Independent Reviews of the Athenaeum Speaker System

Secrets of Home Theater and Hi-Fi John E. Johnson Jr., Reviewer:

The Linn Audio Athenaeum's are the first horn speakers I have ever reviewed. The sound is robust and effortless, with a marvelous midrange that sings like angels.

Complete Review:

Jack Roberts Dagogo: November 2013

I know my job is to tell you what the Linn Athenaeums sound like. If I had to put it very succinctly, Id say they sound a lot like they look, that is they sound big, like live music sounds. They have the ability to transport you to a live performance in a way no other speaker has in my room. The music is energizing, life-size, and powerfully moving, in a way that is similar to how live music draws you in than most other speakers.

Complete review:

Stereophile; Reports from the California Audio Show, by Jason Victor Serinus

Linn Audio loudspeakers of Oakland, CA, masterminded by David Linn and no connection with Linn Products, was the second speaker company I encountered at CAS4 whose sound changed fundamentally for the better thanks to a much improved front end. In this case, David's imposing, 97dB-sensitive Athenaum speakers ($60,000/pair), which sounded impossibly bright the last time I heard them, sounded absolutely wonderful. I found myself loving the sound of Diana Krall's voice, which, after years of over-exposure, says a lot about Linn's accomplishment. I was also totally seduced by the gorgeous midrange depiction on the first track from Patricia Barber's Smash. That's what happens when, instead of the low-grade electronics and generic cabling used at the last show, you use Pass Labs XA100.5 class-A monoblocks ($16,000/pair), a Sony XA9000ES SACD player, a Linn Audio passive preamp, AudioQuest Oak speaker cables, and AudioQuest interconnects. Oh, and your speakers are excellent to begin with.

Stereo Times; The best rooms at Axpona, by Dave Thomas:

Linn Audio Loudspeakers. Finally, and certainly not last, one of the biggest and best sounds I heard all weekend came from a rather unexpected source. For years Ive seen the ads in magazines depicting a rather scholarly looking gentleman standing next to what looks like a rather handsome looking 7 tall beast of a loudspeaker. But anyone who I ever asked about them either hadnt heard them or just dismissed them as just being another big oversized American loudspeaker that can probably play loudly but not very musically.

Well the speakers at this show were not the 7 tall monsters from the ads but were still very formidable measuring 28 wide, 28 deep, 43 tall and weighing in at an impressive 225 lbs each. They feature a compression horn tweeter/midrange driver and a 15 woofer that uses a 4 voice coil and 25 lb magnet. So while I was ready to be pummeled by deep bass and maybe a little splashy top end, what I got was a shockingly gentle and rhythmic musical experience. Its called the Athenaeum Speaker System ($60,000/pair). The speaker uses its own active crossover and its high efficiency (97db) allows for the use of low powered tube amps like their own

Oddly, the rest of the system, a Bryston 4BST power amplifier (to drive the woofers), Linns own LANH 6-channel tube amp (to drive the horns) and LANH active crossover/preamp unit, and a CD player that I didnt quite recognize, left me scratching my head a bit as you would expect to see a $60,000 loudspeaker (originally $80,000) pair with much higher level of electronics and source components. Despite that, this was a very good sounding room. I can only imagine how much better these speakers would sound in a larger room and with better electronics like for instance in my house.

Home Theater Shack:

The finish on the cabinets was beautiful - the cherry really offset the drivers well. The design of the cabinet is rather unique - it allows it to fit into the corner a bit easier. Once I sat down and started actively listening, I was immeadiately struck by the warm, full sound. They image really well - despite their size, they disappeared entirely. I really enjoy it when you can leave your eyes open and still not locate where the sounds are coming from. Clarity was simply amazing - in my notes, I jotted down that I could hear piano key strikes and cymbol pings. They were so amazing that I gave it the double exclamation point - just fantastic detail throughout. Vocal clarity was just as impressive - intake of breaths were readily apparent. The mid punch was superb as well - they also got my double exclamation point notation.

In the end, it was just such a relaxing listening experience - for me, a much different experience than horn speakers I had heard prior to this weekend.

HighonHiFi (press release):

The New Athenaum Speaker System was developed by popular demand for a smaller version than the Acropolis, that would fit in many more living rooms than the much larger Acropolis System. The horizontal dimensions are exactly the same as the Acropolis, but the height is about that of the Acropolis.

We have striven to duplicate as closely as possible the exceptionally high performance characteristics to be found in the Acropolis system, and have, we believe, succeeded in this endeavor, while achieving a size and weight approximately that of the Acropolis. The drivers used are exactly the same types as in the Acropolis, using the same Linn Audio proprietary compression driver/horn assembly, and the same woofer, albeit only one instead of the two used in the Acropolis. Also the ribbon tweeters have been eliminated in the Athenaeum, which instead achieves an extended high frequency response through a special mid range compression driver, which is good all the way to 20khz.

The same clear, transparent, and almost distortion free sound is available in the Athenaeum, while no serious compromises have been made to the quality of the sound by the reduction in the size of the cabinet, or elimination of some of the drivers.

The main compromise with the smaller cabinet is that the bass is not so far extended into the low end of the audio spectrum (30hz, instead of 18hz on the Acropolis.) However, Linn Audio sells a good low-frequency enhancement unit that may be employed with the Athenaeum system which, when properly adjusted, will create a completely flat frequency response down to below 20hz.

Also, the super-high end of the Acropolis system (40khz) may be reproduced in the Athenaeum by the addition of an optional pair of ribbon tweeters. (The same type used on the Acropolis) Both these performance-enhancing options may be obtained from Linn Audio at modest cost.

The Athenaeum system is a tremendously good value, given the sound performance that is equal to or, in most cases, superior to any other speaker system on the market, regardless of price. And it sells for little more than half the price of the Acropolis system.

It is made of all wood, both solid parts and veneers, with no black painted parts, as with the Acropolis. It is available in a variety of wood types and finishes; shown in the image is a light cherry version of the system. It is a beautiful piece of furniture that will satisfy the most discerning home decorator, as well as all serious audiophiles.

Audio Circle:

Linn Audio Loudspeakers, not to be confused with Linn UK.  This model is the New Athenaum, featuring a compression driver horn-loaded to a rather low crossover point.  Sourced by bone-stock Sony 5400 player into Pass XA100.5 monoblocks, these speakers had incredibly airy and smooth high/mids.  Those who fancy a two-way with compression driver and woofer won't be able to do much better than these.


We heard these horn tweeter Linn Audio speakers with bi-amped SET tube amps. Even with those low powered amps they were quite loud and sounded wonderfull.

AXPONA 2013 report planer speaker style

Anyway those ML Montis speakers had incredible dynamics, soundstage, detail. Very well integrated between the dynamic woofer and electrostatic panel. Supposedly this is the first electrostatic mated with a servo controlled DSP woofer. All I know was this one my favorite room's of the whole show. Others in the same class were, Acoustic Zen, MBL, Linn Athenenum's (from NH not UK) YG Acoustics, and a pair of Focal Alto Utopia Be's