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Linn Mimik - CD player

A very pleasant chap

[Linn Mimik II]

[Italian version]

I had been the owner of a Micromega Stage 1 for about one year, and I was still rather happy, if not enthusiast, with it. Anyway, I needed a second CD player to complete another system lacking only of a source: the obvious alternate solutions were:

I listened carefully, as far as it is possible in a good hi-fi store, with separate listening rooms, to several CD players. The lower level ones had obvious limits no longer acceptable to me, the sound was often untidy, mixed up, with little detail; but I was not even able to find any CD player of the same class that really was able to make me excited: no one proved to be as widely better than Micromega as I expected, and a few had a sound presentation I did not like at all.
My "official" store people was a little bored ("a little" is pure understatement.... but that's their job, isn't it?) with my asking for comparison listening sessions. Just in order to avoid bothering too much and to listen to anything I could reach I had to go to other four stores... At the end, desperate, I asked to listen to products of higher class.
We started listening to the Mimik. Oh, at last! A precise, detailed, clear sound.
But what really surprised me was the SILENCE between one note and the next!!!
All the CD player listed above, and others including for example Meridian 508 (I do not exactly know which version I listened to, I suppose it was the 20) have a structural fault that causes a diffused, unnatural noise, fake echoes, projecting an unselfconscious image of the CD player, taking up listener attention, destroying image focus, making the sound not at all solid, unstable, not full-bodied, filling up the stage with thin, little sounds, correlated, but in no natural way, with the original sound.
I wonder if this "noise" could simply be some data bit picked up (or better reconstructed...) in a non exact way: the completely random read errors should cause a sort of white noise, which is then correlated to the original signal by correction algorithm (which could well compute a wrong level, and even could mute the signal sometimes, but will never produce a 0dB output level when music is playing at -40dB...).
With the Mimik all this simply does not happen: the silence between the notes, between the tail of a note and the next one is all there and is perfect, and not even artificial. The single notes get out of a black velvet carpet, as brilliant falling stars (excuse me for all this kind of poetry, but you can well understand my being moved as I talk about my little kid...).
I think that the reason could be the mechanics, but I have no real evidence. The mechanic is said to be derived from the Karik ones, the higher level Linn player, and only a little less expensive than the Karik one: it is one of the very few mechanics directly manufactured by a no-large-numbers CD player manufacturer, and not derived on a modified standard mechanic.
There are a few faults, sure they are. The sound could be even more detailed, but I wander if it wouldn't have been described as "excessively pinpointing"; there could be a fuller bass, but I have chosen it because it had the correct bass amount, solid, full-bodied, but also precise and neat; it might have more treble... but that's even too much...
Perhaps is not an outstandingly musical CD player. But I expect a CD player to give me exactly and only what has been recorded. As precise, sharp and clean as possible.
Perhaps there are a few new better players at the same price. It is absolutely possible; but even Linn Mimik can be optimised.
You can look for interconnects with a very good low frequency behaviour., but I warn you: it is very hard to find something that, with the Mimik, sounds better or more natural then the Linn ones supplied with the Mimik
The Mimik helps you a lot in this kind of comparisons, there are also two couples of audio output RCA pins, and this allows you to compare directly two different interconnects connecting in parallel from the two Mimik outputs to two pre inputs simply switching from one input to the other (to be honest, I don't know if the two outputs have different buffers or not: in this last case the cable comparison would not be completely accurate, as the output buffer would always be loaded by the impedance given by the parallel of the two interconnects).
There are more musical-sounding interconnects then Linn's, but I suspect they always "add on" something of their own. If you really feel that you are missing that something, and you do not want to spend a lot of money, you can test the Blue Line by Selection Components (Rome): they give you more bass and a more musical sound, but the top treble are a little more evident than necessary. At the end I have always got back to it's own interconnects.
Foots are little gummy square things on the bottom: really a little disappointing in such a player.
Anyway you'd better avoid pin points or similar gear. The sound is neat enough on mid bass range. You could better try with air suspension: air springs by Moss... or, in the better TNT style, a good ply-wood or medium density board or even a stone slab with a semi inflated bicycle tube under it, or else gum foots or even door stoppers, as Lucio suggests, with an air bubble inside. In this way there is a little increase in mid bass range.
A little increase, I wrote. In facts the Mimik is not so much sensitive to its environmental location. If you have an idea of the effect a good weight placed over any other low or mid cost CD Player, well, you can forget it with Mimik: even with heavy weights over the box (stone slabs, for example) there is an effect, but really minimal.
On the other side if you take it in your hands you immediately feel there is something wrong: the box structure, apparently plastics, is absolutely rigid, solid, non-resonant. Inside, by the way, the mechanics is said to be suspended in such a way as to decouple it from any external vibration.
Indeed, is very hard to make it sound better with our poor little tweaks... it's a too good design!!!
I have not yet gave you any idea of its look; any picture can give you a better idea than I can do, anyway is a rather small object, 33cm (13"1/5) wide, 30cm (12") deep and 8 cm (3"1/5 ) high. The whole surface, front panel included, looks like very dark grey corrugated plastic. Controls and display are on the left side, while the drawer is on the right. Power supply switch is in the bottom right corner. The top corner of the front panel is bevelled at 45 degrees; sides front panel and top panel seem to be a single block, but they probably aren't.
The look has nothing especially appealing for a common man, but the elegant, attractive, fascinating and magic Linn logo appearing in a light grey on the top right corner makes any true audiophile dream.
There are two audio line outputs, in parallel, and an electrical digital output with a BNC connector, a professional quality connection with a real 75ohm impedance, granting the absence of spurious signal reflections, that can arise with RCA pins that have not the same precise impedance.
I will not tell you all available utilisation features, but only the one I use: in facts, I really don't know all of them, even after one year of almost continuous usage...
The player can display track and index (counter inside the track) or track time, or remaining track time, or total CD time or the total CD remaining time. The display is automatically switched off, leaving a single segment on, about 20 seconds after the last user action, in order not to disturb audio signals (have you ever moved an old, LED display calculator near a turntable pickup? It's a really interesting experience in order to understand what electromagnetic interference is... after it you'll be willing to switch off the panel even where it is not possible...).
Immediately under the display there is a row of rectangular buttons, all similar and with little and not so easy to read labels (yes, I know, I'm growing blind...) so that the usage of the controls is not so immediate; the main buttons are the usual ones: open, stop, pause, play, skip forward and skip backward (with two search speeds based on the time they've been pressed). It seems to me that there are further features that can be reached by pressing two buttons at the same time, but I never use them and I cannot remember the details.
On the remote control there is also the button to select the display mode and the button to select a part of the CD from an A point to a B point and repeat it indefinitely. The remote has too many buttons (is a multifunction design) and is not so easy to use.
A little fault: there is a pressure sensor on the drawer, that is if you push it towards the box it closes automatically: it's a pity that the sensor, at least in my own Mimik, works only under a pressure that, if not correctly addressed towards the box, endanger the drawer plastic structure, which is to be honest rather light. The Karik drawer is said to be metal...
The power supply cable seems to be a normal one, but is rather good. I have not yet made any experiment about it. Obviously is detachable, with the classical VDE connection, in spite of the ideas of those who are worried by the contact resistance induced on power supply.
I have just told you about interconnects: they're too very good examples of understatement, black, with black RCA pins with a red or grey ring to identify the channel. They have golden contacts, are very long (more than 1m [3']) and very flexible. And they're very good with the Mimik, even though perhaps in a different situation I would probably say that the top treble range is cut off in an excessive way. Perhaps they do not even sound especially musical: is just as though secondary harmonics lost their way inside the interconnect; on the other side they are really precise and absolutely neutral.
User manual is rather complete and precise.

