Linn Products

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Linn Products Limited
Type Private Limited Company
Industry Audio/Visual equipment manufacturing and distribution
Founded 19 February 1973
Headquarters Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Key people Ivor Tiefenbrun
Gilad Tiefenbrun
Products Hi-fi equipment
Audio-visual equipment
Employees 160[1]
Subsidiaries Linn Records
Website http://www.linn.co.uk

Linn Products is an influential[citation needed] engineering company that manufactures hi-fi and audio equipment. Founded by Ivor Tiefenbrun in Glasgow, Scotland in 1973, the company is best known as the manufacturer of the iconic Linn Sondek LP12 turntable.

Originally based in the eponymous suburb of Linn, south Glasgow, and opposite Linn Park, it is now based just outside the city, between Waterfoot and Eaglesham, East Renfrewshire.

Company history[edit]

Origins[edit]

Linn was founded by Ivor Tiefenbrun to produce the Sondek LP12 turntable. The company's logo is the simple geometric representation of a stylus tip on a record surface.

Hamish Robertson designed the Ariston RD11 in 1971 with Castle Precision Engineering Ltd machining many of the parts. Robertson left Ariston, which had been taken over by Dunlop Westayr Ltd and reorganised as Ariston Audio Ltd. In February 1973 Linn Products Ltd. was formed to sell turntables made by Castle Precision Engineering. This was officially announced in an advertisement in Hi-Fi News & Record Review, with the following text: "The turntable previously available under the name Ariston RD11 is now available under the name Linn LP12."[2] There were claims, and even patent litigation at the time, that the first Linn Sondek LP12 was a carbon copy of the RD11, and many parts interchangeable.[3]

The company's philosophy is as controversial as its founder, who is known for his believing in only two ways of doing things – the Linn way and the wrong way. Whilst may in the industry speak of them in strictly reverential terms, notable critic Ken Kessler accuses the company (with a touch of hyperbole) of being doctrinaire, prone to "propaganda, brainwashing, historical revisionism and other ways of interpreting reality". As such, and because Linn supposedly design their products within the context of an all-Linn system, they try to ensure that all the variables are covered in a "proper demonstration".[4]

Sondek LP12[edit]

The LP12 working with a Linn Ekos tonearm
Main article: Linn Sondek LP12

The Sondek LP12 is a suspended sub-chassis turntable with a single-point platter bearing. From its introduction in 1973, there have not been any radical changes to the turntable design, which remains in production. However, the LP12's sound quality has been improved through retrofittable upgrade kits. The successive upgrades consist mostly of refinements in materials used and improved manufacturing tolerances.

In 2011, some thirty years after the birth of the compact disc, sales of the LP12 and accessories still accounted for 10 percent of the company's turnover.[5]

In 1975, Linn patented its isobaric loading principle, and launched the Linn Isobarik loudspeaker. Initially Linn manufactured the LP12 itself, but not any other components such as tonearms and cartridges. This gap was filled with a largely complementary range from, amongst others, Supex cartridges, Grace and Sumiko tonearms, and Naim Audio amplification.

Digital compact disc[edit]

Linn's first CD player, the Karik, was released in 1993 – 11 years after the CD format itself.

The Sondek CD12, pioneered by Alan Clark, was launched in 1997. In 2005 it was discontinued after the laser around which the player had been designed were no longer available.

On 20 November 2009, Linn said it would stop making CD players to focus on digital streaming products instead.[6][5]

2006 crisis[edit]

In May 2006, Linn announced that founder Ivor Tiefenbrun would relinquish the position of Linn's managing director in favour of FD and company secretary Peter Murphy, an 8-year veteran of the firm.[7] As part of his succession planning, Tiefenbrun had appointed him to the Linn board in November 2004 as "the obvious successor in the short term", along with his elder son Natan. At around that time, Tiefenbrun executed a share swap with his brother Marcus in exchange for his shares in Castle Precision Engineering, consolidating his stake in Linn to 60%. Marcus was to remain a non-executive director.[8] Ivor Tiefenbrun had given up executive duties following his diagnosed with a serious illness.[9]

The company faced its most significant crisis since its founding when it plunged into the red in 2006, due to escalating costs and weighed down by up to ₤6.8 million in short term debt. The distribution deal with Loewe television and the partnership to supply Aston Martin with ICE system were terminated. The company's turnover declined by £15.5 million. Lloyds TSB, the company's bank, put Linn on its "special measures" list, and installed a troubleshooter on the board to redress and restructure the business.[9]

In 2007, the bank ordered asset disposals; all properties except the headquarters was earmarked for sale. Linn shed two-thirds of its staff, including then managing director Peter Murphy and some senior managers. At some point (after March 2007) Linn closed the original factory that was next door to Castle Precision Engineering (run by Ivor's brother) on Drakemire Drive. Thus the metalworking and training facility were moved into the Eaglesham facility.

