By clicking “Accept”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyse site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Cookie Policy for more information.
Linn Klimax Solo 800

For some readers, Linn Products Ltd requires no introduction. For those who are unfamiliar with the Scottish audio savant, though, it’s enough to know (for now, at least) that it’s been around for over 50 years - and in that time has delivered analogue and digital audio products that bear comparison with the very best the planet has to offer. In the case of products such as its legendary Sondek LP12 record player, in fact, Linn sets standards to which most others can only aspire.

With this Klimax Solo 800, the company is entering into what is, for it, uncharted territory. The Klimax Solo 800 is a high-output, passively cooled power amplifier - or rather, it’s a high-output, passively cooled monoblock power amplifier. You’ll need two of them if you want to listen in stereo - and the price for a pair of these imposing boxes is a wallet-bothering £75,000.

Need I say with undue emphasis that this is a lot of money for stereo amplification? Does it need pointing out that the rest of the system into which a pair of Klimax Solo 800s is introduced - the source, the pre-amplification, the loudspeakers, even the supports on which all the equipment stands - will need to be of similarly devastating expense if the system as a whole is going to make any sense? I thought not.

For some readers, the knowledge that this is a Linn product will be enough to convince them that the concept and the execution of the Klimax Solo 800 are both exemplary. But for the rest of us, it’s worth pointing out some of the technical highlights that dictate the asking price and the physical dimensions of the product - just as an indication of how serious, how forward-thinking, and how thoroughly disinclined to compromise Linn Products Ltd is.   

The Klimax Solo 800 is a Class AB amplifier, which means it requires a ‘sweet spot’ bias current to keep transistor crossover distortion to a minimum. But rather than have an engineer carefully set the bias current at the point of constructing the product and have that be that, Linn has developed something called Adaptive Bias Control (ABC) technology. First seen in last year’s 360 Exact Integrated loudspeaker, ABC establishes and adjusts bias current in real time by measuring, sampling and digitising the current supplied to the transistors. It passes this data to a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) which then implements a digital control loop to hold the bias at the ideal point for each individual transistor. Which means that the Klimax Solo 800 applies the optimum bias in every circumstance, regardless of temperature, volume or dynamic fluctuations in the music it’s dealing with. For the lifetime of the product. 

Obviously there’s more - plenty more. I could discuss, at length, the Utopik ‘soft switching’ switch-mode power supply that maintains steady output voltage no matter the changes in load, defies mains input variations, and is cleaner and quieter than more common linear power supplies. Or the remarkable heat-management that calls for the amplifier and power-supply circuitry to be mounted directly to the heatsinks, allowing the Klimax Solo 800 to drive the most difficult loads without the need for an internal fan and to deploy its prodigious power output (800W into 4Ω and a fearsome 1.2kW into 2Ω) with staggering clarity.

But I think by now the broad point is made: Linn Products Ltd has delivered the sort of uncompromising monoblock power amplification anyone with knowledge of the company expects.

But still: £75,000 a pair? Really?

Sound quality

It surely won’t come as a shock if I say that the Linn Klimax Solo 800 monoblock amplifier is, as part of an appropriately talented system, an almost humblingly impressive performer. The asking price kind of dictates that it should be. The question, really, is “how exactly is this amplification so bloody marvellous?”

Let’s start with the control the amp exerts, both over the music signal that’s coming in and over the loudspeaker each monoblock is attached to. The  sense of authority, the ability to influence sound in the most positive way, is absolutely palpable. You sense, strongly, that you’re getting a complete and unabridged rendition of the music in every single circumstance.

The sensation of ‘performance’ and ‘togetherness’ this amplification conjures is remarkable - music is presented as a tightly unified whole, as a singular event much more than as a disparate collection of individual occurrences. The Klimax Solo 800 ties together every element of a recording, at every point of the frequency range, in the most unforced, naturalistic and, yes, musical way.

The sound is beautifully balanced and poised. From the (fathomless, direct and lavishly detailed) bottom end of the frequency range to the (bright, substantial and, again, staggeringly detailed) top, and all points in between, the performance is naturalistic, neutral and utterly confident. The conviction with which these monoblocks unify the frequency range is almost shocking. But what’s nearly as gratifying as the forthright way in which they serve up the entirety of the frequency range is the unshowy way in which they do so. There’s never a hint of “listen to me!” but only and always “listen to THIS!”.

