April 2012 Issue

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Your experts are -
NK Noel Keywood, publisher; PR Paul Rigby, reviewer; TB Tony Bolton, reviewer; RT Rafael Todes, reviewer (Allegri String Quartet); AS Adam Smith, reviewer; DC Dave Cawley, Sound Hi-Fi, World Design, etc.





Linn Akurate DSM network player has HDMI inputs able to carry high resolution audio, says Dr Jeremy Honeybun.



I have read Hi-Fi World regularly now for a few years and always enjoy it. It is great that you cover all aspects of hi-fi, including the latest digital developments. However, I am amazed that you can write a large article on digital streaming with no mention at all of Linn.

Linn pioneered digital streaming long before everyone else jumped on the bandwagon. I started streaming with a Slimdevices Squeezebox a few years ago now, then added a DacMagic. I decided to upgrade my speakers in 2009 and my dealer then introduced me to the Linn DS. I had a demo of a variety of CD players at all price levels, all of which were OK, but they all had a sharp edge to the tone which I have since learned is what analogue fans complain about with digital audio.

The Linn DS doesn’t have this and sounds much smoother – analogue apparently, although I wouldn’t know as I have never owned a record player, being a child of the 80s. At a later date I compared the Majik DS with the Akurate DS. I didn’t really think the Majik significantly better than my Squeezebox combo, although four times the cost, but the Akurate DS was a major improvement. There are at least three iPad apps to control the DS, all of which make it a wonderfully easy experience, as well as the potential to use Android devices or a computer. Setup requires some computer knowledge, but if you don’t have it Linn oblige their dealers to set the system up for you.

You say in the Naim ND5 XS review that no one uses HDMI for a digital input. I imagine you wrote the article before December 2011, when Linn introduced the new DSM range, because Linn do use HDMI in the Akurate and Klimax DSMs. The Akurate DSM is a wonderful device. It might be expensive, but it combines a digital streamer with an Akurate pre-amp, and has four HDMI inputs as well as all manner of other digital and analogue inputs. So, I can play my Skybox, and Universal Disc Player and anything else through it. Blu-ray discs are stunning. It is stereo only of course, but I am not allowed to have any more than two speakers!

Linn have also continually developed the DS software, and recently implemented Airplay functionality as well as the ability to stream any audio output from a computer, so it really does everything that is possible in digital!

Linn has always supported 24bit/192kHz resolution. Naim seem to get lots of coverage in the hi-fi press, but Linn hardly any, which makes me think they are out of favour for some reason. My dealer sells both Naim and Linn equipment and tells me the Linn equipment is streets ahead at similar price levels.

I have no affiliation with Linn other than being a satisfied customer, but can’t help feeling you are doing your readers a disservice by not telling of the wonders that are available! I would be interested in your views!

On another point, you often mention that you have to have a USA address to buy from HDtracks. In fact, if you live outside the USA you just have to pay by Paypal rather than credit card. No USA address is then needed.

With best wishes,

Dr Jeremy Honeybun


North Wales


Thanks for that Jeremy. You certainly make a good case for considering Linn and your views are duly noted. High resolution digital does have a smoother sound than is common from CD, but then much of it comes to us through modern Analogue-to-Digital Convertors (ADCs), unlike CD where much of the recorded material comes from lower quality convertors from yesteryear, and was then mangled (truncated) by bad studio equipment and processes. The future looks bright and you are enjoying it now, it appears.

A few people have told us music can be bought from HDtracks using Paypal, but David Chesky of HDtracks told us their U.S.-only sale restriction was for reasons of Copyright, not payment. Our London based IP address was rejected by their website, which confirms this. One solution is to use a friend in the U.S. to buy and then re-send; another is to use a U.S. proxy server perhaps. NK


I am happy to be able to restore some semblance of peace and harmony to the Smith household, or at least to give the long-suffering Mrs Smith back the hours of freedom she has enjoyed while Adam pursues his second hand hi-fi hobby.

I too balance the inconvenience of a house overflowing with ancient relics of the hi-fi past with the freedom of knowing that my husband and 17 year-old son are happily (and inexpensively) employed. The joy on their faces when they come back from the Age Concern warehouse with a pair of KEF Chorale 111 speakers for 5; the anticipation as they go to try out their latest 70s record deck, tape player or amplifier; the excitement as they venture out on their latest expedition, hoping to find an unwanted Garrard 401; all these are worth the constant battle for space (I think).I have also managed to persuade them to recycle those of their purchases which are less successful by donating them back, thus making space for new finds.

I too discovered the quasi-magical powers of Cif with Bleach, admittedly for use on a kitchen sink, rather than on old hi-fi. I can, however, vouch for its potency in the removal of tea and coffee stains. I also searched high and low for it when it was removed from sale and could not believe that such an excellent product would disappear, when there is so much ineffective and expensive cleaning material in the shops.

However, I am delighted to announce that I have discovered an alternative which, while slightly less convenient, has the same effect (at least on sinks). One day, at my wits end, I tried mixing Flash Spray with Bleach with normal Cif cream and was amazed and delighted to find that no noxious gases were emitted and it worked! Since then, I have used this mixture on a regular basis and while the consistency is somewhat more liquid than the unbeatable original, I believe that it could still be used to remove smoke stains and ingrained dirt from old stereo equipment. Something is certainly required, since some previous owners seem to like to coat their hi-fi with the kind of sticky miasma I had previously only encountered on toddlers hands. Short of starting a petition on the Downing Street website to bring back Cif with Bleach, this is the best solution I can offer.

Rosie Nea




Mix 'Flash spray with bleach' with Cif and you have a potent  way to clean old hi-fi, says Rosie Neale.


Hi Rosie – and many thanks for your letter. I have settled on Cif Lemon for most cleaning duties, with the application of Flash with Bleach for those more stubborn marks, stains and grime, which is proving most effective. I’m still not so sure I’d be keen to mix the two, though...

Finally, please pass on my congratulations to your husband and son for their sterling efforts in terms of seeking out those unwanted classics and re-homing them. Recycling is seemingly the buzzword on everyone’s lips these days and I prefer to think of our activities in terms of this, rather than the “hoarding old rubbish” description that Mrs Smith seems to think is more accurate! AS


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