Cody-my own personal take is if you listen to a wide range of music you could do well with the Ayre CX-7-I auditioned this against the Ikemi and found it superior especially with heavier music.
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The key issue with the Ikemi is vibration management: its chassis is woefully underdesigned. I cannot emphasise this enough and cite Ben's response as supporting evidence (the deteriation of playback quality with "heavier music").
However, if you are willing to manage vibration properly, you'll have arguably the finest Redbook playback available at that price point. I have compared the Ikemi to its peer group and, well, I still have the Ikemi. I've even had the opportunity to compare it to the CD12 and must say it holds its own at a fraction of the price (after a certain point, you slam hard against the limitations of the Redbook format).
One more note: if you decide to purchase an Ikemi from other than from a Linn authorized dealer, know the warantee does *not* transfer.
I only lived with a Linn Genki for about 10 months. It had a lot of details, with great extended highs and solid extended bass. However, I found it a little grey sounding and happily stepped down to my old Rega Planet, which I find much more musical. I hope the Ikemi is more musical and more involving than the Genki (which it supposedly is).
Another note on the Linn warranty: Even if you buy a demo from a authorized Linn dealer, Linn will subtract the time that the dealer had it as a demo. The warranty is usually valid from the day the Linn dealer obtained from Linn for demo purposes (most Linn dealers don't even no about this). If in doubt about warranty call the Linn help line with the serial number of the unit.
I have had my Ikemi for about 2 years now and love it. I recently took it a local audio shop to compare it with the Ecsoterc DV50 playing at full up-sample and the Escoteric then could be a contender with the Ikemi. But it took upsampleing at 700 give or take. I am not a fan of upsampling and probably would not but the Escoteric as redbook player. I feel if it has to upsample to be as good the Ikemi must be doing a better job of reading the disc in the first place. I also recently tried the Ikemi and the new Linn Unidisk SC in an A-B comaprison and in about 30 seconds both the dealer and I shouted "The Ikemi's better" now the Unidisk 1.1 definetly sounds better but it lists at 11000.00...it should.
Well, if Theo has compared the Esoteric and liked it better at "upsampling", then the Esoteric should get the nod. One, the upsampling can go higher, 2)it's a top notch DVD player 3)it's a first class DVD-Audio player, and 4) it's a killer SACD player.
If you're spending 4k, the DV50 (used) is a must audition.
If you have a all Linn system already, the Ikemi is a great match. But the Esoteric still get's the nod...
Is the Ikemi a good CD player? Absolutely. It does have the issue with vibration Mprime talks of, as with all Linn stuff, the box is small and the player very light, so vibration control with feet can be tricky.
Linn has several versions of the Ikemi, so do check with them for the serial #s to see which power supply the demo you are looking at has, you really want the switch mode PS. FWIW Linn is very interested in power supplies, and will recommend this player;
1. Never be turned off
2. Not be used with aftermarket power cords
a. This seems to be upheld in the forums here, many have found they changed the sound, buu I dont recall anyone having said they improved the sound. Theo whats been your experience??
I didnt know of Linns Demo warranty issue, thats interesting.
I had an Ikemi for a few years, and sold it for all the wrong reasons. I have since replaced it with a DV-50, and love the new player. The ikemi does wonderfully on the upper mids and highs, and bass is quite good, but I personally find the Esoteric has more control of the bass, add a simple PC upgrade and the DV-50 is almost as smooth as the Ikemi. Both these players are very good, though they do have somewhat different sounds. The DV-50 seems more real to me with far better separation and bass control, the Ikemi has more of that linn sound, being somewhat smoother on vocals and the upper mids.
I have had the chance to A-B the Unidisc 2.1 against my DV-50 for several weeks in my system so can give a fair comparison of these two.
FWIW The unidisc has the typical Linn sound (Pleas dont take offense, I am huge Linn fan, see my system) its musical and smooth and slightly bouncy. It is great with vocals and the upper mids, but bass is sorely lacking in this player, and the separation of instruments was so much better with the DV-50, as was the bass, that after a few minutes of listening my wife declared the DV-50 the winner and didnt want to listen to the Linn anymore. I found both of them listenable, but had to agree the DV-50 was more real.
One more issue, Linn has had the ikemi out for a while, and is a huge supporter of SACD, thus the Unidiscs .. I dont know how much longer they will be making the Ikemi, and would wonder if this isnt part of why so many dealers seem to be selling demos of them lately. I certainly wouldnt be spending more than ~$2500 for a demo now, and I must agree with Jfrech, the DV-50 gives much more flexibility than the Ikemi, and it is a current production unit ..
I have owned a lot of Linn demoed equipment, some of which have unfortunately been sent back to Linn for warranty repair. My old Majik was in its four year of ownership. In my experiences, the warranty starts the day I purchase the equipment from the dealer and not the day he opens the box.
The only time I have had a warranty issue is when my second hand Ikemi stopped working. It was flat $350 to replace the transport and laser.
Sorry I cannot comment on the DV-50. I do agree that the Ikemi will prolly end of life soon, like the CD12 has. FWIW, I have read someone who spoke with Linn at CEDIA who stated there is no Uni 3.1 on the road map.
I've owned an Ikemi for several years now and think it is a great player, provided your main music is not rock. I have not heard a better player for jazz, acoustic and vocals, but it doesn't have a tremendous amount of bass. On the other hand, you won't get better mids and highs without spending a whole lot more money. I do agree with Kennyt, you should not spend more than $2500 for a demo and at that price, it's a great value.