Linn pretty much told us what finishes our demo 5 series speakers would come in. From the tweed collection we have ‘Peat” with black glass on the 530s and ‘Barley’ with white glass trims on the cheaper, downright diminutive 520s. We weren’t entirely sure about the 520 choice.
As it happens, the paler, greener, more beige tweed goes really well in our larger dem room and the white tops and bases actually look rather good in the flesh. It’s maybe a run-in thing but, for the moment at least, these two way devices sound even better than the three way 530s. Visually, they might be recessive yet the sound is big, focussed, engaging and full range. Sure enough, absolute loudness, when there is serious bass, is a little restricted compared to the 530s which have the Isobaric bass drivers, not to mention the extra channels of amplification but these still give a creditable account of themselves.
So, here we have a system at £9250. The Akurate Exakt head unit gives access to locally stored music, digital (even HDMi) and analogue sources (including a turntable with MM or MC cartridge), to internet radio, Quobuz and Tidal on-line full resolution streaming. You can send music to it via Airplay too.
There is an impressive array of coverings (Fabrik) for the speakers too, so they can make a statement or hide in the background as you wish. Some of the more striking designs look positively scary!
The Exakt active operation and Space Optimisation software allow the speakers to be sonically tailored to the location, even if placement cannot be what hi-fi buffs would regard as ideal.
Most importantly, because £9250 is actually quite a lot of money, these are systems that you could easily get hooked on playing. With the digital gubbins and amplification sitting in suspended isolation in the rear of the speakers, there is very little physically to show for your investment. This throws the resultant sound quality into pretty sharp relief.