Still, astute readers will ask, as I did, whether the 2100’s sound changes at higher output levels when the bi-polar
transistors come into play, and my answer is a qualified “maybe.” The trick is that, as you explore the 2100’s higher output levels, it is easy to exceed the amp’s output limits by accident, making it hard to tell whether changes in sound result from the bi-polar transistors coming on-line or from the onset of clipping. Either way, when pushed hard on largescale passages, the 2100 can reach a point where it begins to sound compressed, and then congested. On the thunderous pipe organ pedal notes heard in Virgil Fox’s recording of the Bach “Prelude in D” [Reference Recordings, 30th Anniversary Sampler, HDCD], the 2100 runs out of steam, robbing notes of the power and weight they would have with a higherpowered amplifier in play. At moments like those I felt frustrated because the 2100’s core sound is so pleasing that I can’t help but wish it produced more power. Nevertheless, I suspect this amp would make a dynamite match with highsensitivity speakers.
Finally, we come to the Majik CD player. I compared the Majik CD against my reference Musical Fidelity kW SACD player, which cost roughly twice what the Majik CD does, and against Rega’s Saturn CD player, which is priced about $1000 below the Majik CD. Here’s what I learned. In head-to-head competition with the Rega, the Majik exhibits one set of strengths while its British counterpart exhibits another. The Majik is a hair clearer and more articulate, with slightly better definition on fast rising transients and a touch better resolution on lowlevel details. The Rega, however, typically produces bigger soundstages, slightly smoother high frequencies, and delivers superior bass, but with overall clarity that falls just short of the Linn’s. In the end, I would probably give the nod to the Linn owing to its superior clarity (especially in the upper midrange), though there is no doubt in my mind that of the two players the Rega offers superior value for money. Neither the Linn nor the Rega equaled my Musical Fidelity reference player in terms of three-dimensionality, inner detail, or harmonic richness, but you would not expect them to given that they sell for thousands less. Of the two midpriced players, however, I would say the Linn came closer to capturing the overall “feel” of the more costly player thanks to its ability to delineate individual lines in densely orchestrated pieces such as Oue/Minnesota recording of the Enescu Romanian Rhapsody No. 1 [Reference Recordings, 30th Anniversary ampler, HDCD]. In many system contexts, I think the Linn Majik CD player could provide as much richness and clarity as some listeners would ever desire.
Linn’s Majik system contains real elements of sonic magic—magic that centers on the wonderful Kontrol preamplifier, but that carries over into the Majik CD player and 2100 power amplifier. The only caution I would offer is this: Once you hear this system driving a pair of medium-sensitivity loudspeakers, you may wish—as I do—that Linn would offer hypothetical Majik 2200, 2400, or even 2800 amplifiers that retained the core sound of the 2100 but offered correspondingly higher output. After all, when components sound as lively and lifelike as these do, you’ll inevitably want more of a good thing. TAS