You pose an interesting question - one I share. I own T+A gear and am just now upgrading to the reference HV integrated amp. I had their R series integrated and it was very good. But, I needed (wanted) a bit more. I’ve heard their reference DAC and it’s very good, too. Better than what I have, but the Auralic stack I have (3 box: streamer, processor and DAC) is very good as well and I’m finding I need to spend $$$$ to better it. Which I may do as I’m again looking at the Klimax DSM/3 organic. Unfortunately, i don’t have room in my cabinet for another T+A HV box (they’re big and heavy). My impression (my view only) is that T+A’s HV amplifiers (preamp and amp) are world class and as good as anything out there and are better than Linn in this area and that on the digital side of things they’re roughly equal (i.e. excellent) but Linn’s UI is better. Impressions only. I’d love to compare them side by side. Sadly, I know of no reasonable way to do this.
Unfortunately I have only heard Linn in an evaluation mode. I had a Linn Select streamer / DAC (the middle priced version… three levels are available). I was comparing it to my Aurrender W20SE / Audio Research CD 9SE DAC. So $40K vs $12K. While it did not sound better than my Streamer / DAC… it sounded very good for the money… I have had a variety of streamers and DACs in my system.
I have also heard the Klimax quite a bit… although not in my system.
From these experiences I can definitely recommend Linn. Of course if I was buying I would be doing more auditioning. I know someone that carries both and seems to prefer the Linn.
I had the opportunity to do some side by side listening, and the different units were very easy to tell apart. First up, my old style Klimax DSM with Organik upgrade. Driven by Luxman M10-x and Sonus Faber speakers (sorry, didn't catch the model).
Listened to that set-up long enough to get acclimated to the dealers system/room, then switched to the new version of the Klimax DSM. A rather surprising difference between them. From the upper mid-range and up the new unit was a marked improvement. More detail, less veil, less digital. The bass tightened some, but the primary changes were in the top end.
Switched to the T+A unit (SD 3100 HV into the T+A integrated, but still using the M10x for the amp). It completely matched the new Linn on the top end, but now there was a much fuller, more foundational level of bass. Not big and boomy, but just enough to really complement the high end. You could easily change the amp and build on the unit's bass.
While I've always enjoy the Linn sound, I also have found it a touch lean. The T+A resolves that completely. So I made the change to T+A. Highly recommended and worth a listen.
My impression is T+A HV electronics sonically punch above their price point. I took a serious look at the HV integrated but went with Constellation separates.
I’ve been deeply researching the latest high-end audio components for the last 7 years to piece together my analog and digital audio chain and Linn didn’t cross my radar until the recent Stereophile review here which led to my purchase- seemed like a sonic bargain. Until then I was unaware Linn was heavily into digital in addition to their long established turntable line.
@lldd are you saying the older style Kimax DSM with Organik upgrade was not as good as the new Klimax DSM? I prefer the look of the old Klimax, and its price+ upgrade is a LOT cheaper than the new DSM.
Linn have properly worked on the network board size of things for the new series, not just the DAC side.
thanks for sharing your observations. As I noted before, I would like to audition the T+A SD3100 against the Linn Klimax DSM/3 but have no way of doing so - so you’re findings are very interesting to me.
Question: the Klimax DSM is an integrated streamer and DAC. Did you also use the streaming client built into the T+A unit or did you source it with something else? And, were you using T+A music app or using Roon on both units?
agisthos: Yes, you have it correct. I was surprised at the difference between them. In retrospect, I think this makes sense. Those who purchased the new KDSM as a system hub (no included dac since this is for active speakers with dac included in the speakers) have also reported a significant improvement once installed. So there is more than just the organik dac going on here with the newer Linn.
mgrif104: I used the preamp, streamer and dac in both the previous Linn and with the current T+A. With the Linn I used their app until just a few weeks before I traded it in. I had moved to Roon in preparation for using it with the T+A, as the dealer said the T+A app was nowhere near as polished as the Linn app. That turned out to be true. It works, but it is rather crude and limited relative to the Linn app or Roon.
thanks much for the additional info and insight. The T+A dealer I’m working with said something similar about their app. But he also suggested that the streaming client built into the T+A, while very good, is still slightly bettered by a top end outboard streamer. So, if I go the route of adding an SD3100 HV, I might end up also getting a separate source - and use their native app (whether it be Aurender, Auralic, Innuos or other.
FWIW - I’ve also gotten feedback from multiple people that the streaming client is the weak link in Linn systems. Apparently the organik DAC is quite good but held back by the streamer. I know of several owners of the new DSM/3 which are using Aurender’s W20SE or N30SA.