Linn Klimax DS. How good is it?


Hi all. My first post. Anyway, building up a system for last months since we moved to a new house.

Started with the digital source that I best liked and frmo there went to a right combo of speakers and pre-amp, that would sound well together. You can see in my system choices I made: Esoteric X01-d2, Classe CP-700 pre, Classe CAM-400 monoblocks, and B&W 802D.

From there went with speaker cables, interconnects, conditioner and power cords. After many alternatives and extensive listening, (plus a couple of what proved to be wrong purchases) went all Synergistic Research.

NOw that what I would call the core of the system is done, I want to add two more sources. First one streaming solution and later on will see if I get into analog or not.

So regarding Streaming I was wondering: anyone heard the Klimax DS from Linn? I've read nice reviews of it, for what they are worth, and some very positive opinions of "all Linn systems" owners. Have not read many from no Linn customers, like me, who added this piece into their systems.

To all of them. What do you think of this device? How would you describe the sound of it? How does the sound quality compare to the Esoteric, if anyone had the chance to listen to both? Do you think it will be a good fit into my system?

Any feedback to the above questions, or general info based on personla listening will be very welcomed.

Thanks in advance
Eli
eelii08
You'll have a happy ending
I don't think it is a question of being good, but is it $16,000 or so better than some of the other solutions out there like the Logitech Transporter.
I love the Slim devices gears. I myself have a system of 6 running all over my house. Also listened to the transporter for a while. Although I do think it is a very good piece of hardware, it felt quite short of the performance of my Esoteric X01-D2. It's convenient and its cool, but I was looking for a streaming solution that could deliver superior performance than my current digital source.

It won't sound 8 times better, that's for sure. Exactly the same as the transporter does not sound 10 times better than the Classic or the Duet. That's not really the point of what I'm trying to learn. I would like to now how it compares to other digital sources at similar or superior price tags, and how would one describe the sounds it produces.

Also if someone has experience regarding integration and synergy of this Linn device with other non Linn system.
I have a Akurate DS which is a step down from a Klimax DS. I love it. Its the only Linn piece of gear in my system. The rest of my system is an Aesthetix Callisto Partial Eclipse pre, Innersound DPR-500 reference amp, and Innersound Kaya loudspeakers. Although nothing like your setup it all works well together.

I have also done a short comparison between the new Ayre DB-9 usb dac and the Akurate DS at my dealers. In their system they where using the Ayre KX-R pre, MX-R amps, and Wilson Max 3 loudspeakers. In that setup I easily prefered the Akurate DS. It had more extention at the frequency extremes and also a more open sound. Since I already owned the Akurate at the time I may be a little biased.

Unfortunately or fortunately for my wallet my dealer does not have a Klimax to compare to.

In my experience the Linn sounds great in two systems that are not all Linn.

I don't have any experience with esoteric gear so I can't compare the Linn with that.

If you have a Linn dealer near by you could borrow one of their Akurate disc players to get an idea of the sound with your system. Thats what I did.

Cheers,

Sean
Thanks for your feedback. That is what I intend to do. But before I try to convince a nearby dealer to lend me one for a weekend or so, I want to get as much educated feedback as possible. If this is good I will get into that stage.

Problem I see with Linn and digital palyback (only from reading and listening to other users, so limited validity) is that they felt behind digital reproduction big time with the CD12, compared to similar priced devices. That was making them loose loyal long time clients. Hence the move to the streaming devices and the decision of discontinuing CDPs. Makes sense to me. Agressive move backed by some good marketing, claiming DSs are just the best digital sources regardless of price out there, period.

Now I would love to hear as many opinions and feedback as possible here.

Best
Eli
Killer on the Linn is the user interface. My understanding is that there is a hack available to enable users to use Squeezeserver with the Linn equipment. That being said, if I had a good enough system to take advantage of the Klimax DS, I would put it at the top of my audition list.

Definitely post your impressions once you take a listen.
Riffer, yes that's what I read. Also I think there is a number of programs now that would let you control it form the iphone or ipod touch. By the way, it you own a transporter or other slim devices gear, and an iphone or ipod touch, check out the iPeng program to control it over wifi. It is really cool. Better than the controller, which is very good already, actually, at a fraction of the cost.

Sarcher, how would you define dynamics and bass extension and punch of your DS? Compared to other digital sources you have hear? It think the Linn is probably very detailed and probably warm too, but do you fell the sound has a tendency of being a bit short regarding life-like performance?

