The original LP12 was a kit of parts, but this quickly became a dealer-based set-up procedure. The importance of the dealer set-up has become so fixed in the Linn ethos that even fitting a new cartridge typically involves a professional re-set. Dealers are trained in the ways of the LP12 set-up jig (that’s a frame designed for easy access, not a ‘Tune Dem’ dance), P-clips, and springs and grommets. End users talk of some set-up engineers in hushed, reverent tones: trusty, sensible types with down-to-earth names like Derek or Peter. In fact, the quality of set-up comes down to familiarity, repetition, not cutting corners, a sense of unflinching devotion to getting the right bounce to the suspension, and nice red uniforms. Seriously though, there is no magic to the LP12 set-up, just an ability to apply good engineering practice to the process. Consistently.
And if you want to be spoken of in similarly hushed tones, just apply that good practice to a few thousand LP12s first!
This dealer set-up has become a sticking point for some, who feel regular service intervals are unnecessary. However, my take on this is simple; having seen and heard what can pass for DIY installation of even the most basic turntables over the years, an occasional service by a trained engineer is a good thing, and from Linn’s perspective, it establishes a degree of consistency across the customer base. It is like herd immunity from poor set-up, if you like. In theory, at least: the reality is all set-ups are equal, but some are more equal than others.
But, how does the Majik LP12 sound? Extremely good, in a kind of no-fuss, maximum fun kind of way. It’s the kind of sound that makes you forget about the typical criteria we discuss in audio magazines, and instead focus on the musical performance behind the ‘quicksilver transient response’ and the ‘limpid pools of pellucidity’. I guess this is a function of the Linn ‘Tune Dem’ concept, where demonstrations revolve around listening to the tune rather than audio or musical elements, and the LP12 is so good at achieving this, one wonders whether the LP12 has been shaped by that focus on the Tune Dem, whether the Tune Dem came out of the performance of the LP12, or there was a meeting in the middle somewhere...
Tune Dem or not, the LP12 makes a lot of high-end exotica seem somewhat ‘po-faced’ by comparison. And the Majik continues that line of listening. Other turntables are more detailed, have better soundstaging properties, more of those tiny ‘microdynamic’ nuances in the presentation that obsess many listeners. The Majik LP12 simply side-steps all those filigree parts of the audiophile experience and cuts to the musical quick.
‘Side-steps’ is probably the wrong term. That implies these subtle cues are not present, where in fact the Majik LP12 simply appears to put those more nuanced aspects of performance in their place, instead of front and centre. The LP12 still has a lot of insight into the mix, but it’s more than that. Or less, depending on your view.
Those usual ‘record X did Y to the sound’ comments about products become superfluous twaddle with the Majik LP12. You put on a piece of music because you like it, then you do the same again and again. That’s it. From a reviewer’s perspective, you wonder how you are going to turn this listening session into bite-size descriptive properties. Ultimately, though, except for these four pages, that doesn’t matter. You aren’t drawn to the hi-hat or focus on the bass guitar, any more than you might be in real life. You do get drawn into the general timbre of music playing, and if the recording accents the hi-hat or the bass guitar, then that will also be the case on the LP12.
This is coherence and consistency at work. Music played here just hangs together beautifully, adroitly moving from musical theme to theme with a distinct sense of warmth, energy, and fun to the performance. Wholly accurate? No, but when you listen to the LP12 in its Majik garb, accuracy seems not to matter so much.