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Linn Akurate Aktiv 242 Speakers & Akurate 2200 Amplifier Review

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So what did I like?

A few years ago, I put a very high end digital component up for sale after I purchased what I considered an upgrade. An interested acquaintance came over to listen to it and decided to purchase. He then asked why I was selling it. I told him that I had upgraded to a new component and he asked if he could listen to it while he was there. That was no problem for me since I had planned to reinstall it after he had left with the component I was selling. I had already broken it in, so I figured he’d be able to readily hear the difference. I set the system up and played music for thirty minutes until he finally said that it was very nice, among the best he’d heard, but he liked the system better with the piece I had just sold him!

This illustrates one of the tough issues in the high end – when is it better, and when do I just like it more? That’s why accurately expressing an opinion in a review can be so tough. Almost everything I review these days is quite good. Some of it is better than equipment I praised mightily five years ago. Sometimes the differences are very nuanced, and you have to stretch to identify exactly how the component is different. Sometimes the differences are very obvious, but nonetheless you can’t say that one component is “better” than the other because the difference is mostly a matter of different “house” sounds, each of which excels on different types of music, e.g., classical vs. rock. The best we can do is accurately describe the differences so that the reader can understand the sound the component produces.
Linn Akurate Aktiv 242 speakers & Akurate 2200 amplifier
So where does the Linn Akurate Aktiv system fit in? Again, you should read my earlier review of the Akurate DS, Kontrol and 4200 standing alone; that will give you a handle on the immensely detailed yet natural sound of those components; extreme detail can often sound unnatural, in my opinion. In addition, as I have mentioned previously, the Linn Akurate system is very lively, and never allowed the music to drag, something that several high end systems I’ve heard inexplicably get wrong. However, beyond those qualities, the Linn Akurate system produces the cleanest and most uncolored musical presentation I’ve heard in my home, and is among the two or three most neutral-sounding systems I’ve heard anywhere. Note that I did not use “clinical” or “dry” or any other word that implies any negative quality to the sound. If I had meant that I would have used those words. I admit that “neutral” is used by some to suggest a lifeless sound, but that is not the case here. In fact, I’m one of those people who have felt that some systems billed as neutral did in fact sound lifeless, and I was prepared for that possibility. However, the Linn Akurate Aktiv system is one of those systems that confounds my expectations.

In general, I have opted for systems that err on the side of solidity, richness and slam. For a while this had me focused on tubes, but I got tired of the work tubes sometimes take, so for several years I labored to assemble a solid -state system which has the richness of tubes. Yes, there were times where I would marvel at the sound of ultra “transparent” systems, but in the end preferred the “solid” sounding systems. However, in the case of the Linn Akurate Aktiv system, the transparent, neutral and uncolored sound is coupled with detail and nuance that conveys the timbre of the instruments, the dimensions of the venue, the nuances of the vocalists’ voice, and a myriad of other audiophile ideals without any apparent negative effects. Though my prior experience with just the Akurate DS, Kontrol and 4200 leads me to believe that much of this is due to the superior qualities of the DS, the complete Akurate Aktiv system preserves these qualities through the entire reproduction chain, resulting in the detailed, nuanced and uncolored sound that emerges from the 242.

The only aspects of the system that I thought were “only” good were the soundstaging and the sense of power of the system. As to the first, the soundstage was not quite as sweeping or expansive as my own system. As to the second, few systems match the B&W 800D biamped with Electrocompaniet Nemo and Nada mono blocks, and it would not be realistic to expect otherwise. Nonetheless, many who came to listen to the Akurate Aktiv system, commented on the soundstaging and realism of the system. It is only in the context of other high end systems did these two things become apparent. Of course, the B&W 800D is the top of the B&W food chain, while the 242 is in the middle of Linn’s speaker lineup. I suspect that I would have a very different experience if I were listening to the 350, whose specifications bests the 242 by a significant margin, and whose woofers move a lot more air than the 242.

In terms of musical genres, the Linn Akurate system was exceptional when it came to classical music of all types, be it symphonic, chamber music, choral or any other sub genre you can think of. Jazz was nearly as compelling, with brass instruments sounding very extended and also very natural, with pace, rhythm and timing second to none. Even when playing rock, the Akurate Aktiv system was great at conveying the raw feeling of the performance. I played George Thorogood’s Bad To The Bone to see how that rawness would be handled by the Linn system, and the Linn’s ability to convey nuance allowed the grit of the George Thorogood’s voice and guitar to come through in spades. As I stated above, the one thing that I missed with the 242 speakers was my B&W 800D’s ability to provide the THUMP that lets you feel the kick drum in your chest.

