Linn Majik Isobariks

Anyone tried them in their Naim system?  

I have the opportunity to try an ex-dem pair on my SN2/HCDR with NACA5. Wondering if its worthwhile lugging them home.

To clarify, I'm referring to the latest generation Majik Isobarik introduced in 2011 - a floor stander. 

Original Post

I think they are well worth trying in a Naim system. I've had a pair of the Majik Isobariks for four and a half years which are now powered passively by NAC252/Supercap DR with NAP300DR and in my experience I haven't heard anything else yet which sounds as impressive but with a real natural body and balance, even during Naim high end demos. I have found them to be very flexible over room positioning too, mine are only approx 150mm from the rear wall with no boom or overhang in the bass, which by the way, is deep and powerful and not at all overwhelming.

By the way, I can tell you that the Majik Isobariks were able to demonstrate the improvements when upgrading the amplifier section of my system with great ease. Even when I moved from the original NAP300 to the new DR version, the difference was certainly more obvious than when hearing the comparison during the demos by Naim at Acoustica last year, where they were using Focal Sopra 2 speakers.

Yeah, VHS machines could collect an amazing amount of stuff! Worst thing for me was when my oldest discovered how to open the cupboard housing the hifi (supposedly childproof as well as sound deadening): the arm, surprisingly, survived, but a delicate moving coil cartridge is another matter. Expensive lesson in how quickly they learn how to access interesting things!

Hi Gary, yes and I can't understand  why they haven't acquired a greater following because they really are a great all round speaker and seem, to me at least, completely at home within a Naim system. They are great value too (£3500.00) when you compare them with other alternatives, usually costing more (sometimes a lot, lot more). I found that most speakers may excel in one area or another which just leads you to play certain tracks to exploit that fact and can become challenging to listen to over a period of time but the Majik Isobariks lead you to play and just totally enjoy a whole series of albums in one session without fatigue.

Derek,

Thanks for your encouragement. I decided to visit the dealer and now have the Majik Isobariks (Misos) in my listening room for a week-long demo. Large, heavy (34 kg each) but very handsome speakers. I have the cherry finish.

 

Christopher_M posted:

A friend of mine has a pair, Randy, that he uses with a Linn amp. Based on his experience and enthusiasm for them , I wouldn't rule out a pair for a dem at your home. He likes them passive.

Chris,

Ha, I think we have the same friend. He's also encouraged me to try the Misos and will be mentoring me through room placement these next few days.

 

Any other thoughts welcomed.

There was a time not hugely long ago where most thought you could't go far wrong matching Linn speakers with Naim. Back in the 90s it was fairly typical that if a Naim customer was not thrilled with Naim speakers that they often ended up with a pair of Tukans, Keilidhs or Kabers. 

Hi Joe, yes they certainly are heavy and I remember quite vividly the struggle in carrying the speakers from the car to indoors on my own and they weigh even more with the packaging of course! Unpacking and setting up was a lot easier though due to the carpeted floor in my home. I ordered the walnut finish, which was my personal preference and I agree with you, despite their size, they do look handsome without being imposing in my approx 21ft x 12ft living room.

Adding further to my comments over comparison demos and also including a presentation of the Statement amps driving Focal Utopia speakers being fed by an NDS powered by two 555PS's at Acoustica's hifi show last year. I have returned home after each occasion and have been delighted in confirming just how good and 'right' my system sounds particularly when playing the same music which I had heard earlier in the day but from CD on my 'humble' digital front end, the CD5XS with nDAC, which really says something about CD player as well as the speakers! I must say (and most probably controversially) that I am still yet to be convinced that there are any sound quality virtues to be gained by changing to the digital streaming route.

Anyway Joe, hope all goes well with your home trial and you reach a happy conclusion whatever the outcome. 