Ivor's son Gilad was promoted from Head of Engineering to managing director in April 2008 and Ivor was brought back with executive responsibilities.[9] In February 2009, Gilad Tiefenbrun was officially named Managing Director of the company. Ivor remains Executive Chairman.[10][9]

Partnerships[edit]

During much of the 1970s and 80s, Linn adopted a tight working relationship with Naim Audio. It all started in about 1974 when Linn was looking for suitable amplifiers to drive their Isobarik loudspeaker and came across Vereker's NAP 200.[11] Their product ranges were complementary, and their names were often mentioned together. Being an engineering company, Linn had the electro-mechanical part of the chain while Naim worked exclusively on the electronics. During this time, the Linn/Naim system was a preferred combination for many audiophiles. The two companies advocated a 'source-first' philosophy based on the same principle as garbage in, garbage out[5] – that an amplifier that correctly performed its role would only faithfully amplify a signal, but that all things being equal, a superior source component would allow the recorded music to better connect with the listener on an emotive level. It followed that a superior source signal paired with lesser amplification would sound better than an inferior source through high-quality amplification and speakers.[12][13] This flew in the face of conventional wisdom that had been made prevalent by Edgar Villchur. In line with the philosophy of the comparative demonstration, the companies' dealers eschewed multi-speaker demonstrations with switched comparators to "single-speaker dem rooms".[13] The two companies had almost the same sales and marketing strategy, and shared many of the same retailers/dealers. Since many of the principles the two companies subscribed to were thought to be heretical, or flying in the face of conventional wisdom, Linn/Naim aficionados were nicknamed "flat earthers",[14] sometimes affectionately, sometimes derogatorily. The two companies diverged during the 1980s, at the dawn of digital audio.

In 2002 Linn formed a brand partnership to supply audio systems to Aston Martin cars. Linn supplied amplification and loudspeaker systems for the Vanquish and DB9 models but three years later was replaced by Alpine Electronics, the previous supplier.

Awards and recognition[edit]

  • Ivor Tiefenbrun was awarded the MBE by HM Queen Elizabeth II in for "his and his company's engineering achievements and outstanding service to the electronics industry."
  • As of 1 January 2002, Linn Products Ltd has been awarded The Royal Warrant of Appointment as a Tradesman to His Royal Highness, Charles, Prince of Wales, as a provider of Entertainment Systems.
  • Linn was awarded the Queen's Award for Enterprise in Innovation in 2012.[15]

Products and trademarks[edit]

Linn have a number of trademarks for their products, many of which have the characteristic "k" in place of a hard "c". The origins of this practice have been relayed in a number of ways during Linn's history. Ivor Tiefenbrun stated it is a contraction of both 'sound deck' and the word soundex as all designs have their own unique recognisable sound.[16] Several of the names have Scottish origins, e.g. Kairn, Keltik, Ekos, Keilidh (cairn, Celtic, Ecosse, Ceilidh), some have relevance to the function they perform e.g. Knekt (a system to connect many rooms together) or Klout (a powerful amplifier), more recently some names are derived from descriptives of quality (Exakt, Klimax, Akurate, Dynamik, Kandid). Some products have had relatively simple names, such as the Index loudspeaker.

Integrated products[edit]

  • Streamers: Majik DSM, Majik DS-I, Sneaky DSM, Sneaky DS, Kiko DSM
  • Disc players: Classic Movie, Classic Music, Classic

Multistage products[edit]

  • Streamer/preamp/digital-crossover: Klimax Exakt DSM
  • Streamer/preamp: Klimax DSM, Akurate DSM
  • DVD/CD/AVprocessor: Unidisk SC

Sources[edit]

