And as observed at the very top of this review, there’s simply no doubting the Linn’s sonic abilities relative to the Majik DSM’s asking price. With its response Optimised for your Space, the Majik DSM is – like many a Linn product – a strikingly rapid and subtle listen, with hugely impressive powers of time-alignment.
Linn’s Space Optimisation system includes an extensive range of loudspeakers on its website, but we expect to see many complete Linn Majik systems to be used with the Majik DSM. It’s not hard to see why; the Linn Majik LP12 is a perfect match in terms of performance (and its choice of MM cartridge) and both Majik loudspeakers are equally well-liked and a fine match in their own right. All of which means that the bulk of the listening was conducted in an all-Majik context, and that’s a very entertaining place to be. I know that many of us are so wedded to the idea of ‘mix and match’, but when it sounds this good, maybe the turnkey approach works!
You don’t have to listen far into a 180g vinyl reissue of Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band’s Safe as Milk [Buddah] via a Clearaudio Concept turntable for the Majik DSM to lay down the law. The tonal balance the Linn demonstrates is exquisitely judged – the bass guitar (which is mildly, but undeniably, out of tune throughout this album) is described with completely straight edges, the Majk snapping into the initial attack of notes and explaining their decay with equal enthusiasm. Low frequencies have bounce and substance, are controlled with complete authority and manage to combine impact with rapidity in a way that’s far from common. Many a late 60s recording can suffer from foggy, ill-disciplined low frequencies, but not when it’s been had at by the Majik DSM.
Higher up, Beefheart’s Howlin’ Wolf impersonation is absolutely loaded with character and detail – at times (during ‘Plastic Factory’, for example) it sounds authentically painful and surely unable to survive a second take. The top end clatters and crashes with well-organised abandon, and even though each individual element of the recording is safe in its own little area of space on the soundstage, the Linn integrates every constituent part into a seamlessly unified whole. It makes as strong a case for the timing of a piece of music as the single most significant factor in its sounding realistic and convincing as any Linn product ever has – which is saying something.
Switch up (or, at the very least, sideways) to Stereolab’s Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements[Duophonic] via Tidal integrated into the Linn/Kazoo app on an Android smartphone and the Majik DSM, if anything, gets even more compelling. The Krautrock-esque ‘motorik’ tempos are described with something approaching relish, while the grainy analogue keyboard sounds grind and spit unforgivingly. The relentless nature of the recording is perfectly rendered by the Linn, and it has both the insight and the facility with nuance to extract actual, coherent meaning from the vocal buried deep in the mix. Once again, it’s the innate sense of unity that’s perhaps most striking here – the sensation of numerous different components fusing into a single, complete entity is hard to come by at the best of times, no matter how much you pay for your music system nor how many boxes it comprises.