What's the score with Linn?

In answer to the OP's original question, I am not sure why Linn would be singled out for discussion on here as , generally speaking, Linn and Naim customers are looking for different things in HiFi, other than of course Hi(gh) Fi(delity).

I too was a long-time Linn owner with my beloved LP12 but that was using Naim (and other) amplification. The question the OP raises does however prompt me to think why I have an all Naim system (well source & amplification) and why I never went down the Linn route. The primary reason is, for me, the addictive sound signature and engaging nature of Naim gear.

I recently listened to the Kudos 505 speakers fronted by a Linn streamer and Linn active amplification, a speaker I have heard a couple of times previously with Naim sources and amplification. There was no comparison. Linn - clean, succinct but ultimately un-engaging. Naim - impactful, visceral, engaging and, yes, probably OTT for some, but never, never boring.

I would always go for attention-grabbing, engaging, with an emotional connection and, yes, possibly unfaithful, than clean, lean and ultimately unemotional.

Speak to a Linn owner and you will get a diametrically opposed, and equally valid opinion.

nigelb posted:

In answer to the OP's original question, I am not sure why Linn would be singled out for discussion on here as , generally speaking, Linn and Naim customers are looking for different things in HiFi, other than of course Hi(gh) Fi(delity).

I would always go for attention-grabbing, engaging, with an emotional connection and, yes, possibly unfaithful, than clean, lean and ultimately unemotional.

Nigel, the reason for my post was purely inquisitive. I am aware of some common history between Naim and Linn and also have seen the high regard in which the LP12 is held in this forum and others. Therefore I was quite curious as to why there is a rather deadly silence regarding the other Linn products in this forum. What made me curious the most though was the fact that Linn products seem to demand rather high prices compared to a lot of other products (Naim included).

However, your last sentence which I have quoted above does clarify a lot for me and to an extent it reminds me of the opinions I get often when talking about B&W speakers

Interesting,  I would agree with NigelB that the demo he heard was as he described....the best Linn based system I have heard, but did not really engage. I heard a fairly high end a Chord system the year before with DAVE and muscle amps, seemed very bright portrayal of music. This year Chord Etude, Dave, Mscaler and ATC, sounded pretty good.

We all try to help with what we have heard, we all need good dealer and home demo,s.

iliria posted:

I have noticed that the brand is hardly ever mentioned in these forums despite being amongst the top British hifi brands. Is the rivalry with Naim so fierce? It is funny because even as I am writing this post, in my brain I can hear that tense music that you hear in Western films when everything goes quiet before a shootout.

I'm just curious if their products are good enough to match their prices? I am aware of the reputation of the LP12 but what about the rest? Majik speakers any good? And so on?

Hardly ever mentioned? Do you have eyes earthling?

nigelb posted:

I too was a long-time Linn owner with my beloved LP12 but that was using Naim (and other) amplification. The question the OP raises does however prompt me to think why I have an all Naim system (well source & amplification) and why I never went down the Linn route. The primary reason is, for me, the addictive sound signature and engaging nature of Naim gear.

...

Speak to a Linn owner and you will get a diametrically opposed, and equally valid opinion.

Now that I am, at least for the moment, an owner of complete systems from both Naim and Linn (the latter being Klimax DSM Exakt with active Akubariks), I can hear for myself: not only is the Linn sound clean and precise but it is effortlessly emotional and engaging. The astounding thing is that it achieves this with just one slim box and two beautiful speakers. Amplification should be heard and not seen.

hungryhalibut posted:

You could ask precisely the same question about Chord. People seem to love their DACs, but their extensive range of amplification is virtually never mentioned. They even make a streaming preamp, but again that is never discussed. I wonder why. 

Because it's all so fugly 

I find some of the disparaging comments about Linn hi-fi equipment (with the general exception of the Linn LP12) on this forum extremely puzzling. I might also add that I found similar disparaging comments about Naim Audio hi-fi equipment on the now defunct Linn forum to be equally puzzling.

I currently own a Linn network streaming source in my main system (and a Naim Muso Qb), but I do not use amplification or speakers from Linn or Naim in any of my systems and so my position could be said to be fairly (if not completely) neutral.

I have recently listened to a Linn system owned by a friend which comprised a Linn Klimax DSM and Linn Klimax 350A Active speakers. It sounded superb, even at low listening volumes. I could very happily live with that system. I have also recently had the opportunity to listen fairly extensively to a relatively high end Naim system which comprised a Naim ND555 with single 555PS DR & NAP 300 DR (albeit with B&W rather than Naim speakers). This also sounded very good to my ears, and I could also happily live with that system.

