Linn unveils its new Series 5: the high-end audio Rorschach test

Designs to camouflage into your lounge or ones to make your pricey new speakers as visually impactful as they are aurally.

High-end audio manufacturer, Linn, has unveiled its two brand new Linn Series 5 Exakt sound systems, packing serious aural performance in a compact, customisable form.

The new 530 System is the big one; a thirty litre cabinet packing in Linn Exakt electronics, 300W of power amps and an Isobarik bass system. The less expensive 520 System uses the same power amplification and Exakt tech but in a twenty litre cabinet.

“The 520, at just 20 litres, is really challenging perceptions of what's possible in a floor-standing HiFi in terms of performance,” said Keith Robertson, Technical Director of Linn.

Both systems come with the Linn Akurate Exakt DSM as the heart of the two setups, offering connections for all your favourite audio content, from analogue turntable-y goodness to your high-end, studio master library to your favourite audio streaming service.

But the excellent audio isn't the only thing Linn is pointing at to separate its new systems from the herd.

Both the new Series 5 systems come with the potential for changeable fabric covers, designed to allow the devices to fit into people's homes rather than dominate them. The idea being you can have serious audio that doesn't require you to rearrange your lounge to accommodate them. At launch there will be eleven different different Fabrik covers available.

Although, starting from the new year, you will be able to take the opposite approach and make them really stand out. Linn has partnered with different fabric designers to create new collections. And the designs from Timorous Beasties and Harris Tweed aren't exactly subtle.

Eventually Linn is expecting to be able to take one-off designs from its customers too, so you can really get that unique feel to your high-end speakers.

Material problems

Audio manufacturers though have been trying to get away from the acoustic effects of sticking fabric over our speakers for years.

“You'll know that's generally what people have been trying to avoid,” said Robertson, “we've been taking covers of material off a speaker...why on Earth are Linn putting it back on to the speaker?”

When you pass sound waves through a material you end up with the high frequencies being absorbed by the fabric, compared to low frequency. The fabric will also add acoustic resistance to the air that's being pushed through it, so it almost becomes part of the drive unit, materially affecting the audio performance.

“It's not just a sock,” explains Robertson. “You can't just pull fabric down over a speaker, if you do that what's going to happen is the fabric will actually vibrate in sympathy with the drive unit and it becomes it's own drive unit creating sound waves that are interfering with the driver that's there in the first place. Thankfully all these problems are addressable.”

Linn uses a three-fold approach to solving the problems putting material in front of the driver introduces.

First off it actually worked to produced three different material it's calling Linn Fabriks, then it's created new in-house manufacturing methods to fit that fabric around the drive unit to allay some of the problems.

Finally the Exakt technology itself allows for the acoustic effects of the fabric to be coded into the speakers themselves, using similar aural adjustments it uses for its Space Optimisation + technology.

And the effect is impressive.

With the audio correction optimisation there's no muffling from the fabric, and the Space Optimisation + configuration utility means you don't need to have a specially kitted out room to get the most out of your new speaker sets.

The new Linn Series 5 systems have just gone on sale, with the Linn 530 System retailing for £12,000 and the Linn 520 System at £9,250.