Something I just thought I needed to add for anybody who may be interested, because of the lack of any real coverage in the media or forums such as this, is that the Linn Majik Isobariks really are supremely musical prompting not only feet tapping but finger and thumb tapping and also teeth tapping into the bargain, you just can't help moving, while also being impressively detailed but not in a clinical or purely analytical way. They just flow and image pretty well too, it is very rare that the sound appears to be emanating from the speakers themselves and depending on the type of music, of course, can become a very emotional experience. In contrast to that, if I put on some electronic dance/big beat music (e.g. Chemical Brothers, Eat Static, Leftfield, Underworld etc. I do have a very eclectic collection of music) in either CD or vinyl format, it becomes very difficult to resist the temptation to start 'throwing' myself around the room in time to the music in fear of damaging myself or something else.

All these comments and observations are made in the context of my system and in my listening environment which is, as mentioned in an earlier posting, approx 21ft x 12ft with the speakers firing across the width of the room with no toe-in, so obviously they are positioned well away from any corners.

I attempted to attach a photo on this occasion but whatever I try doesn't seem to  work. 

I've been repositioning the speakers throughout the day trying to get the best bass. Right now they are 20 inches from the front wall and about 4.5 feet apart. My initial thoughts on the Misos are that the bass is deep, tight, and controlled. The mids are exceptionally clear though relatively recessed. The highs are quite polished. It's a big adjustment for me from the aggressive sound of the Totem Sttafs. One thing is for certain, and I can't agree more with Derek's post above, the Misos are "supremely musical". The toe tapping is involuntary. I don't think I've felt this engaged with my music for 30 years. They get to the the beat and soul of the music like nothing else I've heard in a long time. 

 

Right now the downside for me is that the bass may be a bit much for my 15'x12' room. I have a corner bass trap to the left rear. The ceiling is vaulted and two of the walls do not extend up to the ceiling. There are two large entrances to the room. So the room is not a confined box, just on the small side. Unfortunately I'm feeling some fatigue from the bass pressure in the room, regardless of speaker positioning. I wonder if a bass trap on the wall directly behind each speaker would help. I'm hoping I can make these work as it's pretty special to come across such an engaging speaker. I think they look nice in the room as well. I should add that they sound incredibly full at low volume.

That's exactly what my friend (and Chris') is suggesting. He was a 30 year Naim user that recently went to an all-Linn system including misos due in large part to some changes in hearing. I feel as though I've gone through some hearing changes as well the past few years. Add to that my chronic tinnitus and SO could make sense, especially as age-related changes in hearing progress.

OTOH, a couple bass traps might be a more immediate solution.

Chris,

Thanks. I've had them there. Placement as shown seems to have best bass control and the soundstage/imaging/disappearance is wonderful. Moved the listening chair farther and closer as well. I had a third level on my LP storage and removed that with improvement to the soundstage depth. My next logical move ought to be to haul out the entire LP rack. I also plan to talk with my dealer on Monday and see if he can offer any bass traps for temporary use.

Hi again Joe, mine are positioned about 6 to 6.5ft apart and I have shelving and drawer storage units in both corners on the opposite side of the room from the speakers filled with vinyl records, CD's, books & magazines which seem to act as very efficient bass traps. Wish I could work out how to attach a few photos to illustrate.  

Hi Derek,

Thanks for the input. I'm really hoping I can get these to work in my room because as you say, they have got some kind of musical mojo. Tomorrow I'll pay attention to low volume listening as the misos give a very full response played low. At one point today my wife came in to talk to me and until I had the reference of her voice I wasn't aware of how loud I was playing.  I'm also going to remove the HCDR from my SN2 and see how that works.

I'm thinking that some of the bass issue may be caused by the SN2 not really being up to the task, though that may be entirely wrong of course. I'd suggest it's worth an hour's work to move the record storage, and then moving the speakers nearer to the wall and a bit further apart. I've tried a couple of speakers that had a lot of bass and were inadequately driven and both turned out to be impossible to live with. Both were bought exdem so could be sold with little loss, but those Isobariks are a lot of money and it would be awful to make a mistake. I'm also thinking that that nice back wall would be just right for some SBLs, assuming of course that it's solid. 

HH might be right re the SN2 and bass. I would say that i had similar bass issues with a pair of Kudos X2 in my room and no amount of amp or change of placement could cure the bass rumble (energy) with that tiny speaker obviously designed to boost a certain bass frequency.

