Thursday , 23 February 2017
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A double REALREVIEW by experienced members Ian Russell and George Sallit

Lindemann Musicbook: 15DSD

IAN RUSSELL – Product Reviewer
The Lindemann Musicbook:15DSD  (RRP £3416 at time of review) is a CD player, DAC, pre amplifier and headphone amplifier in a single box. More information from:

http://www.lindemann-audio.de/en/products/musicbook-series/digital-sources/musicbook15-dsd/summary/


Look and Feel
The Musicbook: 15 is small (280mm width x 220mm depth x 65mm height), lightweight (3.5kg) and stylish with a large and easily readable OLED screen with yellow text on an inky-black background.

On the top there is an on/off button and a dial for volume control and other core functions. On the front is a slot-loading Teac CD drive and a 1/4 inch single-ended headphone socket.  The unit feels very well put together with no visible screws/bolts etc. The sockets on the back panel are very good quality and spaced out enough to support substantial connectors.

It comes with an excellent quality remote with a Li-Ion rechargeable battery (via USB cable provided). The use of graphics for each button rather than text is a personal like/dislike but with the help of the excellent quick-start manual and a bit of practice, it wasn’t an issue.

 

Key Features

Inputs

  • CD drive
  • USB B (DSD64/128 & 384khz/32bit PCM)
  • 2 RCA and 2 Optical SPDIF (192khz/24bit)
  • 2 pairs of RCA analogue inputs

Outputs

  • 1 pair XLR and 1 pair RCA analogue outputs
  • Analogue volume control (0-99 [0 to 20 in 2 dB steps / 21 to 70 in 1 dB steps / 71 to 99 in 0.5 dB steps])

Class A Headphone socket (1/4inch & 32-300ohm impedance)

Via the excellent menu system, you can also set balance and bypass the volume control (2.5v unbalanced & 5v balanced).

The analogue inputs are not digitised and all volume control is analogue, so there are no issues with losing sound quality as you lower the volume as happens with most digital volume controls.

Listening
Most of my listening was done through the pre-amplifier to a DIY Aleph 30 single ended Class A solid state power amplifier and Graham Audio LS5/9 speakers. I used a Macbook Pro to test the USB input and a Lumin D1 streamer to test the SPDIF input.

I also listened to the CD player and DAC in direct mode to my Vitus SS-010 integrated amplifier and tried the headphone socket with my Audeze LCD-X headphones and a pair of Sennheiser HD800 belonging to a friend. To test the analogue inputs, I used my DiDiT DAC and Lumin D1 streamer.

CD Player and DAC
The Musicbook:15DSD produced a clean and tidy sound. It was agile and had great clarity and dynamics. Provided it was on the disc, the soundstage was wide and reasonably deep. Overall, it was enjoyable to listen to with everything that I played. There were none of the digital nasties that you can get with cheaper DACs and there was always a sense of joy (joie de vivre) about the sound. 

Playing classical or simple acoustic music was a real joy as it brought performances to life. It was easy to pick parts out in space but not at the expense of the overall performance. Even when the mix got busy, the separation of sounds in space was still maintained.

I play a lot of music from the likes of Gregory Porter, Anais Mitchell, Natalie Merchant and Peter Bradley Adams. It was easily able to show just how good these singers are.

My only area of slight hesitation was in the replay of rock music where I felt could have been more robust and driven, particularly in the bass. Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone by Lucinda Williams didn’t quite capture the mood of the album.

Analogue Input
The analogue inputs did very little to the input signal except raise the volume so that it was a fairly close match to the CD and DAC output level.

Headphone Output
Excellent. Easily drove both sets of headphones that I tried and produced a very good sound.

Summary
If your primary source is digital, I think that you would be hard pressed to find similar sound quality and pride of ownership in alternate products, especially separates, for the same money. Just add a good pair of active speakers and enjoy your music.

GEORGE SALLIT – Content Editor

A comment commonly made about audio reviews is ‘Yes but that is just one person’s views’.

So, to try and address that issue I am adding my subjective views on the Lindemann MusicBook:15DSD.

The Lindemann is a neat and small box that is really well designed. It looks a real lifestyle product. It has many unique technical features including up-sampling to DSD and of course it decodes DSD up to 128x DSD or it can upsample to 256x DSD. Elite Audio www.eliteaudiouk.com/ are the UK distributor.

I assembled a system consisting of the Lindemann, a Nord Class D Stereo amplifier and Audionote E/HE Signature speakers. I used Nordost and Naim cables.

It did not take too long to set the system up using the glass remote that is charged via a USB cable. What a great idea. Take care to enact the active volume control. If you don’t you could end up with a very loud sound. Fortunately, I didn’t.

I started with the USB connection using J River and Foobar. I was immediately struck by an incredibly natural and neutral sound. The music had a large 3D soundstage when it was recorded into the music. I was impressed by being able to easily hear the hall before the orchestra starts and the wonderful decay of the hall. Many systems do that by changing the frequency response. The Lindemann do not and it remains very natural.

Playing some more intimate music such as Applewood Road and Acoustic (acoustic versions of modern music) allowed the Lindemann to display its excellent clarity of voices. There was a very natural clarity of the voices and you can hear all the words being sung. Even from Bruce Springsteen who is not well known for his diction. Stop sniggering.

OK now something with a bit more bottle. I played the Ghost of Tom Joad with Bruce Springsteen and Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine. This is a real slow burner of a track with some very fast and mean guitar from Morello. The Lindemann captured the drama of the track and it was easy to hear how these two widely different musicians blended together. What was a little unusual was the cleanness of the track. The voices were naturally presented and the guitars (plus musician added distortion) was very easy to hear. It was a little unusual in that I normally associate this track with added ‘grunge’ from preamps. It was not there on the Lindemann. I tried Dream Theater, Deep Purple and Free and there was this powerful clean sound that was not stark and dry. Whilst playing some modern chart music my wife was really impressed with the drama and the bass of the music Oh and the opportunity to get rid of four boxes for a neat little device.

In comparison to my main system there was a lessening of the impact of deep bass and some sparkle in the high frequencies. Given a Lindeman 15DSD, an active set of speakers or a Nord Class D amp and a pair of good speakers you will end up with a really great natural sounding system. It would be very detailed, neutral, with a huge 3D soundstage and it can still rough it out with the heavy boys.

We both seem to agree on most of its qualities but differ how it worked with rock music. Certainly, the clarity of the sound with rock was unusual. Rather than analyse personal preferences all I can say is that the guys at Elite Audio will allow you to listen at home and if you hear it the way I (and my wife) heard it then you will be really happy with the Lindemann Musicbook:15DSD

 

A double REALREVIEW by experienced members
Ian Russell and George Sallit

For further information on this review or if you would like a REALREVIEW on any of your products please contact the content team on press@hifiwigwam.com

 

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