THanks
Eli
Eli, The bass response is very extended and detailed. No mushiness or bloat. As far as being life-like, in my system its as life-like as I have heard. It will depend on how resolving the rest of your system is.
Eelii08 second the IPeng its Very nice software!
I was a slimdevices intusiast for many years and i still think the userplatform is the best there is.
I have owned sb3`s , transporters , duet and along side that many different outboard dacs including the benchmark and stello. dac

I never really liked the transporter , its more detajled then the sb3 but thats about it, and when i A/B them the difference was close to nothing.

I actually liked the duet better for music listning.

My slimdevicces dealer started to sell Linn DS products and offered me do demo the sneaky (the cheapest ds)against my transporter and duet, and sb3/benchmark combo.

Instantly the sneaky sounded better, the highs are completly grunge free yet everybit as detajled as the transporter, musicaly there is no comparison to ither slimdevices products IMO.

As much as i like the slimdevices product , it seems to me that the designer of the transporter as skilled as he may be dont have a clue what makes a source musical, instaed the focues on the specs and use that as explanation why its good.

After i had been using the sneaky ds for a couple of month as my primary source i bourgt the majik DS, the gap between the two where not large, but worthwhile because the music just became clearer and easylyer to understand , but it wassnet a night or day difference.

6 month later i traded in my majik ds and got the akurate DS without dynamic power, that was a night and day difference, the akurate ds is a intirely different animal the the majik ds, is more dynamic and goes much deeper in the bass , but its really the music that sets it apart from the majik, its hard to put words on really its just a much more life like presentation musicians sounds like the have the preformans of there life, wich i can apriciate as a musician.

I was so impressed with it that i sold my Linn solos lost alot of money , bourgt the Klimax DS with the dynamik PS.

At the time linn had just released the Cara firmware for the DS units, wich linn claims to give better and more precise sound then the Bute versions the started out with.
linn have been very concervativ with the upgrades the have launced the past years , usaly its just a white papaire with measurmenst that show better specs, wich gives me a feeling that the sound improvment in cara software is very real.

I did compare the two different software versions , and the difference was much more fundamental then i would have thourgt , bute sounds more full more like cd players, where cara removes the feeling that you are listning to hifi and instead the music just floates out into the room and the speakers disapear.

The klimax DS with dynamik and Cara 4, made me fallen in love with music again , and because of the Klimax im now a full time musician again.

Its not for every one, if you are more of a hifi person the a music lover i would recordment the Akurate Ds /with dynamik it would be plenty enourgh, the klimax just gets the music under the skin to a degree i have never heard with digital before.
And with 24 bit its almost to much.

IMO the Klimax ds is a remarkeble music machine.
Perrew, indeed. Actually the sweet spot from slim devices logitech, IMPO, is by far, far, a Receiver with the Ipeng. Great sounds, excellent control, cool and convenient, for under 150 euros...!

TDA2200, thanks for extensive feedback. You know what? I do agree with the duet (actually the receiver is the music player). This not only sounds better than SB3, but also it is very close to the transporter in performance....if not superior. it is a hell of a player for the money. Probably one of the best cost/performance ratios I know out there in digital playback, period. A hell of a player. I did A/B comparations with several CDPs worth in the thousands... not that much behind, and in specific aspects of the music reproduction even better than some of the CDPs. Really, I do recommend it. For just 130 Euros, you need to hear to believe this piece.

Anyway, interesting all your feedback on the DS's. Good news it seems. Not sure what you want to say by liking better the Klimax only if you are a music lover vs a hifi person. Can you please elavorate this a bit?

Also I would like to know what other digital sources, CDPs in this case, are you familiar with and listened to before the DSs? How would they compare to the later.

Lastly, is there an specific music type where the Klimax exceeds over others (classical vs jazz, vocals, live performances...)

Thanks in advance
Eli
Eelii08,

do I understand you correctly when you say you want to keep the Esoteric X01D2 and add a Klimax DS and possibly an analog front end?
If so I would recommend you to keep the X01 and send it to APL HiFi to have it rebuilt to a NWO-4.0-SE player.
This means you would have the Klimax functionality and Esoteric transport in one box and with way better sound than the Linn and Esoteric. Also you dont need to worry about analog unless you need the medium for hard to find cds.
But the question he would then have to ask himself is when (or if) he would ever get his player back from APL after paying all that money.
Hi Eli

Yes the duet is diffently the sweetspot in the smlim line up.

The akurate Ds/ with dynamik gives the Wow factor , it has that big dynamic window teh majik a and slim procucts lack.
It also stringes everything harmonicly together and puts weight to the music at the ecxact right time,wich is what i would call exceptional musical and gives a great emotional connection to the music i havent heard since i first listend to the sondek cd12.

