There was nothing haphazard to the Lindemann’s approach to bass reproduction either. It captured acoustic bass players like Reynaud Garcia-Fons and Edgar Meyer with timbral density, accompanied by full-blooded harmonics and dark wood resonances. The transients from each note were distinctive. Solo piano exhibited rich soundboard reverberation and decay. Dynamics were lively in both micro and macro aspects—enough to elicit a gasp of surprise when Lew Soloff’s trumpet solo during “Autumn Leaves” cut loose and caught me unaware.
To my ear, the most significant sonic qualities of the Musicbook:25 DSD were not so much its bold, sweeping macro aspects, which it addressed with unalloyed brio, but the smaller micro gestures and timing cues that might seem incidental to a performance that more persuasively depict the live event. The cliché that it’s the little things that make the difference has never been truer as digital has matured. When I listen to James Taylor sing “Long Ago and Far Away,” it’s still the soft piano of Carole King and the wispy harmonies of Joni Mitchell that my ear immediately keys on. Earlier generations of DACs might have smudged and smeared these elements, but the Lindemann articulates low-level cues with clarity and naturalism. These are not trivialities either; rather they are the clues that define space and time in a recording, and if only for a brief instant create the illusion of having witnessed the musical moment. Detail retrieval is equally strong. Again during Mud Slide Slim JT introduces a high-pitched cymbal during the final verse of the very short track “Soldiers.” This subtle percussion cue can easily be missed, but the Lindemann captured the fine-grain sustain and decay of that lightly struck cymbal.
Though the compact disc has largely become a legacy format, there are many listeners, yours truly included, who own a substantial collection of physical media including LPs and CD/SACDs, which remain a compelling option even in light of the convenience of network streaming. In that light the CD transport aboard the Lindemann performed with excellence. I was particularly intrigued listening to a pair of Peter, Paul & Mary discs, their eponymous debut album and their third effort, In the Wind. Remastered to hybrid CD/SACD by Steve Hoffman on the Audio Fidelity label, these three-track analog recordings are antiques in some respects, but tracks like “All My Trials” and “500 Miles” have some heavenly moments of raw intimacy and inspiring strength. The trio’s harmonies are a paradigm of precision, their voices cohering as if each singer were hard-wired to the other’s soul. One listener pointed out that during “All My Trials” even their vibratos were synchronized. Lindemann’s DSD upsampling demonstrated a light touch with this classic material, imparting a gentle naturalism with voices and acoustic guitars, a lack of artifice that created a “you are there in the studio” impression. While it doesn’t quite match the finer textures and air from the SACD-equipped dCS Puccini, the Lindemann does rival it in low-level detail and ambience retrieval.
How do the Musicbook CD player and music server compare? In my view the server gets the nod by a small margin. As I listened to high-resolution tracks like Diana Krall’s “Isn’t It Romantic” from Turn Up The Quiet, the dominant factor was the liquidity of reproduction and the “elbow room” air that joined instruments in space. Images had a firm sense of stability and a more open feel; soundstages were conveyed with greater continuousness.
Has Lindemann made being an audiophile a little too easy? A few years ago I might’ve thought so. But this irresistible digital giant-killer’s combination of performance and versatility make it hard to dismiss—even for an audio diehard like me. Though it may not be much larger than a summer bestseller, the Musicbook:25 DSD speaks volumes.
Specs & Pricing
Inputs: Analog, two RCA; digital, two coax, two optical
Outputs: One balanced XLR, one unbalanced RCA
Dimensions: 11" x 8.7" x 2.6"
Weight: 7.7 lbs.
SOURCE SYSTEMS, LTD.
San Clemente, CA 92672