The Linn Klimax DS and DSM may well be the ultimate contemporary expression of the network music player.
When it comes to high-end audio, one name is synonymous with the segment: Linn. Having recently announced an end to support for their CD-based systems, and having abandoned physical digital media some years ago, it’s fair to say Linn are pioneers of streaming audio.
Linn Klimax DS – a fully featured Network Player
To begin with, we’ll focus upon the Klimax DS, as it forms the basis for the higher specced Klimax DSM. First introduced in 2007, the Linn Klimax DS can legitimately lay claim to being the world’s first high-end network streaming player.
As one would expect from any Linn Klimax component, it represents the very best of the best. Don’t expect that to come cheaply – the Klimax DS retails for £15,800. One wouldn’t expect to buy a Rolex or a Rolls-Royce at pound-shop prices, so that figure shouldn’t come as any great surprise to the Linn cognoscenti.
Bespoke Build and Architecture
Build quality and materials choice is first class, have we come to expect anything less of Linn? The chassis is machined from one, solid, billet of aluminium with separate isolated compartments for specific circuitry.
The all-critical audio circuitry is isolated in its own machined compartment, away from the power supply and display boards. The engineering principle behind this choice is to remove any potential interference noise which may affect the critical audio circuitry.
Aesthetically, the Klimax DS and DSM are an exact match for the rest of the Klimax range, and available in both black and silver anodised finishes. The Klimax’s contemporary, yet classy exterior should fit in comfortably with most any home.
Technology and Function
The Linn Klimax DS is primarily a network audio player with the following audio codecs and file standards supported: FLAC, Apple Lossless, WAV, MP3, WMA (except Lossless), AIFF, AAC, OGG. Digital audio files are supported up to 24bit 192kHz, for the option of true, master recording resolution.
With the stratospheric rise in popularity of streaming services, Linn has designed the Klimax DS to integrate seamlessly with Tidal and Qobuz for high quality, high resolution streaming. For those fond of radio listening, TuneIn internet radio is also supported.
‘Under the Hood’ one will find Linn’s fourth-generation proprietary DAC system, Katalyst. Linn present the Katalyst DAC on the strength of its mastery of the fundamental building blocks of good D/A conversion: Accurate clocking, improved data optimisation, independent power supplies, ultra-low distortion output drivers and a high stability input reference.
Outputs are provided on unbalanced RCA connections, and transformer isolated balanced XLR outputs, a particularly nice touch – it really doesn’t get better in terms of analogue connections.
Additionally, the Linn Klimax DS features Linn’s EXAKT processing, which can be combined with compatible Linn EXAKT devices for outstanding time alignment of music sources. Couple this to Linn’s ‘Space Optimisation’ acoustic modelling, and the two technologies should combine to create the perfect listening experience.
Linn Klimax DSM – the next level
What if the Linn Klimax media player could form the hub of your media system? What if it could integrate analogue sources, digital network streaming, on-line streaming AND play 4k movie files over HDMI? Ladies and gentleman, I give you the Linn Klimax DSM.
What does the additional £3000 get the lucky owner of the Klimax DSM then? In short – inputs, and lots of them. A pair of balanced XLR analogue inputs is provided, along with two Toslink optical and one coaxial digital inputs. Most conspicuously, are the three HDMI inputs and the single HDMI output.
That both the Klimax DS and DSM offer volume control, as well as the input flexibility, might just lead you to consider ditching your conventional pre-amplifier altogether. Both the Klimax DS and Klimax DSM make a strong case for forming the very heart of your home media system. Who am I to argue?
Whether you choose to invest in the Linn Klimax DS or Klimax DSM, it’s probably fair to say that they represent the very finest network streaming and media systems ever made.