Linn Majik LP12/Krane Turntable Package Page 2

Any subsequent tonearm upgrade is best entrusted to your Linn dealer, however, as this fiddly process ideally requires a special jig and recalibration of the three-point sprung suspension. Whatever you decide, this turntable works best on a light, rigid coffee table or better still, a custom support.

sqnote Modern Romance
Many analogue enthusiasts will have heard a Linn LP12 turntable, perhaps during the '80s when it was the height of fashion. Sonically, an awful lot has changed since then, though it's not wholly unrecognisable. Being generous, I'd say Linn has retained the design's high points, leaving what might now be acknowledged as its failings to the history books.

Nevertheless, the Majik LP12 package is no universal panacea, as the 'starter' tonearm and cartridge necessarily limit the full potential of the deck. For example, I fitted an Audio-Technica AT-33PTG/II moving-coil and was rewarded with an even more finessed and three-dimensional performance. Similarly, the Krane arm imparts a certain opaqueness to the sound, and a tendency to sit on loud dynamic crescendos, as I discovered after a spin of Supertramp's 'Bloody Well Right' [Crime Of The Century; A&M Records YAM 68258]. Here, the track's heavy musical introduction didn't quite have the weight or impact that it deserved.

Otherwise, at the core of the Sondek's sound is a certain quintessential, foot-tapping musicality. The deck still has an involving and almost romantic feel to the way it makes music, but this is largely a function of its rhythmic and dynamic prowess, rather than tonal coloration. The latter – which was once a major facet of LP12 ownership, particularly in the '70s and '80s – has now largely been banished. The Majik LP12 still has a subtly warm balance, but it is nowhere near as sepia-tinged as it once was.

Fresh 'N' Easy
The bass line on The Pet Shop Boys' 'Being Boring' [Behaviour; Parlophone PCSD 113] was tauter, more supple and more tuneful than I remember it through my old late '80s LP12. Indeed, the whole record sounded fresher, as if someone had wiped the lens so there was more to see, with less blurring of the details. Without the low frequency overhang of earlier Sondeks, bass seems a little lighter, but at the same time more propulsive. So the deck pushed the song along energetically, giving an involving presentation with less slurring of its synthesised sub-bass.

Alongside this is a surprising amount of detail, yet it isn't directed at the listener in the manner of some new direct-drives, for example. It may be more subtly delivered but it's still very much present – as Steve Hackett's 'Star Of Sirius' [Voyage Of The Acolyte; Charisma CAS 1111] illustrated. The Majik LP12's delivery really suited this great classic rock piece, proving adept at conveying the timbre of both Hackett's distinctive guitar work and also the grain of vocalist Phil Collins' voice.

Again, comparisons to an LP12 of a decade ago are very favourable, this version sounding better lit and less murky, with improved definition in practically every respect. Music sounds very vibrant and alive on this turntable/arm combo, so it succeeds in being tonally smooth, but less laid-back than this might imply.

Majikal Thinking
Then there's the soundstaging. Even the most ardent LP12 fan would have to admit this has not been a strong point over the years, but the latest deck all but banishes this criticism. Put simply, it now sounds quite commanding in the way it recreates a recorded acoustic.

A classic groove in the shape of Isaac Hayes' 'Cafe Regio's' [Shaft: Original Soundtrack; Stax 2659-007] now sounded positively expansive. It's as if this new LP12 grabs the recording by the scruff of the neck, grips each instrument and doesn't let go. The music had a new-found solidity and confidence – the deck's accurate tonality, almost forensic detail retrieval and capacious soundstaging made this opulently-recorded track quite a thing to hear.

That old LP12 magic – if you pardon the pun – was very much in evidence with relatively simple programme material, such as Sade's 'When Am I Going to Make A Living' [Diamond Life; Epic EPC 26044]. On well recorded but not too complex tracks such as this, where subtlety, nuance and texture do the talking, the deck charmed me. It still seems able to knit the notes together better than most turntables I've heard, combining fine speed stability with a certain deftness when it comes to subtle music accents – or 'microdynamics', as the jargon goes.

I loved the expression in Sade's voice, the bass guitar groove and the rawness of the electric organ. This deck makes music sound natural, unforced, easy and yet expressive and emotional. Not many do. The Majik is a great package then, but Linn itself makes clear that it's effectively a 'taster' for what the LP12 is capable of, rather the sum total of all the deck can be. But even as a three-course meal, it's never less than supremely tasty!

Hi-Fi News Verdict
Just when the LP12 was starting to look overpriced and under-developed, along comes Linn with a punchy new entry-level package that's a hard-hitting, value-for-money proposition. The bundled tonearm and cartridge aren't world beaters but are decent enough starter components that let the Sondek shine. The latter is better designed and built than ever, and still sings like a bird, but now louder.

Linn Products Ltd
Supplied by: Linn Products Ltd
0141 307 7777