Linn at Glenn Poor Chicago
                              
A Mid Summer’s Night Dream

Kevin McCann and Kirk Townsend, the self-proclaimed “Maestro” and “Composer” (respectively) of Glenn Poor Chicago, are bona-fide purveyors of the good life. They believe in high-end audio not just as means to sell pricey electronics but as an essential way of enriching lives and lifestyles through in-home entertainment. At Glenn Poor, located just steps from Chicago’s trendiest retail promenade, known as the “Magnificent Mile” of Michigan Avenue, high-end audio brands like Linn, Balanced Audio Technology, and Luxman reside comfortably alongside high-end shops like Prada, Armani, and Cartier.

On a recent warm Chicago night, Kevin and Kirk hosted “A Mid Summer Night’s Dream,” which featured a variety of Linn hi-fi systems throughout their stylish audiophile boutique. An abundance of good food and great wines went hand-in-hand with some really excellent music, as some of the city’s well-heeled and not-so-well-heeled (moí) tasted and sipped and sat and listened.


 

The main attraction was in a room demonstrating the (aptly named) Linn Klimax System. This system was highlighted by two current model Linn Sondek LP12 turntables but one table featured a significant new upgrade. New for the LP12 is the “Keel” ($3,250), an integrated sub-chassis, armboard, and collar that is machined from a solid piece of aluminum. It’s hollowed out in specific sections thereby adding rigidity without increasing mass. Because it’s one piece, the Keel eliminates screws and joints between its components meaning that just about all vibration is eliminated. Sonically, the result is music that is truer to reality.

Also used in this ultimate LP12 setup is the Ekos SE tonearm ($4,950) which now has a stainless steel bearing housing and titanium armtube, Akiva cartridge and Trampolin base board, which is also now made from a solid piece of aluminum. Rounding out this front-end is the Linto phono stage and Lingo power supply. A Linn Unidisk 1.1 universal disc player was also used and all source components were connected to the wonderful Linn Klimax Kontrol preamp. The back-end of the Klimax System features the Linn Aktiv Artikulat loudspeaker system ($43,020 – What’s with the extra $20?). This beautifully finished, six-way design holds six Linn Chakra-based amplifiers, one for each of the system’s six drivers.

                    

To demonstrate the difference between the two tables, Steve Carroll (photo above), Linn’s amiable Senior V.P. of Sales played the title track from the Johnny Adams recording Room With A View Of The Blues [Rounder Records] first on the LP12 without the Keel and then on the unit with the Keel. On the first table the sound was good, very good in fact with nice image separation and bass that was very deep. I remembered that I could feel the low-end energy vibrating the cushion of the seat that I was sitting in. It was classic Linn; very musical and well articulated (pardon the pun). But then Steve played the same track on the upgraded table and before Adams could finish playing the first few chords the word “damn” had forced its way out of my mouth. The scale of the sound not only seemed to increase a bit but it was definitely tighter in definition. The bass was still as deep as on the first table but there was no vibrating in my chair. The Keel upgraded table was only reproducing music, not energy, which made listening more engulfing and enjoyable.

Nobody understands how to maximize the benefits of system matching the way that Linn does. That’s why they build systems and not just components. With the Klimax System the standard clichés used in most audiophile reviews simply don’t suffice. So I will simply state that this system creates a musical experience as part of reproducing music, and does it extremely well, thank you.

Hopefully there’ll be a more in-depth review of the Linn Klimax System in the future because there is much more to say about this eminently satisfying system. If you should find yourself in the Windy City one of these days, a great way to spend an afternoon would be to stop by Glenn Poor and say hello to the Maestro and Composer... er, uh I mean Kevin and Kirk. While your spouse is getting acquainted with the latest in high-end fashion (ladies, Nordstrom and their world-class shoe department is right upstairs), you can be getting acquainted with the latest in high-end sound.

If you are a Linn Sondek LP12 owner you’d do well to look into the Keel and the other updates to this majestic analog rig. And make sure that you hear the Klimax System. The Aktiv Artikulat loudspeakers must be heard to be believed.