A Linn System at Home – Reality Check?

The real test of any system – to state the obvious – is how well it works at home. I dread to think of the amount of kit I have brought home from the dealers demo room only to realise that it simply does not synergise with the acoustics in my lounge.

It can be an expensive and painful experience to keep box swapping until the right combination of factors work well in your room.

Getting the speakers right and working well in one’s room is essential I believe and along with the best source one can afford a good pair of speakers is a major building block for enjoying music in the home. If a pair of speakers are not working well in a room everything up the chain will not be able to give of it’s best.

The first part of system to arrive – purely coincidently – was the speakers and I was able to set these up with the outgoing system before it was sold and sent to new owners.

It was with some trepidation that I hooked them up. The reason for this was that the previous pair of speakers were the second best speakers I have ever owned – the Harbeth Super HL5’s.

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Harbeth Super HL5 – worthy of their reputation as a BBC Monitor

They are well deserving of their reputation and quality and on vocals I have still to hear anything better – even the Linn. They are, though, far from perfect.

If my tastes we limited to purely Acoustic/Vocal/Small scale classical and jazz music then I have not heard a better speaker other than some Living Voice RW’s that I used to own. I could very happily settle down with the Harbeth’s for as long as they would last and need nothing more.

Whilst I have a huge collection of this type of music I also enjoy occasionally rocking out to the likes of AC DC , Metallica or Maiden. This to me is where the Harbeth’s started to come unstuck. They certainly don’t like to be played loud. In fact, Alan Shaw owner and designer of Harbeth speakers, specifically states that music should not be played “loud” through the Harbeths and to avoid this so that the driver’s are not damaged. I also think that at volume the thin wall design of the speaker also starts to add too much to the sound and it does get a little messy. Experimenting with rock/heavy metal and they do start to lose it a little.

They are also not the prettiest speaker to look at which never sat well with the boss of the house although she patiently put up with them for around 18 months.

The other weak point of the Harbeth’s is soundstaging. They present the music as a whole and the holographic imaging that some speakers seem to excel at is missing. To me this was a good thing. The problem with speakers that image supremely in my opinion is that it is both a blessing and a curse. On the right recording, sat in precisely the right spot and with the light’s dimmed these types of speakers present a soundstage that you could reach out and touch.

Unfortunately not every recording is of such a high quality and it is not always possible to occupy the sweet spot.

Anyway, with the Harbeth’s out of the way the Majik 140’s were carefully unpacked and positioned either side of the fireplace. They are finished as well as any speaker I have had and the veneer would seem to be of an excellent quality.

Each driver is covered by it’s own individual metal grill which is fitted flush with the cabinet. This gives a great balance between aesthetics and protection. I have always enjoyed the look of a speaker with the grills off but have been constantly paranoid about little fingers shoved into the drivers. No such worries here.

The Linn Majik 140’s in place at home

So how do they sound? Straight out of the box, pretty darned fine.

It took Trevor from HOL around an hour and a half to get the DS set up in my home. It seemed a simple process to get software sorted and various bits of equipment talking to each other and Trveor took his time to ensure that everything was working as it should.

I also bought a Majik Kontrol pre amp and Akurate (old style) 2200 Power amp from House of Linn and Trevor also installed these. The Majik 140’s were bi-wired with Linn cable and finally with all the bit’s and pieces talking to each other the full blown system all Linn system was ready to be put through it’s paces.

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Linn Majik Kontrol Pre-Amp

Could it live up to what I heard at the House of Linn dem room?

Not having the old DS at home and bearing in mind that the demo and aural memory a fixed at HOL’s main room any comparison does have caveats, however, the one thing that I am convinced of is that the new DS is significantly better than the old.

Without being able to do this direct A/B comparison I felt the best test for the new bit of equipment would be to compare it to my AMR CD-777 CD Player – the last survivor from my former system.

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AMR CD-777 – a briliant silver disc spinner in it’s own right

Switching between the two was interesting. First of all the bottom line is that the DS is better. I guess it should be. As a stand alone unit the RRP is over twice that of the AMR CD Player. Even having said this it is easy to hear the superiority of the DS over conventional CD. There is less mush to the presentation. Music pours forth in a much cleaner, more open and overall more real way. You can almost sense that you are being brought closer to the original venue whether it is a stadium stage or studio.

All in all the system lived up to my expectations and as the weeks and months have gone on and I have finally ripped all of my CD’s to the network drive I continue to appreciate the system. It has allowed me to delve deeper into my music collection and a quick and convenient way at the same time as providing musical satisfaction way beyond what I could have hoped for.

The reality check? Only that in an effort to simplify the storage of my music I just happened to stumble upon the best system I have ever had in my home!

So, what’s next? At some point in the future (near, hopefully) I want to change my current VPI Classic to an LP12. Will provide an update as and when this proves possible…….

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