Linn Selekt DSM Streaming Player

An Accomplished Modular Solution

Equipment report
Categories:
Digital-to-analog converters,
Music servers and computer audio
Linn Selekt DSM Streaming Player

The striking-looking Selekt DSM represents the most current and comprehensive execution of Linn’s 12-plus-year-old family of digital streaming sources, which now includes four platforms, Majik (starting at $2999), Selekt (starting at $5200), Akurate (starting at $10,250), and Klimax (starting at $23,375). Jen Cassidy, Linn’s Sales and Marketing Director, describes Selekt as a complete reworking of Linn’s existing DSM platform, starting from the ground up, one that will define the template for all further DSM developments going forward. And, Linn chose the introduction of this new device to announce its commitment to a comprehensive reintegration to the U.S. market, announcing the establishment of some 25 authorized U.S. dealers. 

When I asked Linn’s PR officer Andrena McBain, I was informed that DSM isn’t really an acronym. Though the “DS” part of the designation stands for Digital Streamer, the “M” represents the component’s ability to be or do many different things: music, movies, multi-source, multi-room, multi-user, etc. The Selekt and, in fact the entire range of DSM devices, are essentially extremely sophisticated Linux computers. Unlike the typical computer running a generalized operating system like Windows or MacOS, or even a more specialized application computer, such as a file or application server using Unix or Linux, the DSM platform is highly specialized. 

By default, the typical computer manages all requests, from opening a web browser, checking email, surfing the web, or editing your digital photos, based on a “best practices” set of global instructions, written to assure that the operating system stays stable and that all tasks presented to the processor are dealt with in a timely and resource-efficient manner. It should be easy enough to understand that by stripping away all those generalized, superfluous requests and processes, and by dedicating its new dual-core processor to specific audio-performance and control processes, and managing only services specifically requisite for the recreation of music, you can build one powerful music-streaming device. Selekt DSM does just that, and based on my experience as both an equipment reviewer and IT professional, does so in an unparalleled manner.

Mechanical
Weighing just under 18 pounds as configured (more on that shortly), and with a svelte 13¾" square by 4½" tall chassis, the Selekt DSM sits on a troika of low, wide, isolation footers. The sleek, glossy front panel features a central 5" by 3" onyx-black OLED display, which readily allowed me to see any displayable status—including selected source, volume, even the name of the file playing—from my listening chair some 12 feet away.

There are six customizable “smart” buttons just above the display, fitted into the front top “edge” of the chassis. Designed with travel, like piano keys, each may be customized to allow immediate access to any “pinned” content from any source. Sitting just 5/8" behind the row of buttons, centered left to right on the top of the chassis, sits a remarkable-looking one-half-inch tall, two-and-a-half-inch diameter dial. Called the “jewel,” this variably illuminated dial provides comprehensive control and feedback directly from the product and allows for diverse and pleasantly tactile interactions with the device.

The rear panel of my evaluation unit was fully loaded. Starting from the left, on the lower half of the rear panel, we have the IEC socket and on/off power rocker switch. Next is the RJ-45 Ethernet jack for the network connection, followed by an HDMI, USB-B, two TosLink optical inputs, two SPDIF inputs, and two more RJ-45 jacks for Exakt Link communication with other Linn Exakt devices on your network. Starting above the second TosLink input are three single-ended RCA inputs, one generic analog in, then two phono inputs, mm and mc, followed by a knurled-nut ground post. Finally, to the right are the left and right speaker outputs, which are very closely spaced. Given the proximity of these outputs, and the elevated chance of inadvertent shorting they present, the use of banana terminations on speaker cables makes the most sense.

Both RIAA equalization and cartridge loading are done in the analog domain, then the signal is digitized, and passed through the other processes and on to the DAC. Loading options are fixed, with the moving-magnet input set at 47k ohms resistance, and 100pF capacitance, while the moving-coil input has 100-ohm resistance and 470pF capacitance.

The Selekt DSM was originally offered supporting digital formats up to 24-bit/192kHz, but with the most recent firmware the Selekt now supports Direct Stream Digital up to DSD128, as well. The Selekt DSM also integrates seamlessly with Roon, Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz, and Apple AirPlay, and streams Internet radio via TuneIn.