Linn Abandons CD Players

What does everybody think?

On November 19, manufacturer Linn Products held a press conference in London to announce that they are ceasing the production of CD players.

They have maintained their focus on server based system controllers. With the improved data streaming and the ever changing format of digital technology, doesn't this sound like once again Ivor Tiefenbrun is leading the way when the common wisdom is not quite there yet?

Remember back to the late seventies, Ivor was there doing demos when many, many an audiophile was of the belief that the turntable had little or nothing to do with the sonic quality.

Do you feel we're their (yet)? Or that the rest of the industry (aside from our Scottish friends) is seeing this as a paradigm shift, dropping the red book CD?

Happy Listening!
Where are all of you BluRay lovers now?? It won't happen, watch for Linn to come out with some incredible USB DAC next. These guys are awesome.

Discs are dead.
Makes sense. The market for high priced CD players is very small these days. Music servers and controllers and DACs are a much better investment.
yes I will agree but I still like the idea of walking into a used Cd and Lp store with finding and collecting and having ownership. That's me the old timer who bases his riches with having it in my hand.
Full (disc)losure: I'm must admit to being a long time vinyl guy. I like the
analogue sound. I've owned a Sondek Lp12 since '82.

It's easy to be very reluctant to spend much on even a unidisc player when
everything keeps changing every time I change my socks.

But, I'm looking into the whole server/dac thing. It is alluring and I feel the
sound rivals red book.

Happy Listening!
I had a Linn Unidisc 1.1 and it was amazing. That said, I don't have it anymore, it was replaced (after another reference disc player) with a turntable as my source of choice after 25 yrs without one.
I'm an analog guy also, but I have a huge CD collection too. There is something about going into my Record/CD room and browsing through my collection and then choosing what to listen to. The actual handling of the "physical" media is half the fun for me.

Then there is the fun of record shopping in a real store and finding the one elusive record or CD that you didn't ever think you'd find. Paying for a "down load" song or album without actually touching it and looking at it and reading the liner notes, seems to me, a fleeting moment.

I realize there are down sides to this, but I'm really not interested in exchanging this ritual for scrolling through some screen for my songs.

I'm with you on this one. I am not necessarily against new technology per se, but this very issue really struck me just today. My wife and I are out of town visiting her family this week for Thanksgiving and we are going to do our Christmas "gift exhange" this week while we see them. We went shopping today and were looking for Bob Seeger's new CD for her brother when we stopped at a Best Buy. The "music" section was literally 1/6th its former size and most of that was downlaod iPod stuff. What few CDs they had (no new Seeger CD) were clearly older Top 40 stuff.

Sadly, in my lifeftime, I will have have witnessed the almost complete extinction of the physical medium of music (other than the niche and used markets). I couldn't help but feel like I lost an old friend.

While new technology does produce some incredible stuff, I can't help but feel like computers and the Net are reducing human physical interaction so much that it won't be long before you will simply have an "app" on your iPhone for an "orgasm" and you'll never have to leave your house or interact with another human for anything.

Now where's my remote?
CD packaging was a disaster for the consumer from the beginning and has only gotten slightly better over the years. Too small, hard to remove seals when new, jewel boxes crack and break, etc. I will not miss CD packaging for the most part. 33 1/3 vinyl is the medium that got the packaging most right.

Whatever physical mediums survive or come about, I hope they decide to just package them in larger 331/3 like album covers for those willing to pay a premium for packaging. That is my hope.

