soon as you enter the TheLinkShop you immediately notice a difference in
approach: the listening room is set up like a typical 'living' room. In
contrast to the standard store layout, here you immediately have an
acoustic environment that matches your own living space.
This allows you to really estimate what it will sound like in your home.
The acoustics of your listening room plays an important role in the end
Many music lovers will find here, after their long wanderings through
hifiland and the umpteenth misbuy, finally a home where music is
listened to and sales is not limited to the mere passing of boxes.
Extensive advice is given about the total set and the setup in your
living space and even possible adjustments to the acoustics.
In the sixties/seventies of the last century Hifi was a "dream" product
for many families. The market was served by young passionate hifi
salesmen, who with growing knowledge and supported by passionate
distributors, sold products.
The number of Hifi magazines was growing, but much more important, the
contribution of young reviewers (eg Jean Hiraga or John Atkinson, Angus
Mc Kenzie, Martin Colloms, Stan Curtis, Paul Messenger) who, on an
almost scientific basis and an extensive technical arsenal, critically
evaluated the new products. with technical measurements and a subjective
listening report (Hifi News, La Nouvelle Revue Du son, Stereophile)
The emergence of surround hifi, in the early nineties, the new
multimedia products and the changed life pattern, the interest for HiFI
(= read high fidelity) has shifted to the background.
The majority of hi-fi stores tried to adapt by partly taking a number of
these products 'on board', which literally meant less space and
attention for the real hi-fi products, worse still the passion for these
products gradually faded away.
As a counterbalance to the lowering of the standard in hifi, there arose
from the side of the manufacturer, in the mid-eighties, an urge for a
higher standard in hifi, which was then called "high end" hifi. The
decline in sales of classic hi-fi products was compensated by the rise
of the more expensive high-end products.
The high end hifi went further in the purity of the reproduction, the
purity of timbres, the separation capability and as a result the spatial
reproduction of the music recordings. The reproduction before had become
limited to a two-dimensional sound, which took place between the two
This is the main difference between good vintage equipment and modern
high-end equipment. At best, the best vintage equipment, speakers
included, achieved good tonal reproduction, but almost never succeeded
in tearing apart and dissecting the picture in three dimensions.
That quest by High end manufacturers for the "Holy Grail" of perfect
reproduction continues but due to their growing numbers they are working
on a smaller and smaller scale and prices are rising to sometimes (to me
unacceptable) astronomical heights.
It is the task of the good hi-fi salesman to separate the wheat from the
chaff and to look for an optimal price.quality ratio ALSO within the
more expensive high end products.
I myself have been professionally involved for 40 years with music
reproduction via hifi components.
The virus had already 'infected' me long before that.
Already in my ninth year of life I started all kinds of audio and
acoustic experiments. It intrigued me that the sound of my mini portable
radio was amplified when I held a large cardboard tube over the speaker
or placed the speakers of my later mini hifi system (Dual 2x6watt) in
the corner and suddenly got more bass but also a smoother stereo image.
Thus I gradually discovered the acoustic/physical properties of sound.
A real start was given to building speakers myself as soon as I
connected my mini dual system of 2 x 6 watts to the big Pioneer speakers
from a friend's father.
What a revelation that was! At once I realized where to find the weak
link of a hifi chain. From that moment on I started building speakers
but also amplifiers and fine tuning and upgrading my Thorens TD160
turntable, after I had thrown out my Lenco L75 (;-).
The visit to many live performances (thank you, Jeugd&Muziek for the
initiation of classical music but also Frank Zappa in the old AB) and
the hifi shows of the seventies (applause for the beautiful demos of Luc
VanderHeyden (B&W)) gradually formed the acoustic reference base, which
later proved to be so important for building hifi speakers but also for
putting together hifi systems. The demos of a few patient hi-fi dealers
taught me the qualities but also the shortcomings of the then existing
components, which formed the references of the market.
All that knowledge resulted in starting the company (1981) LINK audio
components with the launch of the LINK M21 model. Many models would
follow with LINK taking the lead in technique and design. Large
manufacturers were soon inspired by the designs of LINK. An example is
the design of the top model B600, created in 1990 and commercialized at
the end of 1991 with its for that time very unique ball-shaped design, a
design that is copied very often today.
Through the years I also came into contact with numerous hi-fi products
in all kinds of circumstances and combinations and, not unimportantly,
all kinds of setups in rooms with different acoustics.
Over the years my curiosity (but also my knowledge) about the physics of
sound reproduction grew, but at the same time also my irritation about
the blunders that people are advised to make.
This accumulated experience I now want to share with equally passionate
people who do not find their way in the overly commercialized approach
of the hi-fi trade and where the consumer only gets little 'attention
time' despite the considerable investment he sometimes considers.
In my opinion there is only one truth in the reproduction of music
through hifi and that is the most neutral, but at the same time most
transparent and dynamic reproduction of the music.
All too often the components 'color' the reproduction. In the best case
this can sound "euphonic" and make a bad recording more digestible.
However, a bad recording remains a bad recording. It's like an out of
focus photograph, you can't make it sharper, what's not there you can't
take out . in photoshop you can give an illusion of sharpness but it's
not going to show you any further detail.
Euphonic coloration is cause of fatigue with longer listening .
