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Linn Streamers - firmware - which is the best one for your system?

The history of the Linn hifi, since it started in the 1970s with its world famous turntable, has never been dull.  It championed the cause of "source first", i.e there is no point in improving your amplifier and speakers unless your turntable or CD player is of the best quality and properly set up.  Linn has continued to surprise and inspire the hifi community ever since.  A few years ago it was decided that no more CD players would be produced, and that all effort would go into delivering digitally stored music via an exciting range of streamers.

 

Linn continue their journey of development, adding extra features to their digital streamers by regularly updating the firmware of their streamers, and by inviting feedback via a beta model development program of upcoming software.  The company also make past versions of just about all past software (unless it was demonstrably faulty)  on this site:  http://products.linn.co.uk/VersionInfo/Downloads/Releases/

 

Release notes are available here:  http://docs.linn.co.uk/wiki/index.php/Beta:DsDavaar

 

 

Disclaimer - if you are tempted to try old and new firmwares in your Linn streamer, be aware that I take no responsibility if things go wrong.  And Linn may not either, especially if you are playing with a beta product.  I, and many of my friends have installed, reinstalled and played with firmware in our machines without mishap.  But if you find you have to take it back to your dealer for resuscitation, you have been warned!

 

Linn streamer


Linn's own website provides comprehensive information about their products and how to use their software, which I will not attempt to summarise here.

 

Suffice to say that to update, or back-date, your streamer firmware, you need to install an auxilliary programme, on either Windows or Mac platform call Konfig.  It is important that the version of Konfig you use is about the same vintage as the firmware you use.

 

As can be imagined firmwares have developed as the products have grown.  Modern firmware contains all that is necessary to set up the exciting room equalisation adjustments, called SPACE, introduced in the spring of 2015.  Recent issues have also brought to ability to call up high resolution screening sources, such as Tidal and Qobuz.

 

Linn hardly ever seem to draw the curtains when they get changed - they are generally very open and free with information - the fact that old firmwares are still available bears testimony to that.  Curiously Linn are very reluctant however to comment on the resulting sound quality of different firmwares.  They have stated in the past, effectively that all firmwares sound the same, except on the few occasions when the sound has been modified (and we were told).  But a regular topic of debate among streamer owners is the varying quality of sound.  This issue often arises when firmware is automatically updated, and the owner's system is found, in his or her opinion, not to sound as good as it did before.  For many owners, the advent of new features does not compensate for a deterioration in sound.

 

For example, whether you use SPACE or not, it has been argued that recently sound quality (whatever that is - hence the difficulty of proving the issue) is not the same as it was.  Some folk simply download the latest firmware - in principle always a good practice with electronics - and just enjoy the music.  Others download the latest, pause for thought, and then hope the next one will be that little bit better.  Some folk have old favourites which they stick to, or revert to after getting up to date to see what all the excitement is about.

 

A number of people have asked Linn to update their own views on the way the overall sound of their firmwares is changing (or not), and uncharacteristically they are not forthcoming. 


Linn streamer

The purpose of this page is to try to share some favourites for people to try or to help confirm their own findings.  I vitally need you to share your own discoveries in this area:   Please contact me

While it is generally agreed that different issues of firmware may have their own characteristic sound, I have not seen it demonstrated that these variations manifest themselves across the product range.  In other words a firm favourite that sounds great on a Klimax streamer, may not be so beneficial to a Majik DS.

 

So I have made a start below at pulling together some known favourites.  Linn model references show where a given firmware was known to produce good results, it may be equally successful on a different model.  And remember, there are no guarantees or absolute values - beauty is in the ear of the beholder.


Linn streamer
FIRMWARE LINN MODEL KONFIG NOTES
4.11.5 Majik DS,  Akurate DS/1 4.10.8 quite old - no recent developments included.
       
       
4.32.1283 most? 4.8.2 recent firmware - good performer - better than the few preceding


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