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Linn are proud to announce the brand new EXAKT technology!

Posted by September 14th, 2013

I’ve just recently returned from the best manufacturer event I’ve ever attended!

Linn Products are 40 years old this year and to celebrate this they put on a series of presentations and demonstrations over two days including some really exciting product launches for both customers and retailers.

The highlight of the event was the launch of their new EXAKT technology. Put simply, it’s a complete digital transmission system designed to eliminate the losses between a Studio Master recording played through a DS player right on through to the speakers. However you can also play an analogue source such as the LP12 through the system too!

In a conventional analogue system, we have got used to the source first philosophy; always ensuring that we try and obtain the best possible signal and then try and preserve it through the system until it finally reaches the speakers. There are loses at every stage between source and amplification and from the amplification through the crossovers to the speaker drivers. However with EXAKT, the idea is to send the digital signal as far as you can towards the speakers with no losses! Hence Linn’s comment now that “the source is in the speaker!” Really, what is meant by this is that in the case of digital playback from a Linn DS, the new Klimax EXAKT DSM pushes the signal in digital format from a 24/96 Studio master recording digitally through their EXAKT transmission system, there are no signal losses at all, and consequently the first “lossy” stage is the speaker itself. Hence, the source is the speaker!

Quite a statement I must say, but then I got to hear the new system in an A/B comparison with the same system without the EXAKT technology. The improvement with EXAKT was very obvious!

The new Klimax EXAKT DSM combines the Klimax DS and preamp functions of the Klimax Kontrol. With the exception of one analogue input, the EXACT DSM is all digital, having the analogue input means the output from an LP12 can be played via the EXAKT DSM’s Analogue to Digital converters resulting in signal sent via Linn’s EXAKT link to the digital crossovers for the speakers. LP12 playback from a Urika Phono stage was demonstrated via the EXAKT link and also with a conventional system using Linn’s Klimax Kontrol into Aktiv 350 speakers. Once again you could easily hear the benefits of the EXAKT!

So why would converting analogue from an LP12 into digital and then re-converting it back to analogue again sound better just staying analogue? Well, given there are losses, basically noise and distortion introduced at each stage in the analogue signal path, particularly at the crossovers, it was demonstrated that keeping the signal digital as far as it was practically possible by using Linn’s new digital crossovers meant far more of this signal was preserved and hence it sounded better!

The development of this digital crossover is particularly interesting to me as while it undoubtedly benefits the latest Linn system, a standalone digital crossover has the ability to upgrade the sound of existing Linn systems and speakers. This was demonstrated to us using a Komri system, firstly with the existing conventional analogue crossovers and then with Linn’s new digital crossovers that provided a dramatic improvement. In addition to this, the new crossovers feature programmable room correction too, thus allowing optimum performance in situations where this would not have been possible before.

So, where could this lead? Well, the digital crossovers (Tunebox) due to be released later this year can be specified to work with Klimax 350, Komri and Keltik speakers initially. But moving on from these models, there was also talk of digital crossovers for Kabers, Keilidhs and even the original Isobarik that so many people continue to own and love some 20 years after production stopped. What needs to happen is for Linn’s engineers knowing the original crossover specifications to go back, take another look and then test and fine tune. The resulting software could then be made available for the Tunebox!

Of course it need not stop there, because with digital crossover technology like this, it’s entirely possible that non-Linn loudspeakers could be Aktivated provided there was a willingness on the side of the manufacturer of the loudspeaker to provide technical specifications and a pair or two for experimentation purposes. This would undoubtedly unleash further the potential of their passive speakers, being able to be driven Aktivly for the first time. The question is, can this happen? Well, I will be doing my bit to ensure this is the case and I foresee a time in the future when the benefits of Aktiv once realised with one or two farsighted manufacturers, will be something most manufacturers will be wanting to do!

Best regards,
Peter

Peter Swain

Peter Swain is the owner and founder of Cymbiosis. He has been in the Hi-Fi Industry over 35 years and spends much of his time tweaking turntables, setting up systems and is involved with every part of Cymbiosis life.

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