Klimax DSM and Akurate DSM

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Klimax DSM and Akurate DSM

Post by ThomasOK » 2011-09-30 18:16

From the scuttlebutt on a few threads on the Linn forum and from other indications it appears Linn is about to introduce two new products: the Klimax DSM and the Akurate DSM. The early conjecture was that the "M" might stand for Movie and be multi-channel streamers but it is pretty obvious now that this isn't the case. It seems most likely that the "M" stands for Multi-input or Multimedia.

Although things are still pretty sketchy, and Linn are keeping mum about things at this point, what seems pretty certain is that Linn will introduce the Klimax DSM for shipment in October and that this will be basically a Klimax DS with preamp capabilities and multiple inputs. The back panel has both single-ended and balanced ouptuts but also an HDMI output! (Although I suspect this is only a pass through for video signals.) But it is the inputs where things get really interesting as it features one set of analog inputs on XLRs, the standard Ethernet input, two each of coaxial and optical digital inputs and three HDMI inputs! In addition it is rumored to support Apple's AirPaly for wireless streaming from iPods, iPads, iPhones, etc. although this hasn't been confirmed yet. Here is a photo that shows the KDSM back panel:

Image

And here is one that apparently shows a KDSM doing AirPaly streaming from an iPod Touch:

Image

It is not clear how the preamp stage functions as some have referred to it as a digital preamp. I would hope, especially as it has the inclusion of an analog input, that it would be an analog preamp - in essence a Klimax Kontrol circuit for controlling volume and balance - with multiple digital inputs replacing the other analog inputs.

In addition to the KDSM there will also be an Akurate DSM to ship in November. This unit should feature the same complement of digital inputs - coaxial, optical and HDMI - but may also have more than one analog input (there is more room on the back panel) and is even rumored to include the MM/MC phono stage from the Akurate Kontrol. Again, while it is being referred to as a digital preamp, I would think and hope the preamp section is analog. I don't imagine most LP12 owners would like the idea of their wonderful analog music being converted to digital and back again within the preamp and that would require the additional cost of a really high quality ADC.

The pricing on the ADSM is rumored to be £5500 which would put it at about $9500US plus or minus a few hundred dollars. If it really gives the performance of an ADS and an AK combined and adds all that functionality I think that the price is right in line with the capabilities. I haven't yet heard a rumored price on the KDSM but it certainly could end up somewhere in the $25,000 to $29,000US price range if the ADSM pricing is any indication. Certainly this kind of pricing would be appealing as it is substantially less expensive that the cost of the similar DS and companion preamp while giving much more capability on the digital side - as long as there is no performance loss compared to the separates. Since most people using DS units are likely to only have one important analog component, certainly most commonly an LP12, the single analog input should be sufficient while the additional digital inputs allow using Linn's exceptional digital decoding capabilities on all kinds of digital devices from iPods and computers to BluRay players and TV streaming devices like Apple TV.

Apparently the actual announcement will be fairly soon, and it is known that Linn had a meeting last week with its UK Klimax dealers to give them a preview of the product. Unfortunately that didn't stretch to include some of their longest standing dealers in the US, hence why I have had to resort to compilation, speculation and deduction to come up with the info above. Then again if they had told us directly what was going on I wouldn't have been able to share this information with you until the official announcement date. The sword cuts both ways. ;-) With any luck we will have the full details in a week or so.

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Post by Charlie1 » 2011-09-30 19:04

Hi Tom, Thanks for the update - very informative indeed. Sorry, but I don't understand all things digital very well, but could they not have similar digital inputs in the standard KDS, or would it degrade sound? i.e. Is there some special benefit in combining a KDS with analogue preamp, or does it just fill a whole in the market price-wise?

I like the idea as I'd never stretch to owning a well spec'd LP12, DS, and pre-amp.

I wonder how it will impact the used market - I'm think about my KK in particular. Any speculation anyone?

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Post by Tony Tune-age » 2011-09-30 20:00

Wow, that is Radikal news...for sure! It does sound like the cost could be considered reasonable, compared to purchasing the Klimax Kontrol and KDS separately. Linn continues to move ahead with innovation!
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Post by ThomasOK » 2011-09-30 20:29

Linn originally indicated that having S/PDIF inputs would degrade performance. Since the DSM units have multiple digital inputs one would hope Linn have found a way to "buffer" those inputs so that there is little negative effect on the unit when running in DS mode but it might just be the compromise you have to accept to allow the unit to handle external digital signals. Also, of course, some form of switching has been incorporated to handle the various inputs.

