Lindemann is a German manufacturer that started out in fairly conventional fashion building integrated amplifiers and loudspeakers in 1993. By the turn of the century, the company had added a CD player and a phono stage, and over the last 15 years expanded that range to include SACD players and a broad range of amplifiers. Then in 2013, founder Norbert Lindemann realised that the market was changing and started to slim down and modify the range to meet the 21st Century. Now, Lindemann only builds the Musicbook products. Small is, it seems, beautiful even where aspirational hi-fi is concerned, and if you can get the same quality out of a device that’s half the size of regular devices, it’s hard to argue with in an age where space is at an expensive premium.
The Musicbook is aptly named, as you could possibly install it on its side to give it a bookish look, although having the display sideways might not work. It’s only 6.5cm high and weighs three and a half kilos. There are several Musicbooks in the range. They start with the 10, which is a DAC/preamp, while the 15 adds a CD player, the 20 ditches the disc player and offers streaming, and the 25 tested here gives you all three source options. Whether a streamer needs a USB DAC is open to debate, but it does mean you can access sources like YouTube that are not offered in the Musicbook’s array of streaming services. At present this consists of Tidal and internet radio but Lindemann plans to add other popular services in the future. Bluetooth is a standard feature of the range should you be inclined to send sounds from your mobile device, something that even purists like yours truly occasionally indulges, although I wouldn’t admit as much!
The feature change between the latest Musicbooks and their predecessors is the addition of DSD conversion and upsampling. All digital signals can be upsampled to 384kHz PCM or DSD128, and DSD signals are handled natively. I can’t think of any other CD players that do this and DACs that can are pretty thin on the ground as well. Norbert is keen on DSD so the review sample was set to upsample to that format out of the box, and you have to pick through a simple menu on the unit itself to change it. He likes it from an engineering perspective because it removes the processing element from the digital to analogue converter, leaving it to act as a filter alone. It also makes jitter less of an issue, which has to be a good thing.
The Musicbook control app is a slick looking interface, albeit not one that shows you a screen full of album art. Instead, you get a list of titles or artists with a thumbnail for the artwork. There’s no alphabetical listing down the side of the portrait-oriented graphics, but the slider allows rapid jumps to different areas of the library. Internet radio has a useful search function, but scrolling through the listings of stations is confused by a non-alphabetical listing: I could find BBC Radios 2, 3, and 4, but not 6Music or Radio 1. It’s quite hard to find genre listings too, and when you do there’s no sign of ‘ambient’, but I managed to track down the excellent Fluid Radio anyway, using the search function.