But you are still aware its reproduced music as spetacular as i may sound.

The akurate ds is most diffently also for the music lover.

Why i would recormendt the akurate ds if you arent toallay into hifi for the love of music , is mostly because the Klimax cost 3 times as much.

There is one area where the Klimax instantly sounded different and that is the dynamic headroom and extension, its also the first player where 24 bit truly sounds alot better the flac, infact its also the first player where my 320 bit mp3s really showed there shortcomings wich is a good/bad thing becuse it seems that its only limitaion is the data its playing, if buget is not a problem by all means get the Klimax .

This may sound alittel long haird but i mostly judge a source component by the way my buddy responses to the music , When i demoed the klimax i feelt it more then enything else.
I havent listend to ones without getting goosspots,It really captures the rave emotion of live music , heard or played, if you have the same prioertyes the Klimax is a golden ticket and priced very reasonble compared to what the wadia , DSC can offer.

There is no music it handels better , but the more complex music you throw at it the more it will shine, rock, pop, classic it captures the emotion and dos as littel as possible to destroy it.

Linn also have a long time record company and have indeepth knowledge on what the recoding sounded like live in the studio.

Thnaks

Sorry i accidently pushed Submit as-is

Read this instead

Yes the duet is diffently the sweetspot in the slim line up.

The akurate Ds/ with dynamik gives the Wow factor , it has that amazing soundkvality and musical rightness the best digital has wich the majik and slim dont .

It also stringes everything harmonicly together and puts weight to the music at the ecxact right time,wich is what i would call exceptional musical and gives a great emotional connection to the music i havent heard since i first listend to the sondek cd12.

But you are also still aware its reproduced music, as spetacular as i may sound.

The akurate ds is most diffently also for the music lover.

Why i would recormendt the akurate ds if you just listning to great spund (wich many hifi people do) for the is mostly because the Klimax cost 3 times as much.

Havever There is areas where the Klimax instantly sounded different and that is the dynamic headroom and extension, its also the first player where 24 bit truly sounds alot better then flac, infact its also the first player where my 320 bit mp3s really showed there shortcomings wich is a good/bad thing becuse it seems that its only limitaion is the data its playing, if buget is not a problem by all means get the Klimax .

This may sound alittel long haird but i mostly judge a source component by the way my boddy responses to the music , When i demoed the klimax i feelt it more then enything else.
I havent listend to it ones without getting goosspots,It really captures the rave emotion of live music , heard or played, if you have the same prioertyes the Klimax is a golden ticket and priced very reasonble compared to what the wadia , DSC can offer.

There is no music it handels better , but the more complex music you throw at it the more it will shine, rock, pop, classic it captures the emotion and dos as littel as possible to destroy its the source to get if you want to feel somthing.

Linn also have a well established record company and have indeepth knowledge on what the recoding actually sounded like live in the studio.
Its just neutral
Ok, so I did finally go for an audition and placed a deposit at local dealer to get the Klimax home for a weekend tryout. Very nice guy and excellent service and advice.

Was the unit good? Yes very good, I think I can even say excellent. Did I go for it...? No. I did extensive listening sessions. THe unit was well burned in as per dealers saying. TO begin with, I think my Esoteric is better sounding. Very different sounds though. Linn is very very detailed, (as detailed but not more than the Esoteric), very very fast, precise, almost analytical. In all those fields I don't think one player exceeded the other. Maybe the Linn was a bit more analytical, in a good sense, but if so only marginally.

In terms of scene, also as good as Esoteric; excellent, although not better neither. Open wide, good 3D placement, separation and location... all great, very much as Esoteric.

Now where did it failed, in my opinion and in my system? In "weight", texture and bass extension and presence (although bass was precise and tight). Sound was just too thin and texture of instruments and vocals were just short of expectations, and not up to Esoteric performance. Dynamics were there, but the above made the listening experience less engaging.

Do not get me wrong. It was not by a huge margin, nor the Linn was bad at all. But it was surely audible. You could listen to a track on the Linn and say, excellent. Than you paly it right away on the Esoteric and you could hear the difference with not too much problems.

ALso did A/B blind test and the results were the same.

