"What a refreshingly honest blog about listening to music through hi-fi. So happy to see views based upon the enjoyment of music rather than so-called sound 'quality'." - Peter Comeau, Director of Acoustic Design at Mission / Wharfedale

Monday 16 June 2014

CRANAGE HALL AUDIO SHOW JUNE 2014 - Linn at Brian and Trevor's

Showcasing the latest iteration of Linn's Exakt digital crossover / room optimisation system with the Akubarik Exact loudspeakers,  These accept an Exakt digital signal, digitally splits this into 5 different frequency bands, corrects for phase and timing distortions between and within each speaker drive unit, corrects for the actual measured manufacturing variances in each driver and then feeds each of the 5 bands to a dedicated power amplifier for each driver.  This is all housed in the aluminium extruded housing down the back of the cabinet.  Connections in the back are just a mains lead and an Exakt Cat 5 cable (its not ethernet, its proprietary). The speakers are reasonably compact and use a pair of isobaric loaded bass drivers facing downwards, helping to make the speakers less room boundary dependent.  They're good looking, but I prefer the darker satin colours to the glossy examples on display today.

The electronics feeding the speakers is the Klimax Exakt DSM - its a streamer and pre-amp with mostly digital inputs.  There is one analogue input which uses a very high quality 32 bit analogue to digital converter, so even the LP12 signal is digitised so the Exakt software can do its stuff with analogue too. By measuring the room dimensions the software can also reduce the appropriate low frequencies in the signal to help reduce boom.

Music was being played using the KEDSM as a streamer and from a top spec LP12 turntable.  All the components were being fed by mains from PS Audio Perfect Wave power regenerators.  These are not conditioners, they take the incoming distorted AC mains, turn it to DC, then regenerate a 240V 50Hz mains output without the distortion.

Left Top Down: LP12, KEDSM, Uphorik Phono Stage, but not sure what's on the lowest shelf.  On the right is a PS Audio Perfect Wave P10 sitting on a PS Audio Power Base
So how did all of this sound?  Very Linn.  Understated, controlled, detailed, musical and very tuneful.  It doesn't leap out at you, but you can listen to it for hours.  Occasionally it was a touch too loud and the LP12 was sounding suprisingly lightweight - very unusual.  When playing at a sensible volume you could hear the benefits of Exakt with excellent imaging and no obvious timing issues.  I did think that it would be a bigger improvement than it seems to deliver over the standard active Akubariks.  This is probably due to the limitations of Akurate level DACs and amps that are somewhere between Majik and Akurate level all built into the back of the speakers.  I'm thinking Klimax Exakt crossovers, external amps and passive Akubariks might bring a better (but even more expensive) result.

Decent sounds here, much better than the Linn sound at the Manchester airport show last year, and in the top 5 of rooms I heard at Cranage.

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