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First-time Purchasing Advice Requested


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Greetings...I am newbie looking for my first serious hifi setup.  Limited finances have me looking to purchase used equipment, so I am currently deciding between purchasing a Kairn/LK-85 combo and a Majik integrated amp.  I am leaning toward the combo because of the aktiv wiring option, but I have read great things about the Majik, and the equipment is more new (2013).

Any advice on getting me started will be very much appreciated...

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I would consider a newer (S/H) the beste option to start on a budget. Depending on the need of a phonostage.

A Majik DSM/DSi is a better pre-amp then Kairn, a pretty descent steamer and fine power amp with pretty much all connections you would typically want nowadays. Also it has Space Optimisation on board, a must IMHO.

What speakers are u planning to use?

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Many thanks for the reply.

I currently have Bay Audio mini-cube speakers with a matching BA powered sub.  I am currently using them with an Onkyo integrated amp that was gifted me awhile back. Without much of a reference, they sound pretty good in this small sized office. Sources include a recently-purchased Audiolab 6000CDT and a Sherwood ST-887R with a Shure M 104E  that I have had for decades.  

Additionally, I have my PC connected to a Schitt Modi3 DAC with the THX AAA 789 headphone amp.  This setup, with Sennheiser 58XJubilee  is what set the light off in my mind :-)
 

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Hi FredH - welcome!

First just to be clear - is the Majik product you are looking at just an integrated (pre-power) amp or is it the Majik DS-i which has the integrated streamer included?

The Kairn is a seriously good piece of kit - even though they are getting on in years. There are several things to watch though: The earliest ones have a Toroidal Transformer power supply - these are old but serviceable. In the middle come a series where they have a "Brilliant" PS  - this is like a round silver can - avoid like the plague - they do fail and they aren't easily replaceable. The later Kairns have a 'slimline PS' - known as an SMPS - this is the one to go for. Also note that there are two types of Kairn - one is the 'pro' - which doesn't have a Phono stage  - the other 'plain Kairn' - does have both MM and MC Phono and both are very good. 

The LK85 is solid, works well, very reliable and an OK Power Amp. The LK 140 though is all these things and better in all ways. Having said that, the LK85 is good enough - especially when paired up with another (or three in total).

To go active in this manner (Kairn and at least two LK 85s) you will require Linn Speakers and the associated active cards. To be honest, a Kairn, 2xLK85 and active Keilidhs or Ninkas will give you fantastic musicality way beyond the outlay.

We need to know more about the Majik before commenting further on this option.

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1 hour ago, Dasher said:

Hi FredH - welcome!

First just to be clear - is the Majik product you are looking at just an integrated (pre-power) amp or is it the Majik DS-i which has the integrated streamer included?

Thank you Dasher!

My original post made reference to a Majik I-1 integrated amp that says it has a Dynamik PS ($1.2K).  I then started researching the DSM's, following Pennypacker's advice.  There is a DSM-1 on eBay for $2K ("never used").

To be honest, having a streamer is a "nice-to-have", not a requirement.

RE: Kairn - I have sent a query to the seller re: the power supply.  There is no phono stage.

There is a second Kairn-only ad I found after my original post ($550).  It does have MM/MC phono and states that it is "in the Lk style body" and is an early model that had a recent battery replacement.  I have inquired about the power supply with this seller as well.

In looking for a LK 140 for sale, I found an ad for a Kolektor/LK 140 pre/power combo for $989.  I have read that the Kairn is a level up in the Linn preamp hierarchy, so my confusion deepens...

Thanks again for the input, and I look forward to your response :-)

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Get this Majik DSM: https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649732440-linn-majik-dsm/

I had a very recent experience with a Majik DSM/3. The thing blew me away, it was so good. I've owned the LK stuff. I currently have a Klimax LP12, and an Akubarik system. I was still impressed with the Majik DSM playing Qobuz through $500 PSB speakers.There is a thread here on my experience with the MDSM. I highly recommend it.

Cheers,

Michael

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The Kairn is in a different league, sonically, to the Kolektor - I used both, each for several years. The Kolektor is not a 'bad' pre-amp, but it can be bettered . Having said that, the Kolektor is very versatile with a huge array of analogue inputs (and a MM phono stage).

The Majik -I 1 I haven't owned, but I have heard one and they are a neat and more modern package. The Dynamik PS makes a difference.