 

Im neither suggesting the fault is with the SN2 or the speakers, but lt could be a factor of both in the room. A better amp may help but may not cure completely. Doubtless Joe will be optimising setup and hopefully it pays dividends.

In a rectangular room like yours it is often easier to get good balance of sound by 'firing' down the room rather than across - have you tried that? In general terms the listening position should be well away from the rear wall (often best either around 1/3rd of distance from either front or rear wall).

If you'e tried all manner of placements and nothing seems right then I suggest some room measurement would be appropriate to help decide what's happening, and aid a correct solution. There's an excellent free (donations invited) computer program called REW (Room Equalisation Wizard), though it requires a suitable microphone, which would cost about £100. I don't know whether any dealers might have a mic available that could be borrowed.

With such a program you can see if it is particular frequencies that are the problem, or perhaps a general rising bass possibly due to rear wall proximity etc, and it also shows impulse decay response which help determine if it is reverberation causing overhang of notes as opposed to. Walking the microphone around also helps find optimum listening position from a frequency response perspective when trying speakers in various positions, while also showing just what the various positions are doing.

Without measurement, another tip I have come across is put a speaker in the desired listening position facing the direction where speakers will be, and walk around - locations where it sounds best are likely to be best positions for the speakers, subject to finding two locations that otherwise fit. Conventional near-equilateral triangle is a guide, but in problem rooms sometimes apparently 'wrong' positioning can sound right.

Incidentally, whether shelves full of stuff like LPs, CDs and books would be effective bass traps would depend on factors like the density of the material on the shelves, and any gaps behind them - more usually their major effect if they have uneven facial surfaces is scattering of higher frequencies, reducing reflections which can improve overall sound.

Hungryhalibut posted:

I'm thinking that some of the bass issue may be caused by the SN2 not really being up to the task, though that may be entirely wrong of course. I'd suggest it's worth an hour's work to move the record storage, and then moving the speakers nearer to the wall and a bit further apart. I've tried a couple of speakers that had a lot of bass and were inadequately driven and both turned out to be impossible to live with. Both were bought exdem so could be sold with little loss, but those Isobariks are a lot of money and it would be awful to make a mistake. I'm also thinking that that nice back wall would be just right for some SBLs, assuming of course that it's solid. 

Based on my own experience this year I would agree that amp may be at the heart of the bass problem for the OP.  

I'd been running Kudos S20's with 52/SC/250 and was generally very happy with the sound, other than a slightly "plummy" and boomy bass, which I attributed to my room and the ported design of the speaker.  I was wrong.  After replacing the 250 with a pair of 135's the boomy bass was eliminated - what I then had was less, but more accurate bass.  This has just happened again this week, albeit to a much more subtle level, by replacing the Akiva in my LP12 with a Kandid.  

Paradoxically, having initially started out believing the size and shape of the room would limit my speaker choices, I now believe that the S20's are performing "to spec" and to get a deeper bass and more slam would actually require something like Kudos Titans or Linn Accubariks.

I auditioned these when they were first launched, with high hopes. I was looking for the end game speaker for my 252/SC/300. I know it's all down to personal preferences and the room, but to be honest I was very disappointed with the Isobariks. I found them closed in, constrained, compressed, with a nasal quality, tiring and painful to listen to! If I remember rightly, Kudos C30's were substituted which were much better. The XL6's were then installed and bingo, I knew I had found the answer.

I understand the cost differentials but I couldn't live with the Linns at any price. However, whatever floats your boat and good luck with finding the right solution for you! 

My experience with the Misos after living (& loving) with them for 4 1/2 years is the total opposite to Ponty's even though I also have the same amplifier combination.