The presentation of the systems was 'different', but there is no way that I would describe either as 'unexciting', 'boring', 'uncouth', 'harsh', 'edgy' or 'brash' - descriptions I have commonly seen attributed to either Linn or Naim equipment. I can understand why some hi-fi enthusiasts might choose Naim and I can equally understand why some might choose Linn. I simply cannot understand why some people disparage one or the other in what appears to me to be a very defensive manner.      

It might be that many of us are drawn into a 'camp', be it Naim, Linn or other manufacturers, while some are more than happy to mix brands in their system (by system I mean source and amplification primarily).

It is only natural that those that have settled in a camp, for whatever reason (usually a honestly held conviction about the superior SQ offered by that brand), will tend to dominate postings on that particular manufacturer's forum. So surprise, surprise, Naimees on the Naim forum will extoll the virtues of Naim (usually talking about their own system) over the competition. I do agree however this can become less than objective with exaggerated claims about Naim and the competition. Having said that, I do not see much of that on this thread but I am sure if you care to look back on this, and the now defunct Linn forum, you will find some silliness.

I also suspect that we do, to differing degrees, get 'conditioned' in our attitudes to Naim and their competitors' offerings - after all it is human nature. Such conditioning (if you accept this phenomenon) would surely be a powerful influencer on our opinions of a particular system's capabilities, whether we have actual experience of that system or not. The cost of a particular set up also 'preconditions' us, setting expectations before we even listen.

So, in conclusion, I would suggest that our attitudes towards a particular brand are driven by a heady mix of actual equipment performance (an opinion at best with many peripheral influences), our previous experiences and psychological conditioning. That means we are all correct, as a brand would surely never survive in this competitive niche market unless it was capable of delighting a financially viable number of customers.

From my experience I would say... the debate on sound will always be subjective, that’s part of the fun and as they say ...different strokes... We are fortunate in the Uk to have had some amazing individuals passionate about music and led the journey for each brands vision. Of course success and market share can drive some edgy actions and marketing but on balance brands such as Linn, Meridian, Arcam, Quad, Kef, B&W and many more UK brands have done an amazing job and some still continue to do so, Long live the UK audio industry,a shadow of its former self but it is something we can celebrate and appreciate it’s  engineering achievements. Choice is what we have, I think you all know my choice but I still respect my colleagues in the industry  and without the back bone of specialist UK retailers and press,none of us would have got very far.

I know I am retired and have time but thats a long story but lots of factors from audio being numbers 2 or 3 on the must have list to now about number 50 changes in technology, poor sound from cheap systems doesnt promote buying more music, accountants having too much influence in business decisions or in some cases not enough lack of talent and so on, I guess many here will have some views.

ChrisSU posted:
Paul Stephenson posted:

Long live the UK audio industry,a shadow of its former self.....

What went wrong?!

I went to the Hi Fi news show in Windsor last Sunday and can honestly say didn't see any 20 -30 year old people.Come to think of it not many 30 -40 year olds.I would say the majority there where in the 50 -70 bracket.And talking to people like Ken Kessler,Paul Messenger and manufacturers they all thought the industry was sinking as the younger generation aren't interested so dark clouds in the future.

 

Tabby cat posted:

I went to the Hi Fi news show in Windsor last Sunday and can honestly say didn't see any 20 -30 year old people.Come to think of it not many 30 -40 year olds.I would say the majority there where in the 50 -70 bracket.And talking to people like Ken Kessler,Paul Messenger and manufacturers they all thought the industry was sinking as the younger generation aren't interested so dark clouds in the future.

I'm not suprised. The high end of hifi, especially, is mostly the domain of the 50+ males. That is very likely going to be the case even more in years to come as streaming becomes even more common. Hence why, I suppose, it is very improtant that Hifi companies do "keep up" with the latest trends if they are to survive.

It doesn't surprise me too much that the hifi enthusiasts we see around shows & dealers are in the older age bracket,  its only that group that have the disposable income to buy higher end audio.  Younger age groups have other financial priorities,  buying & setting up home, growing family essentials,  items TV & other electronics are more important to a family than expensive hifi ,  low cost & computer based music does the job & it does it so much better than low cost equipment did in the past,  & in the past I'm not going back that far,  10 years, or even less.

I think the number of turntable sales tells a different story, it’s mostly young people and they love it- check the progress of Rega, amazing job. Guess what my grand daughter wants for Christmas a turntable. I really believe we will see the audio business grow but on the back of streaming and Vinyl.