The problem for vendors like Linn regarding players is that it is becoming almost impossible to justify the expense of high end CD players when music ripped to a hard drive and played back via server, controller, and DAC provides all the sonic benefits that most anybody could require.
When a company that has produced a CD player that mattered in the last two to three years decides to give up CD players then that will be news. Linn hasn't had anything that was worthing caring about CD wise since the CD12 10 years ago. This is simply an announcement that confirms what we already knew, Linn can no longer produce a reference CD player.
to all of the skeptics: do yourself a favor and audition a HD-based system. you can keep your CDs (and fondle them all you like), but those same CDs, when properly downloaded to a HD (using software that pulls all the digits off without any errors), will sound better played through a good USB DAC (and the hi-rez recordings you'll be able to play will sound WAY better). HD systems have the best of both worlds: extreme convenience and great sound - and it won't take audiophiles very long to figure this out.
I agree I would rather have a tangeble product in my hands. I am sure downloads will be better in resolution, but then you run a risk of hard drive failure. I guess that you can have a back up, but I would rather go to my shelf and pick out an LP or CD and play it. As far as Linn abandoning the CD players, my thought is that Ivor is pushing his new DAC and digital storage product. My local dealer has told me that Ivor is adament that this is the future and it sounds as if he has bet the farm on this new product. As stubborn as Ivor is, I would assume that he once again is trying to guide the market rather than satisfy it. I am sure some CD players will be rare, but I doubt they will ever go away. Didn't we hear about 30 yrs ago that the LP was dead? Seems like it has a stronger heartbeat now than it did then. I guess that maybe the 8 track is dead and the VHS and Cassette is on artificial resparation, but they are slow to die. And I am getting slower to adapt as I get older. Maybe because I already have vinyl and cd's and just don't want to change. But....
I pretty much always rip a CD to hard disk for playback now rather than pop it into the CD player.

It is still beneficial to have CD hardcopies of material even if ripped to disk. A disk restore from backup is faster in event of a disaster, but restore from CD is always a possibility, albeit slower.

Music Servers may still have a way to go from an ease of use perspective though. Its still easier to just pop a CD in to a player, but the sound quality and ease of access to material a server provides (once ripped there) is the best option today IMHO.


I agree also I love my record (vinyl)albums for the gestalt of the whole thing, the cover art, the cleaning, the care of putting it on my deck and playing it, being able to hold it in my hands.

Here's were Ivor is different than the rest, it is just like the sondek in that he is not just supplying demand to what the masses think they need. He really is taking a chance by structuring his endeavors and his success around what he thinks is best. Agreed, he is pushing his DAC system at the expense of not selling you and I a CD player along the way. In the past he was willing to stand up against huge groups of nay-sayers and argue his point convincingly enough that people could get beyond their preconceived notions. And only then when they listened... instead of arguing some past theory, they heard their music better.

I just wonder if this is the start of a huge shift.

Happy Listening!
"I just wonder if this is the start of a huge shift."

More immediate and of impact to the high end player market than players in general I would think.

Sales of players as a whole have been in decline for a while already I believe. Most buy DVD or Blu Ray players that can also play CDs. Hook a good DVD or Blu Ray player up to a good stereo DAC properly and the results will likely be quite good. I do that in my second 2 channel A/V system currently ($300 marantz DVD player to mhdt Paradisea tube DAC). But frankly 95% of my digital playback time is logged via Roku Soundbridges feeding external DACs on both my systems, the Roku fed (via wireless D connection) from the same laptop PC used as a music server for both systems as needed.
I worry about how music will be delivered and stored.

Not Redbook music--the system today is fine for that. I can buy a CD used or new, or download a file. However a server, for Redbook recordings, only offers convenience. It doesn't offer a big step up in sound quality from the playback gear I have already; I know 'cause I've compared a few.

Vinyl still beats digital, too, so I have a turntable and I'm happy.

However there are a few high-res digital music files or discs around and I've listened to them on the music servers I've auditioned. Now this is more like it. I would be willing to make changes to hear more of this kind of quality.

The thing is, these files are huge. Downloading an hour of 24/96 takes three hours or more, and the resulting file is enormous. I will need at least three huge hard discs to store a music library of any size ( two backups, but that's not overkill ) and hours of time online to build it.

Archiving properly is another question--more hard discs every couple of years? Burning to Blu-ray?

None of this is ideal. Buying a physical disc is a lot more convenient.
"None of this is ideal. Buying a physical disc is a lot more convenient."