We won't really know until people have had a chance to listen to them how much difference there is musically between the Klimax DSM and the Klimax DS. I would be surprised if the KDSM came up to the level of a KDS into a KK but we'll have to wait and see.
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Post by Lefreak » 2011-10-03 21:10

Am I missing sth here: Why does anyone need Airplay if you have a DS? I somtimes use my iPhone or iPad as a streamer with Plugplayer or eLyric, but I can't imagine streaming the music from my iDevice to the DS... Well, I'm really eager to see what these DSM's are all about...
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Post by CJ1045 » 2011-10-04 16:30

Because that is what kids do, I guess! I have certainly now had the argument with my niece as to how I believe the music on Radio 1 (UK) is rubbish and she should listen to 'proper' music on Radio 2. Face facts - we are old and out of touch.

I have also heard that the Klimax DSM was supposed to be announced yesterday but that it has been delayed. Don't know why the delay has happened. Perhaps it not compatible with iPhone 5.

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Post by Music Lover » 2011-10-04 17:36

Lefreak wrote:Am I missing sth here: Why does anyone need Airplay if you have a DS? I somtimes use my iPhone or iPad as a streamer with Plugplayer or eLyric, but I can't imagine streaming the music from my iDevice to the DS... Well, I'm really eager to see what these DSM's are all about...
You check out a new live concert on youtube and with just a click (I hope) you get the sound to the DS ( Net --> iPhone/iPad --> WLAN --> your switch --> DS)

Or you watch a movie on iPhone/iPad (streamed from the Net or locally stored) and send the sound to the DS.
Best of all, no need for a DSM!!!

DSM products are for those still using the old technology (spinning silver discs) that send information using HDMI etc.
The modern way is to have music and movies either stored on a HDD/SSD or stream in real time from the Net.

All this assuming I understand the concept correctly.
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Post by monkeydevil » 2011-10-04 19:01

You can have a media center such as tvix, popcorn hour, wdlive etc etc and get good sound via hdmi to the ds. So it is not that old school! Even though it is stored locally instead of in the cloud.

A good idea of linn to make possible to use any media streamer you choose into the dsm. If I understand it correctly too!You can have a media center such as tvix, popcorn hour, wdlive etc etc and get good sound via hdmi to the ds. So it is not that old school! Even though it is stored locally instead of in the cloud.

A good idea of linn to make possible to use any media streamer you choose into the dsm. If I understand it correctly too!

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Post by Lefreak » 2011-10-04 20:12

Well, I can live with Hidef music in stereo and in our bedroom I have "downgraded" from 5.1 to stereo with a MajikDSi, but there's no way I'm gonna give up multichannel surround on highdef movies in our livingroom. Don't get me wrong: I would love Linn to come out with an uptodate (HDMI-) version of the Kisto, but for stereo playback I don't need neither Hdmi nor airplay... But I'll be patient and see what LINN will "offer" us...

PS:my Tvix is connected via HDMI to a DVDO Edge which transmits the audiosignal via optical cable to an "old school" AK...
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Post by monkeydevil » 2011-10-07 10:46

I wonder why they are delaying their announcement? They can surely not have gotten cold feet, a bit late for that :-)

Some details of the design that need to be tweaked? Hoping for an announcement soon.

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Post by Music Lover » 2011-10-07 11:26

monkeydevil wrote:You can have a media center such as tvix, popcorn hour, wdlive etc etc and get good sound via hdmi to the ds. So it is not that old school! Even though it is stored locally instead of in the cloud.

A good idea of linn to make possible to use any media streamer you choose into the dsm. If I understand it correctly too!You can have a media center such as tvix, popcorn hour, wdlive etc etc and get good sound via hdmi to the ds. So it is not that old school! Even though it is stored locally instead of in the cloud.

A good idea of linn to make possible to use any media streamer you choose into the dsm. If I understand it correctly too!
Yes it's very old school using HDMI to pass the information to a player.
It's not a matter of where the information is stored, its HOW the information is sent to the player.
Why not using a media system and/or application that send the information directly to the player using TCP/IP?

Agree, it's a good idea of Linn to offer a player (DSM) for those customers that are not yet ready for the new technology.
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Post by monkeydevil » 2011-10-07 12:50

Music Lover wrote: Why not using a media system and/or application that send the information directly to the player using TCP/IP?
Yes that would be nice! Isn't that what songcast should be supposed to do? Even though in that case it is up to other companies, those that are manufacturing streamers and such, to incorporate the openhome code.
Also, I think Linn is working on an application for pc:s etc that will do this (play movies and stream the audio to the ds).
https://github.com/openhome/ohMediaPlayer

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Post by Lefreak » 2011-10-08 11:10

I've taken a closer look at the picture of the backside of the KDSM (thanks 4 sharing Thomas): So the only analog input is a balanced one? Or will it be possible to "switch" the two coax inputs to one analog RCA (don't know if that's even feasable)...
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Post by ThomasOK » 2011-10-08 19:07

Lefreak wrote:I've taken a closer look at the picture of the backside of the KDSM (thanks 4 sharing Thomas): So the only analog input is a balanced one? Or will it be possible to "switch" the two coax inputs to one analog RCA (don't know if that's even feasable)...
Yes, it appears that there is only a balanced analog input. This can be used with unbalanced devices with the proper adapter cable. It also may be possible to switch it to be an unbalanced input in the setup menus as you can do on the balanced input on the KK. However, you would still need RCA to XLR cables to use it, they would just need to be wired a little differently.