  • Digital Streamers: Klimax DS, Akurate DS, Majik DS, Kivor
  • CD: Sondek CD12, Akurate CD, Majik CD, Ikemi, Genki, Karik, Numerik (DAC), Mimik
  • DVD/CD: Unidisk 1.1/2.1
  • Tuners: Kremlin, Pekin
  • Turntables: LP12, Axis, Basik
The LP12 working with a Linn Ekos tonearm and Linn Klyde cartridge

Sondek LP12[edit]

  • Power supplies: Radikal, Lingo 3/2/1, Majik, Valhalla, Basik
  • Arm: Ekos SE, Ekos 1/2, Ittok, Akito, Basik Plus
  • Cartridges:
  • MC: Kandid, Akiva, Arkiv A/B, Troika, Klyde, Asaka, Asak, Metek, Trak
  • MM: Adikt, K18 mk1/2, K9, K5
  • Phonostages: Urika, Uphorik, Linto

Control/Preamps[edit]

  • Integrated: Majik, Intek
  • Two channel: Klimax Kontrol, Akurate Kontrol, Majik Kontrol, Kairn (Pro), Kollector, Wakonda, Pretek, LK1
  • Multi channel: Kisto, Kinos, Exotik, AV5103

Power Amplifiers[edit]

  • Klimax Solo, Klimax Chakra Twin, Akurate [234]200, Majik [2345]100, 2250, Klout, AV5125, AV5105, LK140, LK85, LK100, LK2

Active Crossovers[edit]

  • Klimax Exakt Tunebox
  • Klimax Tunebox
  • LK Tunebox
  • Aktiv cards: Stereo, Mono (depending on amp or tunebox)

Speakers[edit]

The Linn Isobarik DMS (with in-built crossover) in a domestic setting
  • Floorstanding: Klimax Exakt 350A, Klimax 350[AP], Artikulat 350, Akubarik, Akurate 242, Komri, Keltik, Majik 140, MIsobarik, Isobarik, Espek, AV5140, Komponent 110, Kaber, Ninka, Keilidh
  • Bookshelf: Klimax 320[AP], Artikulat 320[AP], Akurate 212, Majik 109, AV5110 (also called Unik), Komponent 104, Sara 9, Sara, Tukan, Katan, Kan, Index, Helix, Nexus
  • Centre: Klimax 340, Artikulat 340[AP], Akurate 225, Majik 112, Komponent 106, Ekwal, AV5120, Trikan, Centrik
  • Sub: Klimax 345, Akurate 221, Majik 126, Melodik, AV5150, Komponent 120, Sizmik, Afekt
  • In-wall: Diskreet, Sekrit, Custom 2K, Sweetspot

Cables[edit]

  • Interconnect: T-Kable, silver, black
  • Speaker: K600, K400, K40, K20, K10

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Interview: Gilad Tiefenbrun; Managing Director, Linn Products". The Scotsman, 27 November 2013
  2. ^ Hi-Fi News & Record Review, Vol. 6, No. 2, February 1973
  3. ^ David Price, - OLDE WORLDE - ARISTON RD11 TURNTABLE, Hi-Fi World, June 1998
  4. ^ Kessler, Ken (July 1994). "Linn Tukan, Hi-fi News and Record Review (courtesy link)
  5. ^ a b c Ford, Jez (28 July 2011). "Linn joins Advance Audio". Sound + Image"
  6. ^ "Hi-fi firm stops making CD players". BBC News. 19 November 2009. Retrieved 20 November 2009. 
  7. ^ "Tiefenbrun hands over reins at Linn hi-fi group". The Scotsman, 12 May 2006
  8. ^ "Retirement sounds good to hi-fi firm chief". The Scotsman, 28 November 2004
  9. ^ a b c d Vass, Steven (18 July 2010). "'How close were we to going bust? One hates to speculate. Really close...'". The Herald (Glasgow)
  10. ^ Gilad Tiefenbrun appointed Managing Director of Linn (Press release), Linn Products, 6 February 2009
  11. ^ "Iconic Hi-fi' Audio Milestones: Linn Isobarik" Hi-Fi News, November 2011 (courtesy link)
  12. ^ Steve (29 March 2012). "History of Linn". Hidden Systems
  13. ^ a b "Company History". Linn Products
  14. ^ Wheeler, Mark (Summer 2008). "PRaT", TNT UK
  15. ^ "LINN Launches The Kiko Music System At CEDIA 2012" AV Guide, 28 August 2012
  16. ^ Interview with Ivor Tiefenbrun, Positive Feedback Online, 2002

External links[edit]