Linn Kiko – introduction
Up to now, Linn’s DS music streamers have been more about function than form – all that changes with the ultra-compact Kiko, a £2500 ‘just add computer’ solution complete with curvaceous styling, active speakers, a choice of six colours and slick setup wizard. Even better, it also sounds the business.
Linn Kiko – design and build
The Kiko main unit is half the width of regular hi-fi components, can be used standing on end, and the ‘wing’ cross section makes its metal casework pretty distinctive. And you can have it in a choice of black, white, silver, ‘champagne’ or light or dark blue
Linn Kiko – controls
Apart from a power rocker on the side panel (or the top if you use it on end) Kiko has no controls whatsoever. You operate it either with the slimline silver handset, which has buttons labeled with slightly obscure pictograms (you’ll get used to them) or preferably using Linn’s Kinsky software on computer or iOS/Android handset.
Linn Kiko – display
Yes, the front panel will show you a Linn logo when it fires up, and volume numbers, but beyond that all you get are those pictograms again. To play music on your networked computer or handheld you’ll either need the Kinsky app or Songcast, which lets you ‘play to’ Kiko.
Linn Kiko – speakers
Each speaker drive unit is driven by a separate amplifier within the Kiko unit for the best possible amp/speaker matching. It really makes a difference, too – this might be a dinky little system, but it delivers awesome sound from punchy bass to smooth, involving treble whether you’re playing hard rock or Linn-label jazz. Ni-i-ice.
Linn Kiko – connectivity
As well as playing all the music stored on your local network the little Kiko can also access web services such as Spotify via AirPlay on an iDevice or Songcast. It’s easily incorporated into your existing system, too, thanks to digital audio inputs and HDMI ins and outs for video. The only disappointment is that it has to be wired to your router – there’s no Wi-Fi.
Linn Kiko – verdict
With foolproof installation and set-up, thanks to clever design and a neat installation wizard, plus the fact it comes complete with speakers, we can see Kiko selling the streaming idea to a lot of new customers. But we really would have liked a proper front-panel display to enable it to be used without computer or tablet control.