Of more concern is that, if the rumors are correct and the preamp stage is digital, this analog input would be converted to digital internally and then back to analog at the output - not something I would want to run my LP12 through!

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Post by Charlie1 » 2011-10-08 20:13

ThomasOK wrote:Of more concern is that, if the rumors are correct and the preamp stage is digital, this analog input would be converted to digital internally and then back to analog at the output - not something I would want to run my LP12 through!
Would you need something the size of a KK audio board for this to stay in the analogue domain, and not use a nonsense digital preamp? I'm thinking perhaps there is just not room in a Klimax case. Surely, the Akurate version would have room for a second tier of circuit board though.

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Post by rowlandhills » 2011-10-10 21:23

More info now on the shiny new Linn site, if you go to the "Systems" pages...
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Post by rowlandhills » 2011-10-12 14:25

...and a very interesting post from Linn's Eamonn here:

http://forums.linn.co.uk/bb/showthread. ... #pid153826
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Post by ThomasOK » 2011-10-12 19:17

OK, so now these have been officially announced after an unexpected delay of a week. The KDSM is much as I speculated with the inputs and outputs as noted in the first post. Also as mentioned there it will accept AirPlay although it won't be called that as Linn implemented it themselves and aren't licensing the name. According to my rep it is a digital preamp - in other words the same kind of digital volume control capability as a KDS. This means a couple of things: one, your one analog input will be converted to digital for volume control and then back into analog at the outputs so not the best place to plug an LP12 into; two, you will really need at least a Kikkin if you really want a musical performance out of your system and a KK/1/D would be even better (plus give you a good place to plug in your LP12 and Kremlin). I have been told that there is some compromise involved with making the other digital inputs available so the Klimax DS/1 remains the best musical performer of the DS units. The price in the US for the KDSM is $23,500 compared to $20,700 for the KDS. For someone who wants near the capabilities of a KDS combined with the ability to decode a number of other digital sources for a premium two channel system this could be a worthwhile product. For those just interested in the best digital performance from digital streams the standard KDS/1 will remain the way to go. In either case I would consider a quality analog preamp mandatory.

What is in many ways more interesting to me is that the FAQ for the KDSM states that "the network input lets you experience any computer-based music, wired or wireless, at Linn quality. From iTunes to Spotify, from iPlayer to YouTube, internet radio and streamed concerts; thanks to Songcast, anything you listen to on a PC or Mac can be enjoyed through a DSM system." So apparently Songcast is being used as a system to transport music from your Mac or PC to the DSM and removing format restrictions in the process. This becomes even more interesting further down in the FAQ where it is said that Linn will be releasing a software update to give at least most of these capabilities to the existing DS units (I doubt the wireless part applies). If I am reading this correctly it means that the new software will allow you to stream anything off your computer or the Cloud to a DS without it having to be UPnP compatible. This would allow iTunes users to feed and control a DS directly from iTunes and would make the setup of Mac based streaming systems (or Windows based ones using iTunes or similar programs) much simpler. I could certainly see this opening the DS experience to a much wider range of customers. As a matter of fact I expect it will expand Linn's market much more than the DSM products will.

