Linn Tukan loudspeaker Page 2

In its most basic configuration, the Tukan can be single- or bi-wired. The separate bass and treble input terminals also allow passive bi-amping (two amplifier channels driving the Tukan through the Tukan's passive crossover), or active bi-amping. In active bi-amping, an external electronic crossover splits up the frequency spectrum before the power amplifiers, eliminating the need for passive crossover components (capacitors and inductors) in the signal path. All Linn amplifiers, including the Majik integrated, can be upgraded to actively drive the Tukans. If you have a Linn Majik and a pair of Tukans, you can take their performance to the next level without selling them and starting over.

Another unusual feature of the Tukan is the ability to fine-tune the treble balance with an adjustment inside the cabinet. This treble level control must be performed by a Linn dealer: you must take home the Tukans, listen to them to decide if the treble level is suited to your room, then return them to the Linn dealer for adjustment.

The Tukan's 5.1" bass/midrange driver and 3/4" dome tweeter appear to be of high quality. The bass/midrange unit, custom-made for Linn, is also used in Linn's AV5140 and Keltik. The driver has been refined over several years, and is currently in its seventh revision. The magnet structure's size (it's as big as the cone) was limited only by the size of the baffle opening. The magnet is supported by a cast (not stamped) basket.

Similarly, the tweeter is the same unit found in all Linn loudspeakers, even the top-of-the-line Keltik. The custom tweeter uses a ceramic-coated diaphragm to push its first breakup mode high in frequency. A wire-mesh cover protects the tweeter from prying fingers. (Why do people always want to stick their fingers into dome tweeters?)

The impedance is specified at a nominal 4 ohms, although the impedance never drops below that. Sensitivity is rated at a moderate 87dB for 1W of power measured at 1 meter at 1kHz (footnote 3).

The Tukan has a solid, dense feel and weight—such a small cabinet is easier to make rigid and inert. The enclosure is vented in the rear with a very small port. One danger of small ports is the high air velocity they create, which can cause a "chuffing" sound (although I heard no problems in the listening). The Tukan is designed to work well very close to a back wall, such as on a bookshelf; the design emphasis seems to have been on optimizing their performance for how most people will use them, not the minority of us who put small speakers on stands a third of the way into the room. Consequently, I tried the Tukans in places I'd normally never consider for reviewing loudspeakers: on a high bookshelf, on my desk a few inches from the back wall, 18" from the back wall on the desk, and on stands 42" into the room.

Listening to the Tukans
When I first set up the Tukans and played music through them, I was surprised at how good the sound was without any placement tweaking. In fact, the Tukans were only roughly set up, without precise measurements of each speaker to the rear wall, or identical toe-in. Nonetheless, these little loudspeakers threw a huge and focused soundstage with a captivating immediacy and clarity. With some attention to placement, the Tukans really sang. Their big, open sound was surprising from two such tiny enclosures.

The Tukan's presentation was considerably different from that of the Aerial 5: the Linn was more forward, lively, open, and detailed. On the down side, the Tukan had a thinner sound, particularly through the upper bass and lower midrange. This led to a somewhat threadbare rendering of instrumental textures that emphasized upper-order harmonics. The presentation could take on a slightly whitish character in relation to the warmer sound from the Aerial. Neither loudspeaker had much bass extension, but the Tukan sounded lighter and thinner in the upper bass. Moving the Tukans to a bookshelf just inches from the rear wall warmed up the sound, but reduced articulation. Kickdrum took on more punch near the rear wall, but the bottom end also sounded a little more "wooden." Overall, the Tukan didn't have the bass clarity of the Aerial. This is to be expected from a ported design in a tiny enclosure at less than half the cost.

Footnote 3: The Tukan's sensitivity is measured with "1W" (one watt) input; the Aerial's sensitivity at "2.83V" input. What's the difference? Although 2.83V across 8 ohms dissipates 1W of power, there's actually a big difference between the two measurement methods when dealing with loudspeakers of less than 8 ohms impedance: 2.83V across a 4 ohm loudspeaker dissipates two watts of power. When the voltage remains constant and the impedance is halved, current flow is doubled. Consequently, the load dissipates twice the power. When the "2.83V" input voltage is specified, it makes the 4 ohm loudspeaker appear to be 3dB more sensitive than it would be if measured with a true 1W input. Buyer beware—and watch out for the fine print.
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