Linn Klimax 500 Solo monoblock power amplifier Page 4

When I spotted a new release from Us3, I jumped—their last CD was an instant audiophile classic. Track 7 of "The Remix Side"—as the second half of Flip Fantasia: Hits & Remixes (Blue Note 33951-2) is charmingly billed (vinyl, anyone?)—has a redo of "Cantaloop" that's perfect for pounding an amp into submission, or showing one like the Klimax in all its considerable glory. The tight and powerful bottom end, the incredible dynamics, pace, and rhythm, were so organic I just couldn't resist the sound—it was magnetic! There was plenty of focus and high-style imaging for you audiophile types, along with a remarkable lack of midbass bloat. Understand, K-10 and I have tuned our listening environment to within an inch of its life with RoomLenses and ASC Studio Traps. This was altogether on another plane of existence. At 3:40 into "Cantaloop" is a great bass riff that'll tell you all about your system, followed by "Jazz and hip-hop y'all, jazz and hip-hop..." If y'all don't be noddin' loose as a goose to the funky bass beat, check your pulse. It was incredible fun. In fact, there was always a sense of musical enjoyment that reached through the speakers and into my being with the Klimaxes doin' the deed.

Try Kavichandran Alexander's In Nature's Realm (Water Lily WLA-WS-66-CD), with Wolfgang Sawallisch conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in Liszt's Les Préludes, plus three concert overtures by Dvorák. "First analog all-tube orchestral recording in 20 years!" trumpets the cover. My notes: "The spaciousness, roundness, and openness are a delight. Dynamics are sparkly but never hard or chaffy. It's open, especially on top, breathing warmth into the music. The joy seems to make it through unimpeded. The midrange tonalities of the massed instruments are beautifully laid out, harmonically rich, and differentiated. Everything in its place, maintained with rock-solid stability. This is livin'!"

There was a wonderful splash and collision of sound as I headed into Les Préludes' first big Klimax (at about 2:30). The familiar suddenly became new and fresh, open, sunny, as if the air in the hall were moving past me. As the crescendo faded, the splendor of the midrange and upper mids was almost beyond my ability to describe. We all work at our systems, and from time to time experience that transcendent moment when everything comes together just so, when all your lunatic efforts pay off and you're left in your listening chair, sated and moved. That's how the Liszt left me. Incredible.

In the same way, listening to the fabulous "La vie d'artiste," on Léo Ferré's Avec le temps (Barclay 841 919-2), Ferré's essential humanity somehow made it through our system. His presence, his mark on the world, was made stunningly clear. I mention this recording because, as noted in my review of the YBA Passion last January, near the end of the piece Ferré snorts "que je me'n fiche" (I don't care) and hurls himself at his poor piano. Stunningly, even though I lost all essential bodily fluids at that moment—piano keys were clattering everywhere—I noticed the sound hadn't compressed one iota. I recognized I'd been experiencing it as compressed to one degree or another since I first heard this wonderful two-CD set. Real class. At track's end, the fans were whirring away as if I'd done a lap at Silverstone.

I tried several power conditioners we had lying around, but without luck. Linn has it right—switch mode doesn't need 'em. The Klimax 500 Solos sounded like caca for the first 24 hours, then bloomed beautifully and never looked back. Even when they were entirely powered down, they came back fast—and even faster from standby. Listening to them at night, with their internal lights putting out an eerie, space-age glow, was always an enjoyable and romantic preoccupation.

Linned and liking it
I think there's an essential joyousness with which the Klimax goes about its work. It's anxious to please, but never puts a foot wrong while doing so. I could detect no sonic compromises anywhere. The amp's iron control and absolute grip, transparent midbass, full palette of blushing tonal color, extension from DC to ultraviolet, great slam and linearity, openness, sweetness, its inner light and beauty—I just loved it. In fact, I want a pair!

Go forth and Linn!

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Scotland, UK
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