Linn pitches the new Linn 360 floorstanding loudspeaker as ‘audibly invisible; visually remarkable’, and the company has a point. This is Linn’s girthy flagship – roughly the size of the outgoing Klimax 350, the former head of the clan. It’s available in passive form with ‘Aktiv’ bass or Exakt digital active to slot in a Linn DSM system. We looked at the latter in an exclusive preview.
The Linn 360 is a good blend of the conventional and the innovative. It retains several important styling cues of previous high-end Linn speakers. But look closer, and you’ll notice the complexity of the cabinet. Look even closer; you’ll see that new Beryllium tweeter with a Linn logo protection cover. You might even see the trim pieces with concentric arcs cut into them. These remind listeners of Linn’s place in the turntable hierarchy with its eternal LP12. But clever curves and elegant grooves are not enough.
An Exakt Science
Core to the development of the Linn 360 floorstanding loudspeaker, the driver array is a bold departure for Linn. The tweeter is a new 19mm Beryllium dome. The midrange is a thin-ply woven carbon fibre used on NASA’s Mars Rover. And the aluminium-magnesium alloy bass units allow double the excursion of their predecessors. The loudspeaker driver array is met by Linn’s new ‘Power DAC’. This Exakt system keeps the music signal in the digital domain until just before the bass driver cones. It also features what Linn calls ‘Adaptive Bias Control’ amplification for mid and treble. This adapts to the speaker’s demands, using real-time correction. Think of it as an engine management system… for loudspeakers.
Used with an appropriate Linn digital front end like the Klimax DSM, 360 takes advantage of a suite of bonuses. The most notable is Space Optimisation+, designed to dial the effects of the room out of the music.
Few will get just how significant the changes are to the cabinet design. At face value, the 360 looks like any other boat-backed, slightly back-swept design. A closer examination of the front baffle reveals complex curves, with shaped radii matched to each driver. This lets each drive unit live its best life in dispersion terms, each driver in its ideal baffle.
So, Linn only changed the cabinet, the drivers and the electronics in the 360; no big deal! But then there are the finishes. As well as classic Piano Black and Alpine White, there are three ‘Glasgow Collection’ finishes. The almost pearlescent grey of ‘Clyde Built’ is reminiscent of Glasgow’s shipbuilding heritage. The dark ‘Linn Heritage’ is a sumptuous, almost candy-apple finish. And ‘Single Malt’ recalls a heritage in whisky distilling, kept alive by distilleries like Auchentoshan, where I left my liver.
Linn 360 floorstanding loudspeaker: The sound…
This is merely a preview. The full review follows in hi-fi+ issue 220. But here’s a little taste of what’s to come. I’ve known Linn loudspeakers for decades; I even used to sell them in the late 1980s. And they have come a long way since the days of the Kan, Sara, and Isobarik. They retained the sense of fun of those early models. But they became more accurate and detailed with each generation. But there was always one thing missing… imaging. Even the top Klimax 350 was at most ‘fairly good’ in presenting a good soundstage.
It was as if Linn never considered soundstaging a priority in sonic performance. Each generation of Linn loudspeaker would get successively more detailed, more refined, and more capable in so many ways. But not stereo imaging. The Linn 360 floorstanding loudspeaker changes all that. It has excellent imaging. Better still, it has excellent imaging for more than one listener. The combination of wide dispersion and Space Optimisation+ room cancellation work well together. They create the sort of stereo soundstage more commonly associated with omnidirectional designs.
The loudspeaker still has that classic Linn ‘dry’ sound, but it’s dry like a Martini, not a desert. However, now it also comes with the ability to pick out instruments in a sonic hologram. It can also go loud, deep and dynamic too. I played tracks at the sort of volumes that caused my Apple Watch to worry about my hearing. And my ears and the room folded before the loudspeakers did.
Get out of the way!
The loudspeakers are flexible enough to play any kind of music and simply get out of the music’s way. And in its Exakt guise, it’s an extraordinarily flexible design. Linn’s 360 is a large loudspeaker, with each weighing 70kg; that’s almost as much as a middleweight boxer. And yet, it’s flexible enough to be used in rooms generally considered out of bounds for big loudspeakers. It can work in big rooms too.
The company’s pithy ‘audibly invisible’ tagline lives up to the hype. The Linn 360 is a big step forward for the company. Linn Klimax 350 owners looking to upgrade might also find that a big step up in price. Linn joins the high-end with the 360; a product that deserves to be taken seriously.
But for more on that, you’ll just have to wait for the review…
Linn 360 floorstanding loudspeaker: Technical specifications
- Type: Four-way floorstanding fully integrated Aktiv loudspeaker
- Drivers: 19mm Beryllium dome tweeter, 64mm thin-ply woven carbon fibre dome midrange, 190mm aluminium/magnesium upper bass, 2x 220mm long-throw aluminium lower bass
- 360 Array: Class AB amps with Adaptive Bias Control
- Bass System: Power DAC
- Cabinet volume: 60l
- Dimensions (HxWxD, with stand): 114.1×41.1×48.4cm
- Weight 70kg
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