Paul Stephenson posted:

I think the number of turntable sales tells a different story, it’s mostly young people and they love it- check the progress of Rega, amazing job. Guess what my grand daughter wants for Christmas a turntable. I really believe we will see the audio business grow but on the back of streaming and Vinyl.

And guess that my daughter is getting - a nice bright red Project - not bad for 14. Now she can stop telling on Daddy when another Naim black box comes into the house. I’m still recovering from the ‘ Mummy, guess how much that Samsung card for the Core cost?’ Ouch!

Tabby cat posted:

I went to the Hi Fi news show in Windsor last Sunday and can honestly say didn't see any 20 -30 year old people.Come to think of it not many 30 -40 year olds.I would say the majority there where in the 50 -70 bracket.And talking to people like Ken Kessler,Paul Messenger and manufacturers they all thought the industry was sinking as the younger generation aren't interested so dark clouds in the future.

 

Hi Ian, I wonder if you are reading too much into show attendances? Even among hi-fi 'enthusiasts' these events are surely a minority interest? Personally I've only ever been to two in my life, and I found both really tedious (I only went to the second one because there was a show-exclusive special offer on an RCM I wanted).

You get to trudge to a dreary venue - usually the sort of hotel David Brent would stay in - and then hear gear you'll never buy playing tunes you don't like in rooms with eyeball-scouring carpets in the company of men with no hair and impressive paunches. Even good equipment seems to sound mediocre and the music they play in those rooms seems to be uniformly dreadful - Dire Straits, bland jazz and well-recorded but insufferably drab acoustic music. I would go (and have gone) to a dealer event as they are an opportunity to hear a new bit of kit (Linn are good at this, especially with their artist-themed nights, which always seem to be packed).

But shows? I think they're a huge turnoff for most people, of all ages. If you go to one of the afrementioned Linn events, or Colleen Murphy's regular "Classic Album Sunday" shows, you see plenty of younger people there, enjoying good music played on fine equipment - and in the case of CAS, they'll pay for the privilege. In London, the Japanese 'hi-fi bar' or 'audiophile cafe/coffee shop' concept is starting to really take off, and these places are a great opportunity for hi-fi brands to demonstrate their playback prowess in relaxed, informal and attractive environment.

Old fashioned hi-fi shows are dying, I'd say; not hi-fi itself, or the love of good sound.

My twin 14 year old sons love HiFi as we know it and come to the shows with me (Bristol) most years. One of them is just about to inherit my old but mint CD5i, a brand new Onkyo 9010 (UK) amp and Q acoustics standmount speakers. Being excited at the thought of such a system for them is an understatement. Both sons aspire to the thought of owning top notch Naim or Rega systems in the future!

To say that the youngsters are not interested in high quality music playback through first class systems is not true, well not from my experience anyway.

Stephen, glad to hear your sons share your passion for great HiFi. I would suggest that their interest was stirred as you have exposed them to great music reproduced by great HiFi.

Other youngsters don't have the same exposure and their interests are pulled in other directions, music often important but through MP3/Phone and buds, also with access, dare I say it, to 'free' music. Social media, texting, video gaming (often online), online media/TV are all attractions that simply weren't prevalent or even in existence (depending on your age) when we were young. As Paul S. sayes '….audio being numbers 2 or 3 on the must have list to now about number 50….'.

As well as exposure to great HiFi, I think you also need an inherent love of music in order to commit large sums of disposable income to purchase great HiFi gear. It was ever thus I guess, but these days there are many more pastimes attracting our youngsters in a variety of directions.

Music is definitely important to new generations but I think there is an issue that it is so easily accessible and payment is not always at the point of consumption (ie bundled in a data agreement, spotify etc) or free via YouTube etc that I'm not sure people 'value' music the same way. As a teenager all the music I listened to (other than on the radio) I paid for and I think I also therefore invested in the kit that played it. I was never that bothered about the technology but I needed equipment specifically to play my vinyl/tapes/CDs etc so I invested in hiFi.

Nowadays my 'phone could do all of my music I guess, plus a multitude of other tasks so I think I'd be less likely if i was a young adult to invest money in a device that only really did one thing, albeit in higher quality.

Bruce

@Bart,

The big fall out? Well, Naim and Linn were once closely aligned with Linn making the LP12 and speakers and Naim making the amps. Julian and Ivor then fell out after Linn started making amplifiers breaking the close relationship. I am sure others could add detail, or perhaps do a forum search.

