Earlier this month I traveled to Glasgow, Scotland to visit the Linn factory. I've been to many manufacturers, dealers, and audio events around the world, but this was my first time in Scotland. I had no expectations before the trip and didn't even know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised by the incredibly nice Scottish people and with, what I'm told is very rare, the wonderful weather. Everyone I came in contact with during this trip was eager to help me, eager to sit and chat, and eager to share interesting tidbits of information about Glasgow. I'd love to go back to Scotland with my family and spend much more than two days in this beautiful country.
Visiting the Linn factory was both informative and intriguing. Learning about the company's history, its avant-garde founder Ivor Tiefenbrun, its new products, and its vision for the future was well worth the time spent getting to and from Scotland. Most people think of Linn, and other manufacturers, as a company with a range of products. My visit to the factory enabled me to see behind the products. I talked to the acutely smart people who develop and support Linn products and who lead the company into the future.
The future includes Linn's new Exakt system. The Linn team explained this system in detail during my visit and provided unrestricted access to two terrific listening rooms and a complete home-like environment with which I could exhaustively test the new Exakt technology. Linn even provided a team of people to swiftly swap out loudspeakers, enabling me to A/B the current Exakt system versus the previous analog based system. I'm not talking about moving speakers to the side, these guys completely removed one set of speakers from the listening room for each demonstration.
My entire trip to Scotland went very well. I wish I could have taken a Linn Exakt system home with me, but the added cost of heavy checked bags from airlines would have been outrageous. Plus, it would have been pretty impractical for me to drag a couple speakers and Linn DS component up to the ticket counter. Fortunately, I should receive a Linn Akurate Exakt System, including the Akurate Exakt DSM digital music player and Exakt Akubarik speakers, this summer. A full review of the system will undoubtedly be published shortly thereafter.
A few highlights from my experience at Linn include the Linn Home, terrific listening rooms, historical components and speakers, Linn Lounge event, the infamous log cabin, and possibly the most important part of the trip, indulging in an Irn-Bru soft drink in the Linn cafeteria. The Linn Home is a large space at the factory that has been completely redesigned into a modern home with a kitchen, dining room, office, bathroom, and TV area. As expected Linn systems are everywhere and can be controlled by a single iPad application. Linn's listening rooms both sounded great and offered excellent scenery. From the listening position one can look beyond the loudspeakers into the woods where many types of animals frequently frolic. I was told deer have been seen walking by the windows during demonstrations. In addition to wild animals, there is a pasture of cows next to Linn that can be seen while driving up to the factory. Growing up with mostly American HiFi brands, I really enjoyed a tour through the Linn historical area featuring designs of all shoes and styles. Proudly displayed in this area, and by the froth door, is a nice plaque from the Royal Family indicating Linn has supplied its systems to HRH The Price Of Wales (Prince Charles). After my factory tour I attended an event called Linn Lounge Presents The Clash
. This took place in the Linn Home. I really enjoyed hearing details about The Clash interspersed with high resolution Clash music played through a Linn Exakt system. It was a really cool event. Not to be confused with the Linn Home, is the Linn log cabin. Linn founder ivor Tiefenbrun had two log cabins built decades ago for demonstrating Linn systems in a controlled environment. Why would Linn need a controlled environment right next to the factory? It doesn't. The cabins were disassembled and reassembled in parking lot at a HiFi event! Since the cabins were originally built, Ivor sent one to Japan after losing a bet, and the remaining unit rests in the woods near the factory. After hearing about it, I insisted on seeing the cabin. It was one of the coolest things I've seen at a HiFi manufacturer. Here in Minneapolis many families travel several hours to northern Minnesota on weekends to stay at very similar cabins nestled in the woods, just like the Linn cabin. Last but not least, and totally unrelated to Linn or HiFi, was my introduction to the Scottish soft drink Irn-Bru
. This beverage regularly outsells Coca-cola and Pepsi in Scotland and is commonly referred to as a "great hangover cure" by the locals. Given the fact I'm a vegetarian and didn't indulge in a traditional haggis dinner, I just had to crack open a cold Irn-Bru. The taste? I think Red Bull copied much of the Irn-Bru formula! The two beverages taste very similar but I'll give the slightly better tasting award to the original Irn-Bru.
I'd like to thank Gilad Tiefenbrun, Keith Robertson, Phil Budd, and Andrena McBain for making this a very worthwhile trip. I hate to single anyone out, but I must say Keith is one of the smartest guys I've met in the HiFi industry when it comes to understanding new technology, how to use it wisely, and where it's heading. I encourage Computer Audiophile readers to talk with Keith at the HiFi shows. He completely gets "it" and can talk as technical as the conversation requires.
For more information on the new Linn Exakt system see Linn's website
and check back for the full Akurate Exakt system review here on Computer Audiophile.