My journey through Linn CD Players... The CD12 came out, which at the time had an eye watering price tag. Then the Ikemi came out at a more 'reasonable' price, and it was claimed to be better than a Karik and Numerik combo... Read on... Subsequently, for my main system I ended up with the CD12 in the end, and yes it is very good indeed and better than the Karik and Numerik (although at this level we're starting to split hairs). I subsequently had the opportunity to acquire a fully Activ Kaber system, with Karik III, Numerik, Kairn + 3 LK100's. This was for my second listening room, where I had the Ikemi squeezed out of my main system by the CD12. This gave me an opportunity to compare all these machines at my leisure. Despite being advised that the Ikemi is 'better' than a Karik and Numerik, in my opinion that is just not true at all. I sold the Ikemi, and stick with the CD12 for my main Keltik system and a Karik and Numerik for the second system. This is based on the quality of sound reproduction, musicality, enjoyment, and being able to listen to music without any signs of fatigue on my part.
First of all, this is 2012 in case we have forgotten. And here I am, writing a review about a product of yesteryear- 1995 namely. That in itself is a wonder.
Let me tell you the experience I had while introducing my Karik/Numerik combo into my system. No point in detailing about my ex-sources; like all the ex-es, it's not worth talking about. Suffice to say, I had highly regarded transports and DAC's, and even more highly regarded digital interconnects as well as stand alone CD players. Players that get raved about on every message boards on an every day basis. Talk about reading the Internet...
So anyway, I installed the combo after disconnecting the old source, plugged it in and listen. I had waited this moment for a long time, ever since going to my favourite HI-FI shops and seeing those black boxes always misteriously sitting stacked on top of one another. Pressed play... Well, here it is, the Linn sound: cold, polite and quite thin. True, it had an unsual smoothness top to bottom and no hardness at allm while giving an accurate tonal portrayal of instruments. But the soundstage was now 50 feet further, I felt like I had been thrown to the back of the hall.
Luckily, I was preparted for that- armed with a dozen tweaks, I started working. First, decoupled the pair from sitting on top of each other, then adding platforms and Harmonix feet while weighing changes all along. It took me about two days on and off to reach a maximum point, where I thought the pair would give its best. The sound by the time was coherent, with good top and bottom extension (still polite, after all it was Linn) and true evenness throughout the sonic spectrum (something I have never found on any other players, and I listened to many). I was getting progressively happier while realizing the pair was slowly surpassing my highly regarded transport and even more highly regarded digital interconnect and DAC. Yes, I was rooting for my Linns. Why? Well for one thing the other combo was more expensive on the open market so I was able to get more money while elevating my sonics.
Then I had the inspiration to add another platform underneath the Numerik, which was never cohersed into accepting anything as tweaking beforehand. Went to get to sleep my 4 year old and returned for a listening session.
What happened that night (it was only a couple of nights ago) was simply a miracle. I pressed play and waited. I had a Miles Davis inside the tray, playing live. First, what hit me was a wall of a thousand breathing souls behind the stage where Mr. Miles was playing. No applauses, just their PRESENCE, the mormours, the agitation. It was as physical as it was underwhelming in sonic queues. Then, as I sat in disbelief, I was starting to decipher what Miles was doing: slightly less or more obvious sounds coming from his trumpet, was the cue to his movements on stage. I could tell how he was walking back and forth, left to right.
Now, I always hated these kind of remarks, like " I could easily people sneezing or farting during show" I could careless about what people were doing, GIVE ME THE BEEF! GIVE ME THE MUSIC! GIVE ME THE INSTRUMENTS! Not the farts and the sneezes! Who cares about that! But what struck me in this particular instance, was not the presence of sounds in itself- but in the way Miles was portrayed playing music. This time, I was not in the first few rows, I had the whole stage in my living room!
Funny thing is, I did not believe this could possibly be true. After all, how can a few dozen man-made objects, from cables to transistors, to tweeters, can reproduce accurately human energy? How can a laser head help even remotely suggest the lung contraction that occurs during singing? It's human energy for christsakes. It is indistinguishable, and irepeatable.
And still, here I was, sitting under a wall of sound, pouring unashamedly at me, with nothing to analyze and decipher: what is good and what is bad? What should I be fixing next?
It was impossible, faced with this wall of sound. And I sat there thinking next: this is my sonic Nirvana. Something only a few would experience during this frustrating journey.
I sat there, listening to absolutely incredible sounds coming from mr. Miles trumpet, sounds I never thought existed on a recorded material. Heck, I did not even know someone can play trumpet like that, let alone be recorded.
And so, that's how it went, on and on. I switched discs after that, listening to more recordings; some good some bad. My system plays music, in the middle of everything. I try to focus on details of sounds every once a while; then I get swayed in the music. I don't know if I got bass (I do) or midrange, or soundstage, or detail. I got music, and lots of it. On exceptional recorded music the walls crumble and I am instantly transported to the music event. Now, I realize what I am hearing it's more of a matching factor than the single Karik/Numerik presence. But this pair is what topped it off. They were the closing of the circle. So I have to give kudos to a well designed combo for making this happen for me. A truly outstanding experience, a miracle.
So in this day and age of USB Dacs and DS this and that, there comes the Karik/Numerik pair from the grave and teaches how to listen to the music. No glorious sound, no BS. Just music. Where have we gone wrong?
This is a bargin like no other at the moment. £1000 buys you a £3000 player now, and this combo produces a sound better than anything i've heard so far especially for the small outlay. It's buils quality reeks of class, a solid all metal transport, not flimsy plastic, a solid remote, and don't believe all you read, this player can actually sound better in other systems, all Linn sounds cold and thin at times, if this player is used with a smooth solid state or class a or tubes it will produce a seductive sound like the sweetest siren, hollographic imaging, depth and detail, ok bass not so heavy handed a some but what is there is utterly 100%, I noticed one hell of a difference when i purchased a real pair of speakers, the Zingali Overtures 3s must bring out the Branston.
In my oppinion this is the best player on the market, it plays A LOT more music than the Ikemi (which has way too lean bass and is way to up front if you ask me), but it sounds less hifi'ish and impressive, so no wonder some people prefer the Ikemi, at least until they come to their senses! :-)
Now the Ikemi has been introduced the Karik/Numerik can be found cheap 2nd hand and it makes it a great bargain.
I have discovered that all new Linn products sound best together - one should not mix i.e. Ikemi with Kaber speakers and Karik/Numerik with Ninka - the overall sound just doesn't have timing.
I believe the "new" Linn products are not as good as the "old" ones - I personally do not like the new sound, which i too lean and upfront.
I love the Karik/Numerik player and the Klout amp and recommend them to all music lovers!