Stu

I think it’s worth noting linn sounds slightly different than naim.... or quite different. Naim seems to present music as if sitting on the front row... linn maybe a few rows back... but sounds musical too .

linn uses switch mode power supplies compared to Naim’s linear ones... even the 30w UnitiQute is capable of huge amounts of controlled bass !

both companies main unique selling point is Pace Rhythm and Timing

I suppose I chose Naim but could easily having started my journey with Linn.... or Rega....

Naim do offer that ability to service almost any piece of equipment  dating back to the first naim amplifier

But I’ve personally experienced linn and Chord electronics offering excellent backup service for their kit... I guess one has to listen and decide...

I am very grateful to have British hi fi in my life.

I think Bruce makes a good point. My iPhone, AQ dragonfly, Shure IEMs and Tidal subscription probably match or better at least the first two seperates systems I owned for SQ and certainly for choice & convenience.

Also wireless speakers (including Naim’s own) are getting very good. System 1 (for serious listening) goes in my pocket; wireless speakers- System 2 - provide background music at home. Not an irrational choice for many milennials/post-milennials. 

Olly

My dealer has stopped selling Linn because of pressure from them to sell whole systems. He said that he has a high regard for the LP12 and their cartridges but not their electronics. Personally I have an LP12 but have never heard a complete Linn system, although I did home demo some Isobariks once (way too big for the room).

stuart.ashen posted:

@Bart,

The big fall out? Well, Naim and Linn were once closely aligned with Linn making the LP12 and speakers and Naim making the amps. Julian and Ivor then fell out after Linn started making amplifiers breaking the close relationship. I am sure others could add detail, or perhaps do a forum search.

Stu

I understand that they did make up.  

stuart.ashen posted:

I am not sure they did Strat. Linn tried to put their dealers under pressure to not stock Naim. I am unclear on the detail but it did get messy.

Stu

It was not described to me by my then dealer as “pressure”. It was explicit. Linn made it clear to my dealer that they did not wish their products to be sold in any shop which also sold Naim. That was tempered by someone else telling me it was “on display with” and then at a later night with several ex employees of various dealers in the North West there was a consistent “No, it was a definite “you’re not selling our stuff if you’re selling them”” approach. Always suspected Naim were aware of that but any concern was perhaps tempered by the fact most elected to stick with Naim and cease Linn sales. It barely seems more relaxed nowadays.

I’ve demoed much of both makes over the years. There’s much to enjoy about the Linn gear and I also see little need to disparage but for me personally I simply didn’t find it engaging and that remains the case.

 

Well the dealer I worked at in the 90's sold both Naim and Linn from 1990 until they closed last year due to rezoning of the place they had the shop for residential.

Regularly had Naim and Linn systems side by side. And they were happy to sell a customer either. Both Linn and Naim staff never held back from helping to host product evenings.

Even long after the gentleman's agreement fell apart, it was common to sell a Naim system with Linn Kabers or something like that. The synergy was extremely good in the Linn Tukan/Keilidh/Kaber era.

I don't believe Linn can legally require a dealer to not sell Naim or withhold a dealer agreement because of it. You could potentially sue a company that tried to enforce that for uncompetitive practices.

Like Mike, I have no desire to unduly criticise Linn gear, and, as I am completely unaware of the details of any fall out between Linn and Naim, my comments about Linn SQ are entirely based on actual listening experiences. Indeed any suggestion that comments by observers (music lovers) about the relative merits of either manufacturer's equipment might be influenced by 'history' between the two companies is, frankly, bizarre. But I might well be reading way to much into the intricacies of current and previous threads on the subject.

If the reported 'pressure' on dealers is true then that would be very sad. Surely there is room for two high end HiFi providers in the UK, bearing in mind their design and sound signature philosophies are so different, without resorting to such extreme distribution restrictions, putting the dealers at the centre of a dispute that has nothing to do with them.

Mind you, politics often gets in the way of common sense - just look at the mess we are in with…..no, I am not going to mention the 'B' word.

What can we say. Customer's can be fickle too as can dealers. Many dealers simply decided they really liked Naim or Linn and hated the other.

Similarly, customers flock to things by association. Not meaning to disrespect any Focal users, but prior to the Naim Focal marriage of necessity, there were hardly any (I say "hardly" not "none" so please no one get on their high horse on this) Naim customers who used Focal or had any regard for the brand whatsoever.

It's like the Naim/Linn partnership in reverse. And you can bet, if the Naim/Focal relationship splits up, the number of Focal owners will suddenly drop. Disparaging comments will arise and history will repeat itself more because people are tribal (regardless of how fat their wallet is or statements about it being purely about the sound quality) and less because of any real change in either brand's product offering. 

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