But back to the DSM announcement, also announced (but with no pricing given yet) is the Akurate DSM. What I was told really made the ADSM sound just like what you would expect - an Akurate version of the KDSM with lesser performance but possibly more connections due to the extra back panel room. But I was still told it would be a digital preamp with all the limitations that implies. Since the announcement is rather lean on the details this may be true. However, the back panel tells what I hope is a different story as shown below. What I find interesting is that the digital inputs & outputs and the analog inputs & outputs are on two different levels with the digital on the top and the analog on the bottom. Even more interesting is the placement of the analog connections - the ones that are there are in the same exact same place they are on the Akurate Kontrol! Starting from the right side you have two sets of RCA outputs, then one set of XLR outs, then a ground post for a turntable, a phono RCA input pair (MC or MM), another RCA input pair and an XLR input pair and then a ways over an Ethernet connection. The only thing in a different position on the AK is the ground post. On the AK there are four sets of RCA analog inputs which are reduced to two on the ADSM - the position of the other two now taken up by the grounding post which was moved down out of the way of the digital inputs. The AK also had two sets of XLR inputs which has been reduced to one by eliminating the leftmost pair. But all the connections that remain are exactly where they are in the AK and all the HDMI (4 in, 1 out), Coax and TosLink (3 in, 1 out each) are above the other connectors. The FAQ also states that the ADSM has the front panel headphone and Aux mini sockets. This leads me to believe that the Akurate DSM is actually a true combination of an Akurate Kontrol analog preamp (with the MC/MM board) combined with an Akurate DS/1 with additional digital inputs! This is very much like what I had suggested some two plus years ago as a stereo ADS-K but with additional digital inputs. If this is what I believe it to be and is priced somewhere around where some rumors have it (under $10,000US) then I believe this could be a real winner. It still won't perform as well as an ADS/1 and an AK/1 but it should be a relatively small compromise musically with additional functionality at a significant price discount. Much like the Majik DS-I this could provide a level of performance and flexibility that would otherwise not be available at the price. Of course, it won't help Kikkin 2.2 sales much but maybe the KDSM can pick up the slack. ;-)

Image

Speaking of the Majik DS-I, the last part of the announcement is that it has been renamed the Majik DSM to fit in with the others. No feature changes and no price change - just a minor name change.

Oh, and what does the "M" stand for? Well it looks like I was partly right with Multi-input or Multimedia but according to Linn it stands for: Music, Movies & TV, Multi-source, Mobile, Multiroom and Multi-user. whew! Somebody in the advertising/marketing department has a little too much time on their hands. Since it is now a Mobile device I am eagerly awaiting the special Klimax backpack featuring a battery power supply and headphone amplifier to turn an iPad into a true high-end Walkman!

Although I haven't gotten hard and fast availability information yet it appears that the KDSM will start shipping this month with the ADSM to ship in November. I would imagine the new software for all DS products should be out sometime this month too. Overall some very interesting stuff - especially if you read between the lines.

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Post by ThomasOK » 2011-10-12 23:43

OK, I'm having to post a correction already. It has been stated on the Linn forum by a Linn engineer that "The analogue volume control on the Klimax DSM is the same as that used on the Klimax Kontrol.". This makes the KDSM a whole different kettle of fish (and means fewer Kikkin sales :-( as well). With the same volume control circuit as the KK you certainly could use this with no preamp and get excellent performance. Still not as good as the KDS and KK/1 combination but likely a fair upgrade over an ADS/1 and AK/1 combo. Very interesting.

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Post by rowlandhills » 2011-10-13 09:33

There's an FAQ document here:

http://linfo.linn.co.uk/binaries/A86BCF ... lowres.pdf

(Doesn't require a login for Linfo to access)
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Post by lejonklou » 2011-10-13 10:01

Thanks for all the info, Thomas.

I really don't see anything that I'm interested in personally in these products. Perhaps because I focus on 2 channel music and the DSM models are said to perform worse than the DS in the same range. That a preamp is included is of lower priority, as it's below the source in the hierarchy.

I also love good home cinema systems and recently did a bunch of comparisons of sound formats, the influence of storage options using the same converter etc. I don't see the DSM products offering anything of interest in that department. In the future possibly synching a stack of three DSM's to decode 5.1? Perhaps I'm missing something.

I'd like to hear from those who are considering buying a DSM. I'm interested in what makes you want one and how you're going to use it.

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Post by Charlie1 » 2011-10-13 10:18

The ADSM might have worked for me if it had been available a few years ago, but that's cos digital is only a secondary source for me. And that's provided the ADSM does have an analogue pre-amp. I could have upgraded from Majik Kontrol pre-amp and got a DS player for similar price as the AK alone. It would have been a nice way to get started in the world of DS without any pressure for it to work out.
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Post by monkeydevil » 2011-10-13 10:19

The deal breaker for me is that the source is probably of worse quality than its pure ds equivalent. It's better then to get the best source possible, then if good sound for movies is important either use a htpc with songcaster or an old ak or exotik da for that. But I am mainly a music lover, movies come in second place.

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Post by monkeydevil » 2011-10-13 11:16

Klimax DSM is now up on linndocs.
http://docs.linn.co.uk/wiki/index.php/Klimax_DSM

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Post by lejonklou » 2011-10-13 13:48

ThomasOK wrote:It has been stated on the Linn forum by a Linn engineer that "The analogue volume control on the Klimax DSM is the same as that used on the Klimax Kontrol."
To me, this sounds like a statement you can interpret any way you choose. My guess is that he refers to the analogue volume chip being the same in KDSM as in KK/1. The same chip is also used in Kikkin, by the way.

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