In the end, would I still buy it now? I don't know. Progresses in the CD area seem to have been really important, I should repeat a selection procedure like the one I went through at that time.
A note for techno-weenies: the user manual does not give you any information about the technologies used inside the CD player: according to Linn (correct) point of view, their products must be appreciated for their sound, and not for their technological content; instead are carefully reported in detail all parameters of each input or output interface.
Commercial documentation, instead just tells you that mechanic is shock proof, the laser unit is designed for easy replacement (the laser life is rather short, you know, about five years... but they never tell you...), the conversion mode is 1bit Sigma Delta and the clock has a +/-50 ppm (parts per million) precision, which is good, even though not exceptional.

If according to you the unavailability of technical data is just enough to disregard an hi-fi product, than you can just disregard all Linn products without even a single listening test... but I'm so sorry for you!!!

Everything above has been written without any information exchange with Lucio. After talking (well, E-mailing...) with him, I must say that in fact I had noticed a great sweetness and slowness (which I previously had attributed to another component) in the sound, which make it very attractive and produce an absolute absence of listening fatigue, but perhaps more interesting, as What's hi-fi wrote, for a non-intensive listening than for an audiophile, concentrated listening.
Even the overall musicality is a little damaged by this. Anyway for others could be an outstanding feature.
In order to try to get a little more speed out of the Mimik I started again all tests about placement and wiring. In the end I found out that there are a few little things that can make the sound a little more "fast".
Using pin points working directly on bottom plate of the cabinet, with a solid surface under them, can help. In this situation a weight on top seems to give a very little further positive effect.
Using interconnects with a rather poor bass response can give the impression of a greater speed; I used a self made very simple interconnect, with both conductors in solid 1.2mm OFC silver-plated copper; I had never used them for the rather poor bass response, but in this case they seem useful.

Be careful, anyway: these tweaks on one side increase apparent speed, but on the other modify the perfect tonal balance of the Mimik.

Even substituting the power supply cable with our "Merlino" can achieve a (very) little more detail, precision and speed.

Just one more thing I forgot, but could give a completely new point of view on the Mimik: Linn commercial documentation tells you that the Mimik has an internal sigma delta converter in order to achieve good results "also" as an integrated CD player. I think that testing it with a good external converter is definitely necessary!!

© Copyright 1998 Giorgio Pozzoli/TNT-Audio

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