Linn Klimax DSM preview

Staring up at the almost unscarred blue sky as I sipped coffee in the cold spring air of British Columbia’s northwest coast, I noticed there were far fewer contrails than I’d remembered seeing over the previous months. Another victim of the coronavirus – albeit one that offers a reprieve for the environment.

That seems to be the new normal – fewer of some things these days, and none at all of others as entropy takes over daily life. One of the things that has dwindled here for me is deliveries of high-fidelity gear for review as some companies defer shipping product until ‘this current situation is resolved…’

Luckily, I have no lack of gear to write about in reserve, as I coincidentally had arranged for a number of manufacturers to expedite shipping kit for the upcoming review quarter. A wall downstairs in my home is stacked floor-to-ceiling with boxes, and it was with a smile that I recalled sinking box cutters into the crisp tape sealing up the cardboard box that Linn had gotten to me before disruption of service was the order of the day.

Inside was the Linn Klimax DSM – $23,380 USD – the Scottish company’s highest-specified digital music source/integrated pre-amplifier. Featuring a chassis housing machined from a billet of solid aluminum alloy, and Linn’s lauded Katalyst DAC Architecture – capable of up to 24-bit/192kHz (DSD64/128) playback of PCM files. For I/O there’s Ethernet, HDMI, Toslink, SPDIF and Balanced inputs. HDMI, unbalanced, balanced, configurable SPDIF and Linn’s proprietary software/hardware signal-synchronisation Exakt Link on the outputs side. Klimax DSM is possessed of <0.002 per cent THD and a signal-to-noise ratio of >110dB. It also is Space Optimisation equipped – Linn’s in-house designed and implemented DSP to deal with room acoustics – which, if you read my review of the Linn Selekt DSM, or have experienced it for yourself, you know how impressive and revealing of a sonic window it opens onto the playback of the recorded event.

Initial listening impressions in a Pass Labs-based pre/power amplified system are that the Klimax DSM is one of the most resolving players/DACs I’ve ever had the good fortune to review. Using it with Roon and TIDAL/Qobuz has been an exercise in simplicity and I've found the sound of the Klimax to be wholly engaging and innately musical. I’ll be connecting it to a few different system builds before settling on one for the full review.