In every other meaningful respect, they’re similarly assured, similarly positive and similarly candid. They have the speed to absolutely motor through the most testing rhythmic patterns with straight-edged alacrity, and they have the sort of dynamic potency to put enormous distance between ‘single, gently stroked piano key’ and ‘full symphony orchestra launching into the final assault’ even if those dynamic shifts occur in a split-second. Their ability to describe, organise and control a soundstage, from left-to-right and front-to-back, has to be heard to be believed.

And somehow there’s more. The amount of detail they retain and reveal is colossal - no matter if it’s the most transient of events at the far edges of the stage, it is identified, given appropriate weighting and put into easily understood context. The low-level dynamic variations in that solo piano, from note to note, are described with an effortlessness that almost makes you take them for granted. And the power, my goodness - the simple and straightforward power that’s on tap here. How loud do you like it? How loud can you bear it? The Klimax Solo 800 has got you covered - and it can reach profoundly antisocial volume levels almost casually, without altering the tonality, the balance or the sense of authority in the slightest. In no way does the delivery sound stressed, it simply gets much, much louder. 

In more open, sparer recordings, the silences are deep and dark, and the spaces are described with certainty. With uptempo stuff, this Linn maintains momentum with ease, and describes the attack and decay of individual notes, textures and harmonics with something approaching fanaticism - even in the most complex, fast-moving recordings.

The sheer amount of insight is little short of staggering. At every turn, detail levels are stratospheric, to the point that I hear tiny elements I’ve never noticed before in recordings I’ve listened to literally hundreds of times. The eloquence of the communication that’s on offer here is remarkable, the tonality is exquisitely judged.    

I can’t help feeling that the neutrality and absolute equilibrium of the Linn presentation might initially seem slightly underwhelming to those who are expecting sonic fireworks for their big-money outlay. But while there’s nothing flash about the Klimax Solo 800s, they deliver the sort of fidelity that could quite conceivably last even the most demanding listener a lifetime.

Living with

Beyond the amount of money you’ll have to part with to acquire them, there’s nothing especially tricky about living with a pair of Linn Klimax Solo 800s. You’ll need to be able to afford a good source of music and some pre-amplification to do them justice, of course - and speakers that are deserving of a place at the end of the chain tend to be pretty big, so your listening space will need to be fairly large, too. But these monoblocks run silently and are actually quite understated in the way they look (besides the fact that they’re necessarily large and heavy, anyway). 


If you’re considering Linn Klimax Solo 800 ownership, well, I can’t pretend that (a) I’m not envious, and (b) I’m not curious about what you do for a living. But should you decide to take the plunge, you are - with all the caveats about the rest of your system strongly applying - securing the sort of amplification that will allow you to hear your favourite music in an entirely new light. And while I’m tempted to say it’s hard to put a price on that, it demonstrably isn’t.

Listening notes

Belle and Sebastian Seymour Stein

The deft manoeuvrability, sky-high detail levels and sweetly neutral tonality of the Klimax Solo 800 is to the fore on this understated and slow-burning slice of wistful indie-pop. For a description of a band reacting and responding to each other, you won’t do better. 

The Field Is This Power

Woozily lopsided and with absolutely seismic low-frequency presence, here’s a tune that will showcase the low-end punch and control available from the Linn monoblocks. The fact that there’s no question-mark in the title of the tune is entirely appropriate. 

Les McCann Burnin’ Coal

The mastery of rhythm and tempo, the ability to just swing, is given complete expression here - and the amplification’s ability to create and organise a soundstage is examined too, thanks to the hard left/right pans on the percussive elements.  

What the press say

Why you should buy it

You buy the Linn Klimax Solo 800 because you want as complete and uncoloured a picture of your music as it’s possible to get, and at considerable volume should you so desire. You also are more than ready to drop similarly eye-watering sums of money on all the other parts of the system these monoblocks will be part of, too… 

Video review

Pair it with

Part of the fun of having loads of money to spend on a system is auditioning the different parts of it. But there’s no getting around the fact that Linn produces some profoundly capable and appropriate gear for use with the Klimax Solo 800 - the Klimax DSM digital audio streamer/pre-amplifier, for instance, makes a lot of sense. So does the Sondek LP12 turntable. In terms of loudspeakers, though, you may want to cast your net wider than the (admittedly excellent) Linn 360 range - after all, it wouldn’t do to rush into anything, would it?

Alternatives to consider

No items found.