Often, when building a system, it’s a good idea to put yourself in the hands of a dealer you trust. Done right, such systems produce rare and wonderful results, as with the system reviewed here, made of German audio electronics from Lindemann, and fine UK loudspeakery from ProAc, and put together by Noel Cloney, of Cloney Audio.
Those with an archive of Hi-Fi+ issues might remember Lindemann as a maker of a very nice CD, amplifier, and loudspeaker system under the 800 Series, which was reviewed by Chris Thomas in issue 98. Since that time, the German Lindemann company has undergone a complete reboot in terms of its product line. The company now has just a handful of products in its musicbook: Series; two DACs, two network players, and two power amps. Although the DACs and network devices have provision for connecting ‘legacy’ analogue line inputs, Lindemann’s musicbooks are really designed as complete standalone systems, which possibly shows both how far the audio industry has come in recent years, and where it’s going.
In reality, most people are going to choose either the network player or the DAC and use it with an amplifier. The use of both network player and DAC is unlikely. Lindemann is obviously highly aware of this, because both share common components in terms of line inputs, outputs, and functionality. Noel chose the network player (in this case the musicbook: 25) for this system, but we also have one of the DACs lined up for an upcoming test. This brings Ethernet streaming and a handy Apple/Android app to control the system (the DAC, by its very nature, implies your computer will be sitting close to the system and that does all the ‘legwork’).
The term ‘digital hub’ has become hackneyed of late, but it’s entirely relevant in the case of the musicbook: 25. It covers almost all the bases, except for SACD replay and DoP (DSD over PCM) support. It has a slot-load TEAC-based CD player, two S/PDIF and two Toslink inputs, and one of each for digital outputs. It has both a wired and wireless Ethernet input, and can support UPnP, and vTuner internet radio. It has a front mounted USB socket for both thumb drives and hard drives. There’s even a dedicated Class A headphone amp, both balanced and single ended outputs, and an elegant USB-chargeable remote control alongside the app support. Fold in the two sets of RCA line inputs and you get why the whole ‘hub’ thing counts here.
Its style is extremely elegant, too. It’s a ¾ sized device, with a rounded off top and bottom brushed aluminium clamshell, curved aluminium sides, a black ‘business’ end, a power button set into the left, and a knurled, large thumbwheel set into the right of the top plate. The OLED display is a surprisingly readable shade of yellow, which looks much better than it sounds. In sum, the whole musicbook: 25 exudes a sense of well-built solidity.