How good are phono stages in vintage Linn preamps?

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Winston67
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How good are phono stages in vintage Linn preamps?

Post by Winston67 » 2019-03-18 16:36

Does anyone have a view on how good the phono stages are in older preamps like the Linn Kairn and Linn Majik Kontrol? I would be interested in understanding what sort of investment one would need to make to improve on them. For example, are they comparable to good budget phono stages like the Rega Fono ($400 here in the US), or better (or worse)? Thanks.

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Re: How good are phono stages in vintage Linn preamps?

Post by Charlie1 » 2019-03-18 18:07

I recall Colin (Macey) telling me the MK phono stage was very good. In fact, I didn't feel the upgrade to Linto was 100% win/win, even after burn in. I used mine with MCs (fairly worn Arkiv and then new Akiva - the latter was lovely).

Can't comment on the Kairn.

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Re: How good are phono stages in vintage Linn preamps?

Post by u252agz » 2019-03-18 19:27

Akkurate Kontrol / 1 has a really good MM phonostage which I used for some time.

The preamp itself is excellent ( in a different league from my previous Kolektor ) and probably good value now.
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Re: How good are phono stages in vintage Linn preamps?

Post by donuk » 2019-03-18 20:12

I agree with Charlie 1.
The phono stage on the Majik Kontrol (moving coil) I found to be excellent.
I had the opportunity of a second hand Linto, and found it hard to convince myself I had made an upgrade.
When I got a Uphorik, things were very different. A significant upgrade.

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Re: How good are phono stages in vintage Linn preamps?

Post by markiteight » 2019-03-18 20:36

Is the phono stage in the Majik Kontrol the same as that found in the Exotik/Akurate? If so I can do a comparison of an Exotik with phono and a Linto.

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Re: How good are phono stages in vintage Linn preamps?

Post by maffe » 2019-03-18 21:18

I think that the MM in my exotik+DA dynamik was better then the one in the Kairn (slimline brilliant) it replaced and the step from exotik to adsm was small. Step from adsm MM to slipsik 7 was big!
But then again it’s hard to know how much rest of the preamp has for impact other then the phono stage in it.
It have read that the mm in exotik with dynamik is a big step up from exotik without dynamik and that would not come as a surprise:)

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Re: How good are phono stages in vintage Linn preamps?

Post by dasher » 2019-03-18 23:19

I thought that my Kolektor MM was reasonably good but the Kairn was much better. The MC in the Kairn was very good - it took a Linto to improve on it. I couldn't afford that at the time though and stuck with the Kairn. I went back to MM and paired the Adikt to a Kinki 3 - which I much preferred to the Kairn. Then a Gaio. The Gaio has stayed and been used with an Exotik, Unidisc SC, Kinos (none of which had a built in PS) and more recently with an Akurate DSM. The ADSM MM stage I thought was quite good but still preferred the Gaio. I've gone back to MC again now and use the ADSM MC Stage. For a short while I had a Linto in place of the ADSM MC PS but I actually preferred the ADSM. The ADSM was new, and the Linto was over 20 years old - which could have accounted for the preference. I don't use an exotic cartridge - an Asaka that is a Soundsmith rebuild - but I do like it.

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Re: How good are phono stages in vintage Linn preamps?

Post by stype » 2019-03-21 02:30

I had some Linn preamps, all used together with an Adikt. The Kolektor MM input was better than an external Creek phono stage (about 400 Euros with an advanced Creek power supply).
The Kairn was much better than the Kolektor. When my first Kairn died I bought a second hand Majik Kontrol.
I didn't like the Majik from day one and couldn't enjoy music with this system (neither phono nor streaming). I changed back from the Majik to another used Kairn. Music is back in my life :-)

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Re: How good are phono stages in vintage Linn preamps?

Post by Spannko » 2019-03-21 09:27

stype wrote:
2019-03-21 02:30
I had some Linn preamps, all used together with an Adikt. The Kolektor MM input was better than an external Creek phono stage (about 400 Euros with an advanced Creek power supply).
The Kairn was much better than the Kolektor. When my first Kairn died I bought a second hand Majik Kontrol.
I didn't like the Majik from day one and couldn't enjoy music with this system (neither phono nor streaming). I changed back from the Majik to another used Kairn. Music is back in my life :-)
I agree. In its day, the Kairn was possibly the most musical pre-amp available. Can it be bettered? Of course. Does this make the Kairn any less musical? Of course not! If I wanted an MC pre-amp and my funds were very limited (<£500), the Kairn would be at the top of my list.

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Re: How good are phono stages in vintage Linn preamps?

Post by Lego » 2019-03-21 15:19

I have Linto with Kairn, is the Linto good.. Yes.. Is Kairn phono good.. Yes.. If someone gave me 600 for Linto would I take it.. Yes.. Happily live with either
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Re: How good are phono stages in vintage Linn preamps?

Post by ThomasOK » 2019-03-21 19:52

I did a test some time back with a handful of modestly priced phono stages (this was before the Kinki came to the US). This included NAD and ProJect units for under $150, Rega and Grado units around $350 to $400 and a ProJect $600 tubed unit. Of all those the Rega was the most musical and the NAD was better than the Project for under half the price. Then I hooked up the MM phono stage of the Linn LK1 just for grins and it easily outperformed them all musically, and not by a small margin. The Kairn had a very good phono stage, easily more musical than the LK1, Kolektor and Wakonda, and other standalone phono stages of the time, the exception being the MC only Linto which I felt was a significant upgrade.

The phono stage in the Exotik and Akurate preamps are, in my understanding, the same card. An Exotik with Dynamik would sound better because of the Dynamik but the phono stage would be the same. I believe the Majik MM phono stage is also the same circuit as the Akurate/Exotik one but without the MC part. These are all good phono stages and would certainly be better than the current Rega Fono MM and Fono MC or anything at a similar price. I think they are likely a bit more musical than the Kairn, but I have never done that direct comparison so I can't be certain.

A Giao 2 is easily more musical than any of the phono stages mentioned above and the Slipsik 7 gets more music out of an Adikt than I would have thought possible. So I would say if you are using an MM cartridge and you want a step up from the Rega, Linn, etc. phono stages, these would be the units you should give a listen to.
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Re: How good are phono stages in vintage Linn preamps?

Post by Winston67 » 2019-03-26 22:25

Thanks for the helpful responses. I have both the Kairn and the Majik Kontrol, and with my Goldring 1042 MM cart I don't think I can hear much of a difference. To my ears the MK is perhaps a little cleaner/more detailed, but it's a close call.

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