Look to Linn for superior surround sound performance. No engineering degree required.
This Undisk SC/Chakra combo makes -multichannel simple. Two boxes do everything: the Unidisk SC plays all formats of discs, and processes, while the Chakra power amp – which comes with anything from two to six channels – drives the loudspeakers.
The simplicity extends well beyond the box count – after all, a standard DVD player plus an integrated multichannel receiver does the same thing. No, this combination’s ace
is that Linn has approached usability from a consumer’s angle -rather than that of an engineer. Front-panel controls are minimal: the disc player has only six, the power amp none. The remote handset is neatly laid-out and the on-screen set-up menus are designed for ‘normal’, non-technical folk.
Of course, home cinema is a complex subject, so there’ll always be adjustments and settings that the uninitiated won’t understand. So guess what? Linn has produced one of the finest user manuals ever to be supplied with a box of electronics. The layout is big, uses a decent size of print, and is organised in a logical manner. These things sound simple, but most manufacturers get them so wrong.
The good news continues: these components are also built well, and look – to our eyes at least – understatedly elegant. So should Linn get a pat on the back? Not quite yet.
Those expecting cutting-edge video technology such as HDMI are going to be disappointed, because the disc player doesn’t have it. You can have Scart or component – that’s either, not both. Our review sample was a Scart version, and, perhaps surpris-ingly, still produced a fine picture.
There isn’t quite the resolution or colour rendition of the very best DVD players, but the picture is still impressive. Take a dark, moody film such as The Matrix: Revolutions, and the level of insight is pleasing: skin tones are more natural than the poorly scripted dialogue, while black definition is competitive. Movement is tracked with a minimum of blurring, too.Sound quality is even stronger. Both Linn units deliver a crisp, clean sound that trades some space and atmosphere for the ability to communicate more directly with the listener. Voices are forthright and easy to follow, while large-scale action scenes are punched out with an impressive amount of force.
The cool-running Chakra power amplifier might be rated at a mere 56 watts per channel, but you’d never guess it from the ferocity of the final rain-soaked fight sequence between Neo and Agent Smith. Music? Well, this is a Linn system, so it would be a shock if it didn’t deliver on this count. Once again, you have to accept a slightly dry presentation that trades some of the warmth and richness of rivals for a crisp, informative presentation that leaves no doubt as to the artist’s intentions. The story is consistently positive regardless of whether it’s CD, DVD-Audio or SACD – each disc is delivered precisely as it ought to be.
Fourteen and a half grand for this duo is a lot of money, and we have no doubt better video and sonic performance can be had for the money. Equally, we haven’t come across another piece of high-end multichannel kit that blends into its environment so easily, is so simple to use, or does such a wide range
of duties with such style. This pairing deserves much respect.
Linn Unidisk SC & Chakra C5100 |$8999 & $5700 |
Disc player & power amp | (02) 9006 1258