The Linn Majik DSM is a well-conceived product. Linn has obviously thought long and hard about what a premium all-in-one system should do, and the result is a good one.
Don’t be fooled by its simple exterior; there’s a lot going on here. Inside that well-built, minimalist casing is a 43W stereo amplifier, a music streamer, a phono stage (moving magnet as standard or moving coil as an option) and of course, digital-to-analogue conversion circuitry.
Linn Majik DSM review: connectivity
Alongside the usual complement of stereo analogue, optical and coaxial sockets you’ll find a four-strong contingent of HDMI inputs and one HDMI output too. These are becoming more common in stereo products, and that’s a good thing.
It means this system can be used to play back the sound of a Blu-ray player, games console or set-top box, while passing through the picture for your TV. There’s no on-board decoding of Dolby Digital or DTS soundtracks, however, so the output of the video source will need to be set to LPCM.
The Majik DSM is also flexible enough to be used as part of a surround-sound set-up, powering the front left and right speakers, but this only works if its HDMI output is fed into a dedicated surround amp, which then powers the rest of the channels and passes the video onto the display.
Such a configuration is a little convoluted for the money, but would make sense if you were trying to optimise stereo replay
The only notable omission as far as connections are concerned is USB. We know that anyone who wants to connect a laptop to the Linn can do it via a number of alternative ways – analogue, digital, or even wirelessly using Linn’s dedicated software – but a USB socket would still be nice.
Linn Majik DSM review: music streaming
Linn was an early convert to music streaming and its experience shines through in well-developed streaming apps, and the fuss free way everything just works. File compatibility is good and extends up to 24-bit/192kHz.
So, start listening and the good news continues. This is a fast, detailed-sounding system that takes all kinds of recordings in its stride.
Linn Majik DSM review: sound quality
Play a 24-bit/88.2kHz version of the Rolling Stones’ Sympathy for the Devil and this system has no trouble charging along with the music. There’s an appealing sense of control here, and fine sonic stability even when things get complicated.
Move on to Clair de Lune by Debussy and the Linn delivers a good rendition, picking out low-level details and conveying leading edge of notes well.
The story with vinyl is equally encouraging. Considering Linn’s rich record-based heritage it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the built-in moving-magnet phono stage is a good one. We connected Rega’s excellent RP6/Exact package and got great results.
We also liked the Majik’s headphone output. Too often these circuits are a mere afterthought, and they sound it too. In this case, the connection has all the detail and dynamic expression of the main speaker output, making serious headphone listening a pleasure.
For all the good things the Majik DSM does, its sonic presentation won’t suit everyone. There’s a leanness here, a lack of natural warmth that makes it sound a touch mechanical in the way it replays music. And while rhythmic precision is decent, it can’t quite convey momentum or pace-changes quite as well as we’d like.
Linn Majik DSM review: verdict
This might sound hyper critical for an all-in-one system, but let’s remember what the Majik DSM costs. At this price we have every right to expect the highest standard.
But then again, none of this detracts that much from Linn’s overall achievement. It remains a hugely capable, forward-looking system that serves-up a large slice of hi-fi performance to those that would never usually consider going down the separates route.
When it comes to features, ease-of-use and, yes, performance, the Majik DSM still gives Naim’s Uniti 2 plenty to think about.