It was a bit of a disapointment, cos I really wanted this unit to be a killer given convenience of use, hi rez downliads and the like. Bit I did have to admit, at least in my case it made no sense to go for it. I would likely find myself using the Esoterc most of the time short afterwards.

maybe it has to do with system synergy, personal tastes or a mix of it. Who knows. Also maybe listenig was too short only 3 days, although I spend long hours each day, to the joy of my wife... Also the fact that I have Synergistic Research holograph D on Esoteric and the stock on Linn did not help, but that can not be fixed since the Linn won't accept any aftermarket PC....

Anyway just thought I could share my findings and experience with you if they are of help to any.Others may have different experiences or findings, but after all, that is what this is all about:synergy with rest of system, room et all, personal tastes... In my case, I can say this is not the finest source out there, as per Linns claims. Esoteric X01-D2 is better, and surely there a many others out there as well. But it is a very good source. Just do not feel good enough for that money moreoever considering is only "half" a solution (no transport mechanism, so for the money it should deliver more on the DAC than similar priced complete transport DAC players.

Will keep searching for a high end streaming solution that can beat my Esoteric, ideally on an ethernet interface.

Perrew, did some search on the APL you advised. Initially it looked good, with great reviews and the like. But then found a bunch of forums and people who say they send this aparently one man company, money and units and never got back neither one of them for years! Now not sure if that is the case or not, but there are many many many of this claims all over. I think I will not take the risk of shipping such an expensive unit, to a company with this reputation, and of course not a dime in advance.... Too much risk regardless of it being true or not. I guess your experience is different, and again I have no experience with this company at all, so can not say anything good or bad. I was just shocked of all hte sh*t I read out there in the web... Is all over the place., really.
Eelii08,

my experience with the Klimax DS was similar, I was very interested in aquiring one but after hearing it not so more. I compared it with Esoteric X-01Ltd, Weiss Jason/Medea, MBLs big combo 1611E/1621 which were all better imho, some cost more and some less. Also the Esoteric can play SACD.

Regarding APL I honestly understand your reluctance after reading on the web. My experience was I found out about the company after seeing a member here had his NWO listed so I started researching what it was. There were glowing reviews interspersed with problems in custom relations.
My own analysis at the time boiled down to that Alex had taken on to many upgrades and sold to many players at the same time, which resulted in big delays for some customers, which then understandably got quite upset from having to wait extended time for their machines. Anyway I was looking for the best sound available so I took the risk and put my money down for a machine. While I was waiting for it Alex had done more research and had a new upgrade in the coming so I ended up waiting a year before the player arrived. Wait was long, but well worth it. I have since upgraded the player one more time to the NWO-4.0-SE which is the current version. All outstanding orders that Alex had have been filled also he supports his old machines that are not in current production. The nice thing when you buy an APL NWO is that it is future upgradable, you will never need to buy a new player. I jsut wanted you to be aware of what a nice machine there is out there that has all the features you were looking for and with sound nothing else is close to. The one man company is comprised of several engineers now. If I were you I would shoot Alex a mail at alex(at)aplhifi(dot)com just to hear what he has to say about the player, hes very friendly and desriptive in his explanations. Good Luck!
Let's start a topic - ETHERNET vs AES

Pros/cons? Are packets streamed via TCP/IP better or worse than AES? If you transfer music via ethernet, will the "bits" arrive at the DAC fully intact with no deterioration? If so, then theoretically it should be the same?
Changster, I'm not an expert really, but I've done some reading. Seems Ethernet has some advantages.

First you can have your server far, far away from the DAC (like in another room even if you want). Distance does not affect the data sent, since it's own design is for such an specification. The transfer of data from the hard-drive over Ethernet using TCP-IP ensures the integrity of the data delivered to the DACs. it is easy to configure a totally silence system. All you need to place is the DAC at your rack.

According to Linn webpage, on the subject:

The clock used in the DACs provides the master timing reference to the entire digital path.
It is worth noting that this architecture where the data is ‘pulled’ from the network using the clock at the DAC is inherently better than systems where the data is transported by SPDIF or USB links, where the DAC has to ‘lock’ its clock to that at the sending end.

I've read you can achieve this with some short of USB but at a cost. You need your PC or apple near, yo need extra hardware on the computer, configuration an the like.

Also the cost of the cables are important. A Cat 5+ cable is all you need. Even if you want to go Cat 6, these are quite cheap.

Again the above is not from personal experience or particular knowledge, so if anyone knows better, let us know. Personally only have done streaming using ethernet. Now this is very very easy and convenient I can say, and sounds great. Just plug in the ethernet CAT 6 cable into the DAC, turn on your server (NAS or regular PC or MAC, over Linux, WHS or whatever), wherever this is located, and you are set to go.

