|Linn Kisto System Controller|
|Home Theater Preamplifiers AV Preamps|
|Written by Tim Hart|
|Wednesday, 01 February 2006|
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Videophiles wanting the ultimate preamp/processor with tons of bells and whistles, such as room correction software, equalization, HDMI or up-conversion to 1080P, will have to look elsewhere. There are other high-end products that offer these features. The Kisto is more of a minimalist design that is very flexible in all other areas except those mentioned above, and if you are a knob twister or the kind of guy who compares AV preamps on their features lists, the Kisto likely won’t float your boat. The Kisto is designed for you to make your judgments with your ears and eyes.
The Kisto does not have switching capability for DVI/HDMI due to the fact that when it was released in 2003 HDMI switching had just made its debut and no one at that time was picking that option as the clear winner for the high bandwidth digital audio/video interface standard. If you have a digital display with HDMI inputs the work around is using the RS232 interface on the Kisto that will allow you to control the inputs on your digital display. You would have to run the output of your video source directly to the input of your display, which for some would be preferred, but the Kisto can configure both to run seamlessly together. The problem with this configuration is you have now bypassed the ability to see the Kisto setup menu when watching any source material that goes through the HDMI input.
As mentioned in the Unidisk review, the remote, which is identical to the Kisto remote, has all of the function necessary to run all aspects of the system, but the tiny, similar-sized buttons with tiny lettering are difficult to see and are not backlit. It does look cool, but for a product of this caliber, the remote could be a little less ergonomically challenging.
Despite the aforementioned shortcomings, which are minor, the Kisto is an engineering marvel. The upgradeable software takes a complex system and makes it more user-friendly than just about any other pre/pro on the market. I don’t know why other products can be confusing in operation, but the Linn engineers did their homework. In conjunction with other Linn products, like the Unidisk 1.1, it doesn’t get any easier than this. Put a disc in, push play, adjust the volume and you’re off to nirvana, whether it be music or movies. Customizing the Kisto can create an incredible experience by integrating all aspects of your music and movie endeavors, such as lighting, screen operation or pulling the drapes closed. The sound quality of the Kisto is stellar, which is not surprising, since Linn has always excelled at music reproduction at the highest levels.
Audiophiles who are reluctant to make the move to integrating their music-only system with a home theater experience might just want to check this out. If you’re one of those folks with means who don’t care about knobs and superfluous gizmos and want ease of use, a simple interface, high performance and something that is future proof with software upgrades, then this could be the product for you. I now know why Linn charges what they do, and if I had the cash (or a spare kidney to sell on eBay), I would own one.