Issue 187 September 2020
We Live In Interesting Times
In recent months, the ruinous forces beyond our control have created something of an unexpected boon in some sectors. Zoom, for example, was a computer program that hardly anyone used at the beginning of 2020. And in the audio world, the enforced stay-at-homer who – absent those concerts and festivals they would have attended this year – has decided there's more to life than a basic wireless mono loudspeaker. Audio brands with the right combination of products have benefitted from this.
Arguably, one of the brands best placed to have that right combination of products is Linn, and it has just launched its Majik DSM streamer/amp to meet that demand. I had an opportunity for a unique pre-launch first listen in London's swanky Harrods. The Majik streamer/amp connects to the modern world wired or wirelessly without tears, and with the RAL-coloured Majik 109 (and maybe a matching LP12 turntable) makes for a small, entertaining system that's free from the fluff and nonsense of much of modern audio. You can read more about this at HiFiPlus.com.
Perhaps of equal importance for me was the fact this system ably demonstrated all the elements of that 'right combination of products' to meet the demands of a new market of people who suddenly want more from their home entertainment (it's more than just audio). The products need to be well-made, look the part, be small enough and simple enough to be potentially installed by the owner. Price is, of course, a key consideration, but as people are rediscovering the importance of being 'a bit nesty' in our continued efforts to ride out the eldritch horror that is 2020, those who can spend a bit more... are!
This also highlights a lot of what we in audio get completely wrong due to our insularity. Many dislike audio products that have any kind of video handling, and heaven forbid someone using good audio to play video games! And that must-have product that weighs as much as a car engine, puts out as much heat as a small blast furnace, has heatsink fins that can lacerate at 10 paces and costs more than most people's mortgages may be the next big thing for the deeply committed audiophile, but for this new tide of music lover... that way madness lies. I don't think the audio world needs to switch wholesale to smaller, lighter, cheaper and simpler products because that would disenfranchise the cognoscenti, but why not have both?
Audio is a broad church. It covers the needs of those who have a singular passion for music in the home, whatever way they choose to achieve that goal. By being snooty about audio in any way, we're kind of missing the point.