The Linn Index Plus is a two-way bookshelf loudspeaker of the '80s, easily available now as second-hand at an extremely low price. Is it still worth considering?
The Index Plus uses the ubiquitous woofer B200 from Kef, just slightly modified and a Made in Japan tweeter, all into an anonymous but still decently finished closed mid-sized black box. No biwiring is allowed (of course), just two banana-only binding posts being supplied.
This loudspeaker from the famous Glasgow-based Company was the cheaper model (400$ more or less) of the brand, intended to be the first step into the world of the Linn sound.
For such a cheap loudspeaker it was a difficult task to offer the renowed Linn sound to its customers without sacrifying something here and there. So, the first issue of the Index (called simply Linn Index, to which the picture refers) wasn't well accepted by audiophile community and hence few years later Linn quickly issued a new model, the Linn Index Plus, with a different tweeter and some minor mods on the way, aesthetically identical to the previously released model.
As usual for the Linn loudspeakers of the time, even the Index had been designed to be placed close the near wall. How much? The manual suggests 5-10 cm close (2-4 inches). With this solution the designers tried to give to the audiophile crowd an easy-to install, room-independent non-intrusive loudspeaker...and they succeeded.
Placing the Index Plus as a normal *freestander* will result in a light bass range and slightly *forward* sound. So if you want some bass you should follow the instructions carefully. This is a logical consequence of the design: if you think that your loudspeaker should work near the rear wall then you should calculate (approximately) the reinforce of the bass range caused by the reflection with the near wall (the same applies to any loudspeaker placed near ANY wall, floor included).
This solutions has some serious drawbacks. First of all the ability of the loudspeaker to recreate a realistic tridimensional soundstage. With the box placed near the rear wall it is almost impossible to recreate the illusion of the 3rd dimension of the stereo image (depth). And so the Index Plus: soundstaging, relatively to *depth* is inexistent. Also, the rear wall destroys some information that can be useful to recreate a wide soundstage hence, if 3D imaging is a MUST for you (as it should ever be) avoid loudspeakers designed to be used near the rear wall. Otherwise you'll get just a pale idea of the ambiental informations recorded into your fav discs.
To partially solve the problem I'd suggest to place the Index Plus 35/45 cm far from the rear wall: you'll have a just slightly lighter bass range but you'll experience a real soundstage, deep and well focused.
Life is always a neverending search for better compromises :-)
Apart from this aspect the sound reproduced by the Index Plus is astounding for the purity of the mid-range. The Japanese tweeter combined with the good old B200 is so sweet, precise and natural that you need spending twice the price of the Index to find something that comes close.
The top-end of the high frequencies is a bit rolled-off, so that the it is the mid/mid-high range to shine. The bass range is extremely fast and controlled, not very deep, even when the box is placed close to the rear wall.
Dynamics and pace are excellent, relatively to the low price, and still very good when compared with more expensive loudspeakers.
Driving the Index Plus is an easy task, so easy that almost ANY amplifier can make them play good and loud. It is the easiest-to-drive loudspeaker I've ever tested, a big plus especially if you think that the Index Plus is intended for budget-oriented HiFi chains.
To get the best perormance you should place the Index Plus over metallic stands, like the ones designed by Linn for this model (see the picture above).
Now, are we able to answer to the question that opened this article?
I think a pair of Index Plus are available today for 200$, maybe less, and it will be easy to find a mint-conditions pair since a Linn gear owner knows how to take care of his HiFi system (no birthday parties etc.)
If 3D imaging isn't very important for you, if you (or your wife :-) ) hate placing the loudspeakers in the middle of your living room or if you're in the market for a pair of good loudspeakers for a second HiFi system, please consider giving the Index Plus a try. Good stuff from the Eighties.
© Copyright 1998 Lucio Cadeddu - http://www.tnt-audio.com