Linn DSM vs Primare i32, NP30, pre32 vs Denon 1510 - 4 hour demo


New member
Jun 19, 2013
Demo of Linn Majik DSM, Denon 1510 & Primare NP30/ I32[/u]

I have previously posted an extensive review of my demo of a Linn vs Naim system paired with Sonus Faber Venere’s. (see here :

I was ready to go with the Linn DSM but at the last minute finally found a Primare dealer that I thought might be worth checking out. The reason? They look so damn nice J. I was interested in checking out the I32 with MM30 board (essentially making it a Linn DSM challenger) or the Pre32 with MM30 plugged into my Denon 1510 (I really love my Denon).

Anyway, so I recently had the opportunity to demo a Majik DSM next to the Primare system. I also brought my trusty Denon 1510 in along with my Sonus Faber Cremona Auditors.(I used Venere’s in previous test due to not having my Cremona Auditors available).

So these are the setups I tried :

They didn’t have MM30 modules so they gave me an NP30 along with an i32.

1. NP30 with i32 (essentially translating into an i32 with mm30)

2. NP30 with i32 & Denon (essentially translating into pre32 with mm30 into Denon)

3. Linn Majik

4. Linn Majik with Denon

This is the tracklist I used :

1. Bowie - Sound and Vision
2. Bowie - Quicksand
3. Marilyn Manson – Warship my Wreck
4. Muse - Stockholm Syndrome
5. Led Zeppelin - The battle of evermore
6. Beck - Devils Haircut
7. Beck - Lonesome Tears
8. Yes - Starship Troopers
9. Yes - Close to the Edge
10. Yes - the Clap
11. Queen - Brighton Rock

12. Genesis - The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging

13. King Crimson - Larks Tongues in Aspic

14. Bjork – Black Lake

15. there were some others but I cant quite remember which at the moment.

NP30 with i32 (essentially translating into an i32 with mm30)[/b]

As soon as we put the music on with the NP30 and i32 I knew we were in for a treat. Not sure if it was the acoustics of the room or hearing my speakers with a different system but the music was wonderful. I tested Sound and Vision and heard every strand of detail from the swoosh that I had heard previously with the Majik. The detail was certainly there! I was surprised how much bass there was as I had expected a clinical presentation but whilst it was detailed it was also very smooth and bassy. Very impressed with the likes of “warship my wreck”, “Devils Haircut” and “this is the new $hit”, the latter being a great track to test bass on and funnily enough I read an article from Bang and Olufsen speaker engineer who said the same. The bass was heavy but well controlled. Those three tracks can get very loud and have a lot of heavy instruments playing but all played well through the Primare. I tested Larks Tongues in aspic which at the end has gentle violins that slowly build with voices speaking in the background (very difficult to hear) leading up to a crazy deep bass that most speakers or systems struggle to keep control of. This set up didn’t have that problem at all. It picked up the voices better than I had heard before, it played the violin parts beautifully and it controlled the bass perfectly. It never threatened to lose control.

“Brighton Rock” was full of pace and drive. Really foot tapping stuff whilst during “close to the edge” water drips part, I could place every drop and then place the bands voices as they sung in different parts of the room.

My friend turned to me and said “That’s the best system I have ever heard in my life”

What a great sound. Whilst I was not after the i32 and NP30, I assumed the Pre32 would be just as good although I realized the i32 had a power amp built in so I decided to check the setup into my denon (if it worked I could get a pre32 with mm30 card and use my Denon as a dedicated power amp.)

NP30 with i32 & Denon (essentially translating into pre32 with mm30 into Denon)[/b]

WOW…. This was not what I expected. Now I really enjoy my Denon Amp. I have since I got it. Its powerful, gritty, delicate, and basically an all round great amp! However as soon as we started playing the music I was hugely disappointed. It felt like there was no musicality at all. Detail had gone, oomph had gone. The music sucked! I actually couldn’t wait to finish listening to the songs so I could get rid of this setup! Not a good match?

Linn Majik[/b]

This was what I was looking forward to! The Linn that blew away the Naim when I tested it previously. The amp I was about to pull the trigger on. I turned to my friend and said “wait till you hear this”.

The Linn really lifted the quality following the awful Denon test. It picked up all the detail in the sound and vision swoosh, it had superb separation and again I could place water drips and voices in “Close to the edge”. I couldn’t say it was better than the Primare but certainly there was little to separate the two amps. I was happy.

