Linn Products has announced that it will cease production of its range of CD players from the start of 2010. Managing Director Gilad Tiefenbrun said Linn will concentrate instead on its DS digital music streaming products. “Our customers have fast recognized the limitations of CD players in the age of home networking,” said Tiefenbrun at a press conference in London’s Covent Garden. “CD players no longer belong in the specialist domain.”
The first high-end audio brand to abandon the format, Linn spotted a 40% decline in CD player sales over the last two years. At the same time, the company saw sales of DS products increase by a similar amount, and the DS players now account for almost 30% of Linn’s total sales.
These numbers are echoed in sales at Linn Records, the company’s music-making arm. Over the past two years, Linn Records has seen a 17% decline in CD sales but a 24% increase in download sales, 70% of which are now premium quality high-resolution Studio Masters. Reports from the record label suggest that one-quarter of all Linn Classical sales are now downloads, with more than 10,000 customers opting for the Studio Master experience; 90% of these Studio Master sales being downloaded in FLAC format.
Sales of CD in the UK peaked in 2004 at 237.4million units; the expected figure for 2009 is down to 112million, with no signs of a reversal in fortune for the format. Little wonder then that the press release that accompanied the announcement was headlined "The Death of CD?"
Nevertheless, reports of CD's death may be greatly exaggerated. “CDs still have a role to play in peoples’ lives,” continued Tiefenbrun, “but we recommend that customers now listen to them through a Linn DS player to benefit from higher performance playback and improved music management.” Before deciding to axe CD players from the line-up, Tiefenbrun said the company ran extensive evaluation tests both on the road and in the Linn factory, comparing its top Klimax DS streamer against the previous reference CD12 CD player and found that the Klimax DS delivered better performance in all respects.
Linn Products will continue to produce its LP12 turntable and its Unidisk ‘universal’ disc player and Linn Records continues to release music on CD and SACD as well as LP and download.