What I do not understand is why there are only a very limited number of manufactures who do not include ethernet streaming on their devices. For what I know, Linn, Logitech with Transporter and the rest of family, Sonos and not too many more. For sure none of the popular or regarded a high end DAC manufacturers. They seem to prefer any other alternative, you name it.

I wonder if we will start to see these kind of solutions become more popular among these kind of brands in the near future.

Perrew, thanks for sharing your experience. I do think, if the unit from Alex is as good as some claim, looking also at the specs, the fact it can now do streaming wireless and the mods he seems to do, like 10 32 bits DAC per channel of very high quality, upgrades on outputs etc, I would love to have such an upgrade on my esoteric. But the fact you had to wait a full year (WOW) for this to get it done, does for sure turn me down. How could you wait a full year, with the money gone, and I assume your unit also gone and not gone nuts? The Esoteric is 16.000 euros, plus whatever you paid for the upgrade. That is a lot of money to have it on the hook for a whole year while reading all kind of things over the web. I guess it comes down to personal views and perceptions.
Eelii08,

its better than the claims, Ive heard all the big name digital players(and many a top vinyl). Its the best Ive heard! It has 20dacs/channel and an amazing output stage.
I waited a year yes, but Im a patient guy and if I had been afraid of losing the money I could always have flewn over and collect it. Anyway the long wait emanated partly from the new version that was in the coming so had I decided to wait less I could have had the older version.
The current production setup that APL have are much improved an the wait time is far far less.
It now works like this you order the player and ship it to APL, during shipping, APL will prepare all the stuff needed for the upgrade including the DAC tower which is VERY time consuming to build, 1 week, and when your player arrives its another week for upgrades and testing all thin gs and making sure its tip top, and then back to you. So you are looking at approx. three weeks without a machine from when you decide to order, even shorter if you go with express shipping. UPS is the best company for shipping.
But as I said shoot APL an email and youll know all the ins and outs, no strings attached. Good Luck! The Sonics are GOOOD! :-)
Perrew, as tempting as the product may sound and look, I think I will pass. I can find many people out there saying they sent units and cash and never got either back, after several years...! Others did get it back after a long wait, and others, like you had no problem. Some even suggest they were running a punzzy scheme... Who nows the truth of this, but for me it is just too much risk. If I lived in the west US coast (although seems they are now located in Bulgaria) I would maybe visit personally. But being far away, both from BUlgaria or LA dont feel like taking the risk. . It's a shame as it does sound good, but I've rather have a less good, but still excellent player with a 100% probability, that a XX% prob of getting even the best player. 1-XXX% chance of loosing it all....
Eeli, Glad you got to try out the Klimax DS. I thought I would just mention that you could regain the weight to the presentation by readjusting the position of your speakers. The presentation of the DS is different than your Esoteric. Seems to me you would just need to make some minor adjustments to make it work for your setup.

Good luck in you search.

Sean
Eelii08,

as I said the production used to have problems. I think that the people you fond had negative experiences dates back some time and as I said I think there are no outstanding orders at the moment. Id be very surprised if you could find anyone that hasnt had there machine or money returned. APL is actually the only company that could repair the old Philips transports when not even Philips would do it. When people speak about Ponzi schemes, I think I know who made the remark:-), they dont have a clue how it works. I agree with you 100% you have a very nice machine at the moment, no doubt about that and there are few certainties in life. I dont want to push you into making an investment you dont feel good about, one should never do that irrespective of what people say, for me its worked very well following my gut so I wouldnt recommend anyone else doing otherwise. I dont know where you are based, Im in Europe and if you were close you be welcome for a listen.
Id read this, even though dated and the machine has been extensively upgraded since http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/aplhifi/nwo30go.html
Here is a second very good desription. http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=328
Hi, I have heard KLIMAX - on ML Summit X planars - direct comparison to Accuphase DP700.
As planars fan, I found KLIMAX much better, anyway have to admit this might be just the matter of taste - Klimax is really "airy" (is what I like on my ML Summits, so this is actually what I expect my gear sound like). Klimax really added space and melody all around you, but letting you pick whatever you wanted. Accuphase was more like "present", pushing the music towards you - you know this kind of Wilson or Focal feeling.
As I have also owned B&W for few years, I am not sure, if Klimax is something for you. From your system - I think I know, what you appreciate in sound - this "rock&roll", but on the other hand - no other Streamer is near to Klimax.

What I personally made - I am happy with my sound (ML Summit+ Theta Digital gear), so last week I purchased Linn Majik DS and let it go digitally to Gen VIII. Is better than any CD transport I had up to date.