Linn Akurate Aktiv 242 speakers & Akurate 2200 amplifier

A note about Songcast

Linn has created software that facilitates networking your system, centrally controlling your components, and controlling your music. One of the more recent features available after the introduction of Linn’s Davaar 1 software is Songcast. Linn certainly can’t be accused of thinking small. As it states on its website:

“Install our Songcaster app on any computer and you can send anything you’re listening to straight to your Linn.

You can use Songcast to listen to any audio in any room. Any Linn DS player can tune in to another Linn DS and play the same music. You can also use Songcast to stream audio from anything you connect to your Linn: Blu-ray, DVD, digital or satellite TV, games consoles. Create your own multiroom system — step by step and room by room — and listen to your favourite music or content anywhere in your home.”

The website goes on to envision a home system with many DS units, actually distinguishing between “small scale” systems of six or fewer DS units or “large scale” systems with more than six DS units! I don’t know exactly who can afford more than six DS units in their home, but that’s a home I’d like to check out. If those DS units are Akurate or Klimax DS units it would provide the basis for sending fabulous music to every room, not just the main listening room. Be still my beating heart…


I drew several conclusions from my time with the Linn Akurate Aktiv system. First, this is a very well-conceived overall system with excellent individual components that exhibit excellent audiophiles qualities. True, it takes some tweaking to get it to sound its very best, but that’s actually typical when you’re setting up a high-end system. Second, there is no longer any doubt in my mind that driving speakers with multiple amps and electronic crossovers is the way to go – provided the execution of the concept is good. Not only does it make sense from a technical/performance standpoint, but with a system like the Linn you can begin with a lower cost passive system and then ramp up as you have the money to implement “Aktiv” improvements. Third, my original impression when I reviewed just the Linn Akurate DS, Kontrol and 4200 amp was absolutely correct – all of the components are very good, but the DS is an absolute jewel, and the other components are designed to let the music created by the DS flow through unimpeded and pristine.

If you are an audiophile who loves tube-infused richness and have read this review thinking that there is no way this system could be satisfying, you should nonetheless have a listen. The highly transparent and clean detail and nuance of the Akurate Aktiv system turned my usual expectations on their head, providing a very natural-sounding presentation that all of the visitors who came to listen enjoyed immensely. If you are a fan of a highly transparent and nuanced musical presentation, the Linn Akurate Aktiv is one system you should audition before buying. If you are the current owner of Linn equipment, the Linn Akurate Aktiv system will show you the way to the next level. Finally, if you haven’t yet experienced how good computer-sourced digital music can be, head on over to the local Linn Dealer and listen to how it sounds on a cutting-edge system like the Linn Akurate Aktiv.

Definitely recommended.

Manufacturer’s comment:

I would like to thank Ed and Dagogo for such a professional, thorough and clear review of the Linn Akurate Aktiv System. We’re committed to allowing all of our systems to go Aktiv for the listening benefits described in the review. It’s hardly surprising, though, because in a passive crossover there is audible leakage from treble to bass and vice versa.

To hear this for yourself, simply disconnect the input to the treble section of a passive crossover, and disconnect the bass drive unit. If there’s only bass signal going in to the passive crossover, and no Bass drive unit, there should be silence, right…? Wrong! In fact, you will still clearly hear the bass signal playing through the treble drive units.

What this tells us is that (a) there is an enormous amount of waste / inefficiency in passive loudspeaker systems and (b) out of band signal combines with and distorts the in-band signal in passive loudspeaker systems. In other words, Aktiv systems are more efficient and sound better!

We also appreciate how much you see the benefits of the Linn approach in particular to the Linn DS streaming source. We have been working hard on the DS platform since 2004, resulting in a range of DS players at different price points and functionality, and have consistently made it simpler to use and more powerful in what it does to the benefit of all Linn DS owners. We have just recently introduced the latest addition to the DS family, a whole new range of DSM Systems that let anything you listen to at home sound better, including music, movies, TV, computer, mobile and internet content.

Jennifer Kavanagh
Marketing Manager
TC Group Americas

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