Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The magic of Majik

The Linn Majik LP12 is the entry-level model.


I managed to get a Linn Sondek Majik LP12 for a week or so recently on loan from Perfect Hi Fi.


Many Linn Sondek owners already know that the LP12 is a fussy turntable and you have to set it right to get optimum performance.


In my house, it was placed on an Ikea Lack table (as has often been recommended) and the Perfect Hi Fi technician spent almost an hour getting the 'bounce' right with the jig that he brought with him.


Essentially all the hard work is to get the sub-chassis to bounce up and down vertically without any horizontal wobble by adjusting the three springs and you also have to ensure that the wires do not touch the plinth.


The Linn Sondek Majik LP12 is essentially the entry-level turntable in the Linn range and it comprises the turntable itself, an integrated Majik LP12 power supply, Linn Adikt MM cartridge and Pro-Ject 9cc tonearm. The Majik LP12 is upgradeable to the highest specs. The Majik LP12 costs about RM10,000 while the highest-spec Linn costs about seven times more.


The Linn Majik comes with the Project 9cc tonearm.


During the listening sessions, a friend who owns an old pre-Cirkus Linn dropped by and he could tell the difference between the sound of the old and new bearing. Linn with the old bearing sounds 'fatter' with larger images and has a warmer tone while the new bearing sounds leaner in comparison and more neutral in tone.


While the new bearing is definitely more neutral sounding, there are many Linn fans who prefer the older warmer sound.


Since I use a much-modded Rega Planar 3 with RB250 tonearm with Michael Lim's underslung counterweight and a Benz Glider MC cartridge, I could compare the two legendary turntables.


I have modded the Rega to sound - in my view - its best. There are pieces of Dynamat stuck on the Premotec motor and bearing housing and I have also changed the lubrication oil to Mobil 1 with a dash of graphite powder. The Rega is placed on the DIY gel isolation platform. The mat is lead-vinyl with a carbon-fibre donut.


The Rega sounded fast, neutral, detailed and lively. However, the Linn sounded neutral, lively, even more detailed and had a larger soundstage horizontally and vertically with greater depth.


What the Linn excelled in and surpassed the Rega by a mile was in the rhythm segment - it just seemed to deliver a more infectious and accurate beat - the pace was simply fabulous. This is what audiophiles call PRAT - Pace, Rhythm and Timing. Linn won hands down in this department.


Bear in mind it was a Linn with MM cartridge beating a Rega with MC cartridge; both were linked to the same phono preamp - a Creek MM/MC model.




The Linn Majik comes with the Project tonearm and the Linn Adikt MM cartridge.


When I had a chat with Linn's senior product design engineer David Williamson (click http://hi-fi-avenue.blogspot.com/2011/03/linn-sondek-lp12-not-perfected-yet.html)
he agreed with me that a Linn turntable is fussy and setting it up properly can be a chore, but he added that the sonic rewards outweigh the trouble taken.


I have to reluctantly agree with him (I have been a staunch Rega fan for at least two decades). But I still maintain that the Rega is unmatched in the plug and play department - you don't need to spend an hour or so to get things going properly.


The Linn is tuned to sound best as it is - with the thin felt mat and no isolation platform (the recommendation is to place it on a light and rigid stand). When I tried to tweak it by using the carbon-fibre donut on the felt mat or the lead-vinyl mat replacing the felt mat, the sound changed and I was not sure if it was for the better or worse. But for sure, these tweaks changed the sound.


I also tried flipping the felt mat - in many forums, Linn fans have mentioned that placing vinyl on the furrier side facing up results in better sound. After many flips, I noted a slight improvement in clarity with the furrier side up.


And I was always annoyed when the felt mat was stuck to the record whenever I removed the LP from the platter (some have recommended using double-sided tape to stick the felt mat to the metal platter).


The Linn Sondek LP12 has evolved over the years - the new platter is lighter and looks like it is made from a different metal than the old Linns. Its sonic signature has also changed with many claiming that the new Linn sounds more like a CD player and lamenting the absence of the warmth of the old pre-Cirkus Linns.


My view is that the new Linns sound more neutral than the old Linns and the PRAT is still very much evident and enjoyable. I could live with a new Linn (with my good ol' Rega next to it, of course).



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