Linn challenges Naim with new Selekt DSM music streamer

Eleven years after introducing its first network players in 2007, Linn has introduced a fourth model to its music streamer line-up, the Selekt DSM

But before we divulge details, it may be useful to know that the Glasgow-based hi-fi brand is also taking the opportunity to simplify its streamer proposition.

From 1st October 2018, the line-up will purely comprise the DSM models (now Majik DSM, Selekt DSM, Akurate DSM and Klimax DSM) that were introduced in 2011 and added a preamp section with digital and analogue connections to the original (and soon-to-be ditched) DS models. 

So, the new Selekt DSM. While it slots in between the entry-level Majik and penultimate Akurate, it is a very different beast from Linn’s other streamers in that it sports a modular, configurable design largely made up of interchangeable cartridges.

So while the base model is a £4000 streamer/pre-amp, it can be purchased (or later upgraded) with an integrated 100-watt-per-channel Class D power amplifier (£5250 total price) or the Katalyst DAC architecture that features in its Akurate and Klimax siblings (£5500 total price). 

For both built-in amplification and Katalyst, the damage is £6750. It seems Linn is coming after Naim’s five-star Uniti range in a big way…

What’s more, the modules can be installed by a retailer in the customer’s home so don’t have to be taken into a shop.

Next year Linn will also make available a headphone amplifier cartridge, and those with an amplified Selekt DSM will have the choice to add a surround sound cartridge with 5.1 speaker terminals, 4 HDMI inputs, 1 HDMI output and playback support for DTS and Dolby Digital Plus audio formats.

Also on the ‘coming soon’ list for 2019 is Bluetooth and wi-fi (2.4GHz/5GHz) support. At launch October, the Selekt DSM will be able to connect to a network purely via its Ethernet socket.

Naturally, the Selekt DSM is built on Linn’s streaming platform, meaning that as well as DLNA compatibility for streaming files on a network, there’s also support for streaming services like Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz and TuneIn Radio, in addition to the Roon music player.

Drawing on the vinyl revival, the Selekt DSM is equipped with MM and MC switchable phono inputs for connecting a turntable. As digital inputs go, there’s two coaxial, two optical (one can be configured as an output for TV) and one USB port. A HDMI ARC connection allows the Selekt DSM to play what is connected through the TV without the need for source switching.

A pair of line-level RCAs are also joined by two Exakt Link ports (for a direct connection to Linn’s Exakt speakers, Exaktboxes and Urika II), and balanced XLR and RCA outputs.

Linn says everything inside the Selekt DSM is new, from the software and electronics to, rather blatantly, the aesthetics. In addition to an enhanced core processing system is a new version of the Space Optimisation technology that Linn introduced in 2015.

The technology’s purpose is to make speakers sound as though they’re in the ideal position wherever they’re placed in a room, however it always assumed that room was static and rectangular shaped. The next-gen variant takes a more dynamic approach, accounting for non-rectangular rooms this time, and can be accessed via Linn’s website rather than a PC or Mac software download.

Linn is actually putting this out as a free software upgrade to all its streamers – even its 2007 models. Pushing the processing to the cloud has allowed Linn to cater for all its players regardless of the comparatively limited computational power of their older processing chips. 

As you’ll no doubt have noticed by now, the supporting images show off a rather different design statement for Linn. Rather than sport the wide, unassuming and display-less chassis of its siblings, the Selekt DSM opts for a more tangible, visual aesthetic with an onyx-black OLED display, a jewel-like, cut-glass control dial, and ‘smart’ buttons that work like shortcuts or presets by activating whatever playlist or service, for example, is assigned to them.

So how does it look, work and more importantly sound? We recently visited Linn's factory and went hands-on with the Selekt DSM streamer...


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Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her 10+ years in the hi-fi industry, she has reviewed all manner of audio gear, from budget amplifiers to high-end speakers, and particularly specialises in headphones and head-fi devices. In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.