I've considered a Majik DS-i or DSM1 for the Breakfast Room here - and will probably pick one up when my Classik CD finally dies! However, I have no requirement for an active system in the breakfast room (Linn Kan on the end) and so have no idea what is required to go active with a Majik-i.

The LK boxes (Kairn, 85 or 140) have a lovely sound but you must bear win mind that the newest one is now getting on in years. The Majik presentation is different, but more 'modern' and probably more robust - you will require at least 2 more channels of amplification alongside the Majik-i to go active. I've seen Majik DSM-1 around for little more than the price of what you are quoting for the '-I' and, at $2k for a MDSM/1 that is probably the way that I would go - especially with a MM Module in there. Staying Passive gives you much more choice in speakers. In fact, if you want to go active as a long term goal then I would probably take a good used MDSM now and at some point in the future trade it for an Akurate 'System Hub' and a Akurate/Majik Exaktbox-i. I run my Keilidhs this way and 25 years ago these very same Keildihs started life being powered by a Kolektor and 1 x LK85 - they've since seen every blend of Linn Pre Amp (including AV) except a Klimax Kontrol!!

Good luck with your journey - it is possible to get lovely sound for not much outlay and it's even easier to improve this, in small steps, where each step is also relatively low cost. There's no need to get too sucked in though - the base is still very nice to listen too!

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Dasher,

I really appreciate you sharing your knowledge with me.  I would have never known about the PS issue with the Kairn had you not taken the time to lay it all out.

I am leaning toward the Majik DSM...though not the separates system I had originally envisioned, it allows me to dip my toe into the hifi waters  and hit the ground running with newer gear.  It also gives me time to save up for upgrades. 

I never imagined I would get such quick and thoughtful responses when I joined this forum, so thanks to all of you for your patience and guidance!

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The other thing to be aware of with the Kairn, that I don't see mentioned, is the rechargeable battery that resides on the front panel board and maintains memory settings. Like all batteries, these do age and can leak - serious leakage can damage the board. The good news is that these batteries can be easily replaced and are inexpensive,  so make sure you ask the question.

’troll

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Dasher,
I really appreciate you sharing your knowledge with me.  I would have never known about the PS issue with the Kairn had you not taken the time to lay it all out.
I am leaning toward the Majik DSM...though not the separates system I had originally envisioned, it allows me to dip my toe into the hifi waters  and hit the ground running with newer gear.  It also gives me time to save up for upgrades. 
I never imagined I would get such quick and thoughtful responses when I joined this forum, so thanks to all of you for your patience and guidance!

Fred,

Hope all is well. Here’s some good news. The majik dsm that akamatsu recommended is mine. The seller with the kairns you emailed about power supplies is also Me.

If you are close to Northern NJ feel free to come by and listen to them individually as I have 3 different setups. The mdsm/2 is sonically the same as an mdsm/3 which I just sold to a friend. I also have more ok styled gear for sale including an lk140, av5125 and an av5105 but the best part is you get to come by and hear them first. I have 3 kairns for sale so enough choices but if you are on a budget I might have some cheap repairable gear as well. They work but need some servicing. I’ll send you my mobile number via the email you sent me via usaudiomart

Regards

Zee


Adsm/1 >> Akurate 4200/3200/3200 >> Aktiv Akurate 242 (mark 1) Silvers/K400
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If your speakers are small enough then you’re most welcome to bring them along but I also have 3 pairs of linn speakers for sale.


Adsm/1 >> Akurate 4200/3200/3200 >> Aktiv Akurate 242 (mark 1) Silvers/K400

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1 hour ago, FredH said:

I am leaning toward the Majik DSM...though not the separates system I had originally envisioned, it allows me to dip my toe into the hifi waters  and hit the ground running with newer gear.  It also gives me time to save up for upgrades. 

I am definitely biased - owning a Majik DSM/2 for a couple of years now - and have no experience with the Kairn or LK85 but would really encourage you to consider a Majik DSM as "point of entry" into the Linn world.

