Publisher Profile

Linn Audio Loudspeakers Athenaeum Speaker Review

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Linn Audio Loudspeakers Athenaeum Speaker Front View


Linn is such a well known and respected name in the high-end audio market that I’m not sure that it was a good thing to name a new speaker company Linn Audio. To be fair their founder is David Linn, an Electrical Engineer, who is also a lifelong lover of music and audio. He was also a sales rep for JBL in the 60s. Mr. Linn has chosen to use many of the design principles and objectives of the early JBL engineers in his speakers today.

Their website says Mr. Linn has been designing and constructing high-end audio equipment for most of his adult life, with a special emphasis on loudspeaker systems. Linn Audio was formerly known as Linn Audio of New Hampshire, but the company has now moved to Oakland, California. I would also like to tell you even though he looks rather smug in his advertisements, David Linn is a very nice, humble gentleman.

The Cabinets

The Cabinet of the Athenaeum is based on the much larger and heavier Acropolis cabinet, but is only about one half as high; 43” instead of 82 1⁄2”, and weighs 225 pounds instead of 450 pounds. It is built in a rigid and durable fashion. A generous use of internal cross bracing enhances the rigidity of the cabinet. The walls of the enclosure are made of the densest and heaviest grade of MDF. The wooden mid-range horn is extended 1 1⁄2 inches beyond the baffle to provide for time and phase coherence for the entire system. The front-ported design is a follow-through from the original JBL design concept.

They use six solid brass footers per side, each footer weights about a pound. The look with the footers in place is very attractive. A variety of cabinet finishes are available. Mine were in a beautiful, furniture-grade reddish brown finish.

The Drivers

The woofer is a 15-inch paper cone type with an extremely large and heavy 25 pound magnet, working on a 4-inch ribbon wound voice coil. The mid-range compression driver has a 1 7/8-inch diaphragm, and a neodymium magnet assembly for very high sensitivity, and smooth response covering from the mid range up to the lower top-end. The horn has been specially developed for its smooth distribution of the sounds in its frequency range, with an emphasis on both vertical and horizontal coverage to create a broad “sweet spot” for good stereo imaging, whether the listener is standing or sitting.

For the midrange and top-end, Linn Audio has developed a new, proprietary spherical horn, made entirely from wood which they say is smoother sounding than the typical plastic or aluminum horns. They also claim it is totally free of any resonance problems, or other typical horn colorations. The shape of the horn is specifically designed so that it has a very broad polar dispersion and does not “beam” high frequencies, thereby providing a very broad sweet spot for the listener. The horn uses a “compression driver with a 1 7/8-inch diaphragm, which is smaller than all cone-type drivers and lighter, thus it accelerates and decelerates faster.

Crossovers and Wiring

According to Linn Audio’s white papers, it is safe to say they also believe in one of my favorite principles in life: the KISS principle or to translate, “Keep It Simple Stupid.” They set out to use the fewest components as possible under the theory that all components, no matter how high quality, alter and color the sound.

They choose to use polypropylene film and foil capacitors, air core foil-type inductors, and WBT type insulated, gold binding posts. The internal wiring is a heavy gauge high-purity, oxygen free copper wire, while all connections are point-to-point, and soldered with WBT silver solder. Resistors used for balancing the separate driver components (when not bi-amped) are Mundorf brand and are of a high wattage, and flame-proof type, that will handle plenty of power. As I just implied, the system is built so you can use active bi-amping.

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