Shelley's Stereo's Outstanding Active Linn System

"This actually sounds like music!" was the first thing I scribbled in my notebook. That might seem very bottom line, as in "I would sure hope so." But as readers who are familiar the sound of unamplified acoustic instruments and voices already know, it's not something you can take for granted at audio shows.

But it wasn't only the system's musical truth that lifted my spirits. The exceptionally well-controlled and powerful bass, which was not something I had expected, lifted my spirits immensely during an energy low point that declared, once I had finished listening, it was time to break for the day before the day broke me.

The first track I heard was a 24/96 stream of Marcin's cover of "Cashmere." "Bass is excellent, midrange really nice," I scribbled. "This is an actual music system." There were several other tracks, all unfamiliar. At that point, I was too dazed by the quality of the sound to try to hunt down titles online. (Nor did my iPhone receive signal in the hotel's below-ground B2 rooms.)

This was the best sound I've ever experienced from Linn. Nor did it remotely resemble the sound from the Meridian active speaker system I encountered at Munich High End.

At the center of the system were Linn's 360 fully active loudspeakers ($105,000/pair) with four channels of amplification. The 360's beryllium-diaphragm tweeter and midrange both have their own 150W class-AB amplifiers. The upper bass ups the ante with 300W class-AB, and the two woofers together receive 600W class-D. Frequency response is 20Hz–32kHz ±2dB.

Signal flowed from the Linn Klimax DSM/3 digital music player HUB with Exakt audio outputs ($21,000), which processes PCM up to 24/384. (DSM = digital streaming media.) "Non-brand" high-quality shielded Ethernet cables extended from the Hub to the speakers. Linn's Kazoo software, which Alon Moscovitch of Shelley's Stereo describes as "Roon-like," fed digital signal to the 360 loudspeakers which performed D/A conversion internally. In addition, the system used the Shunyata Research Denali 6000/S V2 power conditioner and Typhon T2 power distributor connected with the company's Typhon 2 umbilicals and Alpha power cables.

Space optimization, a version of room correction that can be used with other speaker products as well as Linn's, was employed. It worked. Boy did it work.