Has Linn Gone Crazy? They Stopped Making Pre-Amps


This was recently announced, but as yet has not been covered on Audiogon.

Linn Audio has stated that they will stop manufacturing dedicated pre-amps:

http://www.unlockpwd.com/linn-stops-the-production-of-products-that-can-only-act-as-a-pre-amplifier/

So, is Linn Crazy Like a Fox, or Just Crazy...
courant

Showing 8 responses by mateored

I'm not very surprised. Linn is moving in its own direction. It's latest "Exakt" technology is a fully integrated system that just won't work with other components.

If you are not familiar with Exakt, it employs a DSM streaming unit (that also has preamp functionality) to stream content from a NAS drive to the speakers via Cat 5/6/7 ethernet cable. Each speaker (or the stands) contain active crossovers, built in DACs, and built in Chakra (switch mode power supply) amps.

What's interesting about the Exakt system (which I still haven't heard) is that it keeps everything in a lossless digital signal right up until the last possible second.

The active crossover works in the digital domain, slicing the incoming stream into four separate digital signals, by frequency. Each frequency band is then passed to a separate DAC (each speaker has 4 built in DACs in the Akurate systems and I think 6 in the Klimax system), and finally, each analog signal is passed to a separate Chakra amp (again, 4 or 6 amps per speaker).

The system also is software controllable (DSP) by a laptop to tailor it to your listening room. Supposedly, reviewers say the system is good enough to get a system to sound identical whether the speakers are placed in the middle of the room or against a wall. The software is upgradeable.

The benefits of this seem pretty apparent, and the reviews I've read are excellent. The downside, of course, is that it greatly limits your options for mixing and matching brands and upgrading piece by piece along the way.

I believe there are 3 Exakt systems:

Akurate DSM + Akubarik floorstander speakers = $41,000
Akurate DSM + Akudorik stand mount speakers = ??
Klimax DSM + Klimax 350 speakers = $80,000

Linn is a lot like Apple. They are not afraid to abandon technology or give tradition the boot if they have a reason for it. (E.g., people freaked out when Apple got rid of floppy drives, and then optical drives.) And they prefer a walled garden approach, where they control the whole chain from soup to nuts to make sure it doesn't get screwed up by a third party. Coincidentally (maybe), they also both mill components out of solid billets of aluminum.

This sort of system is no fun for audiophile hobbyists, and unattainably expensive for the large majority of people. However, it also makes a hell of a lot of sense and my guess is that this concept will trickle down and be picked up by other brands (although there aren't that many high-end companies that have the resources and tech to pull this off. What other companies make high end speakers, amps and DACs?
Interesting additional information I just read about. Linn sells the Akurate Exaktbox, which allows you to add Exakt technology to older Linn speakers and even third party speakers, since the crossover points are programmable. (http://small.linncdn.com/product-catalogue/documents/Linn_Akurate_Exaktbox_Product_Information.pdf)

Apparently, they have achieved very good results with B&W 802Ds. Seehttp://forums.linn.co.uk/bb/showthread.php?tid=29808
Infection - that contributes nothing to this thread. Put price to the side for the moment (because, let's face it, 99% of the general population would think most of the equipment discussed on this forum is incredibly over-priced).

The issue is that one of the largest high-end audio gear companies is moving in a pretty bold direction and has come up with a technology that could have a substantial impact on the future direction of audio.

I'm interested to hear what people think of Linn's strategy in pursuing its Exakt technology and ditching pure analog stand alone pre-amps.
There's no pain. I'm just disappointed because I realized that the Linn Exakt system has never been discussed (as far as I can tell) on this forum, and typed out a very long response to stir up a discussion. And then all I got was your post.

I know that people on here don't really like Linn, but this is an interesting topic whether you like Linn or not (in my opinion).
By the way, I'm not a shill (although I do own several pieces of low-end Linn gear, as you can see by clicking on my system link)
That's just my general impression. I think most people prefer smaller, boutique companies and think that Linn is over-priced and over-marketed. Which, to some extent, is true.

A good indicator of the lack of interest in Linn is the fact that Linn's Exakt technology - which is a fairly big development - was announced back in 2013 but has never been discussed on this forum to the best of my knowledge.
Perhaps. I think there's more to it than that.

Meanwhile, has anyone here listened to a Linn Exakt system? I'm very curious to hear people's opinions.
I like it. It's part of their brand identity.