Linn Majik DSM Network Music Player

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Integrated amplifiers,
Music servers and computer audio
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Linn Majik DSM

Mastery over Majik comes in the shape of an iOS version of the control app (without Kazoo involvement) and a handsome – if a bit slippery in the hand – full-function remote control handset. Linn asserts its ‘premium brand’ credentials strongly with both the amount of control the user can exert over the Majik DSM via the thelinn.co.uk site and with its exemplary suite of set-up videos. There are solid reasons so many call-centres like to have offices in Scotland, and the reassurance to be derived from these five videos goes some way to explaining that particular phenomenon.

The front of the Majik DSM is a smooth slab of glossily reflective black plastic. It’s home to a 6.3mm headphone socket, an admirably crisp display (text only, though – no lost album artwork here) and six customisable ‘pin’ buttons plus a multi-way menu function control button. The ‘pin’ buttons allow the user to allocate six favourites (radio stations, playlists, tracks... you name it) for immediate access. It’s a very thoughtful feature. 

The look and feel of the Majik DSM is a departure from Linn’s traditional lines, and borrows many of its styling cues from the company’s ‘breakout’ Selekt design. It lacks the clever top-mounted combination volume/indicator dial of the Selekt, but this does make the Majik DSM more ‘shelf-friendly’. It’s effectively 1980s minimalism brought up to date, with very clean lines and a functional (but extremely readable) white on black display. But given the wealth of colours available for the LP12’s plinth and speakers, the Majik DSM’s ‘none more black’ approach acts as contrast, not throwback. 

Doubtless, there will be those bemoaning the new look for not being the old look. There will be those decrying the display for not being a touchscreen, not being a full-colour display of the album cover, and for not being festooned with additional controls and features. But, there’s that ‘minimalism’ word bobbing around all of those negatives. The other side of the argument is not all of us want a ‘Mug’s Eyeful’ product full of bling and buttons. Maybe we just want our audio nerve centre to do its job without the all the trimmings and the trappings of excess. Maybe, just maybe, we want our products to be good on the inside rather than making a big splash on the outside. And that’s where the Majik DSM comes in, and comes in confidently; I’m fairly certain Linn couldn’t care less about whether or not alternative products have fascias that display album artwork. The Majik DSM sounds spectacularly good, and for Linn the rest is tinsel.

On the inside, the Majik DSM is, if anything, just as busy. The DAC architecture is, in much the same way as the DAC in the Series 3 wireless speaker we reviewed in Issue 178, derived from the Katalyst convertor – making it good for PCM resolutions up to 24bit/192kHz. Formats including DSD128, FLAC, WAV and AAC are catered for too, as well as quite a few of the more esoteric/unpopular alternatives. The moving-magnet phono stage, meanwhile, is a variation on the stand-alone Urika II hybrid analogue/digital phono stage and does absolutely as much of its work as possible in the digital domain. While at first glance putting the output of a moving magnet cartridge through the digital domain might be the equivalent of putting a bat up the nightdress of analogue enthusiasts, there are very good noise and accuracy of equalisation reasons for processing at least half the RIAA curve digitally. Just ask any Urika II owner!

There’s a new, dedicated headphone amplification circuit sitting behind that 6.3mm socket too. The volume control is digital, and consequently both lossless and low-distortion. And grunt is supplied by Class D amplification, rated at 100 watts per channel into 4ohms and 50 watts per channel into 8ohms. Which are respectable numbers but as not only Linn will tell you, it’s not how many watts you’ve got but how you deploy them. In this instance, power amplification is bespoke and Linn-designed, and promises low noise and distortion along with class-leading signal conversion efficiency.

The Majik DSM is compatible with Linn’s brow-furrowingly comprehensive and hair-raisingly effective Space Optimisation technology. Your Linn dealer will take care of the process once the Majik DSM is safely in position in your listening room – and although it still refuses to acknowledge the possibility that your listening environment might be completely brick-built, Space Optimisation is nevertheless a deeply impressive package. Once your dealer has informed the software all about your listening space (and I mean all about it, right down to its humidity), the speakers you’re using and the height of the chair you sit on, the software trims the Majik DSM to what Linn deems its perfect set-up. You might (rashly/confidently) feel you can improve on it, in which case you can trim for flatter frequency response or shorter decay time. 

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