Linn Selekt DSM Katalyst with Integrated Power Amplifier Review

It was touch-and-go for awhile.

Except I kept wanting to touch and not go. I wanted to touch and stay and listen.

It wasn’t like I couldn’t stop myself, it was just that it was so tactile and I got a bit addicted to that smooth rotary feel.

What am I talking about? The main control dial on the top of the Linn Selekt DSM Katalyst with Integrated Power Amplifier of course.

I could use the supplied IR remote any time I wanted, or the Linn Kazoo application on my iPad Mini 2, but I found I always wanted to interact with the Selekt DSM to adjust the volume level or switch-up the input. It was just so liquid and weighted to spin that dial – the solidity reminding me in a way of some of the best hand-soldered stepped attenuators I’ve ever had the pleasure of turning up (without the stepped part).

Rotary addiction.

But if you read through the Linn nomenclature accompanying the unit, that was exactly what the company wanted when they designed the Selekt DSM – for users to physically interact with the design, to make using the does-it-all digital box feel like a more analog experience, not the usual once-removed interplay that using the ubiquitous app infers.

While the Selekt DSM’s muscular and sophisticated monochromatic chassis is a triumph of industrial design in my eyes with its clean lines and must-touch control dial, it also impressed right off the mark with the power, refinement, texture and rhythmic drive of its sound. Add to that the engagement of Linn’s proprietary software/hardware DSP Space Optimisation and you have a one-box, high-fidelity proposition that had me once again rethinking my stance on computational attenuation of sound reproduction.

Build and design

First off, let us look at the not inconsiderable amount of technology which Linn has managed to fit inside the 18-pound CNC-machined aluminum-alloy, two-thirds-sized black and silver box. It feels incredibly solid in the hands, with zero chassis flex while lifting/handling the unit and fit ’n finish is executed with an eye to milimetric perfection. Physical support and isolation comes courtesy of three heavy-duty polished steel feet outfitted with rubber o-rings. The fascia is a clear/black high-gloss plastic framing a large, easy-to-read six-inch LED screen which displays input source, and when streaming from Roon shows song title, file type, file resolution and volume level. Just above the LED, along the front upper edge of the chassis are six customizable ‘smart’ buttons which you can assign shortcuts to ranging from a playlist to an favorite input.

Clean design lines.

My unit came loaded in its Selekt DSM Katalyst with Integrated Power Amplifier guise ($8,625 USD as configured) with all the options available in the two-channel model (if you want Surround Sound, there are differing processing and input/output options). This included the base network music player, an upgraded Katalyst spec’d DAC, built-in digital preamplifier section driving an bespoke Linn-designed, 100-watt/channel bridged Class-D power amplifier – an option not seen in either the Klimax or Akurate models. This integrated design is shared only with the Majik configuration (90-watt Chakra amplification for Majik) in the DSM lineup. Connected support (no wi-fi or Bluetooth here, Linn believes in the sanctity of the wired connection for the highest quality sound possible) is native for FLAC, Apple Lossless, WAV, AIFF, WMA (not lossless), MP3, AAC and OGG all up to 24-bit/192kHz along with DSD 64 and DSD128. THD+N is a rated 0.0002 per cent for line-out and 0.001 per cent for the power amp section with a listed dynamic range of 117dB/110dB respectively.

Inputs run the gamut from Ethernet, HDMI ARC, Toslink x2, SPDIF x2 and USB Audio Class 2 endpoint to line-level RCA, and dedicated Moving Magnet/Moving Coil phono stages. Outputs include Linn’s Exakt Link x2 (for connection to Linn Exactbox or integrated speakers) and two pairs of banana-only speaker binding posts.

Inputs and outputs enough, but no wireless.

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Everclear's picture

NAD M10 ($2,750) streaming amplifier could be a competitor :-) ........