That’s when I noticed a difference. “Lark’s Tongues” bass bit, was better than any amp I had heard it on before (Except a 120,000 usd set up which doesn’t count) … except the i32. The Bass was handled well but still threatened to lose control slightly. The Bass heavy songs I played had great bass but not the same impact that the i32 had. I also noticed that my friend was less engaged than before. I too found that the music wasn’t engaging me quite as much. This was a shock to me as It was so impressive the last time I heard it.

This could be down to the Venere being a better match for the Linn than my Cremona Auditors. It could be because we had heard the songs so many times by now that we were just worn out. It was still very good and top notch and I would have bought it in a heartbeat if it hadn’t been for the fact I had JUST heard something better in the Primare!

I decided to try the Primare again. Perhaps it WAS the fact we were just tired by now.

NP30 with i32 (essentially translating into an i32 with mm30)[/b]

I changed amps and on came the Primare again. We didn’t bother going through the bass tests or the treble tests or trying to analyse it too much. We put on the general music songs that had engaged us the first time and that felt a bit more stale on the Majik. Immediately we were tapping our feet again and smiling. It WASN’T the fact we were tired of listening. The Primare WAS just that bit better with my speakers!

Linn Majik with Denon

I shoved on the Linn Majik with the Denon in a last hope that the Linn could get a bit more power out of the Denon as a power amp and translate its perfect source into a heavier drive. Nope. My Denon really let me down again. I had to switch off within two songs.

Takeaways :

1. My beloved Denon was hopelessly outclassed by Majik and Primare. I mean night and day. I was pretty upset.

2. The Majik I wanted, whilst still great, was not going to be purchased. I couldn’t purchase it knowing I had heard an amp that I enjoyed more and only cost a little bit more than the Majik ( I was getting a good deal on a majik which made it about 500-1000 pounds less than the Primare).

3. The Pre32 option with MM30 was a no go. My denon was not going to be a good power amp.

4. The Primare was going to be tricky. I tested NP30 with i32. That’s a lot more expensive than an i32 with MM30. They couldn’t get a MM30 for me to test.

5. If I replaced my Denon with Primare, I would lose my phono amp….. Meaning I would need to buy a new one and I would want the Primare r32 to match the other boxes which would be additional 800 pounds expense.

6. If I bought a Majik it would have the inbuilt phono amp and in future I could get the linn external phono amp to go with my Linn Lingo power supply for my LP12 (but then the price adds up even more)

In the end, I have purchased NP30, Pre32, A34.2 and the R32….. that’s how impressed I was with Primare and my Sonus Fabers.


New member
Aug 21, 2009
....and that's why to do demos.....enjoy.

IMO Linn make great Streamers, but their amps can be beaten on sound per pound.
Romulus said:
Thank you for that interesting account and I agree with you the Primare do look good..!

A good write up indeed. Always good to see someone who has been offered the ability to have an extended audition (and so you should if spending this sort of money).

Good to hear, as an ex-Primare Pre/Power owner, that you agree with my findings on Primare kit in general. :)


Well-known member
May 3, 2010
Thanks for such a detailed write up... can't say I'm too surprised by your findings, enjoy.



Well-known member
Dec 2, 2007
Interesting read. I have never heard Primare stuff but have read a lot of very positive things about it so am glad you are happy with it. It does look very nice.

I really like Linn streamers but as someone else says their amps are often considered their weak spot but if you can find a good companion for them in terms of an amp then they do shine.

Anyway, sounds like you made a good choice after an extensive listen. All you have to do now is sit back and enjoy the choons. *biggrin*


Well-known member
Jan 10, 2009
Further to the OP's experience and review, as I've noted in the HiFi show thread, I rated Primare one of the stars of the show at Old Windsor this last weekend.

They were demo'ing the i32 integrated with the MM30 DAC/streamer board fitted, playing through a pair of Revel standmount speakers. Excellent sounding kit.

gowiththeflow said:
Further to the OP's experience and review, as I've noted in the HiFi show thread, I rated Primare one of the stars of the show at Old Windsor this last weekend.

They were demo'ing the i32 integrated with the MM30 DAC/streamer board fitted, playing through a pair of Revel standmount speakers. Excellent sounding kit.


Glad you liked it.


New member
Jun 19, 2013
Sounds great! I was so blown away by the i32 with my Sonus Fabers that I decided to go a step up to the pre32 and power amp simply because I knew this would be the end of my HIFI journey for at least 5-10 years. I think the only changes i may make in the future is if I move back to Dubai where Macintosh are half the price compared to the UK.

I may also make a change if i get a dedicated hifi room... but even then, its likely i will only buy another pair of floorstanding speakers and leave the Sonus Fabers in the livingroom as part of the home cinema.


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