Coloration disturbs the music transmission , it requires more
concentration when listening and is tiring.
The most disturbing Hi-Fi components are those that do not reproduce the
musical spectrum in a linear fashion.
Linearity (read bass, midrange and treble at the same strength) is an
absolute minimum basic requirement for a hi-fi component.
I expect much more from a hi-fi component than this basic requirement: I
look for components with an optimal pulse response: the pulse response
contains everything: linearity, response behavior and most importantly
the 'stop' behavior of the components. Speakers or other hi-fi
components (also cables) with a less good pulse response will continue
to lag behind.
This illustration comes from an American book of 1956.... Just to say
there is nothing new under the sun....
While the speaker or other hifi component is still vibrating from a
previous 'pulse', it has already started the next one and is busy with
its own music.
he has already started the next one and a slow oscillation behavior
continuously tarnishes the reproduction.
The same problem occurs in a too clear acoustic environment, where the
sound keeps rolling around in the room.
Components with an excellent pulse response are going to make sure that
the reproduction is clear and distinct, without being aggressive.
The stereo reproduction is far superior, soloists are much more clearly
The reproduction of complex music is frayed and, as in the live
experience, becomes captivating to follow.
Poor pulse reproduction is a major reason why some people dislike
content more complex music such as classical or jazz music.
Complex musical content requires very good "clean" reproduction from the
If not, it becomes very tiring and the listener drops out. It therefore
annoys me when I hear the same 'simple' records with a simple recording
set of 'voice/bass/instrument' at hi-fi shows every time. This tells you
little or nothing about the quality of the set up.
Any set can reproduce something like this acceptably. However, it
becomes much more difficult when we want a jazz big band or a large
classical orchestra to reproduce Stravinsky.
My demos span an extensive range from "simple" to extremely complex
music. In a short period of time, a whole series of fragments are
listened to. The reason for this is that a good hi-fi chain must be able
to handle everything.
It is nonsense to tell that a system is only for classical -or pop music
Equally, it is nonsense to say that there are e.g. "warm and cold
sounding" speakers. A "warm" speaker (= one with pulse impurity or in
worse cases non-linearity) is simply a less good speaker. Speakers that
are accused of sounding sterile are often very transparent speakers that
let you hear what is wrong in the rest of the chain (very often the LS
cabling or preamp). It is not the task of the speaker manufacturer to
compensate for possible errors in recordings.
These misconceptions often lead hifi melomaniacs to the wrong decisions
in upgrading their chain !!! I consider it , with exception , impossible
for the average melomaniac to discover what is really going wrong in his
chain and how to correct it. It is usually a combination of factors that
one must "recognize" and often very difficult, also must "recognize"
(one has given so much money to it, after all!!!). So it must be good,
The reviews in hifi magazines should be taken with a large grain of salt.....Which
products do they review ? The products of their advertisers, a very
ambiguous relationship if you ask me....I am not even talking about the,
for Belgium unknown, shoven feeling when an english magazine (Hifi
News/Hifi choice/Hifi World) reviews an english product...or a french
magazine reviews a french product.
Magazines that give good information are Le Diapason (FR) and ViFi (NL)
and Stereophile(US) . The last two take the trouble to correlate
subjective and objective measuring results. Here you can still find
reviewers with experience and a critical attitude who dare to give their
advertisers a headwind. Hifi News has lost much of its 'color' now that
most of the classic reviewers have moved to the competition. What Hifi
provides accurate commentary albeit from a limited , rather English
focused selection. Stereo, Audio, Stereoplay (D) , Hifi World are of
varying interest, the readings do give interesting info ( useful for the
The influence of we audio review websites is growing (www.6moons.com)
. Often it concerns self-proclaimed gurus who give inconsistent,
confusing info and are more misleading than truly informative. The
information that the hi-fi hobbyist can find on the Internet should be
taken with a big pot of salt. It concerns here all too often completely
unfiltered information that seems objective but is not at all.
For example, a renowned manufacturer of digital analog converters has
anonymously set up a website completely separate from its corporate
website in which it proposes upgrades to modify the dacs...... of its
biggest competitor. The uninformed consumer might then begin to doubt
the quality of the latter's products, and this website served as a point
of discussion in the various forums that dealt with the subject.
Anyone can set up a website and publish uncontrolled information (e.g.
blogs) or even maliciously spout false information in order to attack
the competition. One bad comment about a product has more effect than
100 good comments.
Within the gigantic offer of hifi equipment I look for the gems (or the
crumbs from the bread as a cooperating Dutch importer described me
because I did not want to include the whole range of his brand (;-)) )
The process for this selection is always done under the same highly
The result is components with a phenomenal price/quality ratio.
Demos at home are possible : 75 euro/hour + travel expenses.
When purchasing material, this is considered an advance payment.
All products in the LINK shop come from the official importers for
Belgium or the Benelux.
I find the backup of a good importer extremely important.
If you are googling prices, remember that for the US prices there is no
VAT (sometimes up to 8% state tax).
and that, if you import something, apart from the transport, 21% VAT +
import duties must be paid.
The discounters are silent about this.
Products bought in a neighboring country , with its own distributor for
the brand, carry only the warranty in the country of purchase itself !
So, if there is a problem within the warranty period, it will not be
covered by the Belgian importer or store of the brand.