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Linn Sara Isobarik

Few hifi loudspeakers continue to generate so much discussion and debate some 30 years after their introduction as do Linn Saras. The web is scattered with former and current owners whose comments are remarkably similar: how they vividly remember the first time they heard them, how they were such a revelation compared to the contemporary competition, how they regret having sold them, how these were the most musically involving speakers they have ever heard. It seems that by far the majority of comments are highly complimentary, although to be fair there is a small minority who are less so. Perhaps this is best explained by one former Linn dealer who, while commenting on the internet about Saras, stated that while they were not everyone's cup of tea, "a lot of what I would have called music lovers as opposed to those more interested in the sound really loved those speakers".

For me, the last comment is revealing. These are perhaps not the best speakers to use if you want a highly analytical performance and a soundstage with the great depth and breadth associated with grand orchestral performances, but neither are they totally lacking in these areas. Similarly, they may not be the speaker of choice for those who listen with a critical ear to a loudspeaker's performance in terms of imaging or colouration, and yet others would counter by saying they lend a reality and proximity to, for example,  the female voice that sends a shiver up your spine. These speakers are very sensitive to the environment into which they are placed,  and also placement relative to one another, so be prepared to experiment to find the sweet spot. Idiosynchratic they may be, but my goodness, no one can ever deny that they are musical - and when it comes to pace, rythm and timing, these are right up there and you will find your feet tapping uncontrollably without even being aware you are doing it. They are also hugely exciting with great transient response when used with a good amp - try playing the Sheffield Labs Drum Record at volume for some fun - just don't rest your coffee on your knee. 

The Linn Sara is quite simply a legendary compact hifi speaker, renowned for its ability to produce a solid and very musical bass foundation to music with the quality and depth normally associated with speakers several times the size. This is possible because the speakers operate according to the isobarik principle whereby 2 bass / mid range drivers operate one behind the other within the cabinet which results in tight, deep bass and very clear mid-range, with low distortion. With a useful frequency response down to 35Hz and below, it is no exageration to say that these speakers are capable of causing your innards to quiver on low bass notes, a party piece normally reserved for large cabinet speakers with lots of amplifier power. The mid-range performance is fine to my ear and there is also an excellent treble, but careful placement is necessary to get the best balance and achieve the optimum open soundstage.

Saras require a powerful, stable amplifier to drive them effectively, although the later Sara 9 is less demanding in this respect than its earlier siblings. They are especially good when used with Naim amps as they were designed at the height of the Linn - Naim cooperative period and the speakers were tuned for use with amps such as the Naim NAP 250.  They need to be positioned against a wall to get the most from the outstanding bass performance and preferably a minimum of 6 feet apart, and not hard into a corner.

You can read other people's opinions of the Linn Sara here



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