Linn Kan vs Naim IBL

So having completed my main system I’m now looking to setup a second system in the living room.

I’ve got a tube pre and NAP 135s for amplifier duty and I’ll be buying an affordable DAC to connect to the TV.

I’m looking for speakers that don’t take up much space and offer a fast and articulate sound. Being a massive Harbeth fan I was going to just buy an older pair but I think I should go for a different sound signature.

So I’ve narrowed down my search to the Kans and IBLs.

Can anybody offer any advice. I’d love to hear from someone who has had both.

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In the long run I prefer Linn Kan,having had two pairs of IBL and about 20 pairs of Linn Kan.


I’ve had both although my Kans were the mk 2 version.
I bought my IBLs after a good demo and really enjoyed their very fast presentation and super accuracy they were rather light on the bass but this didn’t concern me at the time I was really enjoying what was happening further up.
When I had them only months I got a bit annoyed that the shop wanted to visit me and do mods to them.
I thought that’s not very good as it must have been a manufacturing defect to call me up so to speak.
But the boys turned up one night and took them into my hallway had to replace all the drive units mounting screws with bigger and longer ones.
Although they worked fine if not a bit brighter than before I got upset with the inconsistency then got wind of other mods to come and just at that time Linn released the second version of the Kan.
I managed a direct comparison and preffered the more warm tone of them
The IBLs were very edgy and top end critical and I could only imagine being pulled into a box collection to make them palatable in the long term.
So I traded them for the Kan II.
Strange as it seem the Kan sounds much bigger for a small box but with the proper stands have quite a larger footprint than the IBLs.
Both models are relatively vintage now but for the long term I imagine the Linn drive units will be more readily available than the custom Naim drivers.
You can wake up now :sleeping: :rofl:


No experience of Kans here but 30+ years happily using naim iBLs. I recently replaced the tweeters with exactly the same type as the originals (but brand new) which reinvigorated the articulation of the presentation, and added to the musical engagement.

In my view, they look far more elegant than the Kans on stands, which is another good reason they have been with me for such a long time.


Can’t remember where I read this but somebody likened them to the DBLs in terms of speed saying that the SBLs sound slow in comparison.


Yes IBL have a similar Kef B110 based(paper coned) mid/bass as the DBL mid.I agree the SBL´s sound slow and not so musical in comparison to the IBL,the DBL being the ultimate speaker.
Linn Kan has Kef B110 mid/bass…


Here is a complete history of IBLs as reviewed and credited thanks to our Naim staff.
Credits: first of all, Naim Audio UK Richard Dane and Paul Stephenson in particular, for their precious and kind help and for providing a set of Naim NAC A5 speakers cables for testing purposes.

Naim IBL - floorstanding loudspeakers [English]


Had Kan IIs with 2 x 135 for years - loved them (prefer my floorstanders now though !


Linn Kans were rather magical, a speaker that belies their size and price.

IBL’s are a very acquired taste, very marmite and not one I would even consider.


Worth a mention that Kans vary a fair bit.

I find the v2 offers the cleanest sound but also the least musical, especially the final one with kustone. Still very enjoyable though and the most tuneful.

The late v1 (with SP1057 drive units, same as the v2, serial 33,005/6 onwards) sounds broadly similar to the Kan 2 in presentation so plenty of clarity. I find this model more coherent than the v2.

The early v1 (with SP1003 drive units, same as the LS3/5a) goes deeper than later models and are the most musical to my ears, but probably sound a bit congested for some. I seem to recall KEF struggled with consistency so the revised SP1057 unit was aimed firmly at being a midrange, hence less bass.

I know a Linn/Naim dealer of 35+ years that still uses NAP135s with the early Kan 1. I assume he uses a NAC 52 but didn’t actually ask. Like myself and many here, if you like what Kans do then it’s hard to find anything else.

There are also differences in the early model, such as the tweeter, but they are pretty much identical, being made by the same person (Oskar left Scanspeak to setup Hiqophon).


I had a pair of Kans a long time ago. They were good, but far from ‘neutral’ in tone. My son still uses them very happily (I think).

I now have a new pair of LS3/5As, still being manufactured these days by Falcon Acoustics (outside Oxford) which use the same cabinet dimensions, but are far less ‘coloured’ in their presentation. They partner my Nait 50 superbly.

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20 pairs?? :smiley: Tell me more about this :blush:


That’s plain wrong! The KEF B110 drive unit used a Bextrene (proprietary plastic) material, rather than paper. I don’t think that Raymond Cooke of KEF ever produced a paper drive unit, although I’m open to correction on this.

(I have a pair of Kestrel Gold Badge LS3/5As playing as I type this.)


This is a very good read. Thanks for sharing. I’m super tempted now. lol.


Tempted to buy what, though?

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I’m leaning more towards the IBLs at the moment. I know I want this lean fast sound signature. I will be able to place them hard against a brick wall and my wooden flooring would mean it would be best to place granite plinths underneath them.

I think both speakers will do well in my setup but I don’t know, classic Naim speakers have such an appeal to them.

I really wish Naim start building speakers again. I know it was a business decision but perhaps on order only. The old design language was so right. The attention to detail, the mechanical engineering, I love it all. It’s a shame how the industry has lost its ingenuity. Now we see far too many ‘me too’ products.


I imagine - but I don’t know - that this is something imposed on Naim, willingly or otherwise, by Focal, Naim’s owners.

We has Kan IIs, on the end of LP12 42/110/SNAPS…sounded really good in a small room, were unable to ‘fill’ a bigger room.


As I wrote Naim changed to paper cone.

In which case, it wasn’t a KEF B110 at all!

That would be just the same as opening up, say, an NAP250, and filling it with replacement (non-Naim) electronic components.