Linn’s Akurate DSM Digital Music Player is also a Preamp

Linn’s Akurate DSM came to my attention today when I dropped past the Auckland offices of LNZ, the Linn distributors in New Zealand. I’m very familiar with Linn’s DS range of digital music players, which starts with the top of the heap Klimax DS player and runs down to the little Sneaky Music DS with its built-in amplifier. However, I’d missed the release of the DSM products while I was traveling, so it was with a great degree of interest that I took in an Akurate DSM that was driving a system in one of the LNZ listening rooms.

Linn’s DSM products combine full DS network music playback with a built-in preamplifier that has separate analogue and digital volume control circuits for each type of source, and this thing does sources like no-one’s business. A look round the back of the unit reveals two pairs of analogue RCA inputs (one of which can be configured to support MM or MC phono cartridges if required) and a single balanced analogue input.

There are also three coaxial inputs, three optical inputs, the critical Ethernet socket and no less than four strange digital inputs (and a pass-through), which support some little known format called HDMI, which is apparently popular in the home theatre world. Seriously though, it isn’t often that you’ll find an HMDI input on a two channel component, let alone a line of them. So the Akurate DSM is designed to cater to just about any analogue or digital source from a turntable to a Bluray player or games console. It will even happily deal with Internet radio or high-resolution digital sources at up to 24 bit/192kHz.

According the the Linn site: “Signal paths have been reduced to a minimum by providing separate volume controls for analogue and digital sources. Analogue sources follow a pure analogue path through a conventional high-quality analogue volume control. Digital sources use a hybrid volume control that combines the best aspects of digital and analogue technology to maintain optimum performance even at low volume levels.”

The obvious rub is that this is a two channel preamp, so no matter how many channels are present on a multi-channel digital source, nothing but stereo will come out the other end, albeit stereo that’s been up-sampled and decoded by the Linn’s DAC and electronics. I’ve run my home theatre with stereo speakers and I’ve been ok with the phantom centre channel and never missed the surround sound, so as a way to get some home theatre capacity in a stereo environment, this does the business. The mixed down signal will still sound pretty darn good if it’s hooked up to a system along the lines of the one running at the end of this unit – my system overview will be posted soon.

The Akurate DSM features list is quite impressive:

Streams internet radio, podcasts and ‘listen again’ broadcasts

Decodes FLAC, WAV, ALAC, MP3, WMA, AIFF, AAC and OGG audio formats with up to 24-bit 192 kHz native sample rate

Songcast support allows synchronised playback of audio around the home

14 inputs (Balanced (XLR), RCA Phono, HDMI, S/PDIF, Toslink) for connection and up-sampling of additional sources

Hybrid volume control for digital sources, combines coarse analogue attenuation with fine digital adjustment

HDMI, S/PDIF and TOSLINK inputs, plus HDMI pass-thru

Option to convert one analogue input to Phono (configurable to moving magnet or moving coil)

AUX input on front for easy connection of portable devices such as MP3 players

Linn Dynamik Switch Mode Power Supply (SMPS)

Precision-engineered enclosure offers exceptional acoustic properties

Compatible with UPnP media servers and UPnP AV 1.0 control points

The Akurate DSM is priced at $11,995 with the older Akurate DS (digital player without the preamp functionality) is available at $9,995. A two thousand dollar difference doesn’t seem like a whole lot when you consider that an Akurate Kontrol preamplifier retails for $9,495.

The Akurate DSM is available now. For more info check out www.linn.co.nz

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