I love factory visits and so when an invitation to Linn in Glasgow dropped onto our virtual doormat I was really quite chuffed. I’ve known, as many of you reading this will have, Linn from my teenage days and reading the mags of the day and lusting after the LP 12, Isobariks etc. Needless to say I ended up owning aforementioned turntable having spent the majority of my first term at university’s grant on a second-hand one (afromosia plinth, no arm and no cartridge). That got swapped, along with my Musical Fidelity The Preamp and Crimson Electric amp, for a pair of Technics 1210s when the acid house craze kicked off and I started my Djing career. For many years I was Linnless (though many will have noticed the fact that the good lady wife is a Lin, though missing an n from the end of her name). I digress but Linn did play a major part in the rekindling of my love of Hifi when about 13 years ago Lin (Mrs Hifi Pig) noticed some Linn gear for sale on a local expat forum. So I was now fully kitted out with an LP12 (this time it had an arm and cartridge), a Karik CD player, Majik amp and a pair of Keilidh speakers. So, to say Linn are somewhat instrumental in the creation of what has become Hifi Pig is a bit of an understatement.

What I like about Linn and their outlook is that they are, despite lots of changes in the industry, fiercely independent and that they continue to make products in-house at their Glasgow base. I also like their commitment to their retailers and their attitude of never selling online. Indeed, one of the major points Gilad (son of Ivor and current MD) makes in his introduction is that Linn want to be the best business partners they can be and that being independent and without shareholders they are able to focus on longer term goals and ensure that retailers are an integral part of the whole Linn experience. So that is why you will see fewer but more focused sellers of Linn equipment and that the buying experience they offer is high – think Brian and Trevor’s House of Linn in Manchester. There are now 50% less Linn retailers in the UK (around 40) than there was two years ago. Manufacturing is coming more in house all the time too with Linn investing (see the pics that follow) in new technology and new surface mount technology for circuit boards and the like. It’s interesting to hear, and somewhat refreshing too, Gilad say that the company is “very anti manufacturing in China” and that they have recently invested around £1.6 million in new machinery.

So, who are Linn’s customers? According to Gilad there are three main buyers of their products. You have the audiophile customer buying their sources (LP12 and streamers), existing customers buying upgrades to products they already own and finally, and I think interestingly, customers who love music but have no interest in getting into the whole Hifi/audiophile thing buying speaker systems and all in one units.

A bit of history is in order at this juncture I think. In 2007 Linn introduced the Klimax DS and network streaming – quite a departure for a company who are most famous for their vinyl spinners. In 2013 Exakt is launched bringing active technology to speakers with many manufacturers now making speakers that are Exakt compatible. Which brings us to why we are here today and the launch of the new Selekt DSM. You can read more about the Selekt DSM here.

The thinking behind Selekt DSM, according to Gilad, is what people love about vinyl is that it is tactile and touchable and so Linn wanted to bring some of that feeling of vinyl’s “feel” into the realms of streaming and I love that the new Selekt DSM is useable WITHOUT the need for an app…though one is available of course. What I also like about the new unit is the inclusion of a new version of Linn’s “Space Optimisation” tech (which Lin and I heard in its original form many years ago in Paris) allowing the system to optimise for different room shapes and room layouts.

Adrian Choong (pictured below and in charge of product design) spoke to us about the configurability of the new Selekt and how performance and feel for the end user had been paramount. You can read more about the Selekt in our news item here but what I took from Adrian’s talk was the modularity and the fact that the design allows for upgrades down the line with the addition of specific cartridges (though I think Linn miss a trick in not calling them Kartridges) – buy the base unit and configure as you wish with headphone amp cartridge, class D amp cartridge and even a 5.1 unit. The base unit includes a MM/MC phonostage too and this is interesting in that it runs in the digital domain (shock horror to traditionalists I’m sure, but as Gilad points out, Linn have always used whatever technology they feel delivers the best results for the end user). There is also the option to upgrade the DAC module included in the base module to Katalyst level, again using a slot in cartridge, making life for the user and retailer pretty simple. The unit does look very nice and has six buttons that are configurable on the front top, a large OLED display that is in black and white (no album art, which I quite like) and a big Knob which allows for not just volume control but also for pause, resume, and cycling through connections. I like this move away from the absolute ned to use an app though if you do want to see album art etc then you can use an app. I found the unit accessible, easy to fathom, clean and clear in use. I also liked that the Selekt is the same footprint as the LP 12 and that it is designed to sit on top of furniture rather than being hidden away on a shelf. Price is £4K for the base model, £5250 with the amp Kartridge (that’s what I’m going to kall them as it follows Linn tradition) added and you can add another £1500 if you want to go the whole hog and add the Katalyst DAC Kartridge. It begins shipping today early October but enjoys its launch today, the 20th September.

Personally, I like this new unit and feel that it is aimed directly, as Gilad previously mentioned in his intro’, at new customers who love music and who are looking for a one box solution (just add speakers and/or record player) but also for folk looking to dabble in the whole streaming experience.

We obviously had a listen to the Selekt DSM and it is very good when compared to the competition, even in its base form. If I wasn’t the kind of person who loves lots of boxes for my Hifi (read audiophile nerd) this would certainly be on my shopping shortlist of units to try in the home. It’s stylish, simple, configurable, tactile and has just enough of that nerd-appeal to be relevant for the dyed in the wool audiophile. Like it or not, this kind of all in one product is surely the future of music reproduction in the home and I for one applaud Linn and others for recognising and embracing this fact.

Presentation of the new product over we were treated to a tour of the factory, it was smaller than I expected, but staff looked happy, were keen to talk to us and the machinery was suitably impressive. Here’s the pics from the tour which I know is what readers really want to see…

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