Linn's successful Classik Music one-box CD-and-amp proved that convenience, style and performance can actually make good bedfellows. The company has now applied this menage a trois of design ideals to home theatre, culminating in the sumptuous Classik Movie and Komponent speaker system.
Okay, deep breath: £6,000 is a big hill of beans for a single DVD/AV receiver unit and a lifestyle speaker package. But from the moment you break the seal on the first Komponent loudspeaker box, you can see where your money is being spent. The design, both aesthetic and industrial, is a league above every other 'lifestyle' system I have looked at and in many respects better than many big-name high-end speakers too.
The main Komponent 110 floor-standers are a tall, elegant extrusion of heavygauge aluminium sculpted to reduce internal standing waves and tuned to get the best from the driver array. This is Linn's famous four-driver line up, with two higher frequency units suspended in front of the midrange to produce and effective point source. If this sounds familiar, it's an arrangement grafted down from the company's flagship speakers like the Komri at 25k per pair.
The driver array makes for an effective four-way design and around the back you have four gold-plated sets of binding posts for quad-wiring. Better still, such extreme cabling shenanigans are not going to look like an incident in a spaghetti restaurant. The speaker has an internal cable channel to the underside of the plinth, and a textured cover keeps the recessed terminals out of sight, too.
The grille is elequantly finished and mounted on magnets so there are no unsightly holes or lugs showing on the speaker when removed. Trim detail and terminal covers are in soft-texture paint and the overall build quality is faultless. You even get a heavy multi-spanner - Linn branded of course - that is the only tool required to go from the box to fully set up.
The immaculate design, and many of the features, are repeated in the centre channel and the weighty 104 rear surround speakers. Both are three-way designs (and can be tri-wired) and the 104's dedicated stands replicate the floor-standing 110s, right down to the identical base plinth and cable channel. They even come with heavyweight polythene bags so that if you massload them you don't leave a trail of silver sand all over the living room.
All five speakers are impeccably matched (both cosmetically and tonally) and if the idea of plinths and floor-stands doesn't appeal, they can all be wallmounted on robust, pivoting wall brackets - supplied with each. From the goldplating of the terminals to flexibility of setup options, the Komponent speakers can only be described as absolutely lush.
Which planet you from?
The subwoofer is simply from a different planet. The build is equally exemplary, being a large, heavy truncated cylinder with internal drivers and upward firing ports. The controls are push-button with a seven-segment LED display, and it too comes with stainless floor spikes and floorprotecting metal cups. It also has a wall bracket - no, really it does! This sub can be securely mounted fl at against the wall for a thoroughly unique look. Boy, the neighbours are going to love that!
The Linn Movie is relatively understated in design, but does come with the same solid feel and offers a sophisticated blue display. Unfortunately, for the best part of 3k, it's mighty short on connection options, frugally powered at just 75W per channel and stoically 5.1-channel rather than 7.1.
Video outputs are limited to just RGB Scart and S-video, without even progressive component let alone HDMI in sight, and there are inputs for just two other AV components... Unless, that is, you have a Linn Knekt multi-room system. In which case you can have the Movie running an AV system in an additional four independent zones. Okay, this does railroad you into an all-Linn system if you want music and movies throughout the home - but that's system integration for you.
As a whole the Movie and Komponent is gorgeously crafted eye-candy of the first order. Just owning it says the same about you as wearing that Tag Heuer watch or carrying the Louis Vuitton bag. In fact, this system side-stepped the darkened home cinema room and got setup in the living room... where everyone could see it.
Due in most part to the mad attention to design detail and the flexible mounting options, the Komponent speaker system is a complete bitch to set up. It comes in twelve boxes and has got more brackets, nuts, bolts and screws than your average B and Q warehouse. But fear not. If you are not sure which end of a spanner to hold, in most cases Linn dealers will deliver and setup the system for you as part of the service. Phew.
Conversely, the Classik Movie is virtually plug and play. The speaker trimming and setup is straightforward (although not automatic, alas) right down to the lip-sync delay. You will be up and running in minutes.
The part of this system most likely to solicit some angst to setup is the subwoofer. Its whacky shape means the controls are all but inaccessible and the push-button and display operation is far cleverer than it is effi cient - give us a couple of old fashioned knobs for gain and roll-off any day.
It is also a tricky beast to place - again due to its shape. As the pending noise abatement order meant wall-mounting was not an option for this test, there is an inclination to slip it under a table or large chair. This has a dramatic and largely negative effect on the quality and volume of the bass, so much experimentation with room positioning is in order to get the very best from this design (See our Practical Tip).
The Komponent speakers are designed primarily for close-to-wall positioning, and I can't argue with that. Placed in open space the sound is highly focused with fine detail and positioning but lighter and cooler than ideal. Move them to the wall and the mechanical gain in the mid and lower frequencies fills out the sound into a smooth and well-balanced whole, without crushing any of the razor-sharp focus.
The sub packs plenty of punch with LFE input and again has a distinct character, presumably due to its unusual design. When placed on the floor it is great at normal volumes and integrates smoothly with the Komponents. Give it large with party/big movie levels and it begins to struggle, pushing bass into open air and becoming more obvious in the mix. The system as a whole is quite beguiling, balancing a distinct character with a mix of fine detailing and audio clarity. Few systems offer such tight control and stunning vocal intelligibility, but it's never going to blow you away with gushing high volume power and passion.
Much of the latter issue might well be due to the Movie's fairly modest 75W per channel - claimed into 4ohms at that. This is no power-house AV receiver, but together with the Komponent system it manages a sonic grace and airy clarity at normal listening levels that is very rare in such single-box components. Unsurprisingly, this character is equally at home with lighter music and, as long as you are more into Delius than Dr Dre, the Movie/Komponent crafts a fine two-channel sound.
Okay, I do really miss the vivid clarity of HDMI or progressive component output but the Movie's RGB scart picture is certainly no slouch. There is plenty of detail and depth with excellent motion processing, and good clarity without any artificial edge processing. There are precious few adjustments over picture quality available from the Movie's menus, so if you need to 'tweak' it will have to be within your display.
The burning question is; could you mix-and-match different brand DVD players, AV amps, speakers and subwoofers to get a better home cinema system sound for the same money? The answer is yes - but that misses the point. If you want a superbly built one-make system offering a spectacular mix of convenience, style and performance, Linn's Classik Movie/ Komponent package just can't be beaten.