Thursday, April 7, 2016

Linn Axis turntable

A "Throwback Thursday" memoir

The Linn Axis is the single most important turntable I’ve encountered on my audiophile journey. Period.

The Linn Axis was released about 30 years ago. (Typing this makes me feel old: I remember when it was a “newly released” turntable!) At that time, Linn’s claim to fame was the Linn Sondek LP12 turntable. While they were making other products, such as speakers, the LP12 was probably the first thing people thought of when they thought of Linn. And the buyers of Linn speakers almost certainly had an LP12.

There was one small problem with the LP12. Or maybe I should say big problem: the price, which was out of the reach of many people. And so the Linn Axis was born to bring Linn turntable engineering to a new, lower price point.

The Axis was sold with a Linn tonearm—a couple of versions of the Linn Basik, and then finally the Linn Akito. It was also supposedly available without arm—at least at one point—although I have never seen any Axis that had anything but a Linn arm. Likewise, I’d guess the majority of Linn Axis buyers also bought a Linn cartridge, such as the Linn K9.

The Linn Axis got good reviews, and it seemed like many buyers were happy.

As I said earlier, the Linn Axis was the most important turntable on my audiophile journey. The reason is simply because it was the first good turntable I ever heard. I frankly heard it on somewhat of a lark. A local dealer advertised Linn turntables, and even the Linn Axis cost as much as what I thought one might spend on an entire system. Could a turntable actually be worth that much? There was only one way to find out: audition it. Although, privately, I was guessing it wouldn’t offer enough to really justify the price for “normal” people. It would be suitable only for those with a Mercedes 560 SEL, top of the line Royal Doulton for daily dishes, and so on.

So I found some records. (Somehow, I’d heard one should take one’s own records.) At the time, I was still in high school, so I dragged my mother to the dealer. I figured she’d be taken more seriously than a teenager. Plus she was even half considering buying a new audio system, so we might as well start with hearing a Linn turntable system.

At the store, the demo system ended up being a Linn Axis/NAD Monitor Series amplifier system/Linn Index speakers. The sales person dropped the first record on, and within seconds of it starting, I understood the value of this system. It wasn’t just for the mansion-dwelling crowd. It simply sounded better—at lot better—than any system I’d ever heard.

The turntable demonstrated two things. First, a good turntable gets more music off the record.  Secondly, it demonstrated that LPs were still viable sources for audio systems, even in the CD era.

After hearing that system with the Linn Axis, I set two basic goals. First, I started aspiring to have a good audio system. Secondly, I decided it would be based around a turntable like the Linn Axis.

More than 25 years later, I am a much different person in many ways. But it’s interesting to note that I still strongly value quality audio. It is simply more enjoyable to listen to a good system, and one uses it more often and for more serious listening. It’s also interesting to note that my preferred source still remains the vinyl LP.

I now wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t heard the Linn Axis that day. Would I have ever discovered quality audio? Would I have become the vinyl die-hard I am? Would I even have any records today?

Unanswerable questions... All I know is that I’m glad I did hear that system with the Linn Axis all those years back.

1 comment:

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