Review: Linn Majik CD Player

Category: Digital

Cosmetics: The Linn Majik has a sleek, clean, modern design that doesn't really draw attention to itself. It seems to be designed to blend seamlessly with a variety of decor. The looks don't have much "wow" factor like the Moon CD players.

Controls: I like the fact that the buttons on the unit are kept to a minimum (6), which enhances the clean look. But I'm not crazy about the buttons themselves. They're too small, and combined with the fact they are soft-touch, makes them seem rather effete. As to the remote, it is probably nice if you have several Linn components, but if you just own the CD, then there's lots of stuff crowded in there that you will never use.

Display: A travesty. It's a shame that this poorly-thought out display mars an otherwise nice-operating unit. One can toggle through 6 different display choices: Disc Type, Track # currently playing/Total # of tracks, Track time elapsed, Track time remaining, Disc time elapsed, and Disc time remaining. You can't view the track number and time remaining simultaneously. The whole scheme is unnecessarily complicated. (Thankfully, though, if you are pushing the "next track" button, the display will automatically show the Track/Total display, then revert to the previously selected display. Same when the end of a track is reached.) But what is really annoying is how difficult it is to read the display from the listening position. It's just too darn dim, even set at 100%. In a darkened room, from 8 feet away, it is just barely legible, and in a lighted room it is almost worthless. To compare, my mbl 7008 integrated amp display has four brightness settings. The dimmest one is brighter than the Majik set to 100%! This is very frustrating.

Sound: I can only compare the sound to my previous player, a Rotel RCD-1072. (It wouldn't be fair to compare it to other CD players which I have heard through different speakers than my own.) There is a purity, a higher resolution, to the timbre with the Linn. I understand what people mean when they say a "veil has been lifted." My speakers "seem" to have improved. But it's the CD player showing what my speakers are capable of. The Linn Majik really excels at acoustic instruments. When listening to 'Reckoning,' Jerry Garcia's and Bob Weir's acoustic guitars sound more realistic than ever before...beautiful tone, and I feel like I can hear each plucked string, which reverberates and decays with a fantastic realism. I think that all the qualities that are asssociated with good sound are improved, whether it's an open & airy treble, articulate vocals, or non-boomy bass. I also think that the definition, imaging and coherence are quite improved with the Linn. But instead of running down the whole Stereophile glossary I will stop here and simply say that everything sounds "better."

I will also add that because I own so many Grateful Dead discs, I wanted a player that has HDCD. I also liked the fact that in the Stereophile review the Linn's measurements (other than a modest pre-empasis error) were state-of-the-art for a 16-bit device. And my understanding is that very few CD's were mastered with pre-emphasis, so this should not be bothersome.

Associated gear
mbl 7008 integrated amp, Krell Resolution 3 speakers, Monster M1000i & M2.4s cabling, Richard Gray 400 Pro power management

Similar products
Rotel RCD 1072
Nice review, thanks. I, too, am a big HDCD fan. It's an extra bonus that most of the Dead's stuff is HDCD encoded. Check out Chris Isaak's CDs, some of those are HDCD, too.

Follow up: It's through my Sennheiser 650 headphones that I have really appreciated how the Linn is superior to the Rotel. (Which it ought to be, at 5 times the price.) I remember being somewhat disappointed in the Sennheiser 650's, thinking that they sounded a bit "dry." But it was really the Sennheisers revealing the Rotel. With the Linn, the sound is liquid.