Thursday 10th September, 10:30 am The Violin Factory, 35a Cornwall Road, South Bank, Waterloo, London SE1 8TJ
With press launches all over the place this week UK, USA and Berlin our journos had trouble keeping up. I hit the Linn do at the Violin Factory, and found upwards of eight new offerings.
MD Gilad Tiefenbrun introduced the new style friendly speakers.
We had already experienced Linn’s active linear phase digital version of the B&W Nautilus flagship and now we had the KEF Reference 5, the digital drive system design supported by production tolerance data from Jack Oclee-Brown, head of research at KEF. Linn showed how at some cost such a loudspeaker could be reversibly modified to bypass the passive crossover and be driven actively.
Here the crossovers and the phase linearisation, and the low frequency room correction for the loudspeaker placements, were all performed in the digital domain. This happens in the new six channel version of the Exact DSP ‘digital player’ unit which outputs audio to the multi channel power amplifiers feeding these three-way, formerly passive loudspeakers. A/B presentations were made intriguingly with an LP12 source fitted with its internal RIAA equalisation module. This analogue signal was digitised in the Majik Exaktbox-1 to 24bit 192 kHz data. With some flair, the modified Ref 5’s were rapidly converted from analogue to digital drive for our delectation.
This is part of a continuing rollout for this upgrade technology which for example is supported from first design by Kudos for three of their models including the flagship Titan 808. This Linn equipped digital active version sounded very fine at this years Bristol Show. Also to help show diversity for this upgrade line up we have the B&W 802 Diamond, the Kef Ref 5 noted, The PMC twenty.26 and perhaps surprisingly the JBL K2 S9900. This is not to omit the fact that nearly every Linn speaker of the past 20 years is also in this digital upgrade programme. We had already experienced the B&W Nautilus conversion at a previous event (a few are still made to order). The primary exhibit was the all-in-one floor standing design of two new digital active loudspeaker systems, the Series 5, with a ‘highly customisable aesthetic’. The smaller 520 is an two-way the 530 more powerfully augmented by an in-board compact Isobarik bass system vertical firing and the electronics are Akurate DSM with a generous direct coupled 100W per driver. What is so special is that almost any fabric may be used, as a zipped up sleeve, even a lightweight Harris Tweed. Just a few options are shown below.
Critically measured and mathematically modelled at Linn the Exact processor can characterise and compute the correction for the complex effect of the fabric (11 options at launch and more to come), its attenuation over frequency and also the acoustic loading on the drivers. The fabric thus becomes acoustically invisible. Linn feel that the decorator friendly aspect will win new friends without a performance compromise. Glass top plates are detachable; grey, black, and white they while is users changeable and new fabric designs may be ordered.
Using the 530 three-way, we were given a repeat demo of the included Linn room tune facility (Space Optimisation) , here using the latest algorithms, and for me there was a convincing improvement in speed and articulation with the room correction invoked. The slimmer 520 will be priced from £9,250 a pair, and I reckon the 530 is the best bang for the buck. Not demonstrated was perhaps the most radical introduction, the Exaktbox Sub at £1250. Single or multiple sub woofers may be used with Exakt system optimisation for phase and time, making possible truly integrated time aligned bass extension to 20Hz. This is a digital crossover with 2 channels of DAC. It comprises two Exakt Link connections, and supports two subwoofers in mono mode or one subwoofer in stereo mode and is compatible with all subwoofers.
Exaktbox Sub control system
- See more at: http://www.hificritic.com/blog/linn-launch-new-digital-products#sthash.jwCMgCFM.dpuf