If you ever wanted proof that the digital music revolution is well under way, here it is: Linn, one of the most highly respected names in traditional hi-fi, has come up with its very own digital media player, the Sneaky Music DS.
It’s a flexible little beast, and not just because it can be orientated vertically or horizontally. Thanks to its built-in 20W power amplification, it can be used as a compact hi-fi system.
Alternatively, thanks to fitted analogue and digital outputs, it can be treated as a source for your hi-fi system.
All you need, then, is a music source. This can be your PC or a Network Attached Storage box (NAS): we tried our review sample with a Dell laptop, and also with the AVA RS3 music server with equally impressive results.
It’ll support WAV, FLAC and MP3 file formats of up to 24-bit/192kHz quality, and also accepts the SHOUTcast internet radio system as long as it’s hooked-up to the net.
Most importantly, it uses its own upsampling engine plus powerful digital-to-analogue conversion to maximise sound quality.
And that really is the big deal with the Linn. Connected via its preouts into our reference system, it’s genuinely fantastic to listen to – especially when you play one of Linn’s own downloadable 24-bit/96kHz Flac recordings.
Even if you switch to Linn’s Komponent speakers and treat the Sneaky as a local hi-fi fed by ‘plain’ old Flac files from the AVA RS3, it still has a musical edge on rivals.
Downsides? The Linn isn’t Wi-Fi enabled, so a multiroom installation is a little more convoluted (but still possible).
Otherwise, consider this a brilliantly accomplished music player.