: Less than 0.001%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 2V RMS in/out, pots centered, active stage enabled, less than 0.003% at any potentiometer setting
 
IMD: Less than 0.001%, CCIF
 
SNR: Greater than 112db, unweighted, referenced to 1V RMS
 
Crosstalk: -75dB, 20Hz-20KHz
 
Output Impedance: 75 ohms
 
Input Impedance: 10K ohms
 
Bands: 20Hz, 120Hz, 400Hz, 2kHz, 6kHz, 16kHz
 
Adjustment: +/-12dB at 20Hz and 16kHz, +/-9dB at 120Hz and 6kHz, +/-6dB at 400 and 2kHz
 
Topology: fully discrete, all-bipolar, symmetrical current-feedback design with matched parts throughout, DC coupled, with DC servo, plus dual-stage fully discrete superbuffer, Nexus™ balanced output, and discrete summers
 
Filtering: capacitor-inductor (LC) for all bands, including custom 1.5H and 0.5H 80% nickel core inductors
 
Power Supply: internal 100% linear supply, AC in, 48VA C-Core transformer, +/-16V and +/-32V rails (both dual-regulated), plus separate high-current 5V supply for microprocessor and relays
 
Power Consumption: 30W
 
Size: 16" x 8" x 2"
 
Weight: 9 lbs
 

Holy moly! This kinda reminds me of (crazy old 1980s EQ name redacted)!
Yep. Except we have remote control.

But that 1980s thing was like (insane car-like price, also redacted)!
Yep, it was. $56,000 in 2021 dollars, to be exact.
 
So how the heck do you do this for $1499?
Same way we always do—by streamlined production engineering, large run sizes, and direct sale. Not very exciting stuff, really. 
 
Are you saying this is as good as (redacted) but it also has remote control?
Hold up a sec. “As good as” is a very subjective assertion, and has lots of dimensions. If you are referring to “sonically as good as,” well, we don’t know that for sure, we’ve never A-Bed the products. If you are referring to features, it’s give and take. That famous old EQ offered separate controls per channel, and it used some mighty fancy switches. We don’t offer separate controls per channel, and we use relays. Also, we’re an LC equalizer, whereas we’re not 100% sure what the old hotness was. Maybe it was a constant-Q design, maybe it was LC.
 
Now you hold up a sec. You went into super techno speak there. What are you talking about?
There are many ways to do an equalizer. Loki Max, like our other EQs, is technically an inductor-capacitor, single-gain-stage, variable Q topology. This means there’s only a single discrete gain stage at its heart, rather than a gain stage per band. It also means that the knobs have a broad, shallow effect when they’re only a bit off center, and a more peaky effect when they are maxed out. We found this to be best for adjustments with limited bands on real recordings.
 
So an LC equalizer is best?
Nah. There are tradeoffs. Let’s start with the super-expensive inductors we have to use. Cost out a 1.5 Henry, 80% nickel core inductor and let us know how crazy we are (pretty crazy). Those inductors are also large and may pick up hum from other components that have transformers in them (the solution is to not stack Loki Max directly on top of other components with transformers, easy as that.) There are also other technical reasons why some may prefer a constant-Q equalizer or a parametric equalizer or a fully passive EQ design or a software EQ.
 
Software EQ is sometimes as cheap as free.
Yep, it is. It also requires a computer, phone, tablet, whathaveyou to run, and the UI is usually not exactly what you’d call friendly and intuitive. Loki Max isn’t meant to replace surgical software EQ; it’s designed to be a fingertip way to tweak substandard recordings, compensate for not-100%-perfect systems and rooms, or dial in the sound to your individual preference. You could technically use both software EQ and Loki Max, or Loki Max alone, or no EQ at all, depending on what you like. 
 
Seems like this is real similar to Lokius, but a lot more expensive.
Lokius’ bands are similar (by design), but Lokius doesn’t have 4 crazy nickel-core chokes, 72 relays, 6 motorized pots (to match the relay settings—they’re not in the signal path), Nexus™ topology, or microprocessor control. When you scale up to big crazy, big crazy price is the result. It’s also physically larger, so it matches the size of components like Freya, Gungnir, and Urd.
 
Ahem. Allow me to butt in. I don’t consider this to be a big crazy price. I find it quite pedestrian. In fact, my total system cost is—
Yeah, let me stop you right there. We’re sorry you have been abused by the musical-industrial complex in the past, but this is a big crazy price. You could buy a really good laptop for this price, something you could use to launch a business, explore entrepreneurship, and set yourself up nicely. 
 
So this, ahem, product will be comfortable in the highest-end systems?
We did everything we could to make this one of the best EQs on the planet, something that really can stand up to comparisons with the highest level products. But, when it comes down to it, only you can tell. This is not a dodge. You may find you don’t want an EQ in your system at all, simply because it gives you so much control. The temptation to adjust every single song might be too great. Or, you might decide you want even more control, and go to an infinitely variable software EQ. All approaches are valid, but only you can decide.
 
How can I tell if this is really transparent? Do you offer a true bypass?
Yes. And you can use it from the remote. And the output level is matched between processed and unprocessed modes to within 0.2dB (with all knobs on center.)
 
Let’s talk tech. What is this about relay potentiometers? You’ve been using relay attenuation in your preamps for a while now.
Relay potentiometers are actually quite different. Attenuation is one thing, but simulating an actual potentiometer—a three-terminal device—requires both more relays and much more complex logic. We’re super proud to have developed a relay potentiometer that gives you 15 equal steps on either side of the knob, for a total of 31 steps. Each relay potentiometer requires 10 relays for each balanced channel, for a total of 60 relays used for the relay potentiometer alone.
 
If you are using relay potentiometers, why do you have motorized pots?
It’s the best way to track the setting of the knob. They aren’t in the signal path. Plus, when you use a preset, all the pots turn as the setting changes.
 
Wait a sec, all the pots turn when you hit a preset button?
Yes.
 
Oh hell you shoulda told me this first. I’m placing an order!
Some people feel that way. Enjoy.
 
More tech. Will I overload this thing?
Not if you’re using standard 2V RMS single-ended or 4V RMS balanced levels. With +/-32V rails, Loki Max has plenty of headroom.
 
Even more tech. Is this thing really balanced?
It’s balanced and differential in and out, uses both phases in, and provides both differential phases out. All stages are fully discrete, from the input summers to load-invariant superbuffers to the current-feedback processing stage to the Nexus™ output. 

Why not “real balanced?”
Because the product would be twice the size, twice the heat, and quite a bit more than twice the cost. You’re looking at 8 nickel-core inductors, 130+ relays, a chassis the size of Yggdrasil, and a much larger transformer and power supply. Yes, we know, some people would buy such a thing, but we’re not super thrilled about doing it. We’ve achieved the performance goals we wanted; best have a listen and decide if you like what it does, rather than worrying about technical minutiae. 
 
Is all of this tweaking of frequency response true to the artist’s intent? I’m not sure I like the idea of altering the original recording.
Then an EQ may not be for you. That’s cool. We understand. (But don’t ya gotta ask yourself, “If it sounds good to me…isn’t that what matters?”)
 
So you have a Loki Mini, Lokius, and Loki Max. Lots of Lokis!
Loki is the trickster god of Norse mythology, so we suppose it’s appropriate. Lots of Lokis. Lots of options. Or none at all. You choose!