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Linn Akurate Aktiv 242 Speakers & Akurate 2200 Amplifier Review

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A word about speaker placement

I want to mention speaker placement primarily because my room setup forced the 242s to be well away from the rear walls – over four feet. With many speakers this is good. It wasn’t bad with the 242s, but it clearly put them at just a bit of a disadvantage since their bass output is more pronounced when closer to a rear wall. This clearly had an effect on how I tweaked the gain on the bass amps when tweaking the system settings. Linn suggests that the 242s be placed no closer than 9 inches from the wall, and my sense is that a placement of 18-24 inches from the back wall would have been ideal. Nonetheless, as you’ll see, the Linn’s bass was quite good despite this handicap. In fact, for most households placement closer to the wall is more practical and aesthetically pleasing, not to mention much higher on the SAF (Spouse Approval Factor) scale.

The Interface

I have been spoiled by the fabulous interface of my modified Qsonix music server. Qsonix is one of the companies that took the approach that is opposite from the one taken by Linn. Qsonix first focused on creating a device that would allow the user to easily rip or download music and have all the metadata loaded automatically so that the advanced features of the Qsonix would provide unparalleled search capabilities. The more recent Q205, which incorporates a Wadia-designed spdif digital output and ditches the average internal DACs of the older Q105, is all about the simplicity of a dedicated music server. As discussed above, Linn’s approach of designing to the open UPnP standard is different.

You can pick any interface you want. You can use Linn’s software, known as Kinski, or third party control software such as Chorus HD, Songbook, or PlugPlayer. These are all available as apps that allow you to use various wireless handheld devices such as an iPhone or iPad. In my case, Darrin left me an iPad that had several different apps to try out. All of them worked just fine, and my preferences for one or the other were not strong. The freedom provided by the ability to control the system from anywhere in or around the house is great and definitely the future. Linn provides extensive support to help you in the process of selecting, installing and configuring all the software you will need to control your entire system. More importantly, your Linn dealer will do virtually all of the work, and once it’s done you can forget about it and just enjoy music.



Linn Akurate Aktiv 242 speakers & Akurate 2200 amplifier

Linn Akurate 2200 stereo power amplifier

Linn Akurate Aktiv 242 speakers & Akurate 2200 amplifier
When Darrin completed the assembly of the Aktiv system, we still didn’t have power, so he left without confirming that the assembled system actually worked. Similarly, I went on to other things, hoping that power would be restored soon. My wish was finally fulfilled the next day, but work called and it was not until the next evening that I was finally able to have my first listen. I had left the system to play all day, so about 10 hours of break-in had taken place by that time.

The first and most obvious thing was the absolutely crystal-clear presentation. As you will see below, this impression was confirmed during all my listening sessions. As my listening session went on I also became aware of some of the best performer separation I’ve heard in any system, with each performer’s aura distinct from the others in a way that mimicked live performances. I also discovered that I could easily discern the performance venue, and the sonics cues created a virtual sonic replica of the room involved. This was very consistent with my prior experience with the DS and Kontrol.

Needless to say, systems with see-through clarity tend to also have top notch pace, rhythm and timing, and the Linn Akurate Aktiv system was no exception. There was never an instance in which things felt sluggish; and music that was meant to be fast-paced created some real toe-tapping moments.

All of these qualities continued to manifest themselves during the entire time that the Linn Akurate Aktiv system remained in my listening room. As time went on, I focused on other audiophiles characteristics, such as bass quality, naturalness of the midrange and grain-free treble extension. Let’s take these one at a time, starting with bass.

I’m kind of a fanatic for good bass. Not just good bass, but realistic bass that sounds like it does in a live performance. This means that the bass has to have extension, definition, nimbleness, nuance, power and body. It is not easy to get all of these in one package. Moreover, getting the lower bass, upper bass and lower midrange to “mesh without mush” (how do you like that expression?) is near impossible, and only the best full-range floor standers seem to get this right. The lower bass needs plenty of oomph and definition so you can hear the actual notes but still feel their power while preserving the pace of the music. The upper bass and lower midrange need a dose of warmth and body or the music can sound clinical – but not too much warmth or the pace will drag.

After two days of listening I felt that the lower bass was spot-on correct, but that the upper bass was too polite and reticent. To compensate for this I first played with the rear-panel controls on each amplifier that allow you to adjust the output of each amplifier channel. Making small adjustments over the course of three days, I eventually settled on boosting the two upper bass channels by about 1.5 dB. That was more to my taste, and I gave it two additional days of listening before any more tweaking. I then experimented with some additional boost to the midrange, and eventually settled on adding one-half dB. This got me close to what I thought was the right balance, but I was still not fully satisfied, so after another two days I switched some of the interconnects. Specifically, I removed the pair of the Linn interconnects that connected the DS to the Akurate and substituted the Aural Symphonics Chrono. That did the trick for me, and I made no further adjustments to the sound of the bass or midrange throughout the review.

The only one of these adjustments that was significant was the boost to the upper bass in order to adapt to my personal preference. All of the rest were very minor tweaks. Somewhat to my surprise, I never needed to make any adjustments to the super tweeter. I guess I have never really focused on the purpose of a super tweeter. A super tweeter is designed to reproduce ultrasonic above the range of human hearing to instill the airiness that can be heard in most live performances. In any event, the only treble adjustments I made were to the tweeter, where I toned down the gain about .5 dB. The treble was never edgy or shrill, but the small adjustment let me dial it in to my exact personal taste.

Once I made these small adjustments I was in sonic bliss for several weeks, and guests commented on how good the system sounded. The ability to make these small adjustments to the drivers of the 242 speakers made me think of all the times that I’ve added and removed cables, power cords, fuses, conditioners and other things to dial in the sound. Though I had assumed that an active system would add a lot more complications, the ability to adjust the amp output for each driver was actually a less complicated way to get to the sonic goal than trying to do so with other components. I’m not saying that it’s a snap to set up, but in many ways it’s no more complicated than endless component swapping.

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