I 'stumbled' across the speakers quite by accident at the Linn dealer in Chester (Adventures in Hi-fi) when I called in there on another matter related to the Keilidhs, which I was still using at the time after 16 years plus. Knowing that I intended to upgrade the rest of the system which included NAC32/HC/2 x NAP140's, I decided to investigate the speaker end first and after comparing the likes of Proac, Kudos, PMC etc., most of which sounded bright, harsh and/or very forward and lacking a natural body to the sound, I got the 'feeling'  that the Miso's were the most likely to sound best in my room was convinced that the Miso's were worth a home loan of the dealers demo pair to confirm that 'feeling', I was right. They worked very well with my old Naim amp combination, therefore I ordered a pair and even when the new ones arrived they still impressed straight out of the box but improved further over time (several weeks).

I upgraded the rest of the system over a little more time moving from the NAC32.5/HC/NAP140 setup to NAC282/SC/2 x NAP200's, then replacing the pre-amp section with the NAC252 & Supercap DR and then replacing the two power amps with a single NAP300 and then finally replacing that with the DR version shortly after it's launch. Most of these developments were made when Naim and Acoustica had 'special offers' running, so not too financially painful and during each upgrading stage the Miso's were capable of illustrating the improvements with absolute ease (much more so than the Kudos, Dynaudio and Focal speakers which had been used on the different occasions spent at the dealers premises for the amp upgrade demos).

For the record, the rest of my system consists of Rega RP10 with Apheta 2, Superline powered by Supercap DR, NAT05XS Tuner, CD5XS with nDAC all installed on Quadraspire Q4 EVO racks.

To me (and not only me), my system sounds so 'right' (and it is used for several hours every day) that I would be afraid to change anything at all now in fear of losing what I already have apart from the NACA5 speaker cable to Super Lumina, probably.

I do hope that you make progress with your project Joe and I will follow it with interest.  

Many thanks HH, I will probably look at that aspect when I finally get round to the cabling 'project', I am always open to sensible suggestions such as yours.

I meant to add in my previous posting, that with experience over the years (I was 65 yesterday and now an 'official' state pensioner!) I have become a great believer in synergy, that is, synergy between all the components within the system and then a synergy between the system and the room. That's the main reason why I ran the 'Keilidh system' for over 16 years but in a previous home.

I moved to my current address after losing my gorgeous darling wife to cancer five years ago and eventually realised that music was going to become an even more important need in my life but was left in a fortunate financial position enabling me to embark upon a major hi-fi upgrade path.

Obviously, despite all the pleasure and joy which my system has brought it could never equal that of having my wife Caroline back. 

Many thanks for all the supportive input! My first move this morning was to remove the HCDR from the SN2. A slightly different presentation. Mids came a bit more to the fore - not a bad thing. Some grip on the bass was lost and perhaps a small amount of the bass intensity. Time will tell how that plays into the fatigue factor. I also did more repositioning wider apart and closer to the front wall. I have to conclude that in my room having the misos closer to a boundary tends to reinforce bass and probably explains why I prefer the closer together and further from the front wall position. This in contrast to rear ported speakers where closer to the wall tends to tighten bass response. I suspect this has to do with the misos' isobarik unit being omni-directional. The misos stage and image well regardless of position which makes it easy for me to focus on finding the best position for bass response.

As far as amps, the misos are very easy to drive. For CDs I'm playing them at 8:30 on the volume dial versus 10 o'clock with the Sttafs. No doubt a different amp would change the presentation, however I'm locked into using my SN2 at present. Although my dealer is a Naim dealer, he only stocks Musos and Qbs

I'm pretty much locked into the present front wall for my set up. The wall to the left of my listening position is a large bay window, the wall to the right has a large entry to the kitchen, and the rear wall a large entry to the front hall. The front wall is an exterior wall - 2x6 studs covered with drywall and fiberglass insulation. The floor is suspended - plywood on 2x10 joists over a crawl space, fiberglass insulated. The floor is carpeted which I've read is best for the misos.

I agree that a good approach for me now would be to get some measurements of frequency responses in my room. I don't have that equipment and will check with the dealer to see what his capabilities are. I think it would also make sense to see if I can get the Majik 140s to compare. They are a sibling to the misos and use the same 2K array, but with rear ported rather than isobarik bass. Maybe they'll have the same musical character but with bass better suited to my room.

 

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