AXPONA Part Two from Chicago with Linnenberg

There are horror stories of every type that occasionally trickle out in casual conversation at audio shows.

A funky room can be difficult to manage for sonics on the fly, whereas a crushed speaker in transit can be deadly.

When I first heard the Dan D’Agostino Relentless Monoblocks at Alma Audio last year, the San Diego retailer was rocking the $85,000 USD MSB Select DAC in both the decoder and the pre amp slot. That is a weighty responsibility to fill considering the reputation some DAC/Pre combos have bought upon themselves on the preamplifier side of the duty roster, but in that rig (which included the YG Acoustics flagship speakers) things were all daisies and sunshine for miles and miles.

So it was no surprise that the same expectations were propped up against the Linnenberg Satie DAC with integrated preamplifier in the WellPleasedAV room hosted by the Alma audio team at AXPONA. As if to prep a future story for conversation, a decision was made to pivot the pre section to the capable PRE G2 by Audionet. Whether the move was just a jumpy reaction to fill high expectations at the big show, we might never know. But the full loom in the 14th floor of Schaumburg’s Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center managed to sparkle in its own way by the time I arrived on Friday afternoon.

Outfitted with the smaller YG Acoustics Hailey 2.2 ($47.9k) this slightly-changed-up curation was fronted by an Innous Statement Music Server ($14.4k) to the Linnenberg Widor Stereo Amp ($18.5k). The Satie DAC ($9,995) was the youngest product of the lot, being released only a mere two weeks before the show began, but was pressed into binary service nonetheless. Based around ESS’s newest round of 9038PRO chipsets, the digital processor boasts Femto clocks, linear power supplies and a discrete I/V stage built from single transistors. The analog output is limited to balanced XLR connections, but digital inputs do cover the standard fare including AES. The Satie is compatible with DSD, but no MQA in its current state. 

In execution the result was impressive, drawing on holographic cues to construct palpable depth to acoustic sounds and instruments. In the regular-sized room, test track “Space Maker” by Air never felt overpowering, but hung a finely-tuned central image front and centre between the speakers for the somewhat reverb-heavy woodblock featured in the song. Guitars were hard-panned to the side, but textures across the midband felt detailed and lively. The sealed cabinet design of the Hailey 2.2 low-end woofer produced a tight response, but with perhaps slightly less output than average for the weekend. A slew of electronic music dug deep into the dynamic capabilities of the fanciful components, filling in a quick response to the stop-and-go demands of the complex tracks.

Linnenberg Elektronik
Dipl.-Ing. Ivo Linnenberg 58239 Schwerte
+49 / 178 / 7672984