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REVIEW: Linn Akurate DS DAC Processors

Model: Akurate DS
Category: DAC Processors
Suggested Retail Price: $7800
Description: Digital Stream Music Server
Manufacturer URL: Linn
Model Picture: View

Review by juddl on February 04, 2009 at 11:07:52
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for the Akurate DS

I was initially auditioning for new speakers however once I put this into my system it was very apparent that the problem was the source not the speakers. No other audio product has produced such a huge overall improvement in the enjoyment of music.
The Akurate produces a holistic improvement in everything that makes sound music. The most striking features are the low level detail extraction. I never realized how much low level detail is lost in what appears to be the noise floor. The Akurate lowers the noise floor to imperceptible levels. The blacks really are black regardless of the type of music you are listening to. A stunning example is listening to a solo by saxophonist Yuri Honing on his first track One Note Out from the CD Seven. You can hear the space around him in all directions and the intonation of his breath as produces different notes.
The imaging is beyond anything I have heard. It is truly holographic in scale. On small scale jazz with vocalists such as from Shirley Horn on "I Remember Miles", the song I Got Plenty O'Nuttin, she is out front with the drums and bass behind her. This was true for almost all recordings of small groups. The vocalists and instruments were well placed giving the illusion of being at a small club.
Other recordings from different genres produced similar types of results. Noise post punk band Unwound on their song Corpse Pose, filled the soundstage with gritty electric guitars, drums, bass and vocals like what would be expected being close to the stage in a small bar.
On larger symphonic works such as Bax:The Symphonies it reproduced it in all of its glory. Previously I found this set to be intolerable to listen to because of "digitis" associated with the violins. No longer is this the case.
The bass is outstanding. On Ray Brown's Super bass series, you can hear the reverberation of the plucked strings into the bass itself.
the timing and tempo are perfect.
It will play audio formats up to 24/192, so it is fairly future proof.
Now the bad parts.
There are a lot of hidden expenses in this product.
1)NAS with preferable Twonky Media installed otherwise you have to purchase twonky media
2)hard drives for the NAS, preferably 2 or more for RAID 1 or 5
3)A computer to set everything up with ripping software and a software tagging program to edit errors from the ripping. For higher resolution files such as DVD-A or DAD you will need a DVD ripper, some DVD-A you will not be able to rip although DAD's are fairly straight forward.
4)Ethernet home networking, preferable both wired and wireless. You can use your electric lines for the ethernet line to the Akurate.
5)Either another computer, iTouch/iPod, or Ipaq PDA to access and play your music
More bad parts
1) You should feel fairly comfortable with computers and networking even if your dealer is pretty good with it. This product is very different than most of what they sell and late at night if your system crashes you are not going to call your dealer. Also setting up the NAS and RAID will require some fiddling.
2) Linn's GUI and config software, this is clearly the weakest link. I would have expected this to be much more polished given the level of excellence of their DS player. Also if you decide to use iPod/iTouch you have to purchase Songbook to get it to work with the DS
Linn's forums are very good and most problems have already been worked through.
There are times when I have purchased inexpensive gear and have buyers remorse. This is the first product that I have purchased that has made such a huge difference and elevated the level of musical enjoyment that I would not look back in a minute.
One thing I refuse to do is listen to the Klimax DS.......

Product Weakness: hidden costs, flaky interface, difficult to set up
Product Strengths: low level detail retrieval, imperceptible noise floor, soundstaging, imaging, bass and realism

Associated Equipment for this Review:

Amplifier: ayre v5xe
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): ayre k5xe, p5xe
Sources (CDP/Turntable): rega P9, dynvavector te katora rua
Speakers: martin logan SL3, vandersteen 2Wq sub
Cables/Interconnects: audioquest
Music Used (Genre/Selections): pretty much everything except country
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

This post is made possible by the generous support of people like you and our sponsors:
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Topic - REVIEW: Linn Akurate DS DAC Processors - juddl 11:07:52 02/04/09 (3)


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