For me the Majik is the best amp/streamer I ever had (although only Linn's entry model), just added a pair of 2nd hand Linn Majik 140 speakers: :x

The advantages have already been mentioned:
- one box only
- good MM preamp included (can be upgraded to MM/MC)
- nice amp (but you can also use the DSM as preamp only)
- endless number of analogue/digital inputs/outputs (https://docs.linn.co.uk/wiki/index.php/Majik_DSM_/2_(2015_Variant)#Back_Panel_Connections )
- streamer
- regular firmware updates
- Linn Exakt compliant (DSM/2 and DSM/3, but not the earlier versions and the latest DSM/4)

Major differences of the variants

DSM/0 - 2009 - No HDMI, No Exakt
DSM/1 - 2012 - HDMI 1.4, No Exakt
DSM/2 - 2015 - HDMI 1.4 / Exakt
DSM/3 - 2016/18 - HDMI 2.0 (4K) / Exakt
DSM/4 - 2020 - New Box , Class D Amp but no Exakt anymore

pls see here https://docs.linn.co.uk/wiki/index.php/Majik_DSM_Variants

So, if you have no real need for HDMI and Exakt technology you can go for the earlier variants which can be fetched at attractive prices well below the $2k you mentioned - at least here in Germany where presently DSMs are for sale with asking prices ranging between abt 800 Euro (DSM/0) and 1850 Euro (DSM/3)
 

Edited by JensA
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I am definitely biased - owning a Majik DSM/2 for a couple of years now - and have no experience with the Kairn or LK85 but would really encourage you to consider a Majik DSM as "point of entry" into the Linn world.

For me the Majik is the best amp/streamer I ever had (although only Linn's entry model), just added a pair of 2nd hand Linn Majik 140 speakers: 

The advantages have already been mentioned:
- one box only
- good MM preamp included (can be upgraded to MM/MC)
- nice amp (but you can also use the DSM as preamp only)
- endless number of analogue/digital inputs/outputs (https://docs.linn.co.uk/wiki/index.php/Majik_DSM_/2_(2015_Variant)#Back_Panel_Connections )
- streamer
- regular firmware updates
- Linn Exakt compliant (DSM/2 and DSM/3, but not the earlier versions and the latest DSM/4)

Major differences of the variants

DSM/0 - 2009 - No HDMI, No Exakt
DSM/1 - 2012 - HDMI 1.4, No Exakt
DSM/2 - 2015 - HDMI 1.4 / Exakt
DSM/3 - 2016/18 - HDMI 2.0 (4K) / Exakt
DSM/4 - 2020 - New Box , Class D Amp but no Exakt anymore

pls see here https://docs.linn.co.uk/wiki/index.php/Majik_DSM_Variants

So, if you have no real need for HDMI and Exakt technology you can go for the earlier variants which can be fetched at attractive prices well below the $2k you mentioned - at least here in Germany where presently DSMs are for sale with asking prices ranging between abt 800 Euro (DSM/0) and 1850 Euro (DSM/3)
 

To add to Jens’ post, his description of the variants is correct except for one small change.

The mdsm/2 got some new improvements and that’s very clear in the sound difference between an mdsm/1 and onwards.

I started my streaming with a google cheomecast and moved to an mdsm/1 and was a happy camper till I got an mdsm/3. Before selling the mdsm3 I acquired an mdsm/2 and for the slight price difference I found no sonic advantage between the 2 & 3. The friend who bought my mdsm/3 was also offered the mdsm/2 but he wanted hdmi 2.0 for his tv and hence chose that. I personally have my tv connected via toslink so as to keep hdmi off completely (apparently it sounds better with the hdmi off)

I’m now using an Adsm/1 and waiting for my katalyst upgrade and the mdsm/2 which was supposed to go to my sister is no longer needed by her. (Hence the sale)


Adsm/1 >> Akurate 4200/3200/3200 >> Aktiv Akurate 242 (mark 1) Silvers/K400
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1 hour ago, FredH said:

I never imagined I would get such quick and thoughtful responses when I joined this forum, so thanks to all of you for your patience and guidance!

Welcome to the linny loony-bin.

If I needed to start al over again with a smaller budget and where committed to Linn, a MDSM or MDSi with a late pair of Keilidhs (with standupgrade) would be the way to go.

Edited by Pennypacker
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44 minutes ago, Pennypacker said:

Welcome to the linny loony-bin.

If I needed to start al over again with a smaller budget and where committed to Linn, a MDSM or MDSi with a late pair of Keilidhs (with standupgrade) would be the way to go.

Tukans! But only if you can find the proper stands, which you won't be able to. But the Majik DSM will make any good speakers sing. :)

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