I agree. There is a lot of data to move around even with redbook CD format if you have a large collection, as many here do. Higher res sources are even worse.

Storage is cheaper than ever and network bandwidths continue to increase, however, I do not see the time to soon where physical storage media like CD/optical discs will become completely obsolete.

Given all this though, I am already highly skeptical of the value of high end CD players these days and I think the trend will be towards fewer and fewer of these. Of course, there will always be some high end, very expensive, boutique item CD players bandied around to those who still care. Just fewer and fewer down the road even in comparison to today.
The Redbook CD will be around for a long time to come. Obviously new formats such as digital downloading will carve their proper place in the market. Quality of downloaded music is improving as is the education by the public to its use. That said to many consumers both casual and audio orientated fans still have a desire for physical media and will not abandon said physical choices. Redbook CD after storming to huge success by the 90's will obviously see its market share dwindle. But it will hold a place in the market arena. The Vinyl LP was said to be dead some 10 years ago and today it has re-carved a popular and desirable place in the music market place. No it will never regain the sales numbers it had in the late 70's and early 80's but the LP record enjoys its new found place among music fans.

Digital downloading though convenient and now can be had for better audio quality has its warts too. Small library of choices as compared to the CD and the older analogue record and even cassette tape libraries create and sold over the years. It also has the worry of being lost or corrupted via a hard drive or flash drive failure. This will cause great troubles to those who only use it as their medium. What owning a physical medium offers to the user is the ability to keep control over the storage and safety of content as well as the ability to upload onto a server based system if they wish and even an ability to readily without much hassle back up copies they own be these CD,LP or even the audio cassette.

So no the physical medium we know as the CD will not be fading away anytime soon, but will have to accept its market share place to be reduced as other choices offer themselves to the consumer.
BTW, if you want a spare copy of downloaded audio files, you can always burn them to recordable CDs on most any computer so you have that as a spare (also convenient for playing in the car).
They say that Music Servers sound better than Redbook CD. What they don't tell you is that you have a 50/50% chance of screwing up the sound, especially with downloading and system compatability issues. Music Servers and Music Files remind me of the old proverbial "Putting all of your eggs in one basket" proverb! You better not drop that basket! Once the Music files are gone, you are not going to get them back! If the original Hard Drive is falible, so is its backup! The most reliable back-up is a nice, hard optical disk or LP!
I'm all for downloads instead of physical digital discs. Haven't had a transport for over a year. But that is because I rip CDs and play back from hard disk. What scares me is what a poster descibed above about going into Best Buy and seeing 1/6th the number of CDs. Downloads are OK if at CD resolution (16/44.1) or greater, but most are not offered at this resolution. If the major labels move to downloads only, but offer only mp3 quality, then audiophiles are screwed. Niche web sites like, our old CDs, vinyl, and tape will be our only sources for at-least-CD-resolution recordings. So, keep the CD around until all downloads are offered at at least 16/44.1.
Pettioficer, you're right. Same goes for photos and home movies. I backup everything to another disc, and also send it to offline storage. There are companies that let you store an unlimited amount of data and only charge you if you need to download it back ( which hopefully will never happen). This way you're protected even if the house burns down.
The point is to create a free floating Format that can be instantaneously changed from one week to the next. That way, there would be endless revisions to make an endless stream of profit off of. Imagine if you took the LP, 8-Track, Cassette, CD, SACD, and Audio DVD. Imagine if you were required to replace your entire collection every day of the week with one of these Formats. Imagine on any day of the week that ALL MUSIC would only be available on that particular Format. Imagine the profit that could be made off of this. Now imagine the same type of floating Format based on Downloading. Next week the Websites completely change their Format for Downloading, and now all of the thousands of dollars that you have spent on your existing equipment is now useless for downloading. You replace your Equipment and pay the Website to reload, untill next week when the Website decides to change its Format again, why?
P-R-O-F-I-T! Who is going to complain-you? What can you possibly do about it except suck it up!