Anyone with even a passing knowledge of high-quality hi-fi knows the name ‘Linn’. Anyone with a more abiding interest knows Linn to be one of the industry’s true innovators, from its Sondek LP12 of the early 1970s (which to this day remains a turntable capable of bringing a lump to the throat of even the most jaded listener) to the evangelical fervour of its mid-2000s embrace of digital audio streaming. The clearsightedness of Linn’s vision has always been admirable, the sonic quality of its products has always been unarguable, the prices it tends to set have always been considerable. When the time comes to make a documentary of the Linn story, it’s going to have one heck of a montage.
Which makes the appearance of the Linn Series 3 wireless speaker just a little surprising. There’s a fairly un-Linn-like element of ‘giving the people what they ask for’ about this product, which is rather at odds with the company’s more usual policy of ‘giving the people what they don’t yet realise they want’.
Yes, by the standards of single-speaker wireless digital audio systems, Series 3 is punishingly expensive. A single ‘301’ Series 3 will set you back £2,950, and if you add a partnering ‘302’ to form a stereo pair you’re looking at £5,450. At that sort of money, credible alternatives consist primarily of Devialet’s £2,490 Gold Phantom single speaker (a profoundly bonkers 4500-watt show-off) or Bowers & Wilkins’ £3,499 Formation Duo stereo pair (admirably musical, relatively staid and businesslike in appearance, and looking more and more of a bargain the longer this sentence goes on).
The 301 Series 3 is self-contained; it includes everything you might reasonably expect, as well as some uniquely Linn touches. Its driver array consists of a 19mm silk tweeter above a 160mm doped paper mid/bass driver – each is driven by 100 watts of Class D amplification. By the time your digital audio files arrive in analogue form at the power amp stage, they’ve been pored over by Linn’s Exakt digital processing engine.