Latest Exakt Akudorik speakers load processing engine and amps into their stands, while third-party speaker program kicks off with a word in B&W’s shell-like
Things we clearly all got wrong when Linn first announced its Exakt system about this time last year: one was that it was only ever going to be available at flagship levels, and two that it was a closed-loop development, requiring the user to buy a complete new system.
Linn put both of those misconceptions to bed at an event held in the heart of London’s Covent Garden earlier in the week: not only was Exakt the most significant product the company had made since the LP12 turntable, it claimed, but it was also the most significant thing to happen to hi-fi since – well, probably that one was since the LP12, too.
And to prove the point, the company staged a demonstration of an Exakt system driving the molluscular B&W Nautilus floorstanding speakers, the first design outside the Linn catalogue to have its own Exakt algorithms written, and thus able to benefit from the system’s optimisation.
OK, so the £17,500 price-tag on the new Akurate Exakt system with Exakt Akudorik speakers is hardly chicken-feed, but it marks the continuing move of the Exakt concept down the Linn price-scale. After all, Exakt was launched last year with the £50,000 Klmax Exakt, followed by the Akurate Exakt system in April at £25,500 – so this new Akurate-level system, substituting standmount speakers for the Exakt Akubarik floorstanders, is yet another step down in price.
And as Linn’s Angus Lawrie (above) demonstrated, the Exakt Akudorik speakers are a story in themselves, taking Linn’s ‘The Source is in the Speakers’ slogan – designed to indicate the way an Exakt system passes digital signals unimpeded all the way to the Exakt Engine processor, DACs and power amplification within the loudspeaker – and (almost) converting it to ‘the source is in the stand’.
Given the relatively compact dimensions of the Akudorik speaker, all the Exakt stuff here is within the stands from which the speakers get their name.
Yes, Dorik columns – one for the architects and classicists…
So in the stands, suspension-mounted to isolate them from vibrations, are the Exakt Engine, four channels of digital-to-analogue conversion and four 100W channels of Linn’s Chakra power amplification, the whole plot fed by the company’s Dynamik power supply. Input is via the usual ExaktLink Ethernet-type cable (above), and the speaker hooks up to the stand via recessed multipin connectors in both the base of the enclosure and the stand top-plate (below).
That’s four-way, four-amp capability even for a pair of ‘bookshelf’ speakers: the Akudorik uses a bass driver, plus Linn’s 3K array of super tweeter, tweeter and midrange driver mounted on its own metal chassis, and each is controlled and powered separately in Exaktworld.
Should you already have an Exakt player/controller and want to add just the speakers and stands, then the speaker/stand combination is available at £13,500 a pair, while existing users of Linn standmount speakers such as the Akurate 212 will be able to upgrade them to Exakt capability with a pair of Exakt Dorik Stands, at £9500.
There are more changes, too, with the arrival of the £4000 Akurate Exaktbox, designed to bring Exaktifikation to any speaker by fitting in upstream of the amplification used to drive the speaker, and allowing Exakt optimisation. There’s an obvious slot-in for users of existing Linn speakers, with a plan starting from now to support all current speakers and a number of older models: as of now the Komri, Klimax/Artikulat 350, Akubarik, Akurate 242, Akurate 212, Keltik and Espek are supported, in October the Majik Isobarik and Majik 140 get added, followed by the Majik 109 and Ninka in November and in January the Katan, Keilidh and Kaber.
The new Exaktbox model has ten channels of output, and can thus be used with a pair of speakers of up to five-way working, with both balanced XLR and RAC phono outputs to the power amplifiers.
At the same time, the high-end Klimax Exakt Tunebox, the £10,000 original Exakt digital crossover/DAC designed for use with the Klimax Exakt DSM, gets reinvented as the Klimax Exaktbox – well, the original name was a bit of a mouthful! With six outputs it can be used in stereo mode with three-way speakers, or two can be used in mono mode for more complex speaker designs.
All of which brings us to the Exakt Nautilus demonstration, the result of Linn engineers’ measurements of the famous B&W speaker, and perhaps a logical first step for the expansion of the Exakt story beyond the realms of Linn’s own catalogue. Why so? Well, the Nautilus speakers are without a doubt an eye-catching first subject for the project, being well-known by almost any audiophile, and even better they come with their own offboard active crossovers, making it easy to whip those out and slot in Klimax Exaktboxes – well, in a demonstration sense, anyway!
Now 21 years old, the £50,000+ Nautilus speakers are still made by Bowers & Wilkins, as was explained to me when I was down in Worthing for the CM S2 launch the other week, and customers keep on requesting the speakers in all kinds of exotic finishes.
While Linn says it hasn’t been working directly with B&W on the project, but merely that ‘they’re aware of what we’re doing’, the combination of a Klimax Exakt system with the Nautilus speakers is certainly a logical one, both in price terms and in the kind of customers to whom the system will be attractive. After all, as with the Nautilus, Linn offers its speakers in not just a range of standard finishes, but also some 200 custom gloss colours.
Clearly there’s an appeal to the same kind of customers who might own, or be considering, a pair of Nautilus – it’s not unknown for the people at B&W be asked to match anything from car paint to the likes of favourite lipstick shades, just like the people up the road from Worthing do at the Rolls Royce factory.
What’s more, with a speaker as sculptural as Nautilus, the chances are the owner will want to show it off in the most eye-catching position in the room, which probably won’t be where it will sound best.
And that’s where the Linn Exakt system will come into its own…
A number of Exakt events are being held around the country and worldwide over the next few months, to enable you to hear